Today is Goddess of Fertility Day, a celebration of Aphrodite, Venus and other gods and goddesses of fertility. Aphrodite is the Greek goddess of love, beauty and procreation; Venus is her Roman equivalent. Historically, people pray and make offerings to them when seeking to create a family. Goddess of Fertility Day celebrates life, fertility and rebirth. It also provides an opportunity to discuss something a bit more melancholy: infertility.
My first instinct was to postpone this post given the extraordinary circumstances we're facing. It feels almost arrogant to focus on anything other than COVID-19 and all of the uncertainty and stress we're feeling. But then, amidst all of this craziness, two friends received news of negative pregnancy tests, reminding me that other struggles don't go away simply because we're battling new ones. In fact, what can already be an isolating experience can feel even more so during a time of social distancing, when it's that much harder to lean on friends and family for support.
Some of you know that Aaron and I struggled with infertility. After years of trying and a year of testing, we learned that it was nearly impossible for me to get pregnant due to various medical complications. And even if we defied the odds, my ability to carry the baby full term was also improbable. Second and third opinions concurred. And since the physical pain I was experiencing was no longer worth it, I had a hysterectomy at the age of 39.
We briefly considered adoption and fostering, but with Aaron in business school full-time and an impending cross-country move, the timing wasn't right. We shelved the decision and got a puppy instead. For the last 3 years, she has filled that void. There's still a small chance that we'll pursue foster certification, but for now, we're content being uncle and auntie.
"She made broken look beautiful and strong look invincible. She walked with the universe on her shoulders and made it look like a pair of wings." -Ariana Dancu
Many of my friends have struggled with infertility, and I'm certain more have but opted not to share. And that's okay. We tend to feel ashamed about it. Why can't my body do what millions of other bodies have? Enough time has passed now that I'm comfortable talking about it, but know how difficult it is for others, even if they themselves haven't battled it. Often when someone asks me if we have kids, they become concerned when I explain that we don't. "I'm sorry", they'll say, or "that's too bad". Or "Don't worry; you still have time". I know their words are meant to sympathize and encourage, but it's sometimes difficult not to feel their pity, too.
So, to those of you out there struggling with infertility, I see you. You are not alone. There's an army of us out there who understand how difficult celebrating Mother's and Father's Days, others' baby showers and births can be. We know how frickin' unfair it can all feel. And we support your decision- whether it be fertility treatments, adoption, fostering, furry babies, or none of the above. We trust that you're doing what's best for you, your body and your family. And we've got your back, no matter what.
And to those of you currently trying to get pregnant- whether or not you're battling infertility- I wish you nothing but the best. May Aphrodite, Venus and all the other gods and goddesses of fertility bestow their kindnesses on you today!