Twenty-one months ago we decided it was the right time to add just one more to our family of four. We were over the moon excited! The anticipation of the two pink lines was almost too much for me! I KNEW it was coming! Heck, it would probably end up being twins! That's ok, I thought. I can handle twins.
Six months into it, though, and we found ourselves with a perpetual lonely pink line, and in the office of an RE (reproductive specialist). After the full gamut of tests, none reporting anything noteworthy, I began a much more aggressive treatment including the self-administered shots in the stomach, which I swore I would never do. It felt like an alternate universe. How did I become a woman who does these things?
But there was good news! During the first month of shots we were told that the treatment was working great! So great in fact that we were sat down and told that we needed to prepare for up to three babies! My head was spinning at the news, and I began imagining the ultrasound appointment where we would "count" the babies! Not once did I consider that we would end up empty handed that month.
But we did.
So we tried again. And again. And again. Each time being told that they have never seen such a great response to treatment! We should prepare for more than one baby. But that's not what happened. There was never a baby. Not one. And we had spent so much just for the chance.
I was killing myself trying to find out why. Obsessed would be an understatement. I spent countless hours every day researching and combing through fertility forums trying to find new vitamins, diets, treatments, you name it. I didn't discriminate against any of them. In fact, I eventually had elective surgery to find out if I had endometriosis, because there just had to be SOME reason why I couldn't get pregnant, and maybe this was it.
It was not. I spent the next two weeks healing from the surgery, and crying because we had hit what felt like the millionth dead end. The monthly payment we now have to the hospital, though, won't let me forget it. So now I can say we have TWO monthly reminders that I'm not pregnant!
The whole process left us drained - financially, emotionally, and certainly spiritually. I prayed a lot, and I asked God a lot of questions like:
Am I not a good enough mom to my girls? Do you not trust me with another child?
How can you allow life inside of a woman who will ultimately abort the child, while I sit here begging for one?
What is broken in me? Can you at least help us find out what's wrong so we can try to fix it?
If you won't tell us what's wrong, will you please just allow something to finally work?
If you won't give us a child, will you please remove the deep desire I have for one? Help me be content.
Sometimes my prayers were said in humility with tears rolling down my face, and others were screamed in rage. After more than a year of trying, I felt more distant from God than ever. Each prayer felt like it sat in silence. Hovering somewhere above my head, and completely ignored.
I felt alone in my secret world. A few friends knew we were seeking help with fertility, and close family knew our hurt, but apart from my husband, I didn't know anyone who could grasp the despair I felt, or knew how closely I was walking the line of depression.
Because the pain is difficult. It's a place you live, and it feels like loss. You are constantly assaulted with reminders of the dream unfulfilled and it lurks in every conversation, every room, everywhere.
What things do you see when you are struggling with infertility? You see pregnant bellies literally everywhere. Your Facebook feed is 83% sonogram photos, gender reveal parties, and birth announcements. Your youngest will inadvertently find a onesie that she wore when she was just 1 week old, tucked in the back of a drawer. When she hands it to you, it will leave you to be the emotional wreck that you are on the floor for 30 minutes. You see the rocking chair that has been in the garage for a year because you can't sell it - that would mean surrender.
I struggled with putting my journey into words because there is no conclusion yet. I haven't had any new revelations, or answers to my prayers - only more of the same disappointment. There are days when I'm numb to it, and I'm allowed to forget, and then there are days that I'm crushed by it. Today is one of those. The hurt is compounded because we have now exhausted all avenues of treatment. The only thing we haven't tried is In Vitro, but hey, we don't have $10k.
I wish infertility wasn't cloaked as such a hidden and shameful topic. Yes, it's deeply personal, but I wonder how many of my friends are walking through this right now? But we keep our secrets for many reasons. We quickly learn that when we confide in friends who can't relate, they tend to offer shallow and offensive advice. Usually, they are sure we are just "trying too hard". So we save our tears for home.
I'm aware that there are many who will likely be perplexed that I'm stuck on this. I have two perfect and healthy girls after all - shouldn't they be enough? How can I possibly be so sad when I am not childless? All I can say is that my family doesn't feel complete, somehow. I love the joy of young kids in our home, and I hate to think that that part of our life is over. I'm not ready for it to end, and there is so much frustration because I get no say in the matter.
Some of you are battling infertility right now, and have never had even one child. Or you've suffered many miscarriages, never making it to the moment where you get to hold your baby in your arms. I'm aware of how selfish I must sound to you, and I apologize. Your pain is on a whole other level, and my heart truly goes out to you.
Some of us have been trying for one year, and others crossed that mark many years ago. Maybe you know why you struggle with infertility, or you're like me - still wondering what the heck is wrong. No matter what the scenario, I bet most of us have one thing in common: we never thought we'd be here. We don't want to fight this battle - one that seems to be so effortless to most. But with an outcome that has such a huge impact on our families either way, how can you not fight?
I don't plan to give up for many years, but at this point I've done all I know how, and all we can afford. My hope is that we can find a way to bring another child into our family one day, biological or not. In the mean time, I'm hoping that these words will be a small amount of therapy as I let go of the secrets, and allow others to see me exactly as I am right now. My biggest hope, though, is that one day I will look back on these raw and painful times and see God's plan, His timing, and His provision.