***April 20-26, 2014 is National Infertility Awareness Week and I am taking part by sharing stories from women who have experienced infertility first hand. Did you know that 1 in 6 couples experience some form of infertility? Someone you know is probably struggling with infertility and you may or may not even know, since it is often a taboo subject. Help break the silence and raise awareness. For more information about NIAW, please click here. This post is the first in my 2014 Infertility series. To see more stories, scroll to the bottom of this page for links.***
When explaining my story of infertility to people, I always stress this first: I do not regret the hand that I have been dealt and I would not change anything that has led me to this point. That being said, I spent the majority of my most fertile years in a bad relationship with someone who did not want children. Specifically, ages 21 – 30. After a divorce of sorts and a few years of recovering, I met my now husband, married him a few years later and a few years after that found ourselves sitting in the office of a fancy reproductive endocrinologist. I am 36, he is 41. We have been trying to conceive since 2011 and have had six unsuccessful IUIs, one unsuccessful round of IVF, and one pregnancy that we managed to conceive on a treatment break only to have it end in a miscarriage at seven weeks. Despite my grief and heartache, I will stress again – in many ways I am the happiest and healthiest I’ve ever been.
As soon as we began trying to conceive I was sure we were going to have issues. At the time, my husband told me to relax and to take one day at a time. One year later my husband stopped telling me to relax, and started to tell me that we would have a child one day, some way, somehow. These days my husband just tells me he loves me and holds me when I need to cry. Our reproductive future is uncertain. We’ve already blown through $15,000 and adoption is more expensive than that. Simply put – we’re out of cash. Infertility makes you think about how you can afford to have children well before any children are in the picture.
Technically we are diagnosed with “unexplained infertility” which means that nobody can tell me why my husband and I can’t conceive despite roughly forty months or so of trying. I ovulate like clockwork. His numbers are mostly fine. My tubes are clear. I am old-ish, but my ovarian reserve looks normal for my age. After all these years, there is a part of me that would welcome a known issue in hopes that it meant we had something we could fix.
As a result of our last failed IVF, I have three frozen blastocysts to try with again. If all goes well, we will transfer two of them in May and hope like hell that at least one sticks. I don’t want twins. But I’ll take them if it means I get to be a mom. But I won’t transfer all three because I can’t wrap my head around a selective reduction if all three were to implant. Infertility makes you consider things most people don’t need to consider.
I spent some time with new friends last weekend and their gaggle of kids. It was a fun time – beers for the adults, Disney movies for the children. The conversation turned to matters of parenthood, the way it always does when we hang out with parents. One remarked to me and my husband, “this must be so boring for you. See what happens when you hang out with a bunch of parents? You talk about boring things.” I smiled the kind of smile I am used to giving these days. Mostly fake, hiding tears. I would give anything to be in your boring club. I would give you my left arm right now if it meant that my husband and I get to be parents who talk about boring parent things. Infertility brings me to the brink of tears in public, a lot.
I take offense at things that I don’t need to. I describe the state of my uterus and ovaries in ways I don’t need to. Infertility changes what people feel they can ask you. If we are successful at conceiving in May, there are no less than 15 people (including my boss) who will know right away because they are following our infertility struggles and we are open with them. Infertility robs you of surprise birth announcements. Those same 15 people will be told if we miscarry again.
I am told by well-meaning family members that they are praying for me/that I should pray/that God has a plan for me/that what is meant to be is meant to be. If I am unable to become a parent, the message I am getting is we all did not pray hard enough, that God does not want me to be a parent, and that I am not meant to be a mom. Infertility has made me question my God.
Despite the cruelty that is infertility, I am working toward a whole, healthy and happy life in the same ways that those with children are. If I never become a parent, I am still responsible for contributing to society and feeding my desires and passion. My life with my husband is a good one.
And yet – I want to be a mom. I want my husband to be a dad. He would make a really great dad. Infertility robs you of a future you had counted on.
2014 Infertility Series