Infertility & what every woman should know: What to do when you run out of gas before the next filling station

EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…when to try harder… and when to walk away…EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…where to go…be it to her best friend’s kitchen table or a charming Inn in the woods when her soul needs soothing…EVERY WOMAN SHOULD KNOW…what she can and can’t accomplish in a day, a month…and a year…

– Maya Angelou

These excerpts from a poem by Maya Angelou, for me, answer the age old question–what do I do when I run out of gas before the next filling station?

Yesterday, my tank went below empty and I puttered to a stop.

The question–do I push the car uphill for the next 100 miles, or do I crawl inside the comfortable dark leather, worn seats and fall asleep until someone comes to rescue me? And, what if they never come?

Yesterday I learned that the research site for my dissertation had completely backed out–an unthinkable event that never occurs to anyone has now happened to me twice. Two years of my life’s work; two years of missing out on things, depriving myself of joy and fun, of really living, of pursuing adoption, all for nothing.

Now, not only have I been unable to conceive my own child, I cannot finish school so that I have the space to attempt to adopt someone else’s.

My gas tank was empty and I was left with the question of what to do when the next filling station was so far out of sight.

And so, I ran to the comfort of a dear friend’s kitchen table, so that there my soul might be soothed.

As I sat there, falling to pieces and coming together all at the same time, I stopped caring about the fact that I was stranded, and I let go of tomorrow.

I have been at that table so many times, more times than I can possibly count, over the last decade of my life. I have sat there when my relationship tested me to the limit and I was so sure that I had not one more ounce of strength to push the hoopty with the dead battery up the mountain. And I sat there when I experienced one disappointment after another on my journey to motherhood.

I do not know what tomorrow will bring. I do not know how, or if, I will find the strength to try again. I do not know why I fail at finishing my PhD, and at finishing my journey to motherhood.

And so I hold on to what I do know–where to go to when my soul needs soothing. And I know the seat is always awaiting my weary heart.

So for now I will not die, stranded on empty in the desert alone. For now, the desert is only a mirage and reality is the hard wood table that holds me up when I am completely broken down.

May we all find that kitchen table when our car will go not one inch further, and infertility is the only companion we can see for miles.


  1. Heather · · Reply

    I am so sorry, Shannon. You’ve really had an uphill battle. Sending you strength to climb that hill and find an open door to that PhD and motherhood.

    1. Thanks so much Heather, it’s been some what of a nightmare on all fronts. Hopefully at some point the tides will turn. I appreciate your kind words.

  2. Hang in there Shan..I am so sad to hear you are struggling….you are in my thoughts and prayers

    1. Thanks Linda, I appreciate the support. Love you to.

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