In celebration of and to help build momentum for the April 7th bookstore launch of Ever Upward, I will be posting a guest post each week. These guest posts are written by my dear friends and biggest supporters of my work. I am so excited to introduce you all to their stories, their voices and their work in the coming weeks. To kick us off, my friend over at A Few Pieces Missing From Normalcy is sharing his perspective on the lifelong work the infertility journey inevitably leaves us all with. He has been a huge support of me and Ever Upward, even helping me with a chapter review last year when I first launched. I value his voice in this community, not only because he has the bravery to come out with the male perspective but also because he has the courage to say the things many in the infertility community are not saying out loud. It is his true courage that will help to change the unhealthy dialogue in the infertility community, which means he is one of my fellow warriors in this ever upward journey.
When we are growing up looking at the adult world from the child’s eyes life seems simple. We believe that you go to college, find someone who you fall in love with and marry, and then have kids with that person. It looks easy enough when you are a kid and don’t have the first hand experience of what it takes to get to each of those steps. In reality, sometimes each of those steps doesn’t go according to plan. Some of those things may happen as you picture them, others may happen but not exactly as you pictured them and some may not happen at all.
When it comes to infertility and the step of having a family with the person you marry it doesn’t happen the way you pictured it would or it may not happen at all. It doesn’t happen in the timing that you want it to. It doesn’t happen the way you want it to. If it does happen it may be through medicine rather than conceiving naturally. There are cases for some people where having a child with the person you love may not happen at all. Whatever the resolution a couple has to infertility, there is no easy way out.
Being a guy I figured I would try to inject some testosterone into this piece. In the great Sylvester Stallone guy movie Rocky IV there is a scene where after Rocky has an argument with his wife about whether to fight the invincible Ivan Drago he goes for a drive to think about what he is about to take on. In the typical cheesey 80’s movie theme it’s a scene that shows a montage of flashbacks in his life with the Survivor Song “No Easy Way Out” playing. If you listen to the lyrics of the song it describes the battle a person can go through and that to get where you want to go sometimes there isn’t an easy way:
There’s no easy way out,
There’s no shortcut home.
There’s no easy way out,
Giving in can’t be wrong.
When it comes to infertility, and getting through it, sometimes we do look for the easy way to get out. We look for that shortcut to get us to the end result we want. We look for that shortcut home and at times feel that giving in to the quest can’t be wrong. But there is no easy way out of infertility both from a physical resolution (whether or not we become parents) or an emotional resolution (how we cope with infertility the rest of our lives).
As Justine has described in her book there is more to life than having children. Even if a couple is able to have a child after infertility in some way we need to be comfortable with who we are as people. The child can be the bonus in a couple’s life but it shouldn’t define who we are as people. Becoming a parent will not resolve a couple’s infertility grief. I have interacted with many people in the infertility community who had major emotional struggles during pregnancies and parenting after infertility. Looking for that shortcut to parenthood in the long run will not benefit the couple and any potential children in it. It will just delay the inevitable of having to address the emotional scars that infertility has left.
There is no easy way out when it comes to infertility. We each as individuals, and as a couple, have to address the feelings that infertility has impacted. Taking time to sort through them will benefit all parties involved. It will help individuals and couples achieve the fulfilled life regardless of whether or not they have children.