I married my high school sweetheart and always thought having children would be the next step in our relationship. But five years into our marriage, we were told that without intensive infertility treatments, we would never have biological children. Three failed attempts with Clomid, five failed tries with IUI, and four failed IVF attempts left us emotionally, physically, and financially broken — and still childless. It was one month before our 10th wedding anniversary that we finally adopted our beautiful son, Isaac. Today he is 8 years old and has three younger siblings who were all equally amazing miracles.
It didn’t happen overnight, but in the last few years, I have actually become grateful for those years of longing, grief, and intense pain that infertility brought to our lives. I have been changed forever by those years of waiting and am a better parent because of it. If you are in the midst of this pain, I hope this list encourages you that good can come out of this sadness. And if you are on the other side and now a parent after years of trying, I hope this reminds you how your pain can be used for good.
Here are 10 ways infertility before parenthood changes you forever:
1. You will never take things for granted.
You now know that good things don’t always happen to good people. You now know that “happily ever after” is not guaranteed. And that knowledge will cause you to appreciate miracles in a deeper way. Hearing the news of a baby’s birth isn’t “par for the course” in your book. It is nothing short of miraculous.
2. Your compassion for others will always be greater.
When you see someone crying at church or in the grocery store, you‘ll be less likely to brush it aside. Your heart will remember the times you burst out crying when passing racks of newborn clothes. Your mind will reflect on the Sunday you had to leave church because the baby dedication was too painful to watch. And those memories will cause you to think of others and appreciate the sadness that this life can bring.
3. Lullabies played in a hospital will always remind you of those who are grieving.
You will always remember that someone is grieving while someone is celebrating. While you can be happy for those in the midst of joyous events, you will constantly be thinking of those who are hurting in the same moment. Lullabies for one family are being played while another family is saying goodbye to a life way too soon.
4. Mother’s Day will always cause mixed emotions.
You will love the hugs and flowers and cards and doting that your children and spouse lavish upon you. But in the mist of those celebrations, you will not be able to avoid reflecting upon all the Sundays that you begged for your chance. You will not be able to avoid acknowledging that people you know and love are begging, and you can’t fix it for them.
5. The unfairness of life will resonate more deeply.
You will be continually aware that good things don’t necessarily happen to good people. While celebrating, you will be conscious of how it isn’t fair that you get to experience this while others do not. Your celebrations will be muted, but those muted moments will make you a more sensitive and loving friend.
6. Baby sections of stores will constantly cause you to remember.
No matter how hard you try to block out the years you avoided the baby department, you won’t be able to. Every single time you walk by the diapers and formula and cute little baby shoes, you will remember and quietly whisper a prayer of thanks that you don’t feel that deep sense of longing anymore. But while happy for yourself, you will think of all those you love who are still unable to meander through those aisles.
7. Sins against children will anger you fiercely.
How someone can hurt a child will never make sense to anyone. But to a woman who has dealt with infertility, the unfairness of that woman getting to experience a miracle and then abusing that miracle while you grieved your losses will linger even longer. How can they not see the miracle they have been given? And how can they toss it so casually to the side?
8. You will always glance around silently to check reactions.
When the pastor says something about “being blessed with children” during a wedding, when a room full of women turns the conversation to parenthood for the millionth time, when every event is about and centered around children, you will find yourself wondering who is pained by this. You will glance around to check the faces of women without children to examine their hearts and try to guess where they are in the journey of motherhood.
9. Your appreciation for your children will run deeper.
Women who have not had to struggle for their children will never feel exactly the same way that you do. Of course they love their children, but the struggle truly intensifies the experience once they are in your arms. You are constantly aware of the miracle of life and the pain of losing it.
10. Your own celebrations will be muted.
Try as you might to return to your life before you met infertility in that dark alley, you‘ll never be able to. You will wish that every birthday party and first day of school and amusement park didn’t remind you of what you almost didn’t have. You‘ll want to not think of all the other women while celebrating at your own baby shower. But you won’t be able to help it. And your empathy will make you a better person.