Thankful, Grateful, Abundant.

Photo by Keiko Zoll

I am thankful for my infertility.

I’ll let that sink in for a moment.

It’s true: I am both grateful and thankful for my infertility. Not exactly something you’d expect to hear just two days before Thanksgiving, but there it is.

For all the pain, the mental and physical anguish of the past three and a half years, I wouldn’t take it back. My life has been changed in such remarkable ways that, without our infertility battle, without the deep wounds of my infertility diagnosis – I wouldn’t be the woman I am today. I truly believe that these last few, long years have inspired more growth and compassion within me than through any other trial in my life.

And for that, I’m grateful.

Would my life have been easier without my infertility? Probably. It would probably be a heck of a lot more affordable, too. But without my infertility, Larry and I wouldn’t have this amazing origin story we hope to share with our child in a few years from now. We wouldn’t have had this child, who in my mind, embodies so much love it’s set to burst my own heart when I think about it for more than a few minutes.

I am deeply, deeply grateful and thankful for this moment in time, for the love of our family and friends that surround us.

I know how hard it is to be thankful and grateful when you’re hurting all the time. When you’re not only convinced that life is unfair, but bitterly jaded by it. Thanksgiving has been a holiday that for me, for the last twelve years, has always been tinged by loss when in 2000, my left ovary was removed over Thanksgiving weekend. I was a college freshmen and so wide-eyed and bushy tailed, then. For 11 years, that loss (an event which I believe began the downward spiral of my own dwindling fertility) has haunted me as we pass the gravy and turkey.

Except this year.

This year was the first year until this weekend that I remembered: “Oh yeah. I had my surgery 12 years ago.” I’m not sure if it’s because of the pregnancy or simply because I’ve reached a point in my personal growth where I’ve made peace with this part of my past. But it’s a nice place to be in. And thanks to this blog, I can see that growth, too:

And I remind myself: I live a life of abundance. I have to be the one to stop and recognize the grace given to me rather than feeling sorry for myself. My life is full. My womb may not be. But I have a life of abundance and grace. I do. And today, I remind myself of this. We all have to remind ourselves of this once in a while. (Written November 2011.)

I am grateful for the growing.

And I hope you know, that through all the pain, the heartache and the stress – you’re growing too. Infertility changes us, for better and for worse. My glasses aren’t so rosy anymore but at the same time: I discovered the woman at my core. I found a passion, purpose and drive that I honestly never knew existed within me.

In that same post from last year, you can read my pain of facing another Thanksgiving table with an empty womb. Reading that post now, I wish I could reach through my screen and time and tell November 2011 Keiko: “It’ll be different next year, I promise. Just hang on to that gratitude of abundance because abundance IS coming.”

Whatever your moments of gratitude as you pass the turkey and stuffing on Thursday: hang on to them. Let them fill your heart and wash over your soul with grace and peace.

Tell me: what are you grateful for this year? What fills your life with abundance in this moment?

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  1. says

    This is beautiful and over my journey with infertility i have often thought the same thing. It’s painful and humbling but it bring its own lessons and growth.

  2. says

    Saying you are thankful for infertility after you’ve gotten pregnant is like being thankful for cancer after you’ve survived it. Infertility and cancer are diseases. Nothing more, nothing less. I am thankful that I had the presence of mind to make it through infertility with my humor intact. Infertility hasn’t given me anything that I didn’t already have before the struggle. Everything that you live through makes you stronger….but I think I could have passed on the miscarriages and the years of heartache. It is my children that I am thankful for, and this marvelous community of fellow infertiles that have seen me through the hard times.

    • lifeintheshwa says

      This exactly. I have been changed by secondary infertility and the four (going on five) losses. I was an empathetic person before this hell. I am due (in theory) at the same time as Keiko is, but am expecting to miscarry a fifth time. I don’t think there is anything more I can learn by miscarrying a fifth time. I am thankful for my one and only son, but terribly sorry he will never have a sibling.

  3. says

    FABULOUS POST! I love this! I feel the same way and always have because IF made me realize early on just how strong I could be.

    I am thankful for a lot of things, and one of those things is you. You are such a strong voice for all of us. We wouldn’t have the voice we have without you, Keiko!

  4. says

    That quote from 2011 Keiko is a beautiful one. Such resilience! I do believe that being grateful can make all the difference.

    I, too am grateful for experiencing IF. In hindsight, what a dull and unfacted life I may have lived otherwise. This one has been so much more juicy — and I got my kids and my ALI friends!

  5. CzechPlease says

    This year I am very thankful for the amazing strong women I have met during my IF Journey this past year. I went from being alone, to having support, to making life-long friendships. And yes you are one of them!
    What currently fills me with abundance are the daily texts I have been receiving from so many who keep checking in on me. It seems as if these complete strangers have managed to set up a schedule, so that a day doesn’t go by without someone asking “How are you feeling! Do you need anything?” Completely blessed to have such amazing people in my life. Happy Thanksgiving Team Zoll!

  6. says

    Great post. I didn’t realize your ovary was removed Thanksgiving weekend.

    I am grateful for my family and friends and for this community, as always.

  7. says

    LOvely post, Keiko!
    Has Laura W. told you about what we call the “Grinch” moment?
    It’s when your heart “grows”… and yes, it can also hurt a little bit.
    Wishing you the most joyous and memorable Thanksgiving…

  8. says


    Thank you for the e-mail and post today. Right I’m sitting on the couch processing a few e-mails doing some work before going out of town. As I read your post I started to cry because I realized that I too can be grateful for this fertility journey. I recently had a failed IVF cycle (3 failed IUIs and 5 failed IVF) and am wondering if it’s worth it to keep trying. It’s been so expensive and I almost regret even going down this path. When you mentioned in the post about growing personally it made me think about what I’ve gained. And yes, I’ve started to learn about priorities in life, how to say “no” to things that aren’t important to me and improvement in work/life balance. I’ve even lost 20 pounds! Most of all, I’m thankful for how close it’s brought my husband and I. So thank you for sharing. Happy Thanksgiving!

  9. Marissa says

    I am thankful for my infertility. If I could wave a wand and have done without it, I probably would, but that’s not going to happen. I think you can be totally realistic about how much infertility sucks, and still see the reasons to be thankful you have had to endure it. I never would have realized how much care to take with other people if I had not gone through this. Of course I’m hypersensitive about people I think may be going through this, and never putting them in any of the awkward spots I remember getting caught in, but it’s more than that. It’s a level of empathy when thinking about ANY of the hardships other people are enduring, that I never would have been able to achieve without going through this. I know how much it matters to think about everything from the other person’s perspective, and how worth it, it is to take extra care with people’s feelings.

  10. Anne says

    I’m also thankful for infertility. If I hadn’t experienced infertility, I’m not sure that I would be the kind of person who can simply say “I’m sorry” and offer a hug instead of offering unasked for, unnecessary, advice to people who are suffering.
    I also wouldn’t have become educated about the adoption community and the experiences of birth mothers and adoptees. All of these things allow me to be a better friend and for that I will always be grateful. So, although I will not have the family that I expected and wanted, I do know to be grateful for the one that I have. I know how lucky I am and I’m not sure that I did before I learned that I was infertile.

  11. says

    I am grateful for many things that I have in my life but I will have to be honest…if you haven’t crossed over, gratitude is NOT what you feel for your Infertility. And I agree with Chickenpig…I could have done without the miscarriages and I will never be grateful or thankful that I had to go through them. I will always mourn the loss of my babies.

    And as one that is still struggle and might never hear the words “Mom” come from my child’s heart…it takes the “Thanks!” right out of you!!

  12. says

    Hi Keiko, I don’t know if you remember, but you were instrumental in helping me recruit participants for my dissertation in infertility. It’s DONE…yay! I wanted you to know that I used a quote from this post since it embodies everything that my research encompassed.

    “For all the pain, the mental and physical anguish of the past three and a half years, I wouldn’t take it back. My life has been changed in such remarkable ways that, without our infertility battle, without the deep wounds of my infertility diagnosis – I wouldn’t be the woman I am today. I truly believe that these last few, long years have inspired more growth and compassion within me than through any other trial in my life.”

    Perfectly written. Thanks so much for all of your help with my diss and for all the work you do in the IF community at large.