I am barren. And I’m a badass woman.
It’s hard to admit that out loud when you are childless and not by choice. There’s isn’t even a nice way to say childless because the word denotes a sense of lacking something.
My husband and I started officially trying to get pregnant when I was 31 years old. Since then, I’ve gone through artificial inseminations and IVF. I’ve experienced two miscarriages—both before and after my fertility treatments. After being diagnosed with low AMH (Anti-Mullerian Hormone) levels at 33, it essentially meant that I had a very low egg count for my age. After that, my entire outlook on life changed. The image I envisioned of my future self as a mother was up in smoke.
Photo via Ariel Ng Bourbonnais
Can you be proud of a body that has failed you at the most basic of human functions? It’s something I’ve struggled with for years, but my answer is finally...
We often see stories of women who are proud of their stretch marks and stomachs that have birthed babies. Although I will never bear those amazing warrior woman markings, my body remembers the (now) invisible places the hormone injections went into. The bruises have long since healed, but I can still see the map of failure I designed in my mind and marked all over my body. These scars are real.
I felt like less of a woman for years. When I found out I had low AMH, I spent almost $1,000 on hair extensions, as if that would solve the problem; it didn’t. Humiliation ate at my core being and I hated my body that wouldn’t do what I wanted it to do. Over the past year, I’ve reclaimed a more positive body image and relinquished the associated shame. Infertility can go to hell! I love my big biking butt that developed over the summer and my yoga arms are strong and motivated for more work. I’m proud of this body that challenged me. I’m challenging it back now in different ways.
It’s time to normalize failure or change what we even consider failure to be. I am no less of a woman because I can’t procreate. I’m not a failure as a human because I can’t have a child. My body is still a wonderland (in case John Mayer happens to read this!).
Infertility inspired me to co-launch The 16 Percent, which is a site dedicated to sharing stories of infertility to make other people feel less alone when they are going through their own experiences with pregnancy loss and infertility. I know that sharing my story and being proud of my body for many other reasons outside of making babies will help others heal from their own journeys. I’m defining what I consider to be womanly to be beyond what I look like.
Moving forward, I know it’s not always going to be easy. There will be harder days ahead but I know I’ll continue to tackle them with as much grace and self-acceptance as I can. This post is for all my ladies who have seen the other side of infertility in an unexpected way. You are one badass woman too.
Help knix the stigma by sharing your story. Join the conversation on social media with the hashtag #FacesofFertility and show your support with a custom-designed semi-permanent tattoo.