It's National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW). I have had lots of ideas of things to write, and in an ideal world, I would have had multiple posts to share throughout the week. But, time has escaped me, and clearly this is not an ideal world. If it were, NIAW wouldn't exist. But, I couldn't let this week go by without posting something, so here it is....
Infertility is hard. It's a lonely and isolating grief, mostly because the majority of people don't realize that those of us who experience it are grieving. There is no tangible loss to point to that starts the grieving process. Instead, we cycle through the stages of grief over and over again, bouncing back and forth between hope, despair, anger, etc., usually taking years to come to the stage of acceptance (I'm still not there). It is not a worse grief. It is just a different grief.
Because of this, infertility is often misunderstood. It's one of those things that a lot of people think they know how they would react to. I was one of those people. I always wanted to adopt, so I really believed that I would not be sad if I experienced infertility. I really believed that I would never pursue fertility treatment, that I would never feel like less of a woman if I couldn't bear children, that I would never be sad to miss out on pregnancy and childbirth. But I also had never experienced infertility.
This is not a knock on people who have not experienced it. I am so thankful for the many people in my life who have never experienced infertility, but who don't make assumptions about how they would feel or act if they were in my situation. They just trust me. They trust that it is hard. And even though they can't understand it firsthand, they know that this is a real grief, and they do not try to minimize or ignore the pain.
Even with these incredible people in my life, I still have felt a deep need to connect with other women who have experienced infertility. I walked through the majority of our journey so far without the support of others who have walked the same road. Had it not been for a select few people (and dogs), who entered into the pain with me, I don't know how I would have made it. But over the last few months, God has brought various women who have dealt with infertility into my life in really amazing ways. And this week, we all came together at my house to meet and encourage one another in this journey. It was so good in so many ways, mainly because, with something that is so commonly misunderstood, it is nice to be with people who just get it.... no explanation necessary. I walked away from this night feeling so grateful for where God has me.
One of the women who has also adopted shared that the pain of infertility is still real, but that it is being crowded out with love for her little boy. I loved the way she worded that, because I could not agree more. I believe that infertility will always hurt in one way or another, but the joy I get from being Silas's mom is so much greater than that pain.
I feel so blessed by these women and so honored to be among them. Infertility has brought me great sadness, and I think it will always sting, but it has also brought me great joy. I am blessed by the ways it has shaped me and by the people it has brought into my life who would otherwise not be here, including my little perfection of a son.