“Unexplained infertility” is what they said after that fifth round. My body and my mind were exhausted. I felt angry, ashamed, like a complete failure—the one thing my body was made to do, I couldn’t do. I would later find out from a new doctor that I wouldn’t be able to conceive. The emotional potpourri of embarrassment, guilt, fear, sadness, pressure, isolation and jealousy when others got pregnant lingered and overwhelmed me. And, since I’m here to be honest, they still do.
I’ve spent the last few years defending “why” I don’t have children when people ask. You can just see the questions begin to rise by their reactions. The “You’re not getting any younger,” “Maybe you just work too hard,” “Why wouldn’t you want children?” and “She must only care about her career” accusations have been pelted my way from every direction. At first, I never knew what to say. I was ashamed. It took me years, but now I speak up. I can’t be responsible for my body physiologically not being able to carry a child. I know this. And I know that I could no longer carry that burden. And while I can accept those things, it doesn’t lessen the pain. I know many people reading this will say I could have had a surrogate or adopted, and that is true. Those routes weren’t part of my journey, and that’s OK.
Today, I’m an aunt to eight nieces and nephews, as well as a great-aunt and godmother to many. I’m no longer married. I left a long career in banking and launched my own company. I have a happy, fulfilling life with a wonderful partner, and I still call my mom almost every day. Yes, I still wish that I could post pictures of a sonogram, a baby bump, first days of school, Christmas mornings and Mother’s Days, but I’m now trying to focus on bringing awareness for infertility and sharing my story, even if it makes others feel uncomfortable. Here, I will note that my experience has taught me that you cannot assume you know a person’s fertility journey. So, unless they choose to share, please don’t ask. I’ve learned that it’s hard enough without the judgment or questions.
My truth isn’t easy to hear. It’s not a story that I can wrap up with a pretty bow. But it’s my truth. And like my mother, I’ve decided to grieve, then heal and then move forward share this story.