No one understands your journey…
Of course we all have those friends that have ‘been there, done that’ between the sheets at the fertility specialist, but not one of us truly understands what it is like for the other, because every damn story is written out in different ink, and metaphorically tattooed across our foreheads like a freakin’ barcode of failure.
Each of us face a completely different reality, some fight to ever even conceive, some conceive and perpetually miscarry, some take pills, others take injection-after-injection, some of us are scheduled by our bank-book balance, and others by the emotional toll it takes.
I don’t even understand myself as I delve deeper into this world with each new day, its obvious now that my twenty something self that was fighting to conceive was blinded from what was in store through these fertility struggles this almost 10 years later.
I don’t want to discount any one of our stories because they are all so relevant, so raw, and our biggest tribulations (no matter how small) but I did want to highlight why doing this a second or third time around is taking a far bigger toll on our family than I ever expected back then.
During my first ever experience with infertility – as a twenty-seven year old newly-wed – I began to question my entire existence, because I believed whole heartedly that I was brought to this earth to be a mother – and a mother only. I never held any convicting thoughts about my career life – for me it was about being married, and having children.
In hindsight, our struggle was short, and a minimal problem in the grand scheme of fertility. We did the recommended one year of trying to conceive naturally before we would be considered as a candidate for the fertility clinic… and then another six months before the referral was accepted and my first appointment was arranged, but when the Doc. saw me he was sure of my problem (PCOS) and prescribed me the pills that got us pregnant on the third month. In the moment, this was an excruciatingly long process – we were a single couple – all we had was time to think about what was missing from our lives. We allowed ourselves the time to ache and pine, we let the ivy of infertility wrap and entwine us within it, and we lived there for nearly two years.
Fast forward five years (two live births, a few miscarriages, a D&C, and endless appointments later) and our newest journey plays out wildly different. We still tried for several months naturally – after all our second son was conceived that way so we had no idea which side of the field we were playing on this third time around. We also weren’t in any hurry to complete our family because both of our boys (at the time we started trying for number 3) were still very young and we simply considered that we were getting a head start. This story all began two and a half years ago. It was somewhere at the seventh or eighth month mark that we began to seek gynecological opinion on the matter, and again, I was treated as ‘text-book PCOS’ to which I did respond to in just a few short months, but after the entire first trimester that pregnancy ended accompanied by surgical intervention. All this time – all this time telling our kids that we would be introducing a new child into our family, getting them excited and waiting – only to have to burden them with the disappointment of loss.
On one hand I am no longer alone, I have already claimed my identity and purpose as a mother, but – on the other – we now have to share this journey and heartbreaks with our small children. It isn’t a world that they understand, or that we set out to share with them but a broken heart bleeds out and saturates the work around it by default.
At twenty-seven I didn’t understand this. I loathed the complaints that I would get from actual mothers because they struggled to get pregnant again, but I get it now – It isn’t about identifying as a mother anymore it becomes more about giving your children their siblings, allowing them to claim that birth right – and more so, that infertility the second, or third time is almost impossible to prioritize.
Back in 2012 when we became pregnant with our first through a local Fertility Clinic, I immediately jumped ship and ran to a midwifery clinic for my prenatal care- in part because I was desperate for a more natural approach after everything we had been through, but mostly because I had a deep dislike for my Doc. and didn’t want him anywhere near my pregnant body.
In 2017 we returned to the same Doc. (after spending a year out of town with another Doc) not because I wanted to, not because I held complete faith in his care, but simply because I could not afford the time to leave my geographical area – almost daily – with two boys that had school and routines to tend to.
The sacrifices the infertile couples endure are gravely over-looked. I have spent months waking my two boys (now four and three) at 6am so we can hit the fertility clinic for my cycle monitoring appointments before the real rush of our day begins. This clinic still isn’t conveniently located either – we are on the road for almost an hour between the trips there and back and we return just in time for me to feed my eldest something quick to eat before running to the bus stop. We have done this several dozen times.
My poor school-aged son, returns home at the end of the day exhausted and miserable for it, but it is his welcomed sacrifice to “put a baby in mommys belly”.
If I am at all lucky, my clinic days fall on a day shift work day, and I leave the house extra early to get to the clinic before work, of course, I am still running into work a ten minutes late anyway but at least I didn’t have to wake my boys to bring them along. Shane and I have discussed the idea of me taking some time off of work to manage all this, we even asked our Doc his thoughts about me taking a sick leave, of course his thoughtful response was “Why? You aren’t sick”. Ultimately though, it was decided that it would be simply more difficult to manage my clinic days when I am not working, because it would mean taking the boys to all of them which isn’t fair to anyone.
This second time around has brought so much more uncertainty to the table, I eventually stopped responding to my oral meds which also started to give me debilitating monthly migranes so I was quite glad to kick those anyway. Now I have been taking daily injections to control my pituitary, another to grow follicles, a trigger shot to induce ovulation, and vaginal capsules to facilitate a healthy uterus. It was a slippery slope adjusting to these new meds these last few months, and the bill is just shy of $5000 after just a few short months.
We still don’t know were we are going to go from here, or whether IUI will work for us or not. We just persevere – test our patience – and wait it out. In the meantime, I am praying for an end to this journey whether that be a blissful babe in our arms, or a peacefulness in my soul we can just finally stop trying.