Infertility Has Scarred Me

I can still remember that day, the day I got my first positive pregnancy test. We’d been trying for only a few months then, maybe five or six months, and I was relieved because I thought it might be harder or take even longer. You can imagine, then, my anger and frustration when later that same day my period started, making it clear that it had been nothing more than a fluke, a false positive, which apparently happens all the time with home pregnancy tests.

Little did I know at the time that the road we were on was going to be one full of that anger and frustration, with an even greater grief ahead, when the pregnancy test WOULD be positive after a cycle of IVF and I’d stay pregnant for nearly six months with twin boys before the other shoe dropped, the bad thing happened, and I’d find out lying in a hospital bed connected to things six ways to Sunday that in fact I could no longer stay pregnant if I wanted to live.

You should never have to choose your life over your child.

Infertility has shaped me, it’s carved my bones into a different form, it’s left black marks on my heart that will always be there. You cannot imagine how awful it is – to want that most basic element of humanity, a child – and not be able to do it without help.

You cannot imagine the way it changes your relationships with people, how you can’t bear to receive a birth announcement or go to a baby shower because while you’re there it feels like you’re sitting on a chair full of incredibly sharp knives. Or how deeply it hurts when your friends blurt out things that are so fraught with ignorance and dismissiveness (why don’t you just adopt? Oh, I don’t know, because it costs ten times as much and you won’t necessarily have a child at the end of the process?) that you can no longer look at them full in the face.

It’s easy to think you know about infertility when you haven’t been there. It’s a rocky, challenging road full of dead end cul-de-sacs that leave you exhausted, fatter, angrier, and lonely at the finish – and some of us don’t even get to have a child when all is said and done.

Today I sometimes hug my living child with a fierceness that leaves us both breathless. Some days I cannot believe she is here. Some days I can’t believe my boys aren’t here. My infertility has left me scarred. The scars are inside where you can’t see them, but trust me, they are there.

 

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Comments

  1. cheryl says

    Cecily, Thank you for sharing how so many women who suffer from infertility feel.
    I’ve worked so hard at burying those feelings, I think today, for just a little while I will let them out and have a good cry.

  2. says

    Yes, those scars. I’m just glad that I don’t feel as alone as I once did with mine. Before I found twitter and Facebook and all these other things…it was a very quiet thing, my infertility.

  3. says

    Oh this post…. thank you so much for sharing. Tomorrow I’m writing about my fears and one of them is that I’ll never be a mother. I suspect that my husband & I are struggling with infertility and it’s very scary. And sometimes I just can’t bear the baby shower invites, the questions, the… everything. It’s overwhelming and saddening and unexplainable to people who aren’t aware. So I thank you for putting this into words. I haven’t walked the same path as you, but certainly a parallel one.

    • Michele Albert says

      Maggie B,

      I hope with all my heart that you are able to have a child! You are not alone and there is so much support out there for you. Good luck to you and your husband in your journey!

  4. says

    I look at my seven year old and realize that finally I’ve had her for longer than I tried for her, and I STILL can not believe that she is really, truly, forever mine.

  5. says

    I’m sure that was even harder for you to write than it was for me to read. And I’m sitting here in a messy pile of tears and goosebumps. Hugs to you.

  6. says

    I feel your pain. I too had a miscarriage and then suffered with infertility; it took seven long years and a lot of medical interventions to finally get pregnant with the help of an amazing fertility specialist, Dr. Norman Barwin.

    Thanks for shining a light on this important issue.

      • says

        Infertility issues and miscarriages are very difficult both emotionally, physically and spiritually. I feel for couples facing these issues particularly now when “health care” coverage covers so little. So along with the pain and suffering of facing infertility, there are the financial burdens for couples wishing to continue in the hope of having their own child. I admire your courage in writing about this topic.

  7. nycphoenix says

    I’m going to bring the scars into the open with a tattoo one day. pomegranate seeds in a bracelet with the phoenix logo of my old blog. thank you for sharing

  8. Michele Albert says

    Thank you for sharing your scars, I know I have many. We tried for seven years to have a child and in the end we were unsuccessful. The hardest part for me is forgiving my body for failing me. I know I am over weight and out of shape but I have trouble being good to a body that was not good to me. I doubt that I will ever be able to stop wanting a child but I try to be positive, to be thankful for everything I do have. I have a husband who loves me, not matter what my size, I have friends who allow me to shamelessly spoil their children and the most incredibly supportive family anyone could ask for.

    I thank you, and all of the other infertility bloggers for being brave enough to put your pain and joy out for the world to see. I went through infertility years ago, before blogs, before support groups, it is nice to see support for those who are brave enough to navigate this difficult path.

  9. Jb says

    Post and comments tug at me. Two healthy, happy kids later, I know we are so, so lucky. It colors our parenting – we have friends who got pregnant without thought and they are shocked when I say I have yet to spend a night away (soon I think I will be ready). I think even with our oldest turning 7 we sometimes are still surprised. The road was long, ugly and included a very traumatic birth. Take care to all – where ever you may be on this journey – you are not alone.

  10. says

    Thanks for writing about this. I also want to know, as someone who hasn’t been on that journey but have friends that have been/still are – what are the right things to say?

    When I talk to my friend all I can offer is being there for her and asking her to drive, because I don’t know. I am sure I am not the only socially inept person out there – we all need guidance.

    (BTW – I have taken on board a lot that you – and others – have said in the past, and I am not so horribly inept as I possibly once was)

    • Tine says

      Jeanie, in my opinion you’re already doing the most important thing right. It doesn’t matter how many times or in how many ways you put your foot in your mouth. (And it’s impossible to know what’ll be the “right” thing to say at any given moment, anyway.) What matters is being there for your friend, and staying there — even when it’s awkward and hard. Infertility is like other forms of grief. Many people don’t know how to help a grieving person, so they withdraw in fear of hurting the person more. What they may not realize is that the withdrawal is the probably the most hurtful thing of all.

    • Cecily Kellogg says

      Really the key is to just say, “It sucks, and I’m so sorry.”

      And try really, really hard to leave out the will of God in any fashion. :)

    • says

      “I know I don’t know what you’re feeling/going through, but I know it’s hard and I’m really sorry. I’m afraid of saying the wrong thing. Will you tell me if I do?”

      I would have loved hearing these words. Second Cecily on leaving out the will of God (or fate or “meant to be”). Those made me want to throw things. Especially at the person saying them.

  11. Lynda Schrader says

    Thank you for sharing. My son and daughter-in-law are on this journey now. It helps to hear another’s story. I have a better idea how to talk with them now.

  12. Alexicographer says

    Thanks for writing about this, Cecily, and amen. I’m so sorry about much of what you went through and yet at the same time I know it is part of what’s shaped you into the person you are today of whom I’m so fond.

    • Cecily Kellogg says

      I do believe that I wouldn’t be who I am without it, hard as it was. :D And thanks for saying that.

  13. says

    I know how u feel … we had a miscarrge and have had false poitives … it crazy havent yet resorted to IVF … lets see… just wanted to let u know that I feel you :-)… in our part of the world families and some some friends make it a big issue …

  14. says

    Thank you for this post. All of us have our struggles and yours is not one I have experience with, but I feel I understand it better through your honest words.

  15. donna says

    As always, thankyou for putting your experiences into words. We fertiles will not understand without such windows of enlightenment. Enjoy your baby. She is growing up so fast. Hug her without mercy every day.

  16. Laura says

    Wonderful post, Cecily. My miracle girls are almost 2 1/2 years old, and I still can’t believe they’re here. I know I’ve told you this before, but it is your writing about your experience with pre-eclampsia that made me hyper-vigilant in my twin pregnancy. I was lucky enough to make it to 34 weeks before PE and HELLP set in, and I took healthy babies home from the NICU after 13 days. But yeah, I’m a different person after 6 years IF, 3 m/c’s, etc. Not as mad anymore, though– mostly just grateful.

    • Cecily Kellogg says

      It’s amazing how this community works, isn’t it? I’m so glad your girls are here and well. :D

  17. says

    I am sorry for your scars. I have a few of my own. Two miscarrages, struggling to get pregnant, wondering if I could ever have kids. Frustration. Anger. Sadness. But my scars birthed 3 beautiful kids, who today are 18, 21 & 24. Worth the wait and the struggle.

  18. says

    I don’t know that I have read a sentence about the aftermath of infertility that resonates with me more than this one:

    “Infertility has shaped me, it’s carved my bones into a different form, it’s left black marks on my heart that will always be there.”

    Thank you for writing and sharing this.

  19. says

    I too am scarred from my battle with infertility, yet I think that those of us who have been there truly, literally understand what it means when they call it the miracle of life. I too watch my kids knowing full well that they would not be here without a lot of medical help and some serious luck. It was difficult for me to write about it this week, but afterwards I felt a bit of relief. I hope it was the same for you, Cecily.

    • Cecily Kellogg says

      Indeed it did, even though I had terrible nightmares after writing this post. Still, glad to increase the awareness!

  20. says

    Hi Cecily, It’s taken me very long to do the search for infertility blogs because I don’t want to face it. Too painful. We’ve been trying for nearly 4 years now. I feel lost, angry, and sorry for myself. This post screamed out to me and I am very grateful for your raw honesty here. I’ll be living on your blog for a while; hope that’s ok with you. :)

    • Cecily Kellogg says

      Just do me a favor and skip over Oct of 2004, okay? Too much when you’re still trying.

      I would suggest going over to see Mel at http://www.stirrup-queens.com/. She has the complete list of infertility blogs; you can find people like you regardless of what infertility factors you have and what path you take in building your family. :D

  21. says

    More than 14 years after my direct struggles with infertility ended with two live babies, I’m sitting here with a full throat and tears in my eyes. I’m not sure when I realized that even if I had a baby, I would never be the same person again. Infertility shaped everything fundamental to who I am today. Much of that was good–I think I’m more compassionate, more grateful, more aware of what’s really important. I know I’ve been a better mother than I would otherwise have been. But it’s sort of like being carved from flesh, without anesthesia. I appreciate the string of comments as much as the post.

  22. says

    I honestly can’t imagine. I have two friends that suffered with infertility one who is currently pregnant with twins after her second round of IVF and one that will never be able to have kids. As the friend, with kids, its hard. I never know the right thing to say. Is there a right thing? I remember having to tell both of them when I was pregnant both of who were just finding out about their infertility at the time and it was so hard. I can’t imagine how much harder it must have been for them to feign happiness at the situation.

  23. says

    Thank you for blogging about infertility. I have known since age eleven that I would never have children. I had to grow up with the isolation of it. While I didn’t fully grasp infertility during my growing years, I did begin to see how different I felt from my friends and that eventually I would have to face it as an adult. I’m now 40, married, and have adopted 2 children out of foster care. Even though I no longer feel the sting of infertility, I so appreciate the having forums (blogs) out there where I can connect with other women….wish I would have had these growing up!