I am an infertility warrior, but not in the traditional sense. I would say I won the battle, but not in the typical way that society expects because I didn’t come out of my fertility journey with a baby.
My experience started way back when I was a child. I come from a long line of very fertile women! No….seriously…they opened their legs and got pregnant! I was told by all of these women—and my doctor—to be cautious during sex because I would become pregnant easily. The assumption was that I wanted to be a mother, but the truth is I didn't. My whole life I grew up saying I wasn’t going to have kids. I was adamant that I was going to be the best aunt ever because I knew, deep inside, that I did not want to have children. Not because I didn’t love kids, because I do, but because I just knew it wasn’t right for me.
Then I met my husband. We fell in love, got married, built a house, and swiftly fell into society’s expectations to have kids. It happened without me even blinking at my decisions. That’s how fast I got caught up in society’s expectations of love, marriage, house, child, live happily ever after. My world was filled with questions like, “When are you two going to start having kids?” and media where heterosexual couples fall in love, get married, buy a house, and have kids. So I started to believe I wanted kids. I lost that inner voice that spoke my truth.
In 2015, my husband and I started trying to get pregnant and got referred to a fertility clinic after some unforeseen complications. I was in a car accident where they found a cyst on the left ovary, and my periods were awful. The doctor thought it was best to go straight to fertility treatments, so that’s what we did.
We went through several rounds of ovulation medication, IUIs, cycle tracking, and experienced one miscarriage. It got to the point where I hated to have anyone touching my body. It was invasive and intrusive. Routine procedures such as pap smears became filled with tears and anxiety. We endured years of well-meaning questions and comments from others, disappointment, and heartache. I attended many baby showers where I kept telling myself I could cry when I got in the car, and I did! All. The. Way. Home.
In the end, I crossed the finish line on my own. I will never forget the moment when I decided I was done. I was sitting in the glass waiting room, (because, you know, being seen by everyone who walks by is just so comforting!) waiting to get blood work done for a pregnancy test I knew would come back negative, and the realization hit me like a ton of bricks: I wanted off the fertility ride. No one had to tell me. No one had to guide me. I discovered I was wholeheartedly at peace with the decision to stop treatments.
I went home and told my husband, “I’m done.” He looked at me, hugged me, and said, “Good because I’m done watching you go through all of this!” We had lots of tear-filled talks, discussing whether or not to continue on the journey to have children, and I started to hear my inner voice again, reminding me that I never wanted to have kids in the first place.
Telling my husband that was the hardest conversation I’ve ever had to have. I remember being so scared that he would leave me, but I also knew I had to own my truth. We spent the next year talking about what kind of life we actually wanted to live. In 2018 we separately, and then together, made the decision to live child-free. We decided to chase other dreams and experience a different life than the one society told us we should live.
I share this perspective because I believe wholeheartedly that the silence shared amongst fertility patients has to stop. Someone has to start talking about all of the possible pathways out of the world of fertility treatments. There are many pathways. One of them is not to have kids at all.
So often, we get caught up in what society has outlined as the ‘shoulds.’ We ‘should’ fall in love, get married, buy a house, and have children. We should want to have kids because we are women, and we can only mother if we birth a child. But the reality is, we have a choice in the matter. We can decide whether or not to have kids and whether to continue with fertility treatments or stop altogether. We can also mother in many different ways because it takes a village to raise a child, and you don’t need to give birth to a human in order to mother one.
“Bravery is taking an unpopular stand when everyone expects you to go along with the program- and then refusing to back down.”
-Brave, Not Perfect by Reshma Saujani
I’m here to tell you that you can walk away from fertility treatments and still live a fulfilling life! When I stopped caring about what society said I ‘should’ do, I started to become happier. I felt more at peace. I felt powerful. I felt whole. I realized that I was a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. I wasn’t happy, because I wasn’t living in alignment with my inner voice.
Ever since I made the decision to live life as my own square peg, I have felt more myself than I have in years. Now, I am a Wellness Coach who aims to inspire and empower women to live in alignment with their inner voice through my small business named Own Your Voice. I'm chasing my dreams and living with no regrets, and you can, too!
Teresa Amelia is a Mental Health Counsellor for children & youth. She is also a trauma survivor. Two years ago, Teresa found herself looking in the mirror and not knowing who was staring back at her. Throughout her healing journey she focused on self-care and personal development. Currently, she is doing her holistic wellness coach training and started Own Your Voice which aims to inspire and empower female trauma survivors to live in alignment with their inner voice by focusing on the health of their mind, body, and heart. You can follow her at @teresa.amelia82 or join her Facebook community Living You!