Sometimes when snow is predicted, it actually arrives. And sometimes it doesn't. If you're experiencing warmth and sunshine today, I have a pretty good idea you're not in New England or the Midwest or anywhere above the very southern states in the U.S.
Because Storm Stella has arrived. And so far, it's fulfilling the predictions made, it's snowy and it's enthusiastically windy. Watching the snow change direction, powered by the wind, reminds me of how I felt when I was in fertility treatment and trying to build my family. Should I do this? Or that? Am I ready for IUI's (artificial insemination)? Do I need to move on to IVF (in vitro fertilization)? One more ultrasound to see how things were looking? A different medication regime? Do back to back fertility treatment cycles? Take a break? That was the storm I felt in my head about making decisions when I was trying to conceive.
Infertility Felt Like a Raging Internal Storm
I was guided by wonderful board certified Reproductive Endocrinologists (fertility specialists). My doctors were great physicians: passionate, smart, compassionate, aware of all the best fertility treatment protocols. They knew my history, they knew me. They did their job really well and helped me understand what the choices were, what they entailed, what the possibilities of a successful pregnancy and having a child were- they did it all.
Given that they weren't privy to the inner workings of my brain, only what I chose to share with them, I wonder if they ever knew how buffeted I was by the decisions that needed to be made. Like the snow right now that looks like it's changing its mind precipitously, so did I.
Doubtless there was plenty that I said to my doctors and other fertility program team members that gave some hints of how difficult it was to make decisions. Little did they know it was just that, a hint. Although it was typically clear and obvious to my doctors what the next steps were, it often wasn't to me. There was a internal struggleevery time I had to take a new medication or try a new protocol. I didn't want to take medications or go through surgical procedures! Much less medications that affected my hormones, my moods, my weight. Sounds superficial? I also worried about how these medications would affect my chances of cancer, heart disease and how they might affect the child I was trying to conceive. Another surgical procedure? An uncomplicated surgical procedure? It didn't feel uncomplicated to me. I worried about the side effects of medication. I worried about what I was doing causing problems now and in the future.
Even With A Great Fertility Program, I Needed More Help
My head was simultaneously a busy place and a lonely place. It does remind me of the storm raging right now. Lots of activity but very few people out and about. Considering who to talk to felt slightly sad to me. My normal support systems were not in place- some of the people I normally shared life's biggest challenges didn't feel safe. They were either having babies, getting pregnant, potty training or couldn't really get that what I was going through was as significant as I knew that it was. Infertility is a life changing crisis. Sounds dramatic? Probably not to those of you readers who are going through this. And please understand, this life changing crisis built a lot of strength I didn't have before, showed me the amount of courage I already had and reminded me how healthy I actually was.
Peer Support Was My Saving Grace
People who were also struggling with infertility? They were my saving grace. Also not dramatic. The people I made friends with, who were also going through the storm of infertility, offered me their hands in support. They offered me wisdom, experience, an ear to listen, a sense of humor and a shoulder to cry on. The laughter and the tears- that's what saved me. That was my port in the storm.
We are here for you. And we will laugh when it all feels so ridiculous, we will cry and offer tissues when it's sad news. We will open our hearts and just listen when you need that. Our Ladies Night In peer support groups offer all that and more.
Be warm and safe today. It's a storm out there, of major proportions.So is infertility.
Don't do it alone. We are here.