Infertility is / by Martha Keyes

Infertility is EVERYTHING. It is all-consuming. Emotionally, spiritually, financially, medically, maritally. There is nothing else.

Infertility is NOTHING. It is absence. It is lack. It is emptiness where you want to be filled. It is flat where you want to be round. It is nonexistence where you crave existence. 

Infertility is TRACKING. Your period. Your cycle days. Your basal body temperature. Your bodily fluids. Your cervix. Your ovulation. 

Infertility is NEEDLES. Oh-so many needles. Needles everywhere. Needles in the arm. Needles in the stomach. Needles in the buttocks. Needles in...yes, everywhere. Long ones, short ones, doctor-inflicted, self-inflicted.

Infertility is URINE. On so many sticks. It is urine to test for ovulation. It is urine to test out trigger shots. It is urine to test for pregnancy. It is a bathroom covered in urine sticks. It is knowing which one will tell you 6 days before your missed period, which one will tell you a day after your missed period, which one detects HCG levels of 10 miu or 25 miu or 100 miu, which one yields the fewest false negatives, which one gives you a line versus a smiley face, which ones tend to produce evaporation lines.

Infertility is TESTS. And retests. And reretests. 

Infertility is PILLS. Clomid. Femara. Estrogen. Progesterone. Folic Acid. Prednisone. Aspirin. Zinc. So many pills. 

Infertility is OVERANALYZING. It is panic over every decision and how it might affect chances of pregnancy. It is wondering what you might have done to cause the last treatment to fail. It is analyzing others' personal experiences to help guide your own. 

Infertility is SURRENDER. It is wondering whether you should just give up and raise the white flag; if you should stop trying to force your body to do something it so obviously does not want to do. It is feeling that not trying anymore might be less overwhelming than going through another failed treatment. 

Infertility is FIGHTING. Even though you want to give up. 

Infertility is IMPOTENCE. It is powerlessness. It is barrenness.

Infertility is RESENTMENT. At those who become pregnant without even trying. At those who abort unwanted children. At those who trumpet struggles with infertility after just a few months of trying. At insurance that covers any kind of procedure to prevent pregnancy or to end it but that covers absolutely none of the procedures and tests to pursue it.

Infertility is PUBLICITY. It is having to be okay with everyone thinking of your intimate life. It is having everyone aware of your most private and personal struggle. It is avoiding eye contact with the nurse after generating "a sample." It is doing things in doctors' offices that should never have to be done there. 

Infertility is SACRIFICE. Oh boy, it is sacrifice! Of time, of money, of privacy, of control, of plans, of dreams, of pride, of financial goals, of intimacy untainted by schedules and "shoulds" and "musts." Of anything and everything necessary. 

Infertility is WAITING. For two weeks. For results on sticks. For ovulation.  For doctors. For medication. For money. For the next try. 

Infertility is FEAR. Of miscarriage. Of chemical pregnancy. Of ectopic pregnancy. Of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome. Of cysts. Of endometriosis. Of multiples. Of negative results. Of never succeeding. Of stopping. Of continuing. Of never being able to breathe a sigh of relief.

Infertility is HYPERAWARENESS. Of every twinge, every ache, every change, every process in your body. Of every friend who becomes pregnant. Of every acquaintance who gives birth. Of every pregnancy post on social media. Of every church talk on family and motherhood. 

Infertility is TIME. It is the two weeks until you can test for pregnancy--but testing after one anyway. It is the three minutes until results can be read--but feeling immediately sick with devastation as the urine creeps up the stick without any hint of a second line. It is the half day or the 24 hours or the two days until your nurse calls with results. It is a ticking biological clock. 

Infertility is ACRONYMS. POAS. BD. HSG. HCG. 2WW. TTC. CD. DP5DT. PCOS. AF. PICSI. SA. BFN. BFP. BCP. CM. FET. DPO. EPT. IVF. IUI. And on and on and on and on and on. 

Infertility is QUESTIONS. More unanswered than answered. It is never knowing why. It is never knowing when. It is never knowing if. 

Infertility is NEWS. It is good news. It is bad news. It is no news.

Infertility is LONELY. It is watching everyone else go where you want to go. It is getting left behind.

Infertility is GUILT. It is wondering if it's your body that's the problem. It is guilt when you find out you are the problem. It is wondering if your spouse is secretly disappointed.

Infertility is INADEQUACY. It is feeling like less of a woman or man. 

Infertility is HEARTACHE. After heartache. After heartache. After heartache.

Infertility is EXPERTISE. It is understanding reproduction better than any of your friends and family. It is knowing what a blastocyst is, what size follicles to hope for, what the zona pellucida is, what morphology and motility counts to hope for, what Antimullerian Hormone is.

Infertility is FORUMS. Searching them. Posting on them. Replying to them. 

Infertility is MANAGEMENT. Of expectations. Of hopes. Of dreams. Of money. Of pills. Of injections. Of pain.  

Infertility is EMOTION. Natural. Hormonal. Devastating. Overwhelming. Rational. Irrational. Inescapable.

Infertility is IRONY. That treatment symptoms mimic pregnancy symptoms. That those who understand reproduction best are unable to see its fruits. That you ever used birth control. That they often make you go on birth control before starting a new fertility treatment. 

Infertility is UNDERSTANDING. That this time there is only a __% chance of success. But not being able to keep from hoping anyway. 

Infertility is OPINIONS. From doctors. From nurses. From friends. From family. From strangers. 

Infertility is REALIZING. How very fragile life is at the beginning. How very strong life is even at the beginning. 

Infertility is AMAZEMENT. At everything that goes into starting a new life. That anyone can become pregnant without assisted reproductive technology. At what the human body usually does on its own. 

Infertility is COMMUNITY. It is connecting with women you never would have otherwise connected with over the most personal and emotional aspects of your life.

Infertility is STRENGTH. Because that is the only option. 

Infertility is FAITH. That your most righteous and greatest desires will be fulfilled. 

Infertility is HOPE. That this time is the charm. That next time is the charm. That any time is the charm. 

Infertility is CHARITY. It is overwhelming compassion and empathy for people you don't know.

Infertility is TOGETHER. You and your spouse, fighting as hard as you possibly can. It is holding hands during the tests, procedures, and ultrasounds. It is holding counsels together as you decide how many embryos to transfer. It is holding each other when the test comes back negative. It is holding it together because you have someone at your side through it all. 

Infertility is THE SAVIOR. A greater need to know Him. A fuller relationship with Him. A deeper appreciation of His suffering. A gratitude for His Atonement. A dependency on His strength. A trust in His promises.