• Ashley

This is Fifty

Suddenly, I woke up and I’m at 50. This number snuck up without me even realizing it. A time that crept up despite my best efforts to stop it. A time that has me wondering if I’m past my prime; if my body is slowing down; if I’ve lost my youthfulness and my fertility.

You might think this is being written by a woman turning 50 years old. But here I am, talking about it at the age of 33. This is not a matter of chronological age but my 50th cycle trying to conceive. A number which, for some reason, is impossible for me to accept. There’s a big difference between 49 and 50. Fifty is halfway to 100.

Imagine climbing a cliff, feeling hope and exhilaration as you get close to the top. Just as you reach out to climb the last rock, you stumble into a free fall. You panic and cry out as you race toward the ground. Through some miracle though, you are able to withstand the moment of contact with the ground. You get up, dust yourself off, and look back up at that cliff which you are determined to conquer. You know in your heart that this is not over. You have unfinished business with that cliff and you are not giving up. You gather all of your will and begin the slow climb again. Imagine going through this same exact scenario 50 times in a row.

During these 50 cycles, I’ve changed my approach to try to reach the top. I’ve enlisted western medicine, eastern medicine, nutrition, meditation, prayer, you-name-it, to help me have a better chance at reaching the top. And I’ve still fallen every time. That’s an exhausting process. With each fall comes a bruise that is invisible to most but very much felt. And that’s how I feel today: bruised and hurting and exhausted.

And I know I’m not the only one. I’m not the only one who has this incredible ability to fall off a cliff every month and manage to survive it. It’s super-human, really. The bruising made by fertility struggles is not for the faint of heart. I don’t say this to brag. Trust me, I don’t want to be climbing this cliff every month. The minute I don’t have to, I’m not sure I’ll ever look at it again.

For now, I’m recognizing this exhausting anniversary and looking up at this marvelous cliff in front of me. I’m giving myself time to recoup and catch my breath before I’ll start the climb again. Because that’s what we do: we fall and we gather ourselves and we try again.

Every person has a cliff they have to climb. A summit that seems impossible to reach. It might not look exactly like my cliff and it might not be related to fertility at all. If you’re climbing and falling, I respect the hell out of you. I know that your summit, someday, will be the most beautiful sight to behold. Here’s to the climbers: Keep climbing!!

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