The Heaviness Of Infertility Completely Depleted (And Changed) Me

by Jessica Melcher
Originally Published: 
Erica Shirley Photography

I used to paint a room every time an IVF cycle failed. Maybe it was as simple as wanting to add some color to our stark white walls, maybe it was to busy my idle hands and calm my racing mind, maybe it was because I needed to feel control over something, anything, in my life in a time when all I felt was overwhelming anguish and grief. Whatever the reason, five different times, five different rooms were painted in shades of heartbreak and despair-colorful reminders of the most painful years of my life.

Those same walls, once sterile and pristine, are now riddled with yogurt splatters and fingerprints.

Our five-year IVF journey came to an end when we welcomed our daughter in November of 2017. Life is so much different now. A beautiful chaos for which I’ll be eternally grateful. But I’ll never forget the gut-wrenching pain of life before her.

Erica Shirley Photography

Today, the days are long; grueling, in the most wonderful way. They’re filled with adventures and giggles, messes and complete mayhem, snuggles and stories. But I’ll never forget the days that seemed so empty and free. Endless possibilities to fill our time, but all that filled my mind was the family for which I longed, and for which my heart ached.

Erica Shirley Photography

Today, I am exhausted. The kind of exhausted where you ask yourself, “How is it only 4:00?” when the day has seemed to go on forever. The kind of exhausted where you have cleaned up a thousand messes, averted incalculable meltdowns, changed countless diapers, and smiled so much your cheeks hurt, all before noon. But I’ll never forget the sheer exhaustion that was simply living. The sheer exhaustion created just by getting out of bed each morning, having to face another day. I’ll never forget the exhaustion of carrying around a broken heart, wondering if it would ever be put back together.

Today, my once spacious home is overflowing. Toys and books, crafts and crayons seem to litter every room in a sort of organized anarchy. But I’ll never forget all of the space we once had. The empty bedrooms that I longed to be nurseries made my heart sink each time I would walk past them. Silent. Well-Kept. Somber. The rooms that once made my heart ache, now make it dance. Little footsteps. Laughter. The soft, shallow breaths of babies. Those rooms now hold everything in the world for which I am the most grateful.

Erica Shirley Photography

Today, I am full of life. I am full of happiness and pure joy as I am woken far too early, by the littlest of voices petitioning to start the day. I am fulfilled beyond comprehension as I tie the littlest of laces on the wiggliest of feet ready to race for the door and set forth on a new adventure. I am full of gratitude as the water splashes out of the tub, soaking everything in its path. I am full of comfort in the giggles that follow. But I’ll never forget how there was a time when I was unable to find the joy in much of anything. Getting out of bed was hard, leaving the house and facing the world was harder, and I would find myself hiding in the shower for far too long just so I could cry without anyone knowing the intensity of the pain I was carrying.

I’ll never forget the heartbreak that was our journey to have a family. The years of wishing and hoping, the years of wondering if it would ever happen for us. The years of injections, doctor’s appointments, debt. The hurt was so deep I could feel it every day, in every part of me. Some days I would wake up and wonder if my heart could possibly take one more second of the life I was living. But today, my heart is full. It’s full of life, it’s full of laughter, and it’s so, so full of love. Today I am so grateful to have two beautiful children, both miracles in their own right. Today I am who I have always longed to be.

Today, I am Mom.

This article was originally published on