It's National Infertility Awareness Week and a perfect time for Project IF that is being headed up by Mel from Lost and Found and Stirrup Queens.
This post should have gone up earlier in the week, but I have stopped and started it so many times that I have lost count. I want to word everything perfectly, I want my emotions and my convictions to come across as strongly as I feel them. After many false starts, I have come to realize that just getting the words out there is what is truly important. So many times, I want to do something in just the right way and it keeps me from doing what needs to be done. Like with infertility, the next step isn't always clear, but moving foward is what is important.
For those of you who aren't familiar with our story, my husband and I experienced a total of nine pregnancy losses in our quest to build our family. Eight of those losses were prior to my successful pregnancy with my son, Will. These losses occured over the course of a little less than two years. It was the most heartbreaking, frustrating, depressing, and awful time of my life. Most of our losses were termed chemical pregnancies, in that we never saw anything on ultrasound and I started bleeding very early on, in the fifth and sixth weeks. To me, it didn't matter. Once I saw that second line, my heart and hopes were set on that little baby. Once I saw the bright red blod, my heart and hopes were broken.
We did have one pregnancy make it almost out of the first trimester. That sweet baby was our precious Gummy Bear. By that point, we were seeing a RE and we saw Gummy Bear looking good and healthy three separate times on ultrasound. We were released from the RE and two weeks later, at our first regular OB appointment, we found out that our baby no longer had a heartbeat.
To say we were devastated would be a massive understatement. We were obliterated. I truly thought that we would never be parents to a living child and life was cold and bleak.
There were several things that kept me going during this terrible time. One was my husband who literally pulled me from my knees several times. Things weren't perfect, there were nights when we hugged lonely sides of the bed instead of each other, times when we sat, silently staring straight ahead in the car on our way to yet another test, consultation, or procedure, but he was there for me always and never let me give up.
I was also so blessed to find this community of women and men who have walked this lonely path before, with, and behind me. I found people that I had never "met," yet could suddenly know them more than anyone else I knew in my real life. The unconditional love and support that I received here truly kept me going on days when I didn't think I could.
I also made a promise to my sweet angels: None of their too-short lives would be in vain. I wanted their existence to have true purpose and meaning. If nothing else, I promised to never forget them, to live my life in a way that would make them proud, and to create their legacy by giving care and support to others facing infertility and loss.
During my own struggles with infertility, I had no trouble reaching out. I felt as if I could truly empathasize and offer comfort and a listening ear. Then, miracle of miracles, our battle with infertility was won. We were parents at long last! With the arrival of our son, my broken heart began to heal and my soul began to be restored.
I am now a mother to one living child, one baby on the way, and nine lost angels. Project IF comes at a time when I am questioning my place in this community. I still love blogging, I have made so many relationships here and I would never just want to walk away. I don't feel that my work here is done. I received so much here, and I have so much left to give. I read the LFCA and see all of the celebrations and people hurting and I know people need this community more than ever. I do fear that now that I am on the "other side," my words will hurt or miss the mark. People that read my blog or comments on their own will not be inspired or comforted, but instead will wonder, "Well, how can she understand? She has a baby. Two babies!"
There were many common threads in the What Ifs listed in the first phase of Project IF and several different categories were developed. One of those categories was how has infertility impacted my plans/current choices/future decisions. My original What If asked, "What IF I cannot live up to my promise to my lost babies? What IF I cannot help others?" As I read the list, I realized so many people are still hurting, and I am just not doing enough to help.
With that in mind, here is my What IF for today:
What if I finally let go of my fear that others still struggling won't accept or want my help, and reach out to those that do. What if I finally put together infertility and loss support packets, filled with information for people who have just been told their baby has died or that having children might be more of a challenge that their biology teacher led them to believe. What if I start making small steps every day to make sure that no one going through infertility and/or loss has to feel alone or helpless and knows there are resources, communities, and people that care that are here to help them. What IF I stop being afraid and start really trying to make a difference?
Want to learn more about infertility and how you can help? Check out RESOLVE for more information.
I'm not the only one with "what ifs." Check out the rest of them here.
Please remember, I am always happy to feature your story on Memorial Monday. Please feel free to contact me through my profile e-mail. You can include pictures, poetry, a story, or just the basic details. This is one small way that I can help you know that you are not alone.