Looking back on the almost five years since our infertility diagnosis, I can definitely say that it has taught me some valuable lessons – not just about living with infertility, but about living in general.
1. Trust and be comfortable with your medical team. Whether it’s the person you see once a year for your annual physical or a team of people that you have to see on a regular basis for a chronic condition or disease treatment, it’s important that you have a good relationship with them and believe that they are working in your best interest.
I am so lucky because, as I have stated previously, I feel that I had the fertility, pregnancy and labor and delivery dream team. I will be forever grateful to my OB/GYN that teared up when giving us our infertility diagnosis, Dr. Shamma and his team for the confidence and compassion during IVF and for the labor and delivery team that made my C-section experience as comfortable as it could be. I’m sure the hormones were partly to blame, but I remember crying grateful tears every step of the way because I felt so well cared for and trusted them all so much. So find that, and if you don’t have it now, keep looking until you do!
2. Your journey is not the same as someone else’s. It’s helpful to talk to or follow blogs of people who are in similar situations, but comparison really is the thief of joy. It will most likely only add to your uncertainty. Each case varies at least slightly, and people may respond to their treatments differently. Message boards, Google and sharing stories are great because they form a community, and let you know that you aren’t alone. But comparing your treatment plans or results directly to someone else’s will only lead to more questions and steal your confidence. And this isn’t just for fertility either. We need to quit comparing ourselves to others. Everyone is living with their own struggles and successes. Find a support system that works for you, including your medical team.
3. This one is hard for me to admit, because I know that it got me nowhere…but what I learned is that it’s strangely possible to be jealous of another person’s suffering – whether that be morning sickness, swollen ankles or not fitting into your jeans. I actually remember, on one of my worst days, that I said that I would gladly puke multiple times a day and never drink again if it meant I could just be pregnant. I was at the end of my rope – I didn’t think it was fair for people to complain about morning sickness or not being able to have a beer because they got to be pregnant and I didn’t. But what I really took away from this was that we never really know someone’s whole story or what they are going through, just like they don’t know mine. Everyone has their own battles to fight.
4. There are all kinds of moms.
5. When you’re at a doctor’s appointment and questions, answers and treatment plans are being discussed, it’s almost inevitable that you and your spouse will hear and remember different things. Come with a list of questions, write the important things down, and then recap the appointment with your spouse as quickly as possible to make sure you have the same understandings leaving the appointment.
6. Don’t live in a world of “what ifs.” It’s hard to answer the “what if” questions because each step has so many possible results and scenarios. I’m a planner by nature and I’ve had to let go of thinking too far ahead. My husband has really helped me to slow down and focus on what’s happening right now, and to stop worrying about the immediate outcomes and possible next steps. You can’t forget to live in the moment…the “what ifs” will steal today from you.
7. It’s important to surround yourself with the right people. People who support you, care about your desires, and don’t question the decisions you make. Without our people, Bob and I would have been lost. We relied on them to be our cheerleaders, provide distractions when they were needed and their encouragement made the worst days a little more bearable. Now that Hope is here, they are her “village,” celebrating her milestones and teaching her and loving her through life.
8. I married the right person. Infertility can tear couples apart. It’s financially and emotionally draining, and sometimes becomes more than a couple can bear. In the past five years, I have experienced every range of emotion and I was lucky to have a supportive husband and partner by my side through it all. And now, I get to watch him be Hope’s dad – which is the best part of all of it.
Infertility has taught me many things and forced me to change my perspective in many situations. It’s hard to put it all into words, but I know that I am changed, and mostly for the better, because of infertility. What has infertility taught you?
Melissa Kimball is an account executive at Hart, an ad agency in Maumee. She received her marketing and communications degree from Defiance College. She and her husband, Bob, recently moved to Whitehouse, Ohio, with their toddler, Hope, and boxer, Blue. In junior high, Melissa learned that her thoughts were always best expressed in writing. So as an adult, she turned to writing to cope with the couple’s infertility journey. Now Melissa’s wish is that her words offer comfort and company to others touched by infertility.