This morning…..I had a moment…..
For over 7 years, I would walk along the ocean on a walkway called “The Strand” in California. It was beautiful and I was blessed to be able to do it. Almost every morning, I would get up and just walk. I breathed in the salty air, put my headphones on and listened to my music(usually Sara Bareilles on repeat). Most of the time, I would think about my future baby. I remember so many times, passing strollers/prams and feeling so isolated and alone.
But I wasn’t alone.
Infertility was always with me. I didn’t invite it. I didn’t want to walk with it. But it would not go away. And so I walked while infertility was beside me no matter how I tried to lose it. Years and years would go by…and I continued to walk with the burden of infertility on my shoulders. Every day, I would pass mothers pushing their strollers, smiling, happy…….and tears would fall uncontrollably from my eyes. I’ll admit…their happiness unveiled and highlighted my sadness. I would try to hide my tears many times under my sunglasses. Most of the time no one would notice, but sometimes people would ask if I was ok…it was embarrassing. I would see the same women almost everyday…many were pregnant…and a year later a lot of those same women were pregnant again…so easy for most but overwhelmingly difficult for some. And I would just keep walking…with infertility never far behind. At times, I would close my eyes as I passed them because tears would form. I just didn’t know if I would ever get to “walk in their shoes”…..
We moved to another state almost a year ago…away from the ocean. I was sad but understood it was necessary for a job opportunity for my husband but that also meant leaving my career behind. I lived in California for over 14 yrs…I “grew up” in those 14yrs…..so it was a big change…
but this morning I was back visiting……..
and I did the walk…..
It wasn’t a particularly beautiful morning….well, most would say. Overcast, windy, about 54 degrees…not many people walking or running….but it was one of the most beautiful days in my life. I stepped out into the damp, salty, windy air and breathed in. I looked out into that same ocean I did years ago and then…..I looked down at MY stroller, saw MY son…and he smiled.
And my heart exploded.
As I took my first step, it hit me…..it was finally my turn. As I started walking, I passed women, some with strollers, some alone …and I would think…are any of them struggling with infertility like me? Do they look at me like I looked at women when I was struggling? If they only knew what I had gone through to have this stroller…to have this baby. I almost wanted to shout it from the rooftops, “It was not easy.. I went through a lot…I couldn’t even carry my baby, but I survived and my son is here! Hang in there!” But instead, I tried to focus on this moment…..my moment….and in that very moment…all was good….
But I could not get the women walking alone out of my head….that was me…for so many years. Though I never had a baby bump or experienced pregnancy, or my child kicking for the first time….this walk….it was everything to me…..
Seems so small, right? A walk? Why was it so important to me?
Because I wasn’t sure it would ever actually happen.
When you try so hard, year after year, and it doesn’t happen(no matter what you do), you start to believe it might not ever happen…..
But here I am.
As the breeze blows through my hair, I stop…..and feel and breathe. I don’t want this feeling to end. I take a photo. I want to remember this…all of this. I continue to walk…slowly….slower than I’ve ever walked. Then, I walk to my old apartment. The one where 3 IVF cycles ended in utter disappointment, where 6 other FET cycles were cancelled after thousands of dollars of medication was used to push my body to limits beyond it’s capacity. And where I finally decided, enough is enough and accepted my body is broken. Where I made one of the biggest decisions of my life, to give up on my own body…and trust someone else’s.
And I tear up.
I see the balcony I shed buckets of tears….where I would plead with God as I looked up into the sky….and begged for Him to hear me, to see me, to bless me with my child….
And here we are…
My son is sleeping now. Obviously, unaware of it all. He is at peace.
He is my peace.
And with peace….I continue to walk……
Yet infertility is still with me….still walking with us….still by my side…
And I’m ok with it….and I even thank it …
I wish someone would have opened my mind to the possibility of good that infertility might have on my future…..because isn’t that what it’s all about? The ending to your story? Or the beginning of another? Understanding there is a finish line. You may not be able to see it now….but infertility will guide you. I know it’s not what you wanted and no one can truly understand what you have been through or are going through. Some have easier smooth roads to walk, others have bumps and some have to climb mountains, upon seemingly endless mountains. But the steps you take NOW, every single day are getting you closer to your happy. Whether it be a spontaneous pregnancy, IUI, IVF, Gestational Surrogacy, Egg Donor, Sperm Donor, Embryo Adoption, Adoption or Living Childfree (or Living Childfull, the words from the ever-inspiring Justine Froelker).
You control how you walk through life with infertility. It’s not something you choose to have in your life…..but what if it’s the only way to the life you are meant to live?