"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." NLT Isaiah 41:10
Day 1 of patiently waiting and trying to stay distracted has been a success so far. I feel a strange sense of peace that I did not feel after our previous IUI cycles. I am not going to tip-toe around and treat myself as if I'm already pregnant. I plan to simply continue taking care of myself, resting as I should, and praying for our babies to find a cozy spot. We are hopeful this is our cycle, but we are trying very hard not to let the unknown consume us for the next 3 weeks. We have done everything we can do to prepare our bodies and hearts for this cycle. We have prayed every way we know how to pray. We have reached out to all of our prayer warriors and asked for extra prayers the next couple of weeks. We just have to wait and see if God has chosen this month to be the month our babies come to us. At this point, we are 110% leaning on God. Wait. I'm not leaning. I'm sitting in His lap actually. We have to continue being patient. We've been patiently awaiting these precious little ones for almost 2 years. What's 3 more weeks, right?
As many of you already know, this week is National Infertility Awareness Week. It has been a blessing reading the stories of so many strong, determined, inspiring women as they try to bring awareness to this disease. The strength of the women (and men) in this community is absolutely inspiring.
After our first IUI failed in October of 2013, I was not in a good place emotionally. I was preparing myself mentally for my very first surgery. We found ourselves not able to relate to our friends who were announcing pregnancies. I was struggling to stay focused at work. Physically I was in a lot of pain from endometriosis and OHSS from Clomid. Our specialist we had been seeing since April 2013 was almost at the end of his rope with us. Each time he would see us, he would tell us he felt he was running out of options. We had already done 4 rounds of Femara, 2 rounds of Clomid, 1 IUI, and 1 surgery with him. He felt our issue was something that needed to be handled in Nashville at a clinic that specialized strictly in reproductive medicine. My husband and I were not open to the idea of leaving our specialist quite yet, but after he gave us an hour long pep talk we decided to give Nashville a try. We trusted our specialist. We felt if he was wanting us to go to Nashville, then we should at least try it. We prayed about it and asked God to show us which path we should take. A few days later the decision was made to keep fighting. Before we scheduled our consultation with the fertility clinic in Nashville, my husband and I felt I would probably benefit from speaking with a counselor who specialized in coping with infertility first. I was having trouble sorting through my feelings in a healthy way. I had also had numerous people say hurtful things to me, which lead to me not being able to own my feelings. One of the exercises the counselor had me do one day was think about what I would tell someone who was new on the infertility journey. At first I struggled with this exercise because I was so hurt and broken. I did not feel like I was in the place to tell ANYONE how to handle this disease. I felt like I was not even able to handle it myself. After several days of thinking long and hard about what I should say, it finally hit me and the ideas poured out on the paper. The next week, my counselor was impressed with the progress I had made.
What Has Infertility Taught Me?
- You are not alone. Infertility effects so many people. 1 in 8 to be exact. Some couples choose to keep their battle silent, but some choose to be open with their battle. You should never, ever feel like you are alone. You aren't.
- People will say hurtful things. Brush it off. I would never tell someone who was battling cancer to stop trying to battle cancer so hard and it will go away. Just like you shouldn't tell someone to stop trying to battle infertility so hard. People will tell you to "relax" or "take a vacation". People will tell you to get your heart right with God and He will bless you. Infertility is a disease! It is not mental. The desire to have a child is not something you can just turn off.
- This goes along with my point...But you already have a child. Yes. I do. Are there things you were able to do in your late teens/ early 20s that you cannot do today? Do all of your body parts and organs work the same as they did in elementary school, high school, and college? Great. Mine don't and if you are completely honest, you will realize yours don't either. I have a child from a previous marriage. My husband does not have any children. Should he be denied the joys and excitement of parenthood just because I have a child we see for a few hours 2 days a week? No.
- You know yourself and your body better than anyone. If you feel like your current doctor is not giving you the attention you need, find a new doctor. I went through 3 local OB/GYNs, numerous pointless tests, a birth control prescription (ugh. That still makes me so mad!) and lots of begging before I finally had my medical records sent to a specialist... on my own. I didn't wait for a referral. I knew something was not right and I wanted someone to listen to my concerns. I was not getting that from the local OB/GYNs so I took everything into my own hands. This ended up being the best decision we could have made.
- Talk about it. You do not have to start a blog, join a support group, or make an announcement in your Sunday School class if you do not feel like you are ready for that. If you simply want to keep your struggle private, that is fine. Talk to your spouse though. Infertility can be male factor, female factor, a combination of both, or completely unexplained. Either way, you and your spouse are in this together. He may not be as vocal about his disappointments as you are, but you have to keep in mind he wants this child as much as you do. You're in this together. Talk about it together. He is your husband today. He will be your husband tomorrow. He will be your husband if you have children or if you do not have children. Your relationship with your husband is so important. He will be the one to cry with you or rejoice with you each month. Infertility tends to cause a strain on relationships. Do not let your relationship with your husband suffer. Understand when he does not want to discuss the latest test results. If he simply wants to listen (like my husband does) that is ok.
- Lean on God. You know your relationship with God. Lean on Him. Lean on His promises.
- Find a stress reliever. My stress reliever was running until my doctor gave me a very strong "talkin' to" discouraging me from running while doing my FSH cycles. Now my stress reliever is walking, body weight exercises, BLOGGING, and reading books. Find your stress reliever and stick with it. For the sake of your sanity, you need to do this.
- Do not let infertility define you. My name is Kari. I'm the same Kari I have always been. You can still talk to me, invite me to hang out, and call me. I'm still me. I'm just having problems conceiving a baby.
- Do not feel like you have to attend every baby shower you are invited to. I struggled with this at first myself. Every time I received an invitation in the mail, I immediately felt like I had to go out and buy a gift the next day. I was afraid I would hurt someone's feelings if I missed their shower. There was one month I went to a different baby shower every weekend. It was overwhelming at times, but I made it through. I did go home and cry after a few of them. It's ok if you do too. If you are not in a good place emotionally to attend the shower, simply explain to your friend you will gladly send a gift to her, but you are not sure you are emotionally prepared to attend. If she is not a close friend... don't sweat explaining yourself. Simply send a gift card in the mail with a note, "Sorry I missed your shower! Congrats!" Do not feel like you have to explain yourself to anyone if you do not want to.
- You are not broken. You are not being punished. You are not. It is plain and simple. You are no less of a woman than any of those pregnant folks sitting in the waiting room around you. God is not punishing you. You were chosen for this journey because you are strong enough to handle it with grace and poise.
- There will be days when you will ugly cry, throw fits, and cry out to God. Even on those days, you are not being punished. God is a big boy. He wants you to give your broken heart to Him. Do it. Give Him every single broken piece of it. Pray for strength on those days. Those will be the days you feel like you need to stop fighting for your babies. Those will be the days you feel defeated. Those are the days you need to give every ounce of doubt, fear, and pain to God. Do not EVER let anyone tell you it is not ok to do so. Own. Your. Feelings. Allow yourself to be still and listen for God on those days. He is still there even when it feels like He is so far away.
So that's my novel for Infertility Awareness Week. If you or someone you know are interested in learning more about infertility, please check out the following website. It is full of information!
If you would like to read more blogs about infertility awareness, check out my fellow IF fighters and bloggers!