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   Saturday, April 30, 2011  

The scars remain

I’ve thought about writing this all week, but haven’t found the right words.  I wasn’t sure how I could write about something so intensely personal, something that people in general just don’t talk about - mainly because it’s not something we know how to talk about.  But today marks the last day of National Infertility Awareness Week, so it’s time for me to figure out how to talk about it.

As my friend Kym pointed out, infertility doesn’t end when you finally become a parent.  It’s not something that has a sudden “cure.”  Beyond that there are so many causes and variants that most of the well-meaning advice people give doesn’t apply.  My personal infertility is due to a malformed uterus.  Sure, I can GET pregnant, but I can’t STAY pregnant full term.  I thank God every day that even though I delivered my son very early, my body managed to hold onto that pregnancy longer than all the others, long enough for him to be big enough and strong enough to fight for his own life in the NICU. 

When we first began fighting to have a family, I thought that once we had children, I’d be able to close my eyes to where I had been – that it would become nothing more than something that “happened.”  But it definitely didn’t turn out that way for me.  It tested my faith in God; it tested my marriage; it changed who I am as a person and how I view the world.  While watching coverage of the Royal wedding, I listened to the prayer for them to have a family and my first thought was “I hope they’re not infertile – I can’t imagine going through that with the world watching and giving “helpful” advice.”  And of course infertility has changed the way the family we have looks.  We always planned to have “children” in the plural.  Mr. W wanted 2, I wanted 3 – but that was something I was sure we would figure out in time.  But the emotional toll of infertility and the premature birth of our son coupled with the risks of subsequent pregnancies were too much for him.  He doesn’t want to step back into those waters.  So I’m left with an intense gratitude for the family that I have and feeling a deep loss for the family I could have had.  It’s unlikely I’ll ever know what it feels like to have a daughter (a daughter I have imagined since I was a little girl playing with my dolls, a little girl whom we had already chosen to name Kathryn Grace).  In the picture of our family that I’ve carried in my mind since we got married, I now have to erase the little girl with long dark hair.  I have to stop dreaming of Girl Scouts and ballet classes and shopping for prom dresses.

My friend is right.  Infertility isn’t over when you have a child.  My issues can’t be fixed.  The emotional scars remain alongside the physical ones.  It hurts less most days, but those wounds are still there.  I will never be exactly who I was before.  I wish that I could be, that things could have been different.  I’m just happy every day that I was finally able to carry a pregnancy long enough to have a son even more incredible than anything I could have imagined him to be.  And while I’ll always wonder “what if” I know that being his mother is enough.

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