Men and women who endure the painful, exhausting, and confusing road of infertility oftentimes find it challenging to explain to others what it feels like. Analogies are a fantastic way to do this!
I’ve always felt that infertility is like a spectator sport — I feel like I’m in the only one in the bleachers watching everyone play, and I’m unqualified to join the team. This has become my most-pinned post on Pinterest, and I think it’s because it’s so easy to understand and relate.
I called upon 6 of my favorite infertility bloggers to describe what infertility feels like to them. A special thanks to these strong, encouraging, and bold women for contributing their voices to this post!
You know the saying, “always a bridesmaid, never a bride?” That’s how infertility feels to me. I’ve attended countless baby showers, sent what feels like a million “welcome baby” gifts and cards, opened ten thousand pregnancy announcements, smiled and said “congratulations” to friend after friend who calls or texts with the news of a little miracle on the way. I’ve cuddled, swaddled, shushed and hushed numerous children who were not my own. And just as I did when I was approaching 30, watching friend after friend walk down the aisle as I sat single and alone in the church pews, I wonder: “When will it be my turn? Will I ever experience this happiness?”
I have heard all the same “helpful” tidbits from well-meaning friends and family as I go through infertility as I did when I was anxiously awaiting my romantic happily ever after. “It will happen when you least expect it.” Or, “Relax and it will happen.” And now as the infertile friend, I wonder the same things I wondered as the single friend. “Why does it all seem so easy for her? Why does it seem like I’m the only one facing struggles?”
Just as I did when I was the single friend, I now pray for God’s will to be done. I pray that He will lay out the path before me. I pray that, if parenthood is not part of His plan for us, that he will remove the desire from our hearts. And just like when I was waiting for God to bring my husband and I together in His time, I expectantly hope for the day when I will be the one sending the announcements, celebrating at a shower, and cuddling, swaddling, hushing and shushing a precious miracle baby of our own.
Infertility can be compared to being single. On the journey of finding a spouse, you might get your hopes up on each date you go on, only to find out that it’s not going to work out with that person. Maybe you host and attend wedding showers on a regular basis. You might also go to weddings and realize you are in a room full of married people where the conversations are all marriage talk, but you can’t relate at all. You buy wedding present after wedding present. Every week on Facebook you not only see a new engagement announcement, but a plethora of wedding and anniversary pictures too. While all of your friends are married, you are the only one who is not and therefore you don’t get invited to any of the couples outings.
Before you know it, you have lost many friends. When you start to date seriously and you think it’s finally the one, you start to think about your future together and plan your wedding. Only to be devastated when they break up with you. You are left wondering how it will ever happen. Will you ever meet the one? If so, when will it happen?
The analogy that keeps coming to mind for me is that infertility feels like running on a treadmill. You’re doing a lot of work but it feels like you’re going nowhere! I like to run outdoors — not only do I like the fresh air, I also like to see new things and I love the feeling of actually getting somewhere with my run. I would expect to “get somewhere” in my attempts to get pregnant, but for six years I’ve been in that holding pattern on the treadmill.
Running on a treadmill in a basement or even in a gym with windows is so mundane and requires so much more of my focus to stay optimistic than being out in nature. Taking the same steps over and over again with hopes of a better outcome of pregnancy (“maybe this time,” I tell myself) also requires focus and optimism. However, I have learned that this “running in place” of infertility has made me stronger — my faith has gotten stronger, my body has gotten stronger because of the healthy steps I’ve taken, and my marriage has gotten stronger as Mike and I have faced this trial together. So I will keep running on this treadmill of infertility with hope that one day I will see new results!
Infertility is like having a dream in your heart so BIG but not seeing it come to life.
Let’s say you always knew you were meant to be a doctor. Like I mean always, from when you were a little. Being a doctor is what you dream of doing, and living. Being a doctor is your God-given calling! So you worked hard in school. You are the best of the best in your grade, you strive and thrive. This is meant to be!
But every time you apply for a scholarship, you get denied. You don’t understand why. So you work harder. You work full-time and take full-time classes so you can save for school. You save and save, but every single opportunity you get to move forward to get into med-school, you get denied. Every single time.
Your natural circumstances are telling you to give up, pick a plan B. Your natural circumstances are telling you to doubt your calling. Your natural circumstances are making you doubt God’s spoken word. You question where is God in all of this? You go through cycles of doubt, and cycles of thriving. Relentlessly you wait and work hard, hoping that one day it will be your time to live out your dream. You are constantly grieving your dream, but you refuse to give up.
You keep pushing on through, working harder every single fail, because this may just be the most important dream in your life.
Infertility is a lot like being stuck in an airport waiting for a delayed flight that may never come. You arrive early, excited to go to your destination. Having checked your luggage and picked out a magazine to peruse, you settle into the seat closest to the gate ready to board the next flight. The flight attendants celebrate as each person boards sharing hugs and high fives. You watch as others board the plane with the hopeful anticipation that the next plane is yours.
But the next plane comes and you’re not on the list. You focus a little more on your magazine and try not to notice the excitement of those boarding the plane. You might even get up and move a little farther from the gate so you don’t see the faces of those who board. The next plane comes, and the next, but still you’re waiting to hear your name.
People pass and see your pursed lips and troubled eyes as you don’t board the plane. They offer support by saying the flight is turbulent and if you’re meant to board, they’ll call your name. Some even offer to share pics from their flight, not realizing that while you’re thrilled they got on the plane, you’re sad that your own flight is delayed.
After several flights depart, you’re beyond frustrated and you might even ask, when is my flight? Where is the plane? When will it be my turn? But there is no answer, only a polite shrug of the shoulders as you’re told you must wait your turn. Tired and defeated you return to your seat where the magazine is worn from flipping pages and your snacks are long gone, just like the excitement you felt when you arrived at the airport. This is what infertility looks like.
I often felt like a horse who kept getting a carrot dangled in my face. It should’ve been so easy to just walk forward a few steps and grab that carrot. But every time I took a step forward (timing intercourse perfectly, trying different medications, doing IUI’s and IVF), the carrot moved too. I saw all the other horses enjoying their carrots and it was so frustrating not to understand why, even though I did everything in my power, I couldn’t reach my own carrot!
What does infertility feel like to you? Please share!