I think one of the things I hate most about this “condition” is how insecure it makes me feel at times. Of course, in my teenage years I went through the standard bouts of identity crisis and insecurity and a bad boyfriend relationship that eroded my self-esteem a good bit. By the time I was a senior in high school I had come out of that a good bit bolstered by a new uplifting boyfriend (who went on to become my husband) and personal achievements that led me to believe that I was a smart and capable young woman who might just make something out of her life.
This new-found confidence and new-found love continued on through college. While I had the usual post-high-school adjustments and learned to adapt to both the working and college worlds I was mostly a happy and confident person. I graduated college with honors and was looking forward to married life with the love of my life.
Marriage was a bigger adjustment than I had realized it would be. While E and I dated for five years you never truly know a person until you live with them; however, we were still happy, and I was adjusting to my new life fairly well and still had a good bit of confidence in myself and my abilities.
The erosion of my self confidence didn’t begin until a few years later when we were well into trying to conceive and nothing was happening. At this point many of my friends already had their first children and some were pregnant with their second. I began to feel like a loser, and while I continued to advance in my career my self-esteem was taking hits every month I didn’t become pregnant. It was like the continual drip, drip, drip of a faucet. While at first it’s not that devastating, over time the disappointments and the perceived failures mount up into one big ball of aggravation and insecurity about one’s self. This slowly began to bleed over into other aspects of my life. It began to cripple me in taking risks in my career and in my personal life. I started to believe that everything was going to end in disappointment so why try. My whole life became eclipsed by this seemingly huge failure.
Over a decade later when it was decided that we were getting off the infertility rollercoaster the damage was done, and today I’m still working hard to repair the damage it did to my psyche. There are other challenging life situations that have contributed to the damage, so I won’t lay the blame %100 on the infertility. I also have to shoulder some of the blame on myself for allowing it to have so much influence on my sense of self and self esteem.
I read a lot of childless blogs and forums, and I have made some great friends. While I hate that they’ve had to go through this difficult life situation too it’s comforting to know that I’m not an oddball in how I have grieved and coped. It’s probably one of things that has kept me this side of sanity.
However, I read about the remarkable women who find almost total healing. They move on with their lives without children and find abundant happiness in their life after infertility. Some even become thankful for their lack of children. These women are superwomen in my eyes, and I so aspire to be like them. While I’ve made significant strides in my life (I’ve moved onward and upward in my career) I’m just not there yet in my personal life. When my husband is sad, mad, or stressed I worry that it’s about the childlessness, and will he one day leave me for more fertile and less jaded and bitter pastures? When other “trigger” situations arise I wonder if I’ll ever move on from the anger over the way I’ve/we’ve been treated differently by some family simply because we don’t have children and bitterness over the obvious favor other family members get simply because they were able to reproduce.
So, while I know in some aspects I’ve come a long way there’s still a lot to overcome. I want to be one of those superwomen who gives infertility/childlessness a roundhouse kick to the face and finds happiness anyway.