We have lived more than half of our married lives living and trying to survive the struggles of infertility. It's not the fairytale outcome you think you're going to have starting off the first few years of marriage. We knew that we'd have the typical struggles most couples have like fighting over stupid things like who left the garage door open all night and putting extra money in savings after paying all the bills. Once we decided the time was right to start a family, we knew raising children wouldn't be easy. We make a decent living but both of us need to work to pay our bills and and maintain our current lifestyle. We knew paying for daycare and deciding whose turn it is to get up in the middle of the night to feed the baby also wouldn't be easy. We were realistic that while having children is a blessing, it's not all roses. But we realized the benefits of having a family FAR outweighed the downfalls. But never in our wildest dreams did we realize that it would be hard to even get there. That wasn't even in our radar until we started trying and trying and...trying. It seemed so unfair that everyone else in our family had NO trouble. In fact I doubt most pregnancies were even planned. Then there we were, planning our life away as life was passing us by. It's not how I envisioned starting off married life, especially since I waited so long to reap the rewards of marriage. I thought waiting was a good thing, but I guess I was wrong. It's been a struggle for us and has literally rocked our world. While we still love each other, this struggle has changed us. There are only glimpses of the fun loving couple we used to be that loves to do new things and travel. We have much more on our plates and are much more stressed about things NO couple should have to be.
I know this is cliche' but this whole ordeal has been a big roller coaster ride...however from my experience it's been mostly a down hill ride. During treatment cycles you invest SO much time, effort and not to mention money. Throughout this we invested so much emotionally and financially...it's just plain hard to deal with the ups and downs this has thrown at us while everyone else in the world seems to carry on as normal. Even though thousands of other couples are facing this too, it makes us feel so isolated since the rest of our friends and family never faced the struggles that we have no choice but to face. It's not easy when you want something so bad that ALL your friends and family seem to have. I can't tell you have frustrating and horrible it is to sit in on a conversation among my peers about how their kid did this and that while I'm dying inside.
I think most people have some kind of life plan. We did too. When your plan involves something you desire so much, it's difficult to accept and deal with it when it doesn't go your way. It's a complete loss of control. At least with other things in life, like a job/career choice, where you live, the relationships you keep, the lifestyle to you live, you have SOME control over it by the choices you make. Not with infertility. We didn't choose this way of life and there's very little choices we can make about it. The choices are to live childless and give up our hopes and dreams of a family or to pay thousands upon thousands of dollars for treatment that may not work. There is no doubt about it that most of you reading this value family and couldn't imagine your life without them....I value it too but I seem to have no choice because I can't even start one. The more you travel down the path of infertility, the more it steals from you and the more control you lose. We are at the mercy of tests, treatments and the doctors and little is in our control. We have to fit our lives around their schedules and the schedule my body decides it wants to have. When you lose this much control in your life, it's easy to feel that every aspect of your life is spiraling out of control.... when you invest so much time and effort into something you have little time for much else. Everything seems to feel like it's on hold until this gets straightened out. I feel that my life is passing in front of me while I just watch it happen. I've already lost nearly three years of my life like this...but when you want something so badly it's hard to give up.
Along with with feeling isolated, we will always have people that just don't "get it" or person that unknowingly ask a painful question without thinking about what they are saying. I STILL get comments about how God will give us a baby when he's ready, or "it's meant to be", or "be patient and it'll happen" or "relax and stop worrying about it." While these comments seem harmless they are actually the most painful things you can say to some struggling with infertility. It's hard to explain unless you've lived through it. Infertility seems to have a double standard and often goes ignored. Would you ever say to someone who just lost his legs, "well at least you have your arms." or invite him to watch a marathon (yet I get invited to baby showers)? Would you tell them to not worry about it and let God take control...probably not. Infertility is a medical problem and somehow people forget that. It's completely awful and insensitive when I'm told to "stop worrying about it" when it's our dream, we've given 110% to it for years and have invested so much emotionally and financially. It seem acceptable ask for money for a wedding or a babyshower, or to fundraise for cancer research, muscular dystrophy, or their kids' soccer team, but is somehow faux pax to ask for money for infertility patients. My struggles are no less painful and life changing from my perspective.
There's no switch that we can turn off in our brains to make us not want children. We can't help it. I'm reminded of children everyday and every where I go. I can't get away from it. I work in a medical office building and on my way to the car saw a very YOUNG couple admiring their ultrasound picture. The same week a patient of mine asked an innocent question: "do you have children?" While it seems innocent enough, it was very painful. Less than a week ago I had just gotten the news of our failed IVF attempt. Yet she didn't stop there. She proceeded to ask my age and then said "well you better hurry of before it's too late." If she only knew..........some people just don't think.
As far as our relationships with others.....it seems up and down. This is an awkward topic to talk about and not everyone knows how. Because this has become the center of our universe, there are a few friends that we've lost along the way and some relationships that are suffering because they don't understand. No one can really understand our struggles unless they've lived though this and it gets tiring trying to prove to people that we want this so badly and it's important to us. Sadly I feel that the further we travel down this path the more this will happen. This is important to us...the most important thing we could ever want, but not everyone understands our struggles. Eventually people are going to get tired of hearing our story and move on to more "fun" couples with similar interests. On the flip side, there have been some relationships that have improved because of our struggles. Some people are really surprising us and going above and beyond to support us. I can't thank these people enough.