Each morning I drive past an emotionally provoking roadway sign that I now realize is like a thermometer for my state of mind. The sign reads, “Infertility? Try Acupuncture”. When I first started travelling this route to work three years ago I don’t remember seeing this sign. Its not new. The sign was there the whole time, rather it is me changing a little each day. I didn’t see the sign three years ago because my mind was focussed on my upcoming spring wedding.
In the first six months of being a newlywed, the infertility sign was part of my daily life along with many other signs for foot fungus removal, subway sandwich deals, and public service announcements. I sometimes saw the infertility sign, but for the most part it was just a leaf on the tree of my big city commute. It wasn’t until a year after our wedding that I finally began internalizing this sign’s call to action…which coincided with many months of “trying” with no success. As I fell deeper into the frustrating “trying to conceive” hope and despair cycle; the sign grew louder and taller before my eyes each day as I drove to work. In my darkest moments, the slight sight of this sign was like a tractor beam that hijacked my thoughts and plagued me with questions and emotions:
- Did the colors get brighter?
- Why is this the only sign I see?
- Was it put on the side of the road just for me?
- Why am I so angry? Why do I want to cry?
- Do they not realize how much this sign hurts me each day?
On the outside, I was happy and content…but on the inside infertility was taking its toll. I was sad and my heart was heavy. I had become a project manager in the bedroom. Every day my alarm went off at the crack of dawn so that I could take my temperature. Coffee and caffeine had exited my life. And most ridiculously, I found myself beyond pissed off at Kate Middleton because she was pregnant (along with everyone else) too! (And I don’t follow the Royal Family).
As the months and years continued the sign and emotions remained a constant each morning as I juggled naturopaths, acupuncture, body talk, chiropractic and fertility doctor appointments; there was no stone I left unturned. The sign always remained as a daily infertility reminder.
Last fall, around the same time we signed up for IVF, I had an epiphany that at some point I would see my infertility struggle as a gift. For fleeting moment I had clarity with the deep insight and awareness to know that infertility would mean something deeper in my life. Infertility has made me/us special…I/we understand fertility at a level that five in six women could not understand. Those five fertile myrtles don’t know what I/we know, they haven’t experienced what I/we have experienced, and they can’t help someone get through infertility the way that I/we can. It was around the same time as this epiphany that I noticed this roadway sign took on lesser meaning in my day to day commute. I noticed that I stopped seeing it as often and it didn’t evoke the same vexing emotions. Overall, I was more at peace because for a moment I understood and in that moment I let something go.
When our first round with IVF failed earlier this month, it devastated me and strangely one thought I had was wondering if the sign would again scream at me each morning. For the first few days it did, but I can see that the sign, again, is becoming less noticeable. I can feel that my mind is calmer and I know deep down that our family will grow one day…how? I am not sure yet, but I know it will, the same way I know that my battle with infertility will make more sense one day. Now each morning when I drive past this silly sign, rather than avoid or push down the feelings it sometimes brings up…instead I find myself doing an internal check to make sure I am okay…and I am.