Katie

I never dreamed of becoming a mother. Growing up, my focus was finding a career and being independent. I didn't think much about marrying, either, but when I was 23, it happened. My husband and I agreed we didn't want children.

Slowly, as we grew older, that changed. I feel this an important part of my story because despite some ambivalence about having children, infertility has still been the most crushing experience of my life. We started trying to get pregnant when I was 29. I had been on birth control for many years, and after I stopped taking it, each monthly cycle became more painful than the last, and I wasn't getting pregnant. I finally visited my doctor to explore ways to manage my pain, and with an ultrasound discovered I had large cysts on my ovaries that were rupturing. Long story short, surgery revealed cysts, endometriosis and a large fibroid. In one year I had three surgeries and two miscarriages.

My last surgery was a hysterectomy. It was a difficult decision but I felt the need to end my physical pain, and decided against IVF for many reasons. I realized through infertility that we live in a culture that promotes and rewards motherhood, and women without children are often viewed as less than, ignorant, pitied or seen as selfish.

This is the hardest part of infertility for me: stigma and isolation. I don't belong. I am other. But "the pain will change you: it doesn't have to define you." Don't pity me. I am bigger than loss and grief. I am so sad and strong.