I am not that different from many people out there who feel strongly about a cause that has affected about their lives. The challenges we face in life are what define us. Some families have experience taking care of a child with cancer; they create a foundation in the name of their child and raise money for cancer research. In my community a woman saw the need to help families who had fallen below the poverty line and could not feed or clothe their families. It started with a clothing drive and ended up being a community venture that hosts 59 families- providing them meals, personal items not covered by food stamps, gifts, household item, etc.
Sometimes these ventures just fall in our laps. That is how I feel. All the pain, grief, and anger I experienced while trying to get pregnant shaped my life forever. Infertility is a part of who I am and will always be. I am an adoptive mom. And, I never thought I would be able to say that.
When I was 26 years old and told that I would need medical intervention to conceive because I had a condition called Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS (and shipped off to an infertility clinic), I had no one to relate to. The first problem was that my husband and I went into this experience with little guidance from my physicians. Because of my age, I was neglected in a way. They saw me as a very young woman of child bearing age. They said that if they gave me the right drugs, I would ovulate, and get pregnant- simple as that.
Well, as you can probably guess, it wasn't as simple as that. It was horrible and heart wrenching; it became an every day struggle that consumed my life for four years. My story is like so many others. I went to an infertility clinic where they may as well have stamped my forehead with a number. It was like a mill, 5 women out the door and 10 in.
I saw such a need for women in their twenties to have a place to turn to. When I visited the bookstore, I found only a few books on infertility and they were either geared towards women near 40 who got married later in life and had trouble conceiving, or there were books about infertility and conceiving through "natural" means (no drugs, exercise, acupuncture).
Where were the books by young women who could not get pregnant? Was I really the only one? Judging by the waiting room at the infertility clinic, I was an anomaly. For the most part, I was at least ten years younger than the patients sharing the seats in the reception area.
Things are different for me now. I am not in my twenties and I am not undergoing infertility treatments any longer. But, I am an adoptive mother who lives with the fact that I cannot get pregnant (well, never say never). Ugh, that's the clincher; talk about leaving things open ended. No one has ever said to me that I will never become pregnant naturally. I know that anything can happen, blah blah. But, the reality is that my husband and I cannot just decide to have a baby and expand our family. Our ability to family plan consists of deciding when and if we want to adopt again.
There are so many people who need help with the life crisis of infertility. If I can contribute in some way, I will feel like my challenges had purpose. I want to offer help to people so that the tremendously profound feelings of solitude I experienced while trying to get pregnant will be put to good use. While my friends were planning their weddings and then planning their baby showers I was living a daily of struggle of humiliating experiences in the doctors office- probing and testing, getting hormone shots, undergoing IVF, living the hell of an ectopic pregnancy- almost losing a body part and going through the devastation of terminating my one and only pregnancy.
Empathy can go a long way. Empathy can change people's lives.