It’s hard to explain to others what compels you to work so hard and go through so much to try to become pregnant. Infertility is never a roadblock that people think that will happen to them. Most of us worry about the opposite, getting pregnant before you are ready. I was so confident approaching my first few inseminations that I seemed almost cocky. “Nope, I can’t do it that month because that means it’s due in August, a really bad time for work.” Yeah, I actually said that, out loud to someone else.
Most people did not question my intentions. Instead, I got the face and pointed questions. You know the face I am talking about - it’s the one someone uses when they are listening to someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about. The questions took a variety of forms. You know, you don’t have to do this to get a kid, right? There are heaps of children in foster care that need good homes. Why not give one of them a home? Are you just trying to make a mini-version of yourself? (That last question came from family and seemed very strange to me.)
During those three plus years struggling with infertility, you could not convince me to stop, not even with the most logical argument. I was on a mission to experience something that I had dreamed about since I was a young child. I imagined feeling the first kicks, experiencing cravings and seeing a small baby emerge from my body. When I would spend time with my brother’s kids, I would marvel at how much they would favor a specific parent in looks and mannerisms. I wanted that. I know, it’s hard to explain.
I think of my fertility inseminations in three chapters. The first chapter consistent of three inseminations were full of over-confidence. During my first try, I refused fertility medication. In fact, I was actually a bit offended that my doctor suggested it. Once the procedure was over and I had to wait two weeks for a result, I told myself that I was pregnant. I “acted” pregnant, rubbing my belly and telling myself that every “symptom” I could see meant that I was pregnant. I remember my shock after my first insemination when I found out that I was not pregnant with my period starting. I cried all day. It seemed so unfair, but it was well deserved. I fear what kind of end result would have occurred if it worked that quickly.
The next chapter was me asking for help by switching from my doctor to a fertility specialist. It was humbling, but I loved my new nerdy doctor and all of his scientific explanations for what could be happening. This chapter consisted of actually four attempts but really only three inseminations. During one of my attempts, my body was ramping up for the procedure and then everything just stopped. That was hard, taking all of those medications and having regular blood work to monitor my progress. It was in this chapter that my brain started to consider the inevitable, this may not happen.
The last chapter of my fertility were my dark days. It consisted of three inseminations and in vitro fertilization. My medication dosages were doubling with each attempt. I could feel the toll on my body. During the procedure, my confident demeanor was replaced with a quiet person with handfuls of lucky charms that people gave me to hold, rub or place on my belly. When I was moved to in vitro fertilization, it was incredibly humbling. My body was betraying me and I was being punished from my over-confident ways.
I will never know the reason why my body could not become and stay pregnant. Once I stopped and grieved the end of this fertility journey, I could feel this collective gasp of relief in my loved ones. Going through infertility alone was tough. No one was with me or wanted this to work as much as me. I have great friends who listened to me cry and complain throughout the procedures, but at the end of the conversation, I was alone with this failure.
You are not going to believe me, but now sitting on this side of my motherhood journey, I realize that failing in fertility was a great thing. Things happen for a reason. It’s really true. Failure and tragedy are awful things to experience but on the other side of them, you learn volumes about yourself and your loved ones.
Misery makes you a broken record as you whine and cry to your loved ones. It takes a couple of plays of that record to realize who in your life is strong enough to take it. You see who leaves immediately when there is no reward for themselves. Fake friends poof into thin air. Even family members show their true sides during this time. When the music is over, you can see who in your life has earned the hallmark of being “a loved one”. The result may surprise you.
So yes, my body will never experience pregnancy from beginning to end, but it’s OK. My life has given birth to so many great things and experiences. Now I sit here in my non-stretch marked body and the maternity aftermath ready to enjoy the craziness of motherhood.