… and nothing else.
We all have our elevator stories. We boil our lives down into quick couple-liners. Me? I’m a wife, I’m an archivist, I’m an academic. I enjoy beer, football, technology, and history. I code and I cross stitch. I’m a displaced Pittsburgher, and a proud Pennsylvanian.
If that elevator got stuck, you might hear a little more. I lost my mom to cancer far too young; I spent my teens over-achieving, while doubting my appearance, my sanity, and my self-worth; I married my best friend at 22; and, I’ve always wanted to be a mother.
I’m also infertile.
At 26, my husband and I celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary, we marked 1 year in our lovely little Cape Cod home, and I had a fulfilling and challenging job. I did it all “right,” had all my ducks in a row, and it was time for a baby.
Now, at 29 (soon 30), my arms remain empty.
I often quip that I wanted a baby, but all I got were these lousy diseases. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), Endometriosis, Raynaud’s, and (the world’s best named genetic mutation) MTHFR A1298C.
In three years, we’ve also had three miscarriages. I’ve hosted a large family Thanksgiving the same week I walked into maternity triage to terminate an ectopic pregnancy, I’ve driven 12 hours in one day for a 1 hour consult with one of the world’s only Reproductive Immunologists as my third pregnancy failed, and I can compete like a pro in the infertility pain olympics.
But, I don’t want to compete in the pain olympics, and I strive to wear my infertility like a badge of honor, not shame. These three years have brought me friendships I could never have predicted with strangers across the globe. Women with whom I’ve cried and celebrated, and for whom I’m daily thankful.
My infertility has made me strong. I founded a RESOLVE (The National Infertility Association) support group, I’ve raised money for infertility awareness, I’ve walked in the Walk of Hope, and I’ve written Congressmen. From a book-smart yet reserved girl, I’ve transformed into an assertive and proactive woman. I’ve questioned doctors and lived to tell about it! (A feat I once thought would never be possible.)
So, my elevator speech. Today even the short one includes my infertility. It’s one of the largest influences in my life, and I’m not remotely afraid of it defining me to others as it has come to define a large part of me to myself.
I’m not a mother, and I may never be. But I can raise awareness of infertility, I can try and rear in others a willingness to speak up and fight for themselves, and I can birth this blog. And, that’s something I’m tremendously proud of.