Being stranded on IF Island often means you are stuck some place you really don't want to be with a bag full of questions but very few answers. I know because I was stuck there for nearly four years on my "journey to parenthood," and the questions were non-stop.
Why is this happening? Why do people tell me to just relax when there is NO WAY I can? And why do people think relaxing gets you knocked up? Why doesn't insurance cover the cost of treatment? Why didn't any doctor tell me I could have taken a blood test to know my ovarian reserve BEFORE it was too late? Why do I feel like crying all the time? Why does it feel like babies are falling out of the sky for everyone else? Why are medications so expensive? Why is this so hard to talk about? Why do I feel so isolated and misunderstood if infertility affects 1 in 8 people-- that's millions of people around the world? Why is it illegal in places to use third party reproduction? Why is there stigma and shame attached to fertility problems? Why do I have (fill in the blank fertility problem...) in the first place? Will anything ever work and, if so, WHEN!!!???
This continuous litany of questions can be very exhausting, especially when you are thinking about questions that sometimes have no definitive answers. It’s like your cell phone searching for a signal-- a spinning wheel until there is no battery left. You get depleted.
In the years when I was struggling to conceive, the questions of Why were the hardest. Why was my true age in the early 30's but my ovaries acted like they were pushing 50? Why didn't we try earlier? Why didn't a doctor guide me to getting information when it could have been useful? Why was all of this so friggin' expensive? Why was nothing working? Why did our embryos fall apart in the dish? Why did my sister's donated egg cycle not work? Why did I feel so alone all the time? Why, why, WHY!!??
When I shifted my thought process from asking “Why?” to asking “How?” I felt myself change. I went from drowning in a pessimistic pity party (which is totally understandable but seldom helpful), to attending a problem solving seminar. How was I going to find my baby? How was I going to be open to how that baby came to me? And how was I going to stay sane through the process.
The three H's.
Thinking of How helped me become determined and proactive. It helped me process the various losses that can come up when neck deep in fertility treatments. For me, the most challenging loss was the absence of our personal DNA (which I've come to realize really doesn't matter). I finally accepted that having a family was more about just that, a family, and that a child was more than a tiny human created from the combination of my and my husband’s genes. Being more open to the How gave me more options, more hope and different focus. I wasn't stuck on why certain things were the way they were. There was nothing I could really do about my diminished ovarian reserve, and nothing at all I could do about the money and time we had lost. Being focused on the How kicked me into detective mode as I searched for options and ideas for how we were going to start our family. I started this blog to connect to others, and my husband and I made a documentary (THAT'S DONE! Check out the NEW TRAILER here and stay tuned for when the full movie is out in the world!) to share our story with others so that some we might be able to turn our lemons into a lemonade that could help others.
And even though I went back to the drawing board many a time, finally the How happened. We opted for a frozen transfer of a donated embryo, and finally something worked. Our baby girl via embryo donation turned a year old last month and the only question I still have is How could we have ended up with any other child when this one was ours all along, just waiting for us to find her??
I'd do everything again ten times in order to end up with this baby girl, our baby girl.
Asking questions is important and not knowing the answers in frustrating. But having hope and an open heart and mind can help us all ask the most important question-- How am I going to find my baby?
Let's ask lot of questions and work to affect change during National Infertility Awareness Week-- change in policy, change in attitude, change in the way infertility is viewed and understood, and change in our own understanding of what's most important for each one of us individually.
Luck and love as always.