I still remember the moment I decided I wanted to be a mom. I was 5 years old and my cousin had just given birth to her first son.
When I held him for the first time, I fell in love and I remember thinking, “I want one of these.”
Fast-forward to three years ago, almost 24 years later, and I still “wanted one of these.” The problem is that I’d yet to make my dream of motherhood a reality.
My husband and I have issues with infertility. It’s not something that people typically feel comfortable discussing.
But in late April, during National Infertility Awareness Week, people just like me are speaking up about their fertility struggles to build support and hope for moms- and dads-to-be whose path is longer and rockier.
While I reached my ultimate goal of motherhood almost two years ago, I learned so much through the years prior to the birth of my son. Here are the top 10 things I learned while trying to conceive.
- Scheduling sex is a thing. “Have sex every other day during your fertile window,” the doctor says. What if you’re not in the mood? It doesn’t matter. You have to do the deed if you want to make a baby.
- Sperm, when transferred in a vial, must stay body temperature. My husband and I have done three rounds of IUI (also known as intrauterine insemination). He leaves his “sample” at the fertility specialist’s office and I have to retrieve it to take it to my OB/GYN’s office. The first time I did this and the nurse told me to tuck it in my bra, I laughed. How can you not? Hey, during this process, you have to find things to laugh about.
- Lots of people see your vagina. More people have seen my lower half in one year than in my entire life. From vaginal ultrasounds to getting my fallopian tubes flushed to having IUI done, a parade of people’s faces have been between my legs – and no, it has not been enjoyable.
- I have a beautiful uterus. After one of these many ultrasounds, I’m proud to say the doctor told me I have a “beautiful uterus” – a healthy little womb that’s raring to go whenever the stars aligned. I’d bet it’s even prettier than the one in the picture above, which was a gift from Metro Parent’s lovely editor-in-chief, Julia Elliott.
- Mood swings to the max. I feel all sorts of feelings. When we hit the year-and-a-half mark, I started to go crazy. In one day, I was angry then sad then hopeful then sad again. It wasn’t uncommon for me to tear up when I thought or talked about having a baby.
- Social media caused depression. We show our best moments on Facebook and Instagram – and almost daily I saw a pregnancy announcement or a photo of a newborn. While I was incredibly excited for all of these people, I couldn’t help but feel a ping of sadness every time I scrolled through my newsfeed. I thought about deactivating my accounts, but there’s a piece of me that wasn’t ready for that – so I continued the cycle of sadness.
- The sound of a child’s laughter made me want to cry. It’s the sweetest sound on earth, but it cut me to the core. I’d find myself wondering what my child’s laugh would sound like someday – and it made me long for the moment that I’d get to hear him or her giggle.
- My heart broke a bit more every month. Periods suck as it is, but when you think about the fact that one more egg had been wasted, periods suck even more. People told me I’m one step closer to baby, but as each month passed, I felt like motherhood was slipping farther away from me. So, every month when I started, I’d cry alone in my bathroom – and then I’d spend a few days depressed until a good friend of mine helped me snap back out of it.
- I have the best support system. That friend I mentioned above is one of a few that really helped me through the process. My family was wonderful, too, but the people I see daily were the ones who dealt with a lot of my moods and drama, so if it weren’t for them, I don’t think I’d have gotten through the process.
- My marriage is even stronger. After 10 years together and more than four years of marriage, we’ve had our share of ups and downs – and while we don’t always agree on things, the experience has made us a better team. I am grateful for the man I married – and now that we’ve had our son, he’s been an amazing father.
Every day during this process was a struggle – and I know I’m not alone. So, if you struggle with fertility like me, take some time this week to “come out” about it to a friend or family member. It’s time to talk about this very real, very common struggle. It’s too hard to go through alone.
Learn more about National Infertility Awareness Week here.
This post was originally published in 2016 and is updated regularly.