While we were in Washington, D.C. for RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association’s Advocacy Day and for our pop-up gallery and workshops at Busboys and Poets a couple of weeks ago, we asked those in attendance to fill out cards describing what “infertility is” to them. You’ll see some of them throughout this post, from Elizabeth. You can see more by viewing a slideshow at this link.
When I think of infertility, I think of many things. How I view infertility and what it means to me has changed as I’ve traveled through my journey.
Infertility is… devastating.
Infertility is…feeling left behind.
Infertility is…an identity crisis.
I was pregnant once, as a result of a frozen embryo transfer, and only knew I was pregnant for a few days before learning that the pregnancy was ending in an early miscarriage. During those few days, I was excited, hopeful and cautiously optimistic, that after four years of timed intercourse, hormone injections, and 7 a.m. ultrasound appointments, I might finally become a parent. However, I was also experiencing some serious anxiety and a complete identity crisis.
The early years of infertility were extremely difficult. However, once I was used to the fact that I had an infertility diagnosis (for the most part anyway), I settled in to my place as an infertile woman and RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association peer-led support group host. I read books on infertility, I knew which foods to eat to boost my egg quality (and incorporated excessive quantities of them into my diet), I had infertile friends, and was beginning to perfect my answers to the question, “Do you have kids?”, recite them with conviction, and be ready for any follow up questions that came my way.
When I found out I was pregnant, though obviously happy, I was also confused about where I would fit in. What would happen to my relationships with my infertile friends who I would leave behind? What would my role within RESOLVE become? The first ART of Infertility exhibit was on the schedule at the Ella Sharp Museum in Jackson and I remember being a bit upset that I had to stay in the world of infertility to work on it, instead of being able to enjoy my pregnancy. I was terrified of moving into the world of someone who was pregnant after infertility. I was even feeling exhausted about the fact that, after watching my diet for years to GET pregnant, I’d need to watch my diet for another 9 months in order to make sure my baby was getting the nutrition it would need. It was a mix of thoughts and emotions. A complete identity crisis, over the course of less than 72 hours.
I wish I would have gotten the chance to figure out how I would incorporate all of the thoughts and fears above into my new identity as a woman who was parenting after infertility. I haven’t gotten there yet and might even eventually choose to live child free. I’m still trying to navigate figuring out my identity a bit. However, through working on the ART of Infertility, I feel like I am really finding my footing. Because of this project, my view is now that
Infertility is…meeting amazing people, around the country and around the world, who understand how the disease impacts my life, because they’re living it too.
Infertility is…educating health care professionals about how they can better serve their patients.
Infertility is…hosting art and writing workshops to give others the creative outlet that I have found so helpful along the way.
Infertility is…visiting amazing cities and sharing the infertility stories of those who live there.
Please share with us what “Infertility is” to you.