It has been ages since I last wrote anything longer than a text message. And wow, does time really fly.
The older I get, the more it feels as though life is fleeting, passing by at an exponentially quickening rate. It's strange really. When you're young, time seems to move at a snail's pace. And frankly, I can't even count how many times I wished, as a mopey, emo teen to be the age I am now. To have my life settled and plotted. To be married with children. Because it seemed superior than the dramatic landscape within which I was currently residing. Yet here I am at forty and almost none of these expectations has been met.
In December, I unwittingly dragged myself into my fourth decade on this earth. It was a sight. As my loved ones gathered around to shower me in birthday wishes, all I could feel was dread. How was it that I had gotten here? I don't remember the journey being quite as long as it has actually been. It's as if one day you blink and the next moment, throngs of years have passed.
And I know what you're thinking...that it's normal. That loads of people go through this. That I'm not alone. For the most part, you're probably correct. However, there's one, jagged, mismatched piece of this that immensely complicates things--
It's turning forty and being childless.
In the fertility community, I am considered geriatric. That's right. The same definition used to describe senior citizens living in the local Del Webb community apply to me. And sadly, it's at this age you are forced to finally begin to let go of any residual hope you once had for starting a family. Your mind instead begins to wander.
Thoughts of running away to foreign lands drift by.
You constantly make jokes to your best friend about finding a baby on a doorstep one day.
You tell yourself you'll change your entire world just to feel in control.
You briefly consider adoption. (Because sadly, that's what every well-intentioned person tells you to do anyhow...as if us infertile folks haven't ever considered this emotionally treacherous and expensive option.)
Things distort, change shape, ideas flit in and out like a tiny Oak Titmouse (that's a bird if you weren't sure). But in the end it all comes back to wondering how you got to this age and why the hell life has become far more complex than it was when you were 17.
Some days it's impossible. I look around at my young, thirty-something friends having babies and think they really have no concept. A few closer friends might have a mingling idea of the struggle. They might sometimes feel shameful to share news or updates. They don't want to hurt us anymore than we already are. But most often, I use this opportunity to explain that it isn't that I'm not happy for them, it's that I'm sad for me. They are very different intentions. That may mean I need a little extra time to warm up, or that I may miss a baby shower or two, or perhaps texts may go response-less. I kindly remind them that it's all part of the process.
A brilliant friend will be cautiously kind and patient, give space if it's needed, and keep reminding me they love me. They will not expect me to jump for joy at the news, pick out registry gifts with them, or tell me to, 'just get over it.'
So I ask you, as we head into National Infertility Awareness Week (April 19 -25, 2020), and as an infertile wife of nearly ten years...check in on your friends wrestling with this, both women AND men. Don't dance around the topic if they seem like they want to open up. Don't pry, but show your interest. Get over your own insecurities and be a supportive beam in their infrastructure. Ask questions. Get involved. Do non-children activities together (which as of now might involve Skype or Zoom). Break the stigma that infertility or miscarriage are bad words and keep on. talking. about it. The work in this particular community is far from over. The more it is discussed, the closer to solutions we can become. I would l like to remind us that for decades breast cancer was a hush hush topic. But not now. It is extremely known, highly researched, and well funded in comparison to lesser known cancers. With discussion comes breakthroughs, not only on a scientific level but also personally.
And as for me, it's hard to say what's next. Simply getting this post up took a lot. Letting folks see a glimpse into your personal struggles is daunting as hell. But hey, I'm here and ready to talk whenever you are.
Written by Meghan Wright, owner of Figs and Feathers Farm