To help spread awareness of the prevalence of infertility and offer hope to those currently struggling, I interviewed women who overcame the odds and persevered through many challenges to start a family. These are their stories...
When/How did you first realize you were struggling with infertility? What was most challenging about this realization/diagnosis?
After trying for some time, it became apparent there was an issue. I had never thought I would have a problem getting pregnant as all my family is really good at it! The most frustrating part of it all is that they never found any reason for my problems – other than my age. I started trying at 36. I am now 41. Every test came back normal to outstanding (for my age). My RE said I have a beautiful pelvis (i.e., internally, things look peachy keen). Trying to figure things out almost drove me crazy. Literally. I felt a depression and deep sadness I had never known.
What types of therapies did you pursue?
We tried everything. I mean everything. Tons of acupuncture and herbs (my husband too), yoga, IVF. Years and years of it. That is what also contributed to our frustration and challenges. We tried so hard! I also made my husband give up all alcohol and cigars for many months. We were officially still newlyweds and I felt like I was taking away the fun and ease in our relationship that made us happy. I felt like a watch dog. It was hard to be happy. It really affected our marriage in a negative way. It was just a very difficult time.
What gave you motivation and confidence to move forward?
I don’t know. I never considered giving up. I truly believe that persistence in life is key. Most things in life do not come easily. So I do not give up easily. It is not in my nature. And anyone that knows me would tell you I was meant to be a mom. So, I just knew it had to happen one way or another.
What factors helped you determine the path you ultimately chose?
My husband and I wanted adoption to be part of our family plan from the beginning. We got together later in life, so we planned to have a few biological kids and a few adopted – maybe from Uganda. But when infertility became a reality, we began our path toward domestic infant adoption. We now are parents to an amazing baby girl.
Where did you find hope when the situation seemed most bleak?
My mat. It was amazing how much yoga helped me deal with my fertility issues and why I give so much thanks to the amazing teachers at Tranquil Space. My yoga teachers and their classes helped maintain my spirit, which enabled me to successfully maneuver through the adoption process. (*thank you Angelyn*)
As I worked through poses on my mat, I began working through things in my head. I found limitations in what my body could do, but there were also so many things it could do at the same time. It was the same with my life. I forgave my body, forgave my inabilities. But at the same time a recognized everything I could do. And I gave thanks to all I was and everything I wasn’t. I would leave class renewed and with a can-do mindset. I will never forget the experience and thus, yoga will forever be part of my life.
My husband. While it was not always easy, my relationship with my husband helped keep me on track. While my husband is not the most affectionate or passionate person in the world, his love is constant. I have compared it to an unwavering and calming stream. A rushing, drowning river it is not! But that is good.
What is the best piece of advice you received during your journey?
I read quite a bit of Pema Chodron. There is a recurring theme in her writing of the impermanence in life. Nothing lasts forever. When I felt at my worst – the terrible, crushing, black hole I could not climb out of – I would know that it was not a permanent state. I would get over it. The first time I found myself in the black hole, it was scary. It was scary for me, for my husband, even my family (who my husband called). The next few times, I would accept my place. It was awful, but I knew it would not last forever. I would laugh again.
What do you know now that you wish you would have known when you began this journey?
I wish I knew how wonderful it feels to just accept things are they are and allow things to unfold as the universe intends. It is still a struggle to find balance between “controlling” my world vs letting things unfold naturally. I mean, isn’t it important to strive, aspire for better? It really is balancing act. But undoubtedly, the pain and struggle I faced during infertility gave birth to the most amazing gift. I am a mother and my daughter is amazing. My husband is a wonderful father. We are an annoyingly loving family and dance and sing with our baby daily. My mom thinks we are crazy. We are. Crazy happy. And I know this was the plan. This was my journey. It sounds so cliché. I know. But there are so many things that make it crystal clear. I will not go over them now – but I will tell you anyone that has ever heard my stories end up with goose bumps up and down their arms. They show them to me. Seriously. They do.
What encouragement can you offer someone who is struggling with infertility?
Hah! I wanted to punch anyone that told me that “God/The Universe had a plan for me, and that things would work out. I would see.” How could all the pain, loss and struggle be part of my plan? Why???? So, I will not say that to anyone even though I might be thinking it in my head. I guess I would tell them to find love for themselves and for their partner – always – throughout the process. I also would tell folks to consider adoption, if they have not before. While I understand not everyone is interested in adoption, I will say that it is much like yoga asana but for your heart. During the adoption process I exercised parts of my heart I did not know were there. It is such a powerful, loving, incredible act – for a birth mother to give another her child. I know too well that a baby/birth is a miracle. What I know now too is that birth mothers are miracles – but in their case, they choose to be miracles. It is really incredible.
I still “try” for a biological child. Why not? It is fun to try. And I admit it is still a struggle to accept not getting pregnant. But now, after the disappointment, there is a sense of peace with it all. Maybe I am not meant to give birth. But it does not mean I am not meant to be a mother. And beyond motherhood, it does not mean I am not meant to be a loving and positive force in the world.