Due to the sensitive nature of this topic, I’m keeping everything under the “read more” link.
I guess this is sort of a “coming-out” post. My husband and I have been trying to start a family since September of 2014. This is our twentieth month of trying. Twenty months.
Very few people in our lives know that we have been trying, and even fewer know how much of an emotional toll it can have on a person. I certainly didn’t understand when we embarked on this journey. I used to be one of those people who’d ask that now-uncomfortable-to-hear question: “When are you going to have kids?”
I didn’t realize that question could cause so much pain to somebody until it happened to me. If you have the time, please read this article on infertility etiquette.
I didn’t realize that infertility strikes 1 out of every 8 couples. I certainly didn’t hear that in sex ed in school. I was led to believe that it was easy to get pregnant.
I’m not going to go into a lot of detail here (who wants to hear about my bodily fluids anyway?), but I thought it was the appropriate time to share some parts of our story.
We began with our “master plan”: we’d start trying in September of 2014 so we could have a baby at the end of the school year and miss very few instructional days (if any). We’d had physicals that came back with great results earlier in the year (the only complaint was about our weight), so we thought this would be easy. I’d been on a copper IUD for nearly two years so hormones wouldn’t be an issue when the time came. We were very prepared for this adventure.
I read books, I researched, I read all of the advice I could prior to starting. I mean, this was pretty scary! I wanted to have a baby–a living, breathing human being. I wanted to know everything I could.
Oh, how naive we were.
It’s been twenty months since then. Twice now, I’ve had a doctor tell me (either directly or indirectly) that my weight was the problem. One of them brushed me off when I asked if our fertility issues and my weight could be related to undiagnosed PCOS and instead sent me home with a prescription for 3 months of Clomid instead. We’ve had what we believe was a very early loss (approximately 4.5 weeks). We bought a house and people started in on the wink-wink-nudge-nudging about kids. Their intent was positive, but it was a reminder of what we’d been trying so hard to achieve.
January 2016 took my mom with it, and my dreams of her meeting her first grandchild were shattered. I still cry thinking about how good she would have been at it. I’m glad I told her early on that we were trying and asked for her advice, even if she didn’t have much to offer (she became pregnant fairly quickly each time–I was a wedding night baby!). Mother’s Day will be very hard this year because of my struggles and from losing her.
People don’t understand how much it hurts to be reminded every month that you cannot perform a basic human function. Humanity (along with pretty much every life form on the planet) exists to reproduce, and we are unable to do that. Just when the wound starts to heal, it’s torn open again as the next cycle starts. We both agree to not get our hopes up every month…and then get our hopes up anyway. Basically, we get to grieve the death of a dream every single month. It truly meets the definition of insanity because we keep trying expecting a different result.
We don’t reach out to much of our family and friends because it’s a private struggle for us and we’re not interested in discussing our bedroom habits around the dinner table. We’ve told a select few people, and they’ve mostly been supportive. Some have said, “Why not just adopt?” and I’m sure the intentions are good, but it hurts so much. We want a child of our own. We want to be able to perform the basic function of humanity and to bring a child or two into the world that we can raise on our own. If we can’t make that happen and we’ve come to that conclusion with the help of a medical professional, then we will consider that option. I think adoption is one of the most hurtful things to suggest to somebody who’s come out to a friend or family member with the struggle of infertility.
Those who’ve been supportive don’t claim to understand how we feel, but we know they’re in our corner on this. I knew that when one of them texted me to let me know she was pregnant with #2 before announcing it publicly because she wanted to give me time to process the news privately beforehand instead of being hit in the face with it in a public setting later. And I admit, I cried an awful lot about it. I raged and mentally berated myself. I told myself that I was broken, I was a failure at being human, I was too fat, I obviously don’t deserve to be a parent, maybe I’m just not cut out for the job, maybe I’ll just become a crazy dog lady…but at least I didn’t have that emotional reaction a few days later when it was announced in public. I’d been able to prepare myself.
So now, here we are, twenty months in. I have an appointment in June with a new doctor and I hope she can shed some light on things…and not rudely tell me that my weight is the only problem. We have no official diagnosis right now. I have some hunches and some labs and tests I want run for my own data collection. I’ve decided I needed to #StartAsking questions instead of just accepting my fate, which is the 2016 theme for resolve.org‘s National Infertility Awareness Week.
It’s time to start asking for help and it’s time to start advocating for me and my future children. It’s time to start asking if it really is the weight or if there’s an underlying issue that can be resolved. It’s time to start asking why I had a prescription handed to me for a fairly high dosage (100mg) of potent ovulation medication without being monitored for over-stimulation.
If you too are struggling, please start asking for help. I wish I’d done so earlier, before it affected my emotional well-being so much. If you’ve shared your story online and want to leave a link in the comments, I’d love to hear yours too. This is a private problem for many due to the nature of the subject, but I think people also need to realize they’re not alone when it affects 1 in 8 couples.
For now, I’ll just keep showing my dogs lots of love. They’ve been a wonderful part of our lives and have helped immensely with the emotional struggle of infertility.
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