Infertility Awareness: Compassion And Empathy From The Other Side

When I decided I wanted a baby with my husband at age 25, I had no idea what rabbit hole I was heading down.  Here are a few things I didn’t anticipate:

The amount of time I’d spend going to various doctors and undergoing painful procedures
Relinquishing any modesty I had
Paying tens of thousands of dollars
Hours spent fighting over mood swings and medical bills
How much money I’d waste on pregnancy tests, ovulation kits, and “lucky” socks
Putting graduate school on hold
The amount of tears I’d shed
The guilt and sleepless nights
The utter destruction of my concept of what it means to be a woman

infertility awareness

Every parent gives up something in exchange for the pitter patter of little feet. 

Personally, I gave up my optimism, a lot of my sanity, dignity, and my long-held aspirations for getting a PhD. and becoming a professor and researcher.  Now that my son is three, and the trauma of infertility has loosened its grasp, I question if I should’ve pushed as hard as I did.  Should I have given it more time and gone to grad school when growing a human wasn’t happening?  How quickly I forgot that I was one of the lucky ones…I got my take-home baby.  

I worried my way through pregnancy, fearing disappointment at every juncture.  After I delivered my son, I cried for the first two weeks because of the traumatic induction, delivery, hemorrhage, and futile efforts at exclusively breast feeding.  Every needle poke he had to endure, his entrance into the world by forceps, and the week of IV antibiotics after birth were all entirely my fault. 

The mind of a woman who has endured so much in an effort to see a positive pregnancy test makes for an extremely neurotic new mom! 

There is no way around it–no way to convince her she is not to blame.  It is just the nature of the beast. It’s a double-edged sword: so much elation at success that you can’t fully enjoy because of fear and anxiety from the journey. 

As a postpartum nurse, it still breaks my heart seeing those emotions play out in other women.  I will always volunteer to care for the IVF/infertility patients because I understand why they are difficult, anxious, and ask a million questions.  I will gladly sit with them, listen to them, and spend that extra time holding their hand and reassuring them. They are warriors and are already amazing mothers, and I will give them all the education they want, as often as they want to hear it. 

While every new mom should hear kind words, the infertility moms NEED to hear every kind word you can give them. They might actually believe one of those words of encouragement and validation, and it could make all the difference.

During Infertility Awareness Week and always, our thoughts and prayers are with all the warrior women who are battling infertility.  


Nicole is full-time Mother-Baby Nurse at UIHC and full-time single momma to her 3 year old son, Griffin. She grew up in Iowa and graduated from the University of Iowa. She lived in Chicago for almost 4 years before moving back to Iowa City to start a family with her (now ex) husband. After struggling with infertility and undergoing In Vitro Fertilization and Embryo Transfers, she worked hard for the title of Mom. Feeling complete as a family of three, they donated their last remaining embryo to another couple, which has been an interesting and complex process. Nicole’s next conquest is to get her Lactation Certification and do some in-home consultation on the side. Her other passions are hiking, reading non-fiction science (or parenting) books, Sudoku, being mamarazzi/managing Griffin’s modelling hobby, visiting museums, and listening to podcasts. She describes herself as resilient, passionately curious, coffee-obsessed, science nerd.


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