I had to be pregnant this time. It was our fourth and final IUI. I was late. I was hopeful. I would have moved mountains to avoid the emotional and financial turmoil of the IVF process.
Sitting at dinner with friends, I started to cramp. I felt the color drain from my face as anxiety flooded my brain. I stood from my seat. In a mere moment, my hope shattered into a thousand tiny pieces right there on that bathroom floor.
I tried to compose myself so I could return to my friends. But the tears kept coming—an involuntary avalanche of grief that felt too heavy to shoulder. I steadied myself in the stall and took three deep breaths (in . . . then out). I had to remind myself how to breathe.
It was over. I knew the next step for us was IVF. I had known it all along, but I had clung to hope that it wouldn’t come to that. And yet, there I was—as alone in that bathroom stall as I felt in my infertility journey.
It’s true—I didn’t have to do IVF. No one was forcing me. But my husband and I had already fervently prayed about each option, we had our individual diagnoses, age was on our side, and we were well aware that pregnancy success rates steadily decrease with each failed IUI. We wanted a baby so badly.
Am I imagining it, or do infertility mamas have to explain and defend our decisions much too often?
We began the IVF process, and it was anything but easy. Close friends and family knew we’d begun, but even they didn’t know the depth and breadth of the experience. And, I had no desire to go into detail because an explanation wouldn’t do it justice. I chose to go that route, so I convinced myself I had no right to complain about anything.
To be honest, unless someone has traveled down the uncertain road of infertility, it truly is hard to understand. It’s a journey full of unexpected twists and turns. It’s dark. It’s lonely.
To all the IVF mamas out there, near and far: I see you. I see you, and you are not alone. I see you fighting with everything you have to hold it together when another friend or family member announces their pregnancy.
I see you giving yourself three or more shots a day. I see your bruises, both internally and externally. I see you worrying about finances.
You are not alone when excess hormones drive you to tears more times than you can count. You are not alone in your discomfort and uncertainty. You are not alone in thinking, “What if I do all of this, and it still doesn’t work?”
I see you as you question your decision, wondering if those closest to you doubt your faith in God. You are not alone as you cry out in anger and fear, begging God to erase infertility from your story.
I see you as you wait anxiously for a phone call to find out how many embryos made it. How many chances at motherhood will there be? I see how much you want to be a mom.
To all the IVF mamas, your story is raw and real and beautiful. I see you. I am you. You are not alone.