She debated sharing her own story with all of the posts circulating about Infertility Awareness Week, especially in light of having had a baby last week, but this is one I knew needed to be shared and that would encourage us all in our journey.
Some might look at her and say, “But Julie, you have a kid. TWO kids. You have step-kids. You’re clearly NOT infertile.” Yes, it’s true. But there is much more to her story. Her story IS one of infertility and the lingering guilt surrounding that diagnosis.
At the age of 17, after an exploratory surgery, Julie’s doctor told her, “It’s unlikely you’ll ever get pregnant. If you do, you’ll never carry to full term. Your body isn’t meant to sustain life.”
Imagine having to come to terms with a diagnosis like that–and at such a young age. Not even an adult yet.
Coping with this news on her own, Julie didn’t share what her doctor said with anyone for a long time. She didn’t see the point and needed time to come to terms with her new reality.
I won’t go into detail about the circumstances of her miscarriage because it’s a sensitive and painful subject, but suffice it to say, it all occurred before her diagnosis. It was one of the contributing factors for it, so it’s especially hard. The thing about having a miscarriage, though–as many of us know all too well–is that you have a baby.
Even for a day…or a week…or however many months, that baby was there. It was real. It was loved. It was protected and held by only you.
When you lose that baby, you don’t just lose a moment. You lose everything from that moment on. Much like me, Julie miscarried at 12 weeks. You lose morning sickness. You lose cravings and swollen ankles. You lose ultrasounds and gender reveal parties and baby showers.
You lose a birth. A first birthday. A sweet 16. You lose each first day of school and high school graduation.
You lose the good and the bad, which only adds to the ache of infertility itself because you know deep down what could have been. You feel every minute of it being cruelly snatched from your arms long before it was meant to.
Much like many of us going through infertility, Julie tried everything. BBT, supplements, vitamins, doctors, shots, pills, ovulation tests, sleeping with socks on. All of it. Nothing worked.
You just have to listen nicely and say thank you when people comment to “stop stressing out,” “Just try…,” and “you can always adopt!” …And you cry. And then cry again.
You know they aren’t trying to be mean…they just don’t understand. And so you cling to friends going through the same thing like the incredible community Caryn has created here.
All the same, you still cry at every announcement you see. Maybe you mute people because it’s just too much to handle. Or you see posts from friends who finally got their two pink lines and send messages saying, “I’m so happy for you, but please understand that I am so sad for me.”
That was Julie’s story.
Until eventually, one day, without any tests or supplements or shots, she got a positive. More than happiness or fear or anything, her first feeling was guilt.
Guilt that it didn’t take effort. Guilt that it happened without intervention. Guilt that wonderful, deserving women who started the same journey at the same time or even before her still hadn’t gotten pregnant. Guilt that she could feel happiness after losing a baby.
And every day that baby grew, fear followed. Was this too good to be true? Am I going to wake up and this will have all been a dream because it was the one thing I had waited for and wanted for so long?
And then she held that perfect, tiny rainbow baby.
After 40 weeks and 2 days of growing her and keeping her safe, she was here.
After 6 years of wanting her and praying for her, she arrived.
“Now she’s in the real world and I do my best to keep her safe and hide her away from all the bad and evil things this world has to offer, and I still worry that maybe she’ll feel how I felt one day, that she’ll never have a baby and she’ll never feel the way I feel about her to anyone else, and she’ll feel that same pain and guilt.”
And then it happened again.
Something she was told could never happen was now her reality–not once, but twice. All of those sleepless nights crying and praying and longing…and now two perfect, healthy babies.
And yet the guilt is still there for her because even now, there are those of us that are still in the longing and praying stage, and “it hurts to know they are celebrating me and my family while holding back tears…because I was them. I AM them.”
She wonders what it would have been like had she not been diagnosed or miscarried.
“Would I still have the kids I have today? Would I have met my now husband? Would I be here holding my newborn feeling love and happiness AND sadness and guilt?”
But here’s the thing, my friends:
Without having been to hell and back to get our (future) children here, we wouldn’t have the same unyielding appreciation and love for them, even if this journey isn’t what we expected or imagined.
Julie shares that she doesn’t have any grand insights for anyone dealing with infertility right now, but I would beg to differ.
The truth is, she still lives with that infertility diagnosis and still lives every day worried it could be her reality…just like we do.
And so, if someone hasn’t told you today how loved you are, let me tell you: YOU ARE LOVED. YOU ARE BELOVED. YOU ARE A DAUGHTER OF THE KING.
I’m here to celebrate every win right alongside you–no matter how small or insignificant they might seem. And I’m here to lend an open ear or a shoulder to cry on, because like Julie, I’ve been where you’ve been. I’m there.
I’m so proud of you for taking on this impossible and seemingly endless journey to your baby (this side of heaven). This is NOT the end of your story, so know: even when it feels dark and daunting and painful, you are not alone.
Thank you to Julie (name changed to maintain privacy) for sharing her journey with me and all of you incredible readers.