This is my story and it starts in the mid 80’s. As a young woman of about 26 I entered the consultant’s office, along with my husband. We were about to find out the results of tests regarding our inability to conceive. Words came back at me such as ‘blocked’ ‘scarring’ and ‘fallopian tubes’.
The outcome was it would be a miracle if I ever got pregnant.
As I worked with children (apart from my acting) I was devastated. My husband was disappointed but had never shared the desire for children in quite the same way as me.
At the time we were Christians so our church prayed for a miracle and I truly believed our prayers would be answered. So much so, I made career decisions around the idea that I would at some point get pregnant.
However it was not to be and even after failed IVF treatment, eventually I needed to face reality.
How did I cope?
By finding out who I really was and not letting others define me by my infertility. For example some religious people would say “you must have faith and you will get pregnant” ignoring the fact I already had a strong faith but nothing had resulted in success. One person even said “you do know you need to have intercourse to get pregnant”. If I had let these people define me I would have felt stupid, faithless and ineffective as a woman.
My advice for well meaning friends of someone who is infertile is ‘listen, don’t preach!’
By the way, I am now agnostic but I came to this decision many years later and it has nothing to do with my infertility.
Another way I coped was by being honest with myself. It was okay to cry bucket loads because there would be no part of me and my husband (biologically) to carry on our genes into the future. It was okay to grieve, as I imagined the little girl or boy we had hoped to have. I coped because I genuinely shared the joy of friends’ pregnancies. I didn’t ever resent their happiness; it wasn’t their fault I couldn’t get pregnant and I wouldn’t have wanted friends to feel they couldn’t talk to me about children.
Infertility and beyond!
Infertility can be a lonely journey and it certainly made me reflect on what is important in life. My husband and I used that by being honest with each other and to make the most important decision of our lives. We adopted a baby!
By the way, if you have discovered you are infertile it’s important for me to say…adoption may not be the route for you. There may be all sorts of issues around identity and attachment which are closely linked with adoption or fostering and the whole process is complex. In my view many people mistakenly think a dose of love is all that’s needed for a successful placement. It is so much more than that. However if your modus operandi is to connect to a child and be the difference in their lives to enable him/her to live a positive and fulfilling life then go for it!
Adopting our son has been the best and most difficult thing we ever did. By the time we made the decision we had accepted our infertility. Our legacy would be bringing up a child that someone else could no longer keep. We knew it was the most painful decision for the birth mum to make and in our eyes we always respected her deeply and still do. Our son knows that too.
Our infertility and adoption journey has been upsetting, frustrating and depressing at times but most of all it has turned into a thing of beauty; joy, profound love and attachment to another human being (now 22) who has taught us more about ourselves and helped us to grow into better people. He may not be ours by blood but he is ours in every other way!