We walked into the clinic and sat in the waiting room. It was quiet. Dozens of women and couples sat next to us. No one said a word, but they didn’t need to. The air was thick with anxiety, and none of us wanted to be there.

A nurse called my name and ushered my husband and me back through a hallway into a brightly lit office. She smiled, told us to take a seat. The doctor would be in shortly.

The sun beamed in through the windows. It felt strange. Our lives seemed a far cry from sunshine and blue skies.
A hand gently knocked on the door.

“Good morning!” She was delighted to see us, but I can’t say we felt the same about her. After all, who wants to find themselves sitting across from a fertility specialist?

Her brown, shoulder-length hair draped over a white lab coat. She had coffee in one hand and a stack of files in the other.

As she pulled up her chair, she put on a pair of dark-rimmed glasses and began flipping through pages of our medical history. Lab results, baseline blood draws, ultrasounds, semen analysis reports. It was strewn across her desk like a million-piece puzzle that couldn’t fit together.

My husband’s knee restlessly bounced up and down. My heart raced. I’m sure my chest was blotchy. The nerves were getting the best of me.

Then she said it.

She took off her glasses, put them on her desk and said the words no one wants to hear: “You have unexplained infertility.”

I slunk into the chair. My chin quivered, tears glossed over my eyes. My husband’s knee stopped bouncing. He stared out the window into the sunshine. It was a beautiful day for everyone, except for us.

We would spend the next year pursuing multiple rounds of invasive, expensive infertility treatments, none of which would ever result in the two pink lines we desperately prayed for.

Day after day — month after month — we gambled with our bodies, our finances and our emotions.

Our lives revolved around injection schedules, ultrasound appointments and blood draws. And with the exception of a handful of friends as well as a few colleagues, no one knew about the heartbreaking struggle to grow our family.

No one.

We waded through the trenches of infertile hell silently. It was lonely and isolating. And while it’s a place I’d never want to visit again, I wouldn’t change it for the world because infertility changed me.

Infertility made my marriage stronger. It taught me how to be patient and accept the things I cannot control. It allowed me to overcome a longstanding fear of needles. It surfaced an unexplainable desire of motherhood buried deep in the crevices of my soul. It changed how I viewed the societal definition of “family.” It forced me to face difficult decisions. It taught me how to grieve. It made me realize there are multiple avenues to becoming a mother.

And while it’s sometimes easy to stay bitter about the unfairness of it all, I truly wouldn’t change a thing.
I am a better mother, wife and human being because I beat infertility. And for that, I am so deeply grateful.

Shelley Skuster

Shelley is the writer behind http://www.shelleyskuster.com/. She's a former award-winning news reporter who -- after years of infertility, two adoptions and a pregnancy -- decided to leave TV news to stay at home and focus on raising her three daughters -- ages three and under.