I stumbled across this article recently – How Women With Infertility Are Similar To Trauma Survivors – and while I was surprised by the controversy, the article itself really resonated with me.
I would describe my own personal journey with infertility as a defining period in my life. It forever changed me. I’ll never be the person I was the day before I had my first ever devastating miscarriage. Never. That woman I was died that day, along with the fetus being expelled from my broken womb and just like the death of my own genetics, she will never be again.
I call myself a survivor. I call myself and infertility survivor. Because unless you’ve walked a mile in my shoes, unless you’ve experienced infertility on any level, you cannot know the despair, the grief and the trauma that goes hand in hand with the hopelessness that is infertility. Unless you’ve had a miscarriage, you really can’t know what the death of that could have, should have been dream child feels like.
Why Do Outsiders to Infertility Have So Much Trouble Understanding Us
Throughout my infertility journey and even now as a survivor, I feel like my trauma was completely misunderstood and often downplayed by my fertile counterparts. Believe me, I harbor no ill feelings, I’m the first to admit that prior to my first miscarriage, I’d never really imagined or understood what the depth of that pain would be. Honestly, I don’t even think I would have considered infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss as a trauma, prior to experiencing it myself.
At the same time, I know those suffering from infertility who had such deep levels of distress and depression that they considered suicide.
After my 6th miscarriage and about 5 years into my journey with infertility, I seriously considered and planned my own suicide. That is a very scary thought for me today. To think back and to know that there was a time in my life when my emotional distress was so intense that the thought of ending my life was less terrifying than having to face and deal with the pain I was in.
And again, I think about how often the pain and struggle of infertility is downplayed because really, in hindsight, now that I am of healthy mind, I realize, I probably should have been institutionalized during that period. I probably should have gone to a place like Crescent Clinic and received medical and professional help. I was in the midst of a complete breakdown. But I don’t believe anyone around me took my cry for help seriously, I don’t believe they realized the depth and the breadth of my utter despair and desperation. Of how close I was to completely losing my mind.
But it’s not just my physical death that I contemplated, but the death of my genetics too. I will never know genetic mirroring with my child. I will never carry or know a child that is biologically related to me and there is a degree of trauma, sadness, grief and acceptance in that statement too.
So, do I consider myself a survivor?
I’m here. I’m alive. I’m thriving. I am the mother of two beautiful children. I overcame. I am forever changed but I am still alive, so yes, I very much consider myself a survivor!