But to the couple dealing with IF? It pervades every aspect of life. At least for DH and me, that is the case. It impacts relationships, confidence, career, finances, body image – just about everything!
I look back over the years, and there’s so much that has changed, so much we have lost…all because of infertility. This is what my infertility has done to me….
- Relationships – Let’s see. How many relationships have changed, and how they have changed!! The most important one – DH and my relationship. On the one hand, it has matured and grown deeper, to a level where we really really “get” each other. We’ve both become protective of each other, and will unconditionally put the other in front of anything else in life. However at the same time, our relationship has suffered – deeply so. The spontaneity has left the relationship. Much of the laughter has left. Much of the intimacy has left. In its wake – there’s a lack of self confidence, and poor body image.
- Relationships with our families have changed. Our families love us, and hurt because we hurt, but nobody gets what we are going through. And I can’t blame them – only when you’ve walked in our shoes will you know how badly they pinch. There are times that I want to talk to my parents, and tell them how I feel inside, but something holds me back. I end up projecting my same old “I’m brave, I’m fine, my life is good” face to even them. At the same time, I can’t help but feel “guilty” that they don’t have grandchildren or nieces / nephews!
- Relationships with friends - if any still remain! Most of our “friends” have fallen off our radar. They don’t know what to say to us anymore, or they end up saying or doing things that hurt, causing us to retreat further into our shells, in some cases, far away enough into our shells to never come back. The ones that are still around are constantly treading on eggshells around us. Social isolation - yes, that's us. I got tired of putting on a happy face for everyone, and I got tired of expecting people to understand. I gave up.
- My career – What’s the point of having worked so hard at getting at an MBA degree when my life was going to become all about my IF? Any time that I have a choice to make, I have chosen to overlook my career. I’ve taken “lesser” jobs, I’ve given priority to my doctors’ appointments and treatment schedules, and needless to say, I’m nowhere close to my classmates in terms of achievements professionally. It hurts to see people be able to focus on their careers and rise, while everything else in their life happens smoothly. For the general subsection of my friend circle / classmates, children have been born and are growing up without even a tiny bump on the road. Part of it were choices I made, and part were situations I had to deal with.
- My confidence levels. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I have ended up feeling inadequate as a woman. As a wife, daughter, daughter in law. Reproduction is known to be one of the things that drives all creatures to even exist. And I feel like I have failed at the reason to exist. How then can I even dream of ever feeling confident again? Do I spend the rest of my life in isolation? To add to the feelings of inadequacy, there are the feelings of ugliness and unattractiveness. All the extra weight - the tight clothes, the pants that don't fit, the old pictures that mock me with my own skinny face smiling back at me!
- Hope and the ability to look forward and dare to dream. I can't any more. IF has taken it all away from me.