I was talking to a friend yesterday about the ridiculous changes the both of us have had to endure over the past year or so regarding our infertility. We droned on and on about most of it, but then in a brief moment of clarity, one of us finally went, “This is HARD!”, and the other of us replied with, “RIGHT?!”
It really, truly is hard.
There are no “right” answers.
Life doesn’t stop and give you the opportunity to catch up to yourself.
You can’t call in “infertile and devastated” to work.
It just keeps moving.
What IF infertility wasn’t so hard, though? What IF I didn’t have to fight for every single inch? What IF this had come easy for me like it has for so many others? Who would I be, and what would infertility mean to me?
If this weren’t so hard:
I probably wouldn’t know as much about my body as I do now.
I can admit to being rather flighty about it when I was younger and thought that all bodies were created equal. I track everything about myself now to the point where there is a separate section in my google calendar just for monitoring. I’m my own obsession now.
I would be one of the ones who didn’t get it.
As a teen, I can remember asking my mother why some family members didn’t have children, and my FIRST thought was always that they must not have wanted any. Because if you wanted kids, you had them, right? So to be an adult, with a job and a house, and still no children of your own, you must have decided that kids just weren’t for you, and that you didn’t want to be bothered. The millisecond that this thing gets real for you, all that ignorance falls away like leaves.
I wouldn’t be so aware of how much my community is lacking in reproductive health information.
You really never know what’s missing until you’re looking for it. In my years of haphazard pap smears and birth control pills thrown in my direction, I never even knew there was something else I should have been asking about. All I knew about fibroids was taught through the radio commercials that proclaimed loudly about how there was a “NEW procedure that would only require outpatient surgery and no hysterectomy!”. These commercials usually aired midday on V103, right after an Anita Baker song, and just before Luther Vandross.
I can remember no pamphlet or discussion with any doctor of mine which explained fibroids themselves OR hysterectomies.
I never knew to ask why my periods lasted so long, or what kind of effects my birth control pills could have on my future reproductive health. I did whatever my doctors told me was best. They said hypothyroid, and I stopped at hypothyroid.
Which brings me to my next revelation…
I wouldn’t know how to advocate for myself medically.
I never questioned a doctor in my life prior to fighting for my infertility choices.
I never willingly CHANGED doctors in my life prior to fighting for my infertility choices.
I never brought a pen and pad, or researched before an appointment, prior to fighting for my infertility choices.
I never mapped out my medical choices so extensively.
I never checked my doctor’s “report cards”.
I never got to know the nurses at my doctor’s offices, or even thought much about the office itself after my appointments.
I have conversations. I recognize that while that doctor is in the room with me, they are on MY dime and MY time, and neither of us is leaving until I’M satisfied.
I wouldn’t know how to advocate for and with YOU.
In learning to speak up for myself, or at least get some of this really difficultness off of my chest, I’ve been able to interact and support hundreds of others who found themselves in very similar positions. Together, we’ve cried, yelled, laughed, and pushed through to our own resolutions. Some have gone to become parents, others have decided enough was enough, but each of us have grown just a little more. I owe those friendships to this struggle. As hard as it has been.
I wouldn’t know my own strength.
I have learned a lot about myself in these past years, but some things I’ve always known. I know that when I’m hurting, I tend to shut down and deflect. I know that when I’m afraid, I roll into a ball and try to protect myself. I know that I scare pretty easily, overall, and that my pain threshold is meek.
I have learned that when I’m afraid, I will go anyway, and do whatever is needed.
I have learned that when I’m hurting, I find peace in helping others, and in speaking out.
I have learned that trying to protect myself is secondary for me when others are in danger, or uninformed.
I have learned that while many things scare me, never having tried, is my most frightening thought.
I have learned that when it matters, my pain threshold is far higher than I ever would have imagined.
I have learned that I can be stronger than I ever thought possible, because it’s often all I have left.
I have learned that I DO NOT GIVE UP.
Featured image courtesy of stockimages/FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Regina Townsend is the primary author and founder of TheBrokenBrownEgg. A librarian and writer, Regina’s mission is to make people aware and active about the unique concerns of reproductive health in the minority community.