Infertility lessons learned

Jun 10, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. ET

I have lived through countless moves, a layoff, a divorce and lost both my parents at the same time and yet nothing could have adequately prepared me for the journey of self-discovery the way that infertility has.

Tonya Wertman with her husband

Infertility has been the most painful thing I have ever lived through. And yet, it has also shown me how strong and resilient I truly am.

What lessons have I learned through my struggles with infertility? The better question is what lessons haven't I learned?! I think it's a good idea to pause and reflect upon what I have gained from this experience because as long as I'm learning, I'm growing and getting better at it.

First and foremost, I have learned more medical terms and tips and tricks, or dos and don'ts on how to successfully conceive than I ever thought possible. Modern medicine is a wonderful thing and it is how I will eventually have another baby.

I know this will sound strange and maybe even crass, but losing both my parents at the same time almost six years ago was in many ways easier than my struggle with secondary infertility. Dealing with that kind of loss and grief is enough to bring anyone to their knees, but when someone dies, they are gone and never to return. There's no questioning it. With infertility, with every cycle, there are dozens of questions and always hope for a better outcome.

Infertility has taught me how to deal with disappointment and loss better by thinking and trying to remain positive, and by managing my expectations.

I've also learned a number of other things.

Age doesn't matter

Infertility can happen to anyone at any age. I've said it before and I'll say it again, infertility does not discriminate!

Emotional loss is worse than physical pain

Emotional pain is much worse than needles. Black-and-blue bruises will eventually fade, but the longing in my heart and the heartbreaking losses I've had will last forever.

Patience truly is a virtue

Going through infertility, you get a crash course in patience, whether you want it or not!

For me, the waiting has always been the hardest part... waiting for the next cycle, waiting to be seen by doctors, waiting for news, the two-week wait to see if you're pregnant or not, waiting until the next appointment, always waiting...

Apart from the patience required for the waiting, there's also an exuberant amount of patience needed with yourself. You cannot beat yourself up over your infertility. Your body is not to blame!

I must trust the process

... even if I don't fully understand it. Ask questions, no matter how ridiculous they may seem and trust the team of experts that you have built around you.

I'm a strong woman

I’m a lot stronger than I ever thought I was.

I am not alone

I need support around me, I need to share my story and learn from others; this is not a journey I can take on my own, nor do I wish to.

Communication is everything!

This is a difficult time for a couple and some marriages can't withstand infertility. Talk through every single concern you have with your spouse and listen and respect each other's different ways of handling disappointment, decisions about next steps, finances, how much you share with family and friends, etc. You need each other during this time, more than ever!

To appreciate and be grateful

I took my first text book easy pregnancy for granted and struggling like I have this time around (we are currently three years into our journey) has made me respect the reproductive process and realize without a doubt what an absolute miracle getting pregnant, staying pregnant and subsequently having a baby is!

When battling infertility, there are good days and bad days and that's OK. I'm still learning about myself through this process and hope I continue to do so, no matter where the journey takes me.

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