It is interesting to hear people’s experience with COVID-19 and how similar it feels to infertility. All of us are navigating through the challenges and discovering new normals. Many of us are hurting financially and emotionally as we find ourselves stuck in our homes with or without income or constant connection. Each Sunday, I listen to my pastor ask good questions about this season and I try to conger up answers around areas of loss but this is not unfamiliar territory. Infertility feels like a Bootcamp of harsh reality and immense grief that I unwillingly enrolled in over seven years ago that has me walking in COVID-19 with a few minor aches and pains.
With that said, I do not want to diminish anyone’s pain in this season, your struggle is real and I want to affirm that. This is only a snapshot of how this season of quarantine feels in my story and how COVID-19 feels like infertility.
Infertility is one of the most isolating things I can imagine. You feel it everywhere you go even when surrounded by people which happens to intensify greatly with a bunch of cute kids around. It’s isolating because unless you have experienced it, you aren’t equipped to talk about it. Many of us learn early to not talk to our close friends and family who haven’t experienced it. Sometimes we can teach them in the moments on how to talk with us about it but it’s difficult being both the student and the teacher. Infertility is a classroom in which the exams are excruciatingly difficult and we are just trying to survive.
It Can Be Asymptomatic
Imagine you are living your normal life and everything feels on schedule when you finally decide to start a family but then, NOTHING HAPPENS. So you wait a few months, then a few more months, a year, a few more months, and then in a flash, it’s been two years! So you go to the doctor, get all the tests, and find out you have fertility problems. You’re in shock because there was zero indication or signs whatsoever that this might be an issue. You just get handed a slip of paper with your results along with a financial brochure on how to fund your $28,000 IVF treatment and out to door you go to your new normal.
Loss of Income
Speaking of $28,000, infertility is not cheap. It literally takes all the extra money you have. The financial pressure and stress around infertility I believe is just as stressful, if not more so, and just as painful as all the treatments. I realize with COVID-19 many of us, including myself, didn’t choose to have our income taken away as with infertility. However, for many in the world of infertility, our desire to grow our family is so great that we don’t feel like we have a choice. In addition, the reality of still being childless after very penny is spent causes immense fear and anxiety.
I remember one fight my husband and I had on our front porch in which he yelled: “I cannot have sex all the time with you!”. We laugh about that now but at the time, our scheduled lovemaking was such a strain on our relationship that we were fighting often. Then there was strain surrounding the money and disagreements about next steps. Very much like COVID-19 we felt forced into intimacy, trapped by an outside mandate that demanded certain actions and after a while, we just wanted to kill each other. I cannot say enough how thankful I am for all the years of marriage counseling we had up to that point that gave us the right tools to work through it.
Loss of Control
As many of us would like to feel in control of our fertility journey, we actually have very little control. Our bodies are going to do, what our bodies are going to do. We grasp for control with new supplements, fertility yoga, mediating, buying all the drugs and treatments we can afford but in order for a viable pregnancy to happen, a genetically PERFECT embryo has to implant and that’s just science. You do really begin to appreciate the miracle of pregnancy when you understand the statistics of what it takes to actually get pregnant. During this season of COVID-19, I have signed up for CSA’s, meat box subscriptions, sterilized the house, wipe my phone down in order for me to feel like I have an ounce of control. I can do my part in helping stop the spread just like I can help aid the implantation of an embryo but this isn’t a cure. The number of unknowns in this journey alone can cause a mountain of anxiety in itself.
Well I hope that you are thoroughly depressed as I am (just kidding). But seriously, I was going to write a blog for Nation Infertility Awareness Week about how to talk to your friends who struggle with infertility but there already is a TON of great content out there, like this one! I wanted to hang out in the awareness realm for this blog which can feel a bit dark but I also hope that it has shed some like on this issue. I pray that it would cause you dig deep into your empathy tool bag and find out how to care and connect with those around you who are hurting.
To my sisters in this season of infertility, who’s treatments have been cancelled and finances are even tighter, we are not alone in this. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s connect to encouragement one another in this season!
Want to learn more about our unique journey through infertility? Well, buckle up!
2018 in Recovery (This one’s a doozy)