It a day you never forget. The moment you learn you’re pregnant is an exciting time for most couples. But what happens when life doesn’t go as planned? I always assumed I would have the picture-perfect family. I imagined two children, a loving husband and a house with a white picket fence. But when my husband and I started trying, pregnancy wasn’t a reality. Month after month, the tears would form as I watched the “negative” boldly appear on the pregnancy test. As each year passed by, the frustration grew. Infertility throws couples through a roller coaster of emotions and it’s something not many people understand. Here are five things I wish people knew about infertility.

1. It’s isolating.
My husband and I were in our 30s before we started trying. Many of our friends had already started their families and we were eager for children of our own. But after several months of trying, the frustration turned into pity. Many nights I would find myself in tears as my husband slept beside me. I cried because life didn’t seem fair. I cried because I felt so alone in our infertility struggle. And I cried because I didn’t know if we would ever become parents. Infertility is isolating. And not just for the woman, but also the spouse.

2. It’s exhausting—emotionally, physically and financially.
If the tears aren’t exhausting enough, infertility can lead to a range of emotions. As my husband and I embarked on fertility treatment, my emotions took on a life of its own. Many couples will do whatever it takes to become pregnant and that often leads to medications and drugs that alter your body. It’s emotionally exhausting, but it’s also physically exhausting. Imagine giving yourself multiple shots every day. By the end of our in vitro fertilization treatment, my stomach was tender, covered in dozens of bruises. And even though it was draining, what caused me the most stress was the financial toll. Many insurances companies don’t cover fertility treatment, and for couples like us, it led to tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills.

3. Treatment doesn’t always work.
Spending your life savings doesn’t guarantee you a child. For years I tried various medications, but month after month, it failed. My husband and I were lucky, though. We became pregnant after our first round of IVF. Many couples endure multiple cycles, without a guarantee they’ll every have a child of their own.

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4. Even though I can’t become pregnant, I am still happy for you.
I think a lot of people have this fear of hurting a friend who might be struggling to get pregnant. I remember getting an email from a close friend during one of the darkest moments in our infertility journey. She wanted to share that she was pregnant again, but didn’t want to hurt me, knowing that my husband and I faced years of trying with no luck. It broke my heart. Not the pregnancy news, but the fact that people I cared about felt they had to tip toe around me. I instantly picked up the phone and called my friend with genuine excitement, thrilled to talk about her bundle of joy. Sure, there are tough moments like seeing Pinterest-worthy pregnancy announcements flood my Facebook feed. But, we can still be happy for others. Just because I can’t get pregnant on my own doesn’t mean that I can’t share in the joy of those I care about.

5. It’s more common than you think.
Infertility is something many people don’t feel comfortable talking about, yet millions of couples in our country have difficulty becoming pregnant. For years, I found myself ashamed. The fact that my body was failing me made me feel defeated. But as I began to open up to a few close friends, I found that I wasn’t the only one facing the heartbreak of infertility. There is an entire community of people going through the journey. Each story is unique, yet we are all connected through a common bond. Having others who understood me helped get me through the difficult times.

My husband and I eventually became pregnant, thanks to fertility treatment. We have one beautiful surviving triplet and two angels above. Our lives are far from perfect, but we are truly happy these days. Infertility may have been a roadblock, but it helped shape who we are today. We are stronger, we have more compassion and patience and our love is greater, all because we experienced infertility.

You may also like:

A Letter To My Husband As We Struggle Through Infertility

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Spending your life savings doesn’t guarantee you a child.

Stacey Skrysak

Stacey Skrysak is a local television news anchor in Illinois, but her proudest role is becoming a mom after years of infertility. Stacey is mother to a 22-weeker surviving triplet and two angels. Even though two of her children were only alive for a short time, her triplets have touched thousands of people around the world. Through her blog, Stacey has become a voice for infertility, premature birth and child loss. These days, she sprinkles in the trials and tribulations of raising a daughter, who was once nicknamed “The Diva of the Nicu.”