Are those who never conceive doomed to be IF forever? What if you conceived but miscarried? If you conceive and bear a child, are you no longer IF? Many have said it over and over and over again - adoption does not cure IF, though it remedies childlessness. Does IF ever end?
I think each of us has a choice to make, not just once, but many times during our journey. To what extent does IF affect our identity? We should never let it be the sole definition of who we are, though at times it may be a primary characteristic. We are more than our diagnoses. We should think about how we describe ourselves: I am infertile, but I have endometriosis. In comparison, someone would probably say "I have cancer," later "I am a cancer survivor." I am not my disease, though that disease is a part of me. My experiences dealing with it helped make me who I am. The decision of how much to let IF affect our self-definition may be related to where and how our energy and time is focused at the time. With so much of my energy and attention focused on treatment for IF, it is a major part of how I see myself; at times I struggle to remember who I really am: a reader, gardener, biochemist, investor, wife, Catholic, homeowner, child of God, cat lady, coupon clipper, daughter, sister, aunt. I am infertile, but that is not all that I am.
Many of us know someone who went through IF and once pregnant eagerly shut that door behind her, almost refusing to acknowledge that she went through infertility. Sometimes she becomes the annoying pregnant lady/new mom who will not shut up about their pregnancy/new baby, disregarding the pain of those around them. Some almost view their child as a talisman that will fix everything; I'm not (was not) really IF - who I really am is a mother. Some days I worry for this type of person, wondering if they have recovered from and dealt with the stresses and losses they experienced; I should remember to pray for them more often. IF forces us to accept how little our plans matter, how vulnerable we are; it is frightening to accept, but trying to deny it doesn't keep it from affecting us.
For others IF more obviously remains a part of them, coloring and affecting what they do and how they live. If they remain childless the pain and loss may diminish over time, but it is still part of them. It might show up most on holidays and special occasions or it might be at unexpected moments. If they have children or adopt it alters how they see their children and their expectations; it may not appear daily, or even frequently, but it is still be there.
Despite having once conceived, I still see myself as IF. If asked, I usually say that I don't have any children. Most people asking are enquiring about children I am raising, not those in heaven. Do I deny being a mother? No, but it is a very small part of who I am; my only real experience of motherhood was the joy at seeing "Pregnant" on a home pregnancy test. Even if I am able to successfully carry a pregnancy to term, IF will still be a part of me. I might adopt Marie's phrase of "infertility survivor," but IF will never quit being a part of my life. No matter what happens, in time it will have less effect on my daily life, but these years have shaped and changed me.