Infertility was never talked about to me growing up. It actually never occurred to me that I might experience it. I think I was just scared into believing that I would get pregnant right away. My husband and I married young. He was in nursing school and wanted to have kids right away, but I wanted to wait until we both had good jobs. Once we both felt settled in our careers, we were so content in life that we didn’t feel rushed to start a family right away. Time catches up with you though, and four years ago we decided to stop birth control and to just see what would happen. That’s when the monthly rollercoaster started. The whole spending at least 2 weeks of the month with the possibility that I might be pregnant and letting myself build up the fantasy of having a baby in 9 months, to only be let down and then have to start the process all over again the next month.
To relieve the disappointment and to not have to deal with the emotions, I’d always tell myself, “It’s okay. Life is good. You’re not even 100% sure you’re ready to have a kid anyway.” There was truth in those words, but then I’d drive by a friend’s house that just had a baby and instantly start sobbing feeling like all my friends were going to leave me behind. That they’d distance themselves from me because they had kids, and I didn’t. I was afraid that if they knew I was struggling with infertility, it’d only make them pull away from me more in fear of hurting me.
After 3.5 years of struggling with infertility, last August my husband and I were working at a summer camp out in the woods away from stores and cell service. I was 2 weeks late and was having pregnancy symptoms. My husband doesn’t get his hopes up as much as I do, but both of us started getting giddy. We didn’t have a pregnancy test and couldn’t buy one while we were at camp, so in the meantime we built up this whole idea. We had decided how and when we wanted to tell people, we started picturing my maternity leave and how that would work, and most of all we started letting ourselves imagine holding a little piece of the two of us and feeling completely in love. The last day of camp, as we were packing up, my period started. We were crushed. I hid under a blanket for over an hour, blasting music through my hearing aids and just letting myself cry and feel the disappointment. My husband held me. After a little while, I got up and got to work carrying on with our last day of camp. Nobody else knew the disappointment we felt. To everybody else, it was just like any other day.
I’ve pushed down these emotions for so long, that today I decided to try to put words onto paper and give these emotions the credit they deserve, without trying to apologize for them and that is why I am here sharing a small piece of my story and how it has changed me. But even as I do so, I feel the need to say, “I know my story might not be as bad as someone else’s” or “I know people have worse problems and may not want to hear about this.” Why do we do this? Why do we feel the need to compare and not give credit to our own emotions? When in reality, I am sharing this because I feel it is time for me to stop stuffing these feelings down, and also because I have felt comfort from hearing other people’s stories. It has given me hope, but also empathy, to read about other’s experiences. To know, that deep down, none of us are completely alone. And also I am sharing this, because it has given me stronger empathy and patience with my students.
Now as we continue to go forward with doctor appointments, tests, hormones…etc. I think often of the quote “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.” I think of this quote when my students’ behaviors change, or I see a look of sadness in their eyes even though they’re laughing with their friends. They all go through so much at home, and internally, that I don’t completely know or understand. In the same way that they don’t know that I just got off the phone with a disappointing conversation with the doctor, I don’t completely know what their morning consisted of before they walk through my classroom door. Behavior is a form of communication, and this is important to remember with our students. It is our responsibly and honor to be living examples of kindness, and genuine relationship building…to know and love these kids with patience and grace while understanding that they may all be fighting their own battles in the same way we do.