If you’ve experienced any level of infertility on the road to welcoming your child, you’re part of an unfortunate but supportive club. People who struggle with getting pregnant or staying pregnant — we just GET IT. We know what to say and, most importantly, what not to say. You can dive into your current frustrations with little backstory. You can be honest with how horrible, gut-wrenching, soul-crushing, and heart breaking every minute of your life has become.
Fortunately most of us make it out of the pit of infertility one way or another. We hold our children in our arms for the first time and everything is rainbows and sunshine and happiness.
At least that’s how I thought it would be. I struggled to welcome my son and I thought when it was all over the worst would be behind me. What I didn’t expect was feeling even worse after I was “cured.”
I’m fortunate in that my postpartum struggles had nothing to do with delayed bonding. I’ve loved my son with Beverly Goldberg-level obsession since day one and meeting him made me happier than I could ever imagine. So why was I crying all the time?
There’s been a great increase in the amount of exposure postpartum depression has gotten in the media and on social media and for that, I’m so thankful. The more it’s talked about, the less taboo it becomes. But it’s still not okay to talk about miscarriage, infertility treatments, or postpartum depression at a dinner party. It’s even less okay to talk about them all in the same breath.
There is a great amount of shame us infertiles feel in admitting our post-pregnancy or post-adoption struggles. Our inner monologue can go a little something like this:
How can I complain? I WANTED this. Everyone knows I wanted this. I begged for this. I borrowed and stole for this. I bargained with God for this. How can I admit this has made me so unhappy?
So infertiles are forced deeper into the outskirts of motherhood, allowing ourselves only to admit our struggles to each other.
Because we get it.
We get that going through infertility doesn’t give you a pass with postpartum depression (in fact, it may make us more vulnerable to it). We get that feeling overwhelmed and anxious and sad is not the same as feeling ungrateful. We get that motherhood is hard no matter how you got there. We get that spending years and spending thousands to get your baby does not make you immune to secret moments of regret. We get that there really is no “cure” — infertility will always be a part of who we are and while we can be blessed with children, adopted children, and rainbow babies, the storm clouds didn’t just vanish. They’ll always come back one way or another.
I’m hopeful that the infertility crowd can reach out to the rest of the mother pack (and the rest of the world) and not be ashamed of our shared struggles. I hope we can talk about it. And keep talking about it. And maybe at some point during the talk, someone will make a joke that’s equal parts sad and hilarious and we’ll all have a good laugh. Because we get it.