A Different Kind of Waiting: Pregnancy After Infertility by Jessica Gerrard
After two very difficult years of trying to conceive and undergoing fertility treatments, it feels surreal to be sitting here awaiting the birth of our first child, a daughter, any day.
While my husband and I were experiencing the painful journey that is infertility, I turned to journaling my thoughts and wrote a few semi-anonymous blog posts in an attempt to help find some purpose and to share the experience with others.
I wrote about being ‘in transit’ – reaching for a metaphor that I felt could capture the different emotions: the initial sense of anticipation;the growing impatience and frustration; and later the overwhelming helplessness we experienced as we began the difficult process of fertility treatments.
Existing in this limbo – unable to focus on much else – was sometimes unbearably dark but also helped both my husband and I to grow; growing closer to one another through the shared experience and also growing as resilient individuals.
Now, at 39 weeks pregnant, I am doing a different kind of waiting. The giddy anticipation of a first time mother awaiting birth and being reunited with her child on the outside.
Despite the physical and emotional challenges that infertility brought, I am grateful for the different perspective and heightened appreciation it gave me of pregnancy.
I certainly don’t think going through the experience of infertility guarantees that you’ll breeze through pregnancy on a permanent high, but it definitely helped me to view the journey through a different lens.
Yes, I was exhausted and it sometimes felt like too much, but every little niggle or painful symptom was a reminder of the amazing miracle my body was taking part in.
Just as I had tried to view every medication, injection, appointment and surgery as taking us one step closer to our dream of parenthood, I tried to also view each ache, vomit, or other random symptom as something to be grateful for.
One of the most positive things to come from our infertility journey was the experience of both opening up to others and also being trusted with stories of struggle and heartbreak from friends, family, and online support networks and communities.
Talking honestly about the difficulties of starting a family (whether that is miscarriage, infertility, pregnancy complications, or any number of other challenges) can only help remove some of the cultural stigma, the shame, and silence that so many people struggle with.
I wish that some of these conversations (especially surrounding women’s fertility) could happen earlier, in both homes and schools, so that women can be more aware of their bodies and empowered.
This journey has also taught me to trust in life’s timing. To trust that it takes both beautiful and painful moments to help us learn and grow. In these final days, I am starting to let go of what I can’t control and to trust in baby’s timing and that her entrance to the world, however it happens, will be what’s right for her.
Going forward I hope I can embrace each stage ‘in transit’ and to not wish away these difficult stages or moments, such as those I am sure we are about to encounter in early parenthood.
I am very thankful to this baby and the amazing people I’ve encountered who have helped me to see that all things will pass, and thus have reminded me to slow down, be present, and be grateful.
Jessica lives in Australia with my husband, fur baby, and new daughter. She loves learning and teaching, travel, food, seeking joy and beauty in the everyday, and connecting with others through words and stories.