The Silver Linings of Infertility

Did you know that there are actually some pretty awesome things about experiencing infertility? I can feel you rolling your eyes right now…but stay with me…I think I’m onto something…

Too often I get stuck in the really heavy, really sad parts of infertility. And hell, who can blame me? Infertility is a giant messy monster…a ball of your biggest fears rolled up into a blob that follows you everywhere. Kind of like your shadow, only it’s constantly reminding you that you have no control over your life. Awesome!

But it hasn’t ALL been bad. The dramatic part of me tends to shrug off the positives since they sometimes feel so minuscule compared to the magnitude of the pain. But they’re there. And they’re real. And as much as I hate admitting it, they’re just as big a part of this journey as the pain/fear/anxiety/hopelessness.

So here are the good parts of struggling with fertility:

  • You’ve really thought about parenthood and are just about as ready and prepared for it as a person can possibly be: You didn’t wake up one morning vomiting and think “Oh, gosh. Am I pregnant? I can’t be pregnant! I’m not ready to be pregnant.” Nope. You’re ready. You’ve been ready. You already have the parenting books you want on your Amazon wish list. You already know what school your hypothetical kid will attend. You’re ready for this parenting thing: spit up and blow outs? BRING IT ON.
  • You really want this: You’ve weighed the pros and cons and decided that even though this journey is hard, it will be worth it. Despite all the invasive tests and the massive medical bills and the complete lack of guarantees that you want to be a parent. You want it more than anything.
  • You’ve had time: Sometimes I ask myself if I’d change anything in my life based on this unforeseen roadblock. Would we have started trying a few years earlier? And you know what? No. The time Brad and I had has been invaluable to our marriage. The freedom we’ve had to explore the world and travel to Iceland, France, Italy, Mexico, St. Lucia, Belize and Brazil…I wouldn’t take any of it back. The parties and celebrations and splurges? No. We needed that time. We needed those moments. They’re part of what will make us kickass, worldly parents one day.
  • You meet the strongest, most amazing women on this journey: I am blessed to have really great friends…but my fertility friends? They are warriors. Hilarious, empathetic, unwavering in their optimism…these women are my people. My tribe. The ones I text when I get my period early or have questions about some medical test…they teach me how strong we are all capable of being and how we are never alone. Never. Not even once.
  • You’re getting really good at this empathy thing: If I weren’t going through this fertility struggle, no way would I understand how hard and painful this is for people. No way would I think twice about having a baby shower or posting sonograms on social media. Everyone else does it! But now that I am on the other side I see that every baby shower invite, every onesie, every maternity photo session is a trigger. A big, glaring, obvious trigger for the people out there who struggle. I will never, ever, ever voluntarily make someone feel the way I’ve felt throughout this journey.
  • You know who your true friends are: I’ve lost friends throughout this journey. I’ve lost respect for some people. Having a friend like me is hard. You can very rarely say the right thing. There are a lot of awkward emotional outbursts at inappropriate moments. So it becomes very apparent very quickly who your real friends are. Who will stand by you and support you and who will flee and opt out. It weeds out the shitty, self-absorbed people, and for that I am grateful.
  • It makes you more humble: This is perhaps my greatest lesson and my greatest gift in this journey. I grew up in a solidly middle class family with lots of hugs and trophies and “You can do whatever you want!!!”’s. I never thought or considered that whole “life is unfair” lesson because it never applied to me. There was a simple equation: if you try hard and work hard, you can get whatever you want – the varsity softball team, all A’s, that killer internship, etc. And life reinforced that belief of mine. Until now. Now I see how naive and simplistic I was. How immature and damaging this thinking is. Life IS unfair. People ARE trying their hardest. We’re all in this together and tragedy doesn’t read resumes.
  • It makes you stop and be grateful for all the blessings you already have: It’s really easy to feel self-righteous about this fertility stuff. I can get very martyr-y about it very quickly…a part of me that I truly hate. But this fertility stuff has also made me see that I already have a rich, beautiful life. I already have a loving, funny, supportive, present partner who is there for me. I already have a beautiful and safe home that we purchased together. I already have amazing friends and family…a fulfilling career…a snuggly cat…a backyard that’s perfect for wine drinking and late summer talks…what else can I possibly want? A child, of course. But if this is it? B and me on the porch swing drinking wine and laughing? That’s nothing to get martyr-y about. Not in the slightest.

Elyse Ash is the founder and CEO of Fruitful Fertility. She and her husband Brad have been trying to conceive since September 2014 and live in Minneapolis with their cat, Puck. Elyse loves poetry, hockey, social justice, Beyonce and pretending she’s into yoga.

Sign up to comment

If you already have a Fruitful account, please log in.