Killingmesoftly-One woman's quest to survive infertility

Killingmesoftly-One woman's quest to survive infertility

Sunday, January 13, 2019

Daring Greatly

The other day I was talking with someone who I hadn't seen in a couple of months.  She asked how I was doing, and in a moment of vulnerability I shared that I had really been struggling with my fertility journey.    She answered, "Oh, you're still doing that?"; but her question didn't express interest, curiosity, or concern.  Her tone of voice expressed a sense of disbelief that I was still pursuing that goal,  and suggested a touch of disdain as well.  Childless by choice, I realized that my quest must seem ridiculous to her.  So I launched into my favorite explanation- "I'm committed to giving my son a sibling.  I'm an older mom and won't be around forever, and he has no cousins nearby, so this is for him".   The conversation ended there, and she didn't ask any further questions or offer support.  This person has been far from my only critic, so this is a well rehearsed script.  When I focus my answer on my son, people back off, and show some understanding, but when I answer honestly and share that I am on this journey due to a deep longing in my heart for another child I have been met with judgment.  This comes in the form of comments that question my decision to continue to pursue this after so many years of failure, that judge me for not being "satisfied" with just one child, that suggest selfishness at pursuing fertility treatments instead of fostering or adopting, and that hint at my age.  Comments have included, "Is this really worth stressing your marriage over?",  "You should be happy that you have one",  "Two is alot of work, you're better off with just one", "I couldn't imagine having a baby at your age", "That's alot of money to spend", "When do you say enough is enough?",  "Maybe it's just not meant to be".  And don't even get me started about when I mention that I've been exploring donor egg.

In the face of criticism and judgment I go straight into shame and embarrassment.  I second guess all my choices.  I question the yearning in my heart. I put on a mask and hide from those around me.    It's not a pretty place.  While listening to a Brene Brown talk this week though,  I heard a quotation  that helped me think of these moments in a new way.  The quote is from Teddy Roosevelt, and I wanted to share it with you.

These words made me see myself and my journey in a new way.  Ladies, we are the "man in the arena".  We go head to head with infertility everyday.  We get knocked down, wounded, and dirty, but we keep getting up.  We rise to our feet and we wipe off our tears.  We "strive valiantly".  We give our all to a "worthy cause", because what could be more worthy than calling forth life?    We hope that we will succeed, but even if we fail, we will fail "while daring greatly".   We can own that effort, that heart, and that bravery with pride.  I understand that our friends and loved ones mean well.  Their comments come from a place of concern for our well-being,  but they are not in the arena with us.  They sit in the stands and offer advice and criticism for how to approach an opponent they have never faced, in a battle they will most likely never fight.  Going forward I will hold these words close.  I will do my best to shake off the criticism of my choices on this journey.  I will look around the arena and I will link hands with the other women out there; women (and some men too) who are standing strong and DARING GREATLY.    Thank you for allowing me to share these thought with you today. 

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