A writing teacher of mine once told me, “If you don’t know how to say what you need to, just start writing until it makes sense”. So I’m writing.
For a little over a year, The Egg has been dormant. At least the blog portion of it. I feel like I owe an explanation, but wasn’t quite sure how to write one without overthinking how I would be coming across.
You see, when our IVF became successful, I thought I’d be able to take the banner of infertility and move into another realm of activism. I’d be able to take what I knew firsthand about dealing with infertility and somewhat overcoming it, and I’d be able to help even MORE people. But I wasn’t prepared for the immense anxiety and depression that would overtake me in those few months and the full year after. I was already keeping a low profile, because I wasn’t sure what to share, because I didn’t want to hurt anyone who was still in the fight. But beyond that, I was then fighting with intrusive sad thoughts during pregnancy, which made me feel extremely guilty. Finally, he was here, and my anxiety about everything in the world, grew to a point where I just lost myself.
Ten years into our marriage, and seven years to the date of this blog’s creation, my husband and I finally welcomed our son, Judah into the world. He is an amazing gift that encourages me to continue telling people not to give up on their family building dreams. I never shy away from telling people how much work, effort, and medicine it took to bring him into our lives. I am not ashamed of our infertility, and I want to encourage and support as many people as I can so that they too can have this amazing feeling.
I am grateful for him. I’m grateful for what our infertility journey has instilled in me that informs my parenting style. I think there are a LOT of amazing gems I received during our lengthy wait that we use DAILY as parents.
I’m constantly saying quiet prayers of gratitude. That he was given to us. That he’s healthy. That we made it a year with him and he hasn’t fired us. LOL
But for the past eighteen months, I’ve also battled an intense and paralyzing bout of depression and anxiety. A sickness that has caused me to drastically withdraw from the life I had before. Triggers have developed from everything from television and social media, to even quick trips to the store. There have been days where I’ve sat in my car, too afraid to get out and go in to work. Other days, I have had to literally talk myself through the most mundane social interactions like saying hello, responding to an email, or deciding what to eat for dinner.
I’ve felt like a prisoner in my own mind. Unable to find a safe space to talk because I felt I had no right to. Because I wanted to be a mom so badly, that how DARE I talk about how difficult a time I was having, when so many others are still just trying to GET HERE. That perhaps I should just accept what comes in the aftermath.
So the blog sat still.
Because I couldn’t figure out how to say, “YES, this is wonderful. YES, we’ve finally had this wonderful gift. But, I’m scared, and sad, and petrified most of the time.”
Every enjoyable moment felt like it warranted payment of some kind. And I felt an immense and insufferable guilt. So I began to limit my interactions and compartmentalize my life. A complete pull-back from social media outside of documenting the baby’s life on his own private Instagram. Work became clinical. Where I once LOVED starting my day, and sharing exciting things with my patrons, I became too afraid of being in a public space with so many strangers all day. I began to gauge my social outings by whether or not I felt the conversations would stay light and airy or if the location was close and small, because I didn’t want to risk getting somewhere and landing in a situation that would send me into an emotional spiral when I left.
The shame of feeling so fragmented made me feel unworthy or incapable of working for the infertility community, for my sorority, or even my job. And I was too anxious to make regular updates or contributions anyway. I was not myself. But I continued to smile in photos, and respond brightly to personal messages. I may have taken a few days longer than usual, but I would push myself to respond to emails. I’d attend events and try to make sure that no one could see the panic behind my eyes, or hear me take the deep breaths I needed to get through the time. And I told myself that this was just how it was going to be.
At the very worst of my days, around January, I made it into an appointment with a therapist I’d never met before, and in two seconds of being in her space, I was a puddle of tears and told her that I felt like a basket-case. I couldn’t complete a thought. I couldn’t focus at work. I’d been driving since I was 14, and I was afraid to drive. And I felt on top of everything else that I HAD to do this RIGHT, because I fought so hard for it. I felt that I’d pushed God’s hand in trying so very hard for motherhood, and that this was my penance. At any moment, it would all be snatched away, and I’d never recover.
And I couldn’t figure out how to talk about that. So I’ve been listening to podcasts, and researching, and reading what I can. And the conclusion that I’ve come to, is that I HAVE to talk about this. ESPECIALLY here, on The Egg, because I don’t want anyone else to feel like I did/do. That because you fought to get to parenthood, you somehow lose the right to admit what you’re going through.
Babies don’t cure infertility. And infertility is wracked with anxieties and fears that grow and expand, sometimes even into parenthood. And while I knew that was possible, I had no idea how intense that growth would be. So the purpose of my post today is really to say, I apologize for being quiet. I’m still here. I’m still thinking of you, and praying for your success! I want you to win! I want you to have the family you envision, or the peace of mind to cope with the future you hadn’t.
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.