There is no shortage of good analogies for the infertility journey. Infertility can certainly be compared to a roller coaster, with all the ups and downs and twists and turns. I've compared it to running a race, of course much more like a marathon than a sprint for many of us.
The only hang-up I have over the race analogy is the finish line and the idea of winning or losing. The goal of having a baby may not be realized by everyone. That's a hard truth, I know, but it is true. But the infertility race can have other endings, other finish lines. Although it may not result in a pregnancy and the birth of a biological child, the end prize may be parenting by adoption. For others, the finish line may come in the form of acceptance, coming to terms with a child-free future. I guess any way you look at it, there will be an ending to it. This journey I'm on will eventually come to an end one way or another. In my heart I feel that our personal goal is parenthood, whichever way we may arrive there.
This month I've been trying to turn over a new leaf and make better, healthier choices. I'm not technically on a diet; I'm just trying to be more active and be better about what I eat. While working out today, I decided to revise my analogy a little bit. Yes, I'm still "running." I'm still putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward. Sometimes the race is harder than other times. To me, it's more like running on a treadmill.
You see, I've also had times where I felt like I was stuck in one place. When you're on a treadmill the scenery doesn't change. You are at the same time moving and, well, not moving. Your legs are going, your heart is pumping, and you're sweating your butt off, but you can look up at any moment and see that your surroundings are the very same as when you started. Infertility and recurrent pregnancy loss are like that. Day in and day out you are doing the work, but when you look around it seems you haven't gotten very far. You think, "How is it that so much time has gone by and I'm still right here?" As frustrating as that seems, it's not, however, that you haven't made progress! After all, you are hopefully in better shape when you step off of that treadmill than you were when you began.
That's the way I'm choosing to look at it. Instead of running a race or running toward a very specific goal, maybe I'm running for endurance and for strength. Maybe I'm running to encourage someone else that they can do it too. Sure, I know that it's important to run (or walk, in my case!) with your eye on the prize, but I think that we can still run with purpose for the sake of finishing strong and not necessarily "winning." We know when we get on a treadmill that we won't be running across a literal finish line. But we get on anyway because we know that it will have its advantages. We'll burn those calories and we'll be closer to maintaining a healthy body.
If I can finish my infertility journey with a sense of purpose and even with a sense of pride for the accomplishment of feeling stronger, wiser, and more compassionate, then that, too, is progress. That, too, is winning.