It shouldn’t have given me even a moment’s pause when I found myself speaking up — giving opinions, asking questions, just generally participating — during a regularly scheduled meeting my first week back to work after maternity leave. A meeting I have attended regularly for nearly three years and off and on for longer than that. It’s a meeting where that type of thing SHOULD happen. So, why was I surprised at my actions?
Because speaking up, having a voice, was something I had not been doing a lot of in the past three years. Since roughly the time infertility became my reality.
I certainly recognized at some point during my struggle to conceive that my confidence was taking a hit in areas even outside the fertility world. How could it not when you consider that conceiving a child is something all women are “supposed” to be built for and something most women do without a second thought (and many without a thought at all)? How could I not feel inadequate in other areas of life when you can’t even do THAT?
I was not always the wife, friend, employee, boss that I could have been — should have been.
It’s the part of infertility that I never saw coming. I felt lost. In addition to all the trials of trying to get pregnant, the fertility testing, the pain and heartache, came a loss of myself. I didn’t know who I was anymore, so I had a hard time being all those other things.
It's not that everything in my life revolved around or had been leading up to having kids. But for as long as I can remember— whenever I played pretend (no matter the game), whenever I pictured the whole of my life— being a mom was the only constant. And that wasn’t happening. And my entire life felt foreign to me.
I’m one of the lucky ones. My infertility struggle ended with the best possible results. I have my baby boy. I am the mother I always wanted to be.
I’m also lucky because I didn’t lose myself entirely to infertility. I just went into hiding for awhile. I still carry the scars of infertility. Anyone who has ever struggled always will. You can’t take back the pain and the anger, the insecurities.
What I CAN do is use my experience to help others. Not just those who struggle through infertility, but as a face and voice for infertility so that those who don’t struggle maybe understand a little bit about what someone else has gone through.
This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association is a wonderful resource for those struggling and for those who want to know more about how infertility affects us.
Do you know someone who is battling infertility? I bet you do. Are you struggling with infertility? Know you are not alone.
Ashley Bearden is a full-time working Mommy to son Will after two and a half years of trying to get pregnant.