There is something I've only touched on in passing, something I’ve feared to write about, something I’ve worried would catch too much attention, something that I’ll be judged for greatly. That is, mental health during infertility. I will stop and write this post several times. I will stop to cry, I will stop to delete and re-write, I will stop to re-consider this entire entry. I will question myself, I will question if it was really that bad, I will question if this is worth it. But I'm going to say it to myself and to you right now. It was really that bad, it was the worst. And I am never going to be fully "unbroken". Ever. But I'm okay with that now, most days. I still work on me, I still work on forgiving myself, I still work on knowing what is right for someone else, isn't always right for me.
Since trying to conceive 8 years ago, we've been through the ringer! And before that I already struggled with pretty nasty anxiety. I tried exercising and diet but good God I just really love food pairings. Like popcorn goes with scary movies, pizza with funny movies, chocolate with romance, food with life, etc. I eventually went on some magic pill the doctor gave me and I felt like I could really start to manage my life. But when it came time to trying for a baby, I didn’t want to be on any “unnecessary” medication. I’m totally rolling my eyes at myself right now.
After 4 failed IUI’s, 1 failed fresh and 1 failed frozen and no embryo’s left, the depression really started to set in. I hated pregnant people, I hated people that were getting married knowing they would be pregnant soon, I hated the doctors, I hated my husband. I hated myself. I hated God. I spent the next few weeks screaming at God. Cursing him while sobbing. I figured why not? He knows I’m thinking it and feeling it, so I might as well scream it! I wasn’t okay. I had no idea the deep dark depression I had fallen into for the next year until I had climbed out of it and looked back at myself. I was at my skinniest I’d ever been. And it was not healthy. I was never hungry. I had to force myself to eat daily just to suck my meds down for all the new crap growing inside of me. None of it a baby. Just cysts, endometriosis and that sort of thing. I only managed to work part-time. And if I wasn’t working, I was lying on the couch, in bed, on the floor. I wasn’t going out. Insomnia started to control my life shortly after that. I would be awake for days at a time. My body would literally jump and twitch uncontrollably in bed. My body was trying to fall asleep and my brain wasn’t letting it. Some nights I would quietly crawl out of bed and not let my husband in on the pain. I would curl up on the couch and watch Harry Potter nearly every night, all night. And other nights I would scream in pain. I would thrash on the bed, crying and screaming and somehow wanting to leave my own body. I wanted to be able to physically leave my body and not feel anymore. I would drag myself to the kitchen and lay on the cool floor and sob. I would sob as my husband sat next to me unable to help. I would beg him to take me to the hospital to put me out. I wanted to die, I just didn’t want to say it out loud. And then we would somehow get through the day only for the night to repeat itself again and again. I went to therapy, I denied drugs as I couldn’t possibly add more to my body while trying to have a baby, I took time off from everything. But nothing seemed to be working.
When one day I saw that there were auditions for a local play. I always wanted to get back into theater since I was a kid. And I thought, “yep, this is what I’m going to do with my time”. I couldn’t drown out my own thoughts or my pain, so I would distract myself. I remember telling my husband I was going to do this and hearing him almost choke to stifle what might have been laughter. I think he was so surprised that I was actually going to pick myself up and do something. And I don’t know how I did it, but I did. I needed it. Not only was the infertility taking it’s toll, but after my dad died, we lost people quickly. His brother died shortly after, then my grandma, then another uncle, and then my other grandma, my dad’s mom. I felt like I was losing every living connection to my dad. I felt like I had nothing more to lose at this point, so I went to that audition and I LOVED it. I didn’t care what role I got as long as I got one I could dive into. A few days later I found out I was Cinderella’s evil stepsister, Penelope (which by the way was the name we had set aside for our first girl). For 6 weeks straight we practiced. I was tired, I was sad, I would cry like a toddler because my body needed so many things and I didn’t know how to fix it. Then came show time. And our director, bless him, he worked with me to create this VERY funny and pretty stupid character. It gave me free range to do some improv with each show. He encouraged each stage choice I made and stayed to watch most shows. I felt like I was finally worth something even if I wasn’t a mom. Over 50 of our friends and family showed up to support me on that stage. And honestly, it saved my life. I truly believe if I wouldn’t have found that show and saw my life was still worth something, that I wouldn’t be here today.
I didn’t know that I could still be worth something even if I wasn’t a mom. I really believed that I was put on this earth to be a mom and if I wasn’t going to be, then what was the point. But because of everything I went through to become a mom, I find comfort in knowing that our girls will see me as so much more. That they will see me more than just a booger wiper and a diaper changer. That they will see me as a wife, a Christian, a photographer, a business owner, an advocate for foster families, adoption and infertility. That they will see that moms can be so many things at one time! That I am empowering them to know you don’t have to just have one answer to the question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Because, guess what? You can do all kinds of things. Sometimes it just takes a lot longer to get to doing those things then you imagined.
Kati and her husband Pat live in a small town Midwestern USA with their two adopted daughters, one foster daughter and one very indifferent cat, Harry. Kati is a photographer and small shop owner selling unique gear for those going through infertility, adoption and foster care. When she’s not re-reading Harry Potter or pretending to be a writer she enjoys traveling with her family, catching a great show and eating anything sweet. If you would like to learn more about Kati and her story, you can get in touch with her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @pkvprint or you can visit her online store at www.pkvprint.com.