I was once told by several family members that I shared too much about my struggles with Infertility both here on FB and on the blog I kept while working through the pain of not being able to have a biological child of my own.
What family didn’t know was the internal struggle I kept private for YEARS before and after the one round of IVF we could afford. To this day, I credit my ability to talk (or rather write) about my Infertility journey for the strength I needed to heal my soul.
There is one vivid memory I have of how dark things had gotten before I decided to openly share my story. Hubby & I were headed to Toronto to visit family; coincidentally, it was also the weekend of my birthday. I recall listening to Norah Jones while traveling CDN Hwy 402 on that late summer evening. It’s a beautiful drive at twilight, and the occassional summer thunderstorm on the horizon made the scenery that much more spectacular.
The thing was, as Norah sang about coming away with her into the night, all I could think about was how utterly alone I felt. I didn’t know of anyone else that had been struggling so hard to start a family of their own. And even if I did, it wasn’t as if they would offer any words of support or acknowledge the similar struggles they were / are going through.
In my Filipino culture, having a child to brag (or even complain) about is so ingrained into daily conversation. In fact, most conversations tend to start off with, “What are your kids doing these days?” (after some nice pleasantries, of course). When one doesn’t have children (and you’re young), there is always some joke to be made about giving your parents grandkids or — worse yet, asking if we need lessons.
And that’s it. It’s a joke. Or words of wisdom from well-meaning family / friends which is sorely lacking in empathy. And trust me, when we’ve told them that we’re “trying but it’s not happening right away,” the conversation tends to change quickly or stop all together.
Going back to the Toronto trip … It’s absolutely miserable feeling alone despite being surrounded by those that I knew loved me. In fact there’s a picture floating around there somewhere of me posing in front of my birthday cake. Visibly, I appeared happy, but if you look at my eyes close enough you’d be able to see the sadness behind them. Every time I see that picture I remember how dark I felt at the time. How I just wanted to end all of the pain I was feeling. To this day, I can’t think of this picture without shedding a few tears. I somehow managed to pull myself through that weekend (with lots of love & support from Hubby, of course) … but I also lived in fear of when another one of these moments would hit.
I was in the midst of another dark time in my life when I decided to start blogging about my journey. The first few entries back then were vague and not very revealing; but then I started to have a little more confidence is telling my story. At first, I had kept the blog private; not telling anyone except a few people here and there. Eventually though, blogging helped me sort through those confusing and tumultuous emotions I was experiencing.
While there are a handful of times I regret going overboard in expressing my sentiment over certain situations, I’m not (nor will I ever be) remorseful for writing down how I felt and posting it onto my blog. It was during these musings that I was finally able to communicate exactly how I was feeling. More importantly, I learned how to deal and work through the intensity of melancholy that’s in the center of Infertility. In fact I credit writing on my blog with helping me make the decision to let go of the concept that “Family” meant two adults raising human children.
The bonus of publishing my posts? I found friends that felt the same way that I did. That were going through the same issues and emotions that I was. To this day, I still am in touch with the core group of friends I’ve met while blogging.
I don’t fault family & friends for not being able to empathize with Hubby’s & my Infertility journey. I know Infertility is an uncomfortable subject for most people (especially my elder family and those newcomers living in North America).
What I did wish (and still do) is that when someone who is going through Infertility WANTS to talk about their journey, please listen to them. No words or advice is necessary; sometimes knowing that someone out there is willing to hear their story will make them feel less alone.
PS. Here are two videos that inspired this post. The original post is from Refinery 29’s FB page, but it was shared (and liked by me!) by another Infertility friend.