Give me the child. Through dangers untold and hardships unnumbered, I have fought my way here to the castle beyond the Goblin City to take back the child that you have stolen. For my will is as strong as yours, and my kingdom is as great…. You have no power over me.
-Sarah in Labyrinth
Remember the movie Labyrinth? A young, rosy-cheeked Jennifer Connelly on a 13-hour quest through a mysterious, often dark, muppet-filled labyrinth, at the center of which David Bowie, the Goblin King, has hidden away her baby half-brother. Nevermind that she accidentally wished him away. Nevermind that she isn’t the child’s mother. Nevermind my long-standing crush on David Bowie. Infertility is my Goblin King, and I want more than anything to be able to say to him, “You have no power over me.”
From the time our heroine enters, the rules inside the labyrinth continually change at the whims of the Goblin King. With each new trick he conjures up, Sarah repeatedly whines, “It’s not fair!” Nothing about this is fair. It’s not fair that when I finally found the man of my dreams, I also learned he was infertile. It’s not fair that the one thing I’ve wanted my whole life doesn’t come as easily to me as it seems to for everyone else. It’s not fair that I chose a profession based on my love of children, only to have it come back to bite me–being reminded daily of what I cannot have. It’s not fair that the medications and procedures required for Hubby and I to be able to fulfill our primal instinct to procreate cost thousands of dollars. It’s not fair that we have no idea how long it will take before we start to see enough progress to be able to move on to the next step. Sarah eventually came to accept, even before the final twist, chasing baby Toby through an Escher-like stairscape, that life isn’t fair, and that’s just the way it is.
I wish I could come to the same acceptance of our circumstances. I wish I could be at peace with our situation. I wish I could say I believed, to the depths of my soul, that everything will work out. But I am so unsure, and I feel lost in this maze.
It’s not just the medical terminology, infertility jargon, myriad treatment options (though many of them are not available to us), contradictory treatment plans, and multiple weekly injections that have me feeling all turned around. It’s also the wild swing of emotions: hopeful, despondent, impatient, resolute, confused, jealous, angry, scared, even numb. It’s enough to make a girl feel a tad bit crazy. And on top of that, there’s the financial stress. It all adds up to a maze of walls so high I can’t see what’s around the next corner, let alone the ultimate destination.
And I can feel the weight of it on me. Like the junk lady toward the end of the movie, piling on one meaningless trinket after another, until I’m hunched over and can hardly move.
But then I remember, Sarah made her way through the labyrinth with the help of her friends–Hoggle, Ludo, Didymus–those who had inhabited that place since long before she arrived. And that’s why I’m so glad I have the ALI community to help me through when I’m feeling especially lost. The stories of those that have gone ahead of me, faced the Goblin King and returned home with a child in their arms. Those that are still in the maze, leaving markers along the way to guide the next desperate soul to come along.
And, of course, I have Hubby by my side. We will face down the Goblin King together. Our will is stronger than infertility. But, like the Bog of Eternal Stench, infertility, once it touches you, is not something that can be washed away. It will be with me always, even after Hubby and I have our complete family. It can be treated, but not cured. Defeated, but not destroyed.