I had to reblog this from The Courage in Me. She said it perfectly and eloquently and better than I ever could have. I’ve felt all of this so many times over. I feel it even now.
Grab some tissues and read on, friends.
Open Letter to Women of Infertility Everywhere
Dear Infertility Sister:
I’m writing because I know that you’re hurting. I know it’s not easy being you. I know you feel wounded and alone.
I know that it doesn’t make sense that you are being excluded from experiencing what your own mother, sisters, aunts, cousins, and friends have all been able to do without any trouble.
I know that you feel immeasurable desperation to have control and a say in when to have a baby. You wonder why everyone else gets to plan and choose and you don’t.
I know you feel powerless at the hands of your body. I know you hate your body because it has betrayed and rejected you and made you its victim. When you were a little girl, your body deceived you into believing that one day you’d get to have a baby. Sometimes you remember when you played with your friends and put a ball under your shirt and pretended to be pregnant. You remember how much you loved your baby dolls and how you believed that one day the scenario would be real.
I know that you feel stupid when you recall the times you had pregnancy scares and all the years you used contraceptives. You now realize it was all in vain because your body isn’t able to do what it was created to do.
I know that you feel defeated and resentful for doing everything you were supposed to do to prepare your body for pregnancy. You ate right. You stopped drinking. You bought pre-natal vitamins. And I know that you still take prenatal vitamins, you still avoid alcohol and all the other pregnancy no-no’s …just in case maybe this month you really are pregnant.
I know that you’ve kept track religiously of your periods for what seems like an eternity and that you have tried every imaginable trick and tip you’ve heard about or read about in an attempt to conceive your miracle.
I know you are sick and tired of seeing doctors and being physically and emotionally vulnerable with each insemination or in-vitro you do. You’re exhausted of being poked and prodded; of having ultrasounds, blood tests, procedures, and surgeries. You’ve endured enough humiliation to last a lifetime, opening your legs for strangers month after month, each time praying that this will be the last time.
I know that you hate yourself for gaining 10lbs due to fertility treatments and had to buy bigger clothes but not for the reason you wish it were.
I know how nervous you were the first time you had to give yourself an injection and how you made your partner do it for you because your hand was shaking so badly.
I know you don’t sleep for two weeks after you ovulate, wondering if this is the month that the stick will have two lines.
I know that you obsess over your cycle and every symptom you feel or think you feel that could indicate that you are in fact pregnant this month. You push on your breasts hoping they are tender and sore more than usual during this time of the month. Each time you go to the bathroom, you check the tissue to see if there is any sign of your period…even if it’s in the middle of the night, you turn on the light. And if you see pink or red, you say some strong prayers that it’s only implantation spotting and not really your period.
I know that you feel like throwing those injections, vaginal suppositories, and pills out the window after every failed cycle or that you sob when the doctor calls to tell you that the test was negative.
I know that each month when you get your period you privately fall apart and cry out in anger, frustration, and sorrow because with each failed cycle, you have a little funeral in your head for a baby that wasn’t. You cry and grieve for the loss of your dream.
I know that you don’t know how much longer you can put yourself and your partner through this torture. You question if the strain on your marriage, on your savings, and on your sanity is all worth it.
I know you feel like you’re going crazy because infertility has taken over your life and has become a full-time job; a round-the-clock obsession; the only topic you think about and talk about.
I know you wonder if you are a terrible person for not being happy for your friend when she tells you that she’s expecting. I know that you feel jealous and sad that she gets to have what you want so desperately. I know that when you hang up the phone with her, you cry. I know that you feel guilty for avoiding her now that she’s pregnant but it’s the only way that you can cope with your misery.
I know that you feel like screaming when you get yet another invitation to a baby shower and you contemplate if you are emotionally strong enough to attend. I know how much courage it takes to RSVP. I know that most of the time you don’t go to baby showers, but that if you decide to go, how draining it is to endure three hours of fake-smiling pretending to be happy when you’re not. I know how painful it is to make it through the party listening to everyone talk non-stop about pregnancy and babies. And how much it hurts when someone you’ve never met asks if you have children.
I know that buying a baby gift seems like an impossible task. I know that walking into Babies R Us is out of the question because you don’t think you can handle it without breaking down in tears in the store. I know that sometimes you’ve given your friends money and asked them to buy the gift for you.
I know that seeing co-workers go on maternity leave is like a knife in your heart. You wonder if your turn will ever come. You started trying to conceive long before any of them and here you are, still trying. They all got pregnant within a few months of trying, had a full-term pregnancy, went on leave, came back, and you’re still there, feeling left behind, still waiting for your dream, still feeling incomplete.
I know that you cringe at the sight of the maternity department and wonder if you’ll ever get to wear the clothes so many women complain about. I know that maybe you even have a pair of maternity pants at home and that occasionally you try them on and imagine what it will be like to someday have a belly big enough to fill them out.
I know that sometimes you have thrown away birth announcements unopened. And in a moment of rage you’ve torn them up into a million pieces.
I know that when you stand in line at the grocery store, you avert your eyes away from the baby sitting in the shopping cart in front of you because it’s too painful to see his smiling face. And once in a while, when you’re feeling strong enough, you steal glances, imagining what your baby might look like someday.
I know that it hurts when you walk past the baby section in stores because it is a reminder of what you want and can’t have. I know you daydream of one day shopping for diapers, strollers, and baby clothes.
I know that when you see a pregnant woman you feel envy and a deep sense of injustice. You wonder why she has the right to be pregnant and you don’t. You wonder if she struggled with infertility too or is it just you who is going through this torment.
I know how difficult it is to walk past the room in your house that should have been a nursery by now. I know that some days you walk in there and look around, wondering if you’ll ever see a baby sleeping in a crib. And sometimes you just have to close the door of that empty room because it represents the emptiness you feel inside.
I know that you wait until the last minute to plan vacations or parties because your life is on an indefinite hold. How can you plan a trip six months from now when you might be pregnant by then? Your live your life in a perpetual state of uncertainty.
I know how hard it is when you run into old acquaintances and they ask if you ever plan on having a baby because you’ve been married for so long and you’re not getting any younger and your clock is ticking.
I know you avoided going to your high school reunion because you couldn’t bear the thought of hearing old friends sharing stories of their children or having to explain why you don’t have any of your own.
I know that the holidays are difficult and depressing because they are not what you envisioned for yourself this year. You wonder when your turn will come to celebrate your baby’s first Christmas. When will you get to shop for gifts for your little bundle? When will you get to send out holiday photo cards featuring your pride and joy? And I know that you disappear from the room at the holiday party when you see the moms coordinating a group photo of the kids.
I know that you detest Mother’s Day with a passion because you yearn to celebrate what is supposed to be the highlight of your life.
I know that you change the channel when you see commercials featuring babies, pregnancy tests, and ovulation kits. It makes you feel cynical seeing the giddy faces of the women in the commercials because that is not your reality. Everywhere you look, you see happy mothers with their sweet, warm, precious babies. You are surrounded with reminders – when you drive past a playground, when you see a mother on a walk with a stroller, when you attend a child’s birthday party, when you see ultrasound photos on friends’ refrigerators or on co-workers’ desks. No matter what, you can’t escape this hell on earth you’re living.
I know that you have a secret shopping bag in your closet with gender neutral items like pacifiers, rattles, and onesies in hopes that maybe the Law of Attraction is real and it works. And maybe you’ve already bought a card to give to your spouse telling him he’s going to be a father.
I know you daydream about telling your spouse that you’re pregnant and you imagine how you will announce it to your family and friends. I know you actually already have it all planned out.
I know that you wonder how your partner can choose to remain with you if you are unable to produce a child. You wonder if maybe he will leave eventually. You feel like a disappointment. You feel like a liar for promising him a family someday. You feel the need to apologize to him month after month, year after year. You feel the need to thank him for sticking it out and not running away.
I know that when you got the dog you didn’t think you’d ever have or wouldn’t have for a long time, it was because you needed someone to nurture, mother, and love. Maybe you cried the first time you cuddled with her because the happiness you felt was so bittersweet. She isn’t the baby you wanted but she is someone that needs you and loves you unconditionally just like you know your baby would. She is someone you can take care of and brag about and share stories about. She gives you a reason to get up in the morning and she always licks your tears away.
I know that you feel tremendous sorrow when you see children being mistreated or you hear news stories of babies found in dumpsters. You think to yourself…if only those mothers knew what a precious gift they have been given. You get angry with God. Why did He bless those women with motherhood and not you?
I know that it upsets you to hear your friends laugh and make jokes at how fertile they are and that they got pregnant even while being on the pill or on their first try. I know you can’t stand to hear women say they got pregnant by accident or when they call their child an “oops baby”.
I know that it angers you to hear women complain about their pregnancy or babies. How dare they not appreciate what you wish so badly you could have?
I know you feel uncomfortable and awkward when you’re among women and the conversation turns to pregnancy and babies. You feel like an outsider; like you don’t fit in; like you aren’t part of a club you so desperately want to be a part of.
I know that you feel like punching people in the face when they make stupid, ignorant comments in an attempt to make you feel better about your childlessness.
I know that your friends think they’re easing your distress when they say “Well, at least you’re having fun trying” but they have no idea that sex is no longer passionate or playful, but rather an obligation and a job. Your friends don’t know that your sex life is no longer spontaneous. Sex is always scheduled and only for the purpose of reproducing. They don’t know that you lie in bed for 30 minutes afterward with your hips propped up on a pillow, with tears streaming down your face, while you pray to God, Jesus, and all the angels and saints to please make your dreams come true this time around.
I know you resent your friends and family for their obliviousness to your suffering and that they think that if you “just adopt” or “just don’t think about it” it will all be better. If only it were that simple; if only they knew the depth of your wounds.
I know that you feel despair as you wonder if maybe you are meant to have a child-free life.
I know that you are afraid that it’s never going to happen. You are terrified of living the rest of your life feeling unfulfilled, unloved, bitter, and inadequate.
I know that you wonder if you will ever be able to walk away; to let go; to make peace. You question how you will know when it’s time to stop trying; you ask yourself if giving up means you failed; you question if you are indeed a failure.
I know that you feel like you’ve been robbed of your innocence because you can never look at a pregnant woman or baby the same way.
I know that your infertility and your desire to get pregnant, to have a baby, and to be a mother have become your life’s mission. I know that you wake up every morning and fall asleep every night thinking about pregnancy.
I know that sometimes you wonder if the only pregnancy you’ll ever experience is the one you have in your dreams while you sleep.
I know that you wonder if your turn will ever come; will your dream ever come true; will this chapter of your life ever end; will you ever feel the joy of pregnancy and motherhood; will you ever hear the word “mommy”; will the pain ever go away.
I know that you ache to have morning sickness; to feel a kick; to have a baby shower; to go through labor and delivery; to hold your baby; to see his face; to feel like God didn’t forget about you.
I know that you feel that this is all some sick, cruel joke and you wonder if you are being punished for something; you wonder why this is happening; why is this the life you’ve been given; what did you do to deserve this kind of pain and suffering; why are you not able to experience what you feel is your divine right as a woman; why don’t you get to have what every other woman seems to take for granted; why don’t you get to be like everyone else; why have you been deprived of this joy and wonder of life.
I know that you live in a lonely world feeling like the only woman in your circle of friends or in your family to be burdened with this tragedy.
I know that you feel broken and less-than. I know that you feel shame. I know that you wonder if maybe you aren’t worthy of being a mother. I know that infertility has dimmed your light.
I know you wonder if the storm you’ve lived in for so long will ever pass; will the sun ever shine again; will you ever see a rainbow.
I know how you feel because I was once you.
I wish there were magic words I could say to make the hurt stop. I wish there were some deep words of wisdom I could give you that would have it all make sense.
All I can tell you is this:
You are not broken. You are not less-than. You are worthy of love. You are whole. Forgive yourself because you’ve done nothing wrong. You have nothing to be ashamed of. You are deserving of acceptance and belonging. Be kind to yourself and love yourself. Know that you are enough. You matter greatly. You are loved. You are not alone.
All my love,