If you’re reading this, let me start off by saying I am sorry. I am sorry you saw the title of this post and it resonated with you and made you click. I’m sorry that you didn’t just pause and think, oh that’s sad, but kept scrolling. Obviously, blog writing isn’t successful without readers but I sincerely hate that this topic attracted you. There is a chance that you’re reading this because you know me or maybe you know someone who has struggled with infertility, and you’re hoping for some insight. But chances are, you’re reading this because you get it. You’re in this crappy sisterhood.
“One in eight U.S. couples of childbearing age has trouble conceiving or sustaining a pregnancy.” Not all fertility issues are the same. As with almost everything, there is a spectrum. Some issues fall in a treatable area while others are deal breakers. Everyone has their own story and I don’t think it helps anyone to compete over who has it worse; most of the time it’s comparing apples to oranges. I’m not here to write out my every struggle or set back. To keep it simple, my husband and I fall in the “unexplained” area of infertility, and it is maddening. This diagnosis took years, several different doctors and tests, a few theories, multiple (unsuccessful) attempts, and so many medications and injections I lost track.
After what felt like an eternity (about 6 years), our daughter was born in 2015 through IVF. We were over the moon. I think I’m still in a bit of shock that I’m actually a mom now. After our daughter turned one we started trying for another baby. It’s been over a year now and we are currently in the middle of another IVF cycle. And no, it has not been easier the second time around. In fact, it’s been much, much harder. Every setback in the process (cysts, abnormal blood work, insufficient embryos, etc.) has caused me heartache the same as before, but now there is this new feeling. A new exasperatio: why am I doing this to myself again? Why am I putting my body, heart, and soul through this awful process, again? Why can’t it just happen, just once? Do we really want to go through all of this to have more kids? Can we afford to do keep doing this? The answers aren’t simple and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I’ve nearly called the whole thing off a few times.
The first time all I could think about was finally getting pregnant and starting our family. This time I have to think about how this is all affecting my 2-year-old. We are absolutely in love with our daughter. She is our miracle, our everything. We base all of our decisions around her. And it kills me, but I feel like all of this has taken me away from her. I’ve been so tired and agitated from the medications and procedures that I feel like I haven’t been the mom she deserves. I was down for almost a full week after my last egg retrieval; I had a pretty serious case of OHSS (ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome). A week is a long time, especially to a toddler. And it was hard for her, and my husband, who took over the bulk of the parenting and household duties. (Happily, I might add. He is a saint.)
I think about how much of my time and energy is going into this and it scares me to realize that if we’re successful and end up with another child that will only continue and get even more complicated. My focus will be split. Can my heart actually handle loving another child as much as I do my daughter? I’m sure other parents go through their own version of this when they decide whether or not to have more kids. But I only know it from my perspective, which is so deliberate and orchestrated that it forces me to question it all. Every day. The over-analyzing and over-thinking I go through daily is torture.
I always wanted to have kids, in that vague, elusive future you think about growing up. Thing is, I also knew that I did not want to have them before I was “ready”. I’m a pretty solid type-A personality and I like to be prepared. Those well-laid plans are now a giant, mocking reminder that I do not have control over this part of my life. So here I am, in the dreaded waiting period between egg retrieval, another stupid cyst (there’s a reason that is a four letter word btw) and finally being able to prep for my last embryo transfer. Waiting to see if we will stay our fun family of 3 or if we’ll get to take on the amazing challenge of adding a new baby to our brood. The waiting is almost the hardest part.
I sometimes wonder what it will be like when this phase of my life is over. Infertility has been such a huge part of my life. For over 7 years I have constantly charted and monitored my cycles. I’ve been poked, prodded and tested more times than I could possibly recount. In all those years, I’ve never gotten my period and not cried a little (or a lot). Even when we were “taking a break” from trying, I was never not trying. There was always a little part of me that was hoping for a late period, for a chance to take a pregnancy tested actually see that stupid second line. I daydreamed about getting to surprise my husband with the big news.
So, for those of you that clicked, and decided to read this post. I won’t end with BS like… what’s meant to be will be, just relax, be grateful for what you have, it could be worse… because those of us in the sisterhood know that couldn’t be any more annoying. Rather, I will leave you with this. F*** Infertility. It isn’t fair and I hate that you’re going through it. The only comfort I’ll offer is that you aren’t alone and you are entitled to every emotion you are feeling. Stay strong.