Anyone experiencing the pain, heartbreak, and uncertainty of infertility is wholly unprepared for it, but I truly didn’t know how overwhelming it was all going to get, especially as my husband and I walked into the fertility clinic for the first time.
It was 2012 and all I knew about my fertility struggles was that carefully-timed sex wasn’t getting me pregnant. I had started a blog a few months prior that had exactly three posts on it because blogging was what you did back then, but I didn’t really know how to go about it. It wasn’t until, fingers shaking as I hit the publish button on a Facebook post, that I decided to make our struggles to have a baby public and I realized writing about my infertility could be exactly what I needed.
I took to it, frantically and obsessively. I found a 30-day infertility blog challenge on the Internet and wrote a post daily, as I also documented our first intrauterine insemination (IUI) cycle, which ultimately failed. At first, I used my writing to keep my friends and family in the loop about what was happening with our cycles. It saved me time and mental energy from repeating the same story to different people.
The truth was, infertility was so much more stressful than I ever thought it would be. I made jokes about my sub-par ovaries, but I was terrified. I was terrified that we were spending our life savings, putting my body through treatment after treatment, for it all to just—not work.
So I wrote.
I wrote about the anger that exploded from me every time we needed to deal with insurance (thank you United States healthcare), the initial high of doing an insemination or preparing for an in vitro fertilization cycle, and the anxiety of waiting to find out if I was pregnant. I wrote in my blog exactly how I felt when I learned, cycle after cycle that I wasn’t pregnant, yet again. And when I had my first miscarriage, my writing became the therapy I never got. Even to this day, I have regrets about not seeking out professional therapy during that time, but I had my writing—at least I had that.
This blog I kept—this online journal really—it started out to keep everyone informed about where we were at. But it started evolving, and rather quickly.
Putting my infertility story out there opened me up to a world of other women.
Women, just like me, struggling with negative pregnancy tests, uninformed mothers-in-law, and the fine art of keeping a medication and appointment calendar accurate. We connected, commenting on each other’s posts, hosting sock exchanges for our embryo transfers, and sending cards out to those who’ve lost babies, or finally had their adoption come through. We became a community, one that no one wants to be a part of, but since we were anyway, we decided to band together and support each other when no one around us seemed to truly understand.
When I was a teenager, talking out a problem was my thing that helped make sense of an issue. But in my adulthood, talking about infertility when no one else in my life was, was only driving me further into isolation. I never knew the power that words can possess when they’re written at midnight, being seen through the blurriness of tears, knowing they would be read by many. Hundreds even. I was telling my story to people all over the world, about the personal hell that was infertility.
Nothing about my fertility came easy. When a setback happened, I logged into my account, created a new post and started writing about it. It helped me to process the complex emotions I was left with and had it not been for my blog, things would have been so different for me, mentally. I wasn’t dealing with the stress well, but there was something about others reading my story that made all of this somehow a little more worth it.
I still write about my infertility.
Even now that I’m a parent of an almost three-year-old, and am preparing to go back to my clinic to go through the process all over again. While I’m a mother now, I still need my community. I still need to have a place for others to reach out to me, whether they’re just beginning their infertility journey or years into it. Choosing to write publicly about my journey helped me become comfortable starting a dialog on this very sensitive topic, one that’s not talked about much. But even if I had never told a soul about my writing, it still would have been important.
I didn’t realize at the time all the good that was going to come from writing down my story, but I’m so glad I did it.