A few weeks ago, Sue Johnston, of The In-Fertility Advocate, reached out and asked if I would once again support Michigan’s Walk of Hope, a fundraiser for RESOLVE: The National Infertility Association, held during National Infertility Awareness Week®. I agreed. (You can learn why I, a childless woman, support RESOLVE & WOH by clicking here.) As we discussed possible blog ideas, I stated that I’d love to share stories of fellow childless by infertility warriors. Because of this, Sue introduced me to Kristy. And Kristy graciously agreed to share her story, including why she supports RESOLVE and what the Walk of Hope means to her. So, I’m going to turn it over to Kristy to share her truth, her perspective…
The Story of Kristy: A Childless After Infertility Journey…
Wobble Warning: Kristy speaks candidly about her journey–from start (pretending to be “p” as a little girl) to present (“on that new path…”) Depending on where you are in your journey, you might wobble. I truly believe you’ll feel empowered by the end. But please, only read if you feel strong enough…
I’ve always known I wanted to be a mom. Even when I was little, I was stuffing balloons under my shirt pretending to have a pregnant belly or writing my Top 10 boys and girls names in my diary. I dreamed of being pregnant and dreamed of having multiple children running around the house. I dreamed of it all. But dreams are sometimes just that…dreams.
I met my amazing husband in the middle to 2001. We just KNEW it was meant to be, and when he asked me to marry him in December of that same year, I immediately said yes with no hesitation. We were married in 2003.
In 2004, we started trying to expand our family. Between military deployments, my teaching career, and his schedule, we tried naturally for nine years in silence. Everyone we knew was asking us when we were going to have kids, because they knew we’d be great parents. What they didn’t know is that we WERE trying. We were trying every chance we could. They didn’t see all the tears I cried every month when the pregnancy test turned negative again, and again….and again.
Nine years went by when we then decided to make an appointment at a local fertility clinic. We tried again, but with help. And I wasn’t silent anymore. Everyone knew our journey and I wasn’t ashamed or hiding any longer. For the next three and a half years, we underwent many procedures, surgeries, and treatments that included 9 IUIs and 2 IVFs–all of which failed.
One night, in the middle of our kitchen with a glass of red wine in our hands, we both looked at each other and decided we were done. It was like a weight had been lifted off both of us. We were free. Free from the infertility hold. From the bounds of shots, timetables, schedules, and treatments. Free to choose to live our life in a different way.
I cried tears of happiness for the first time in almost 13 years. I wasn’t sure what my life was going to look like now that we had chosen a different path. A path that I never considered, because to us, it wasn’t even an option until now. A path that looked scary and unknown, but it was a path I was optimistically excited for.
Here I am today, over five years since stepping on that new path and I am truly living my best life. I am happy and free and living in Europe because of my husband’s new career. We wouldn’t be here if any of those treatments had worked. Looking back, I don’t regret a single thing! I don’t regret all the money we spent, the surgeries, the treatments, the heartache and disappointment because all of that made me the woman I am today. I appreciate life and am more patient. Living life to the fullest, I take each day as a new opportunity to be the best human I can be. Soaking up all the beauty I see around me, I travel as much as I can.
I often wondered what it would mean for me to be a woman who can’t have children. How could I contribute to society or make the world a better place? Well, I think I did just that. As an elementary teacher for almost two decades, before moving to Europe, I’m pretty sure I contributed. I’m now able to donate more money than before to charities that are meaningful to me. I don’t have to have children to be a good person. Having children isn’t what will define me…I can do that on my own. My husband and I are happy and are grateful every single day for the life that we have and the opportunities ahead of us. There is a life after treatments, and there is a good life waiting for you if you are truly ready to step onto that new path.
It just takes one step and then, it’s just one step at a time.
Oh, Kristy’s Story brings tears to my eyes! I absolutely adore her thoughts about taking it “one step at a time.” I think this works beautifully with the Walk of Hope—the fundraiser I am trying to highlight this month. Because of that, I asked Kristy to please share what the Walk of Hope means to her. Additionally, I asked why RESOLVE is important to her journey and what “hope” means to her, now that she’s living life after infertility as a childless family. Here are Kristy’s insights about these follow-up questions…
Kristy’s Thoughts on RESOLVE and the Walk of Hope…
The Walk of Hope has so many meanings to so many people. The proof though is in the name itself.
Walking in the hopes that others living with infertility won’t feel alone.
- Access to medical treatments for those living with the disease will soon be treated like other diseases in the eyes of health insurances.
- Lawmakers, representatives, and elected officials treat infertility like the disease it is…a disease and not a choice.
- People will start talking about infertility without shame or embarrassment.
- We will stand together, walking arm in arm, supporting each other.
- Those living without infertility will feel comfortable walking next to their friends who do–supporting them each step.
- One day, there will be a cure and access for all.
I owe so much to RESOLVE. In a way, RESOLVE saved me.
I came across one of their support groups by accident in the middle of an elementary school hallway where I was teaching. I was talking with another teacher after school, and she mentioned her infertility and the local support group that she found in the area that was meeting the following week. Without hesitation or thought, I blurted out how I had infertility also.
I immediately tried to force the words back in my mouth and felt so much shame and anxiety. It was up until that moment in the hallway that no one besides my husband knew what we were going through. Up until that moment, we had been suffering in silence for nine years. Up until that moment, even though my head told me I was wrong, I thought we were alone in this.
When she invited me to the meeting and I went, I was introduced to a room full of other women who understood me and my struggles. Women who unfortunately GOT it. It was at that moment, I wasn’t alone anymore. It was because of this RESOLVE support group that I was able to break free and walk the path proudly of someone who was living with infertility, and I was no longer ashamed or embarrassed. That group gave me hope.
I now have hope again, but my hope looks and feels a little different. This time, I’m not trying to get pregnant or hoping for a miracle. I’m now living childfree and happy.
My hope now is for other women who are battling with their choice and their decision–that maybe I can be the face of hope for them that it is okay. There is a life after treatments, and that life can be good. Great even.
I hope to live life to the fullest and not take anything for granted–finding joy in the small things and the daily tasks of life.
I hope others can see that there are options–some out of our control–but still options.
Truly, I hope others can see that I never gave up, but instead chose a different path. One that was right for my family. My family of two.
I hope others will see that if they make that first step and walk on THEIR path, then they too can walk towards a new hope.
“Walk towards a new hope.” So profound. So poetic.
Thank you, Kristy, for bravely sharing your truth. Thank you for showing that a childless life can still be a life of hope…
If anything Kristy wrote resonates with you, fabulous one, tell us about it in the comments…
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Featured Photo: Created by me, using Canva