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I mourn for the woman I was- But it was worth it
Written By: Helen
Published with the author’s permission.
We were 28, we had been married for 3 years, we were both finishing our Master’s degrees, we had just bought a house and we had landed great jobs. We were living a charmed life. So, we thought what the heck, let’s start trying for a baby a year ahead of our plan…oh yeah, did I mention, we are planners….there was no planning for what the next four years had in store for us.
I feel sad for the woman I used to be. The one who naively believed that she would be pregnant after just one month of trying. I cringe when I remember googling fun ways to tell your husband that you’re expecting. I ache when I remember each month the crushing disappointment of learning I wasn’t pregnant. I sigh as I recall my hope turning into desperation as I ordered ovulation kits, and bought books on fertility and tried so hard to smile when I learned my sister and friends were expecting… again. I want to hug that person I used to be and tell her it really will work out in the end.
I still remember the day I finished my one year supply of prenatal vitamins…hands shaking I called my family doctor. I felt like I was throwing in the towel, admitting what I so badly wanted to deny. We were dealing with infertility. My doctor promptly referred me to a fertility clinic. And so began the next four years of our lives.
I should say here, I was terrified of any sort of gynecological tests or exams. I regularly rebooked my pap tests until I couldn’t put it off any longer. So, when the fertility doctor told me about the tests and exams I’d be subjected to, I wasn’t pleased…but we pushed forward. Months after awkward tests, cycle monitoring and being told when to have sex, we still had no pregnancy. We lived an hour away from our clinic, so coming up with reasons why I was away again, or late in the morning, was becoming more and more difficult on the work front. Each month I felt like a failure as a woman and a disappointment as an employee.
Then one day our fertility doctor informed us that our tests were complete and we should come in. I don’t know why but I somehow thought everything was fine. I was sure he’d laugh at us for our worry and tell us we’d likely fall pregnant within a few months. Instead, I heard the doctor ramble through my results, all within the norm. I was confused, if it was all normal why did the room have a heavy feeling to it? Why did he look so serious? Why weren’t we relieved? And then he said it… We were dealing with male factor infertility. I sat there in disbelief because deep down, I thought if there was an issue, it’d be with me. I had self-diagnosed myself with everything from endometriosis to PCOS. Not once had male factor entered my mind. Stunned my husband and I listened to next steps and statistics. We left the office and got into our car armed with information, but both feeling numb inside. I remember staring out the window and bursting into tears. Yes, we had answers, but the future seemed murky…not a planner’s best case scenario. I felt lost and alone. I didn’t share our situation with friends or family. I took solace in reading blogs like this and talking late into the night with my husband about all the “what ifs” the future held. I thank God every day that I have a husband who is a much better communicator then I am. When I felt like I was slipping away into that dark place, he opened the doors of communication and grabbed me before I slipped. I never felt alone, I always felt like we were a team and when one of us needed a little help the other picked up the slack.
The next few months came and went. Filled with acupuncture, medical procedures and the painstakingly slow process of waiting. The waiting is the most infuriating part. Finally, our doctor laid it out for us, nothing was improving so we could attempt IUI’s, but he wasn’t hopeful. It looked like our best shot was IVF with icsi. Tired of waiting to start our family, we jumped in, eyes wide open ( but really closed tight for every needle!)
To make a long story short, fun-filled with shots and pills and ultrasounds… Our beautiful daughter was born in August of 2015 after one round of IVF. Our gorgeous son followed 19 months later ( after another round of IVF… No, we are not one of those couples that magically became pregnant after IVF!)
I will never be able to surprise my husband with a pregnancy. I will always feel like a bit of a fraud at playgroups when other moms are gushing over how they just one day decide to get pregnant and I nod along like I too am one of these lucky few. I will never be the woman I was before this experience. But I am stronger for it. My marriage has grown in ways I didn’t know were possible. I look back now and while I mourn my innocence before this ordeal I marvel at how blessed we are to be able to create life through the help of reproductive technologies. Every time I wake to my daughter singing or my son cooing I am reminded of how lucky we are. I have since opened up about our story to close friends and family, but to some, my story remains tucked away from our relationship. I feel as though our story is now also our children’s story and I will support how open or closed they would like to be about their beginnings.
Is infertility scary? Absolutely. Is IVF all-consuming? Definitely. Can all of this strain a marriage, cause depression and make you feel so very confused and alone? You bet. However, when the dust of the insanity of infertility has settled, when you embrace your new reality, when you cling to your partner for support and when you just go for it, your leap of faith might just result in chubby arms wrapped around your neck, kisses before bedtime, giggles all day and a partner that you know ( and I mean know) will always have your back. I wish all of you reading this the best of luck and all the love and support while you create your family.