Lately I’ve run across a lot of posts in the infertility universe from people who are trying to find a way to describe themselves or tactfully refer to someone who has failed to achieve desired success in their pursuits or has finally decided it is time to stop the journey and live without children.
I can look back at my experience with a certain degree of distance from the intensity of the desperate feelings of hopelessness that created bigger firestorms of emotion as one by one every medical procedure known to modern day science failed to provide us with a child.
When people would ask us if we had any kids, at first we’d say we were trying.
Now I hear Yoda’s voice every time the word try makes an attempt to come out of my mouth:
Do or do not—there is no try.
For some reason the word “trying” always elicited looks of tilted headed pity, where I swore the person was going to pet me on the head and give me a treat.
Anyone who has gone through infertility did a helluva lot more than TRY.
We DID spend thousands of dollars, suffered physical, emotional and financial setbacks, and prayed to God and even considered deals with the other guy if he would just make the cycle work.
The problem is, the cycle DID NOT work.
I can’t imagine if we hadn’t succeeded in the battle of infertility that we could have referred to ourselves as “child free”.
Cosmically effed is probably more like it.
Infertility veteran is the only label I ever liked when it came to our pursuit, and which seems to honor anyone who has done everything they can but lost the battle to become a parent, and decided that it is not worth it to do anything else, or is simply unable to continue the battle.
Veterans of war witness awful acts of inhumanity, and senseless acts of cruelty. Many of them are altered forever by what they see, and what they experience.
The scars may be on their bodies, or embedded in their souls, haunting them and giving them nightmares of the way life could have been if they’d never stepped onto the battlefield.
They often live in a perpetual state of battle even in their waking moments.
Perhaps this is melodramatic, but this is the only fair analogy I can make to what it must be like for a woman who fights but ends the war without having a child.
Infertility veterans deserve respect and prayers, not platitudes or labels.
They fight for something that so many people take for granted in this world.
It makes me sick to see how many times the battle can’t be fought because the financial burden is too great.
I hope, and pray and will continue to advocate for a day when infertility veterans can at least say that their battle wasn’t lost because of a lack of financial means.
In the meantime, I would simply say thank you to the women who fight so valiantly to bring life into this world.
Your tears and sacrifices do not go unnoticed by other infertility veterans.
The photo below still hangs on the wall in my office, where I often found myself relating to the man at the bottom of the light tower, somehow peaceful despite the ominous waves that threaten to engulf him as we failed cycle after cycle.
I can only hope that at some point, every infertility veteran will find peace amid her storm.