I’ve had a difficult time writing this post because I really don’t know what to say. I know how I feel and what I think, but putting this subject into words has been increasingly difficult. I’ve tried many times to craft the right phrases but always hit delete. Sometimes being so vulnerable is easy, and at other times, it’s sucking the breath right out of my lungs.
I realized recently just how lonely this phase of life is. I don’t think I know a single person in my every day life who is a mother to an elementary-aged child and still struggles with the effects of infertility.
There, I said it.
Nine years ago, when I was first diagnosed with PCOS and introduced to the world of infertility, I had it in my mind that once I became a mom, infertility wouldn’t be a burden anymore. I thought that surely this was only a phase… that trying to cross the threshold into motherhood was the worst of it, and that it was all uphill from there. But then I had Zoey, a vocal little girl who always speaks her mind, and from the very age of two started asking me “mommy, why do all my friends have brothers and sisters and I don’t?” Two years old. I started to feel a sense of urgency and we started trying to grow our family. Five years later, as Zoey is on the cusp of turning seven, and while I’m finally in the best phase of peace that I have ever been in, I find that I often times feel lonely.
Up until recently, I was enrolled in two connected groups on Facebook: one for the infertile, and one for new moms who “graduated” from the first group. It hit me one day that I was an intruder in those two groups. I left them both. I’m in a different life stage. All of the moms who are going through infertility treatments have toddlers or preschoolers, and here I was with my almost seven-year-old that no one seemed to understand. While they’re all discussing diapers and potty training techniques, I’m years ahead with nothing to say. And the infertile group? I’m one of “those on the other side”. Way on the other side. I’m not going through treatments, and it has been a long time (8 years) since I have gotten pregnant off of a treatment. I just started to feel like I shouldn’t lurk anymore. Like I didn’t belong. I’m still in a few other groups of the women I’ve been connected to for years, but they’ve fallen relatively quiet… except for one group, no one really talks anymore. While everyone seems to have complete families, I don’t. The silence is loud for me.
No one prepared me for this. I’m an infertile mom with an older child and had no idea this would be such a lonely part of life. It’s not like I don’t have friends. I have great friends! Especially one in particular who has suffered so much loss, she understands more than anyone how lonely it is when you’re engulfed in a life stage few talk about. She has been my greatest support, and I hers. Nothing is TMI between us and everything is on the table. But just as she desperately needs women who walk in the valley of MTHFR with her, I need women who have older children and still suffer with infertility. Women who have an older child and feel like someone else is missing from the dinner table. Women who struggle with “how much baby stuff do I purge and what do I keep?” Women who stay awake at night wondering “will she be an only child?” Women who have a carseat that expired before a second child got a chance to use it.
If you are in this same life stage, please speak up! Is there a Facebook group or online community for women like us? Women with older children who are still infertile, who still have struggles, who still have hope of more children? Women who won’t be told “you should just be grateful you have one child when I don’t even have one”.
Ouch, ya’ll. Quit being so mean.
I’m not a new mommy anymore.
I’m not new to infertility anymore.
I’m just a woman who still needs community.