I write this as National Infertility Awareness Week ends (April 22nd-28th). I have read, listened, and watched a handful of people share their stories about infertility via social media. Many people (more than I realized) struggle with infertility, and it so interesting that we can struggle with the same issue, however, infertility came into our lives due to many different reasons. Infertility does not discriminate. Although I do not wish infertility on anyone, it is comforting to know there are others out there that truly get it, just like with my cancer diagnosis’.
Again, it is great that there is a week dedicated to Infertility Awareness. Spreading awareness to all types of people and seeing this community come together is wonderful, but it also brings up a lot of grief associated with my infertility experience. So, the last few days have been a rollercoaster of emotions for me. I am happy to find more resources, support, and individuals who share the same struggle. Reading their stories and how their lives are moving forward is very inspiring for me as I move forward after losing my fertility. But it also brings back many memories of my hysterectomy and reminds me that I am still grieving this loss.
A quick recap (which you can find in my “Both Diagnosis” page and multiple blog posts) – I lost my fertility on October 2nd, 2015 due to a very large tumor that attached to my uterus. This tumor was initially misdiagnosed as a pregnancy. I was only 23 years old. In order to safely remove the tumor, I had to undergo a hysterectomy. The tumor ended up being Uterine Ewing’s Sarcoma, my second cancer. I went under with hopes to save my ovaries so I can have a chance to have a child that was biologically mine via surrogacy, but that is not the outcome I got. Officially, I had a total abdominal hysterectomy (meaning they cut open my stomach to perform the surgery) and bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. In other words, everything was removed: uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, and ovaries.
Even before my surgery, infertility was a possibility for me. It was a possible side effect from the treatment, chemotherapy and radiation, of my first cancer (Hodgkin’s Lymphoma). I never got the opportunity to find out though because the chance to have children was taken away from me before I was ready to start a family. In a couple weeks I went from being told I was five and a half months pregnant to that I would never carry a child of my own. Heartbreaking is the best and easiest way to describe it. On the Infertility Awareness website it says, “Because you’ll never know how badly you want something until you are told that it may not be possible.” I cannot stress how accurate that is. When I was told I was pregnant I was scared and overwhelmed, but I was happy. I felt that this was what God wanted for me and it was my time to have a baby, even if it was not how I thought it would be. And now? I struggle with knowing that I will never make a baby of my own, but I still feel the same way. I know that this is what God wants for me, and I will have a baby some day.
Before infertility was a sure thing for me, I always had an interest in adoption. I absolutely wanted to have children the natural way, but I also wanted to adopt if I had the financial means to do so. There are so many children in the world who need a home, love, and a family. Although it still hurts and I will be grieving for a long time, I now know my path to my future child is through adoption. I know it will not be easy, but the outcome will be so beautiful and worth it.
I do not think you ever get over infertility. It is a type of grief that is forever there, and it comes and it goes. There are times when it does not come to the surface for me, and there are times when it seems to be right in my face. Right now, it seems to be right in my face. I grieve the hysterectomy and that it caused infertility. I also grieve losing my reproductive organs and having my body change completely (hello, menopause!). For me, there are many factors that play into my infertility story, and it can get very emotional. There are days I look down at my long, vertical scar and feel completely empty, broken, and defective. I feel like I am looking at a stranger, when instead, I need to work on accepting the woman I see in the mirror and love everything that is left of her. With time and effort towards self-love, I believe I can get there.
I also fear that I will never find true love and settle down because of my infertility. Many of the stories I have read include women or men (infertility affects both sexes) in relationships already, and I am not going to lie, it scares me that I am infertile before I found the man I am supposed to spend my life with. How do I bring that up to someone? Do I just tell potential partners right away and not waste any time? Dating after cancer is scary, and to add infertility on top of that makes it worse. Those are just a few of the many thoughts that run through my head. However, to turn it around on a positive note, I know that when I do find the man I am supposed to spend my life with, it will be a special and true kind of love, because that person will accept and love me FOR ME. Thinking about that is kind of exciting.
I hope sharing my infertility story can help you or someone you know. There are many parts that make up who I am: cancer, infertility, etc. Despite everything I have been through, I know life will continue on and it will get better. I have bad days, and sometimes those days seem like they will never end. I know those days will continue to come and go. That is the beauty of grief, there is no universal way of how it approaches you and we all handle it in our own way. I will continue to be mindful of that and work towards my new “normal”, self-love, and healing.
I watched an inspiring woman’s Instagram story yesterday. She talked about her infertility story that was also caused by cancer. The many emotions came flooding into me because I could relate on my levels. She looked right into the camera, with tears in her eyes, and said “You are not broken.” I felt as if she was talking directly to me, and tears filled in my eyes. Because some days I do feel broken. Some days I feel empty, because I know I am missing parts that I should still have…I am only 25 years old. I should not be menopausal. Some days I feel lonely and scared of what my future holds. And that is okay to feel. Acknowledge it, feel it, and keep moving forward.
I am not broken. I am not defective. And I am not alone.
You are not broken. You are not defective. And you are not alone.
If you struggle with infertility and are looking for support, please reach out to me. I am looking for support as well and would also love to give support. I would love to hear your story.
Here is the link to the Infertility Awareness website, I found it very helpful! – infertilityawareness.org