It's funny the power of suggestion. When marathon runners hit a wall, I know the cheers and screams of encouragement from the crowds help them get through the barrier. It is hard to know when to quit and when to keep pushing your body. I always wished a doctor would just say, "Stop. It's not going to work," to let me off the hook. But of course part of me would die if I heard those words too. My heart seemed to say never stop fighting to have your family, whatever means you decide to build it. I know that those who love me felt the same. I am evidence of someone on paper who looked like a complete failure but still figured out a way to make it happen.
TOP TEN WAYS TO PRACTICE THE ART OF BEING INFERTILE:
10. Arm Yourself with Information, But Accept the Unanswerable.
9. Find Other Infertiles.
8. Tune out the noise.
7. It's okay to be angry.
6. Keep Trying.
It may seem obvious, but part of being infertile is about "trying to conceive." Trying is the operative word. Failure after failure doesn't give us much motivation to keep going, but I think if you want to have a family, you will find your way. I don't mean to say that you should push yourself to a point where this battle becomes truly dysfunctional or dangerously toxic to your life. We all know how addictive this is and I think it's a very personal decision when to stop or when to change gears and try some alternative family building. You will know when you reach that point, and there are of course plenty of people who chose not to have kids at all in the end.
If you had asked me 3 years ago if I thought I could handle 5 IVFs or using donor egg or surrogacy, my heart would have sank, my eyes would glaze over, and I would be completely overwhelmed by the prospects. I am not sure I would have had the strength to embark on this journey knowing how hard it would be. I hit so many road blocks, each making we give up a little more of myself, a little more of my dreams, a little more of my heart. I am surprised I kept trying. I kept re-strategizing and reorienting myself to what family means. I made compromises and I gave up preset notions of how this is all suppose to work. But you never forget the blood, sweat, and tears. Even when you ultimately conceive, carry, and give birth to a healthy genetic child, you don't generally abandon the infertility camp. We all remember how much hard work it took.
Like any great challenge, cheerleaders are always appreciated. It's always good to have people reassuring us that we are not masochistic fools that have some sort of death wish. Sadly, no fertile person in my life actually ever said the words "Keep Trying." I think they felt like maybe that was condescending or giving false hope. But for me, it's powerful to hear the words - "YOU WILL HAVE YOUR FAMILY." It's a very simple statement and I think it means the world to hear this when you feel hopeless, distraught, and exhausted.
Just remember, by definition the word infertile may mean "unsuccessful in achieving pregnancy," but there is no mention whatsoever in the definition of not having a family.