It’s been a long seven years that I’ve had the opportunity, misfortune and blessing in dealing firsthand with this thing. This sometimes very cruel and mean thing called infertility. This thing that can’t help but change you (though usually for the better). This beast that tests your limits as a woman, a human. This thing that takes you to the gates of hell and back with rewards so sweet you almost forget the pain. The last seven years have been fraught with heartache, loss, disappointment, setbacks, self-doubt — months, years even — where I’ve tried to make sense of the word “fair” and sought to know if there’s any justice or reason in it. This all sounds so awful. And, in a way, it was.
But, it wasn’t ALL bad. And, I’ll get to that.
I’ve been kind of quiet around here the last six months, and I feel like I need to “come clean” and tell you why. You see, I lost my voice. I felt like everything I had come to understand about my infertility journey unraveled.
It was January of this year. We were in the middle of a move, but my husband and I knew that sometime in the near future we wanted to try for another baby. So, being that our only success in conceiving had been through IVF, we made a consultation appointment with Fertility Specialists of Texas (FST). Like the other times we’d met in Dr. Jerald Goldstein’s office for our previous cycle consultations, my husband and I felt hope and excitement as we talked about doing pre-genetic diagnosis (PGD) with our frozen embryos.
We have two sons and wanted to add a healthy baby girl to our family. We were excited to start the process in a few months after life calmed down. And, I was particularly excited to go through an IVF cycle soon after one of my best friends did hers. I was thrilled at the prospect of being pregnant together, to share this experience — one which many women really can’t understand — with her.
So, we waited. Waited for my period to start. I am used to waiting for periods at this point. I’ve gotten an unwanted one almost every month for the last seven years. I’d gotten so used to it, that getting them didn’t really make me all that sad anymore.
After enough time had passed that my cycle became irregular/late for me (I’m text-book irregular), I called the nurse’s line at FST. I was more worried I had some huge tumor that was making my hormones crazy or that my ovaries went into sudden failure more than anything. As always, they were so nice and had me come in for some blood work.
Aaaaaaannnnnnndddd … that’s when I found out I was pregnant. Without IVF.
Please don’t tune out.
Please don’t stop reading.
I’m not here to tell you I was over the moon. I am not here to tell you my wildest dream came true. And, you might be rolling your eyes right now at that. Honestly, that dream died about five years ago. But, here’s the thing. I’ve spent the better part of a decade doing this dance with infertility. The last seven years have been spent in some form of TTC — fertility treatment, paranoid pregnancy, emotional recovery from the whole process, and trying to find myself and meaning through all of this.
I mourned. My husband and I really went through the grieving process in realizing the likelihood that I would never conceive a baby on my own. I moved on from wishing that would even happen one day to writing a new story and replacing the one that only brought me heartache the first 28 years of my life. I found all the silver linings that infertility had to offer (and there are many), the two greatest being my miracle babies.
Over the last few years, I found that my heart had pieced its way back together. It healed. It beat stronger and to a better rhythm. I stopped being angry that I couldn’t control my personal lack of fertility and found a sort of poetic justice in knowing how beautiful the IVF process was. A miraculous process that helped countless women like me fill their empty arms.
In the years of feeling so out of control, there was a certain degree of control in the IVF process. I found solace in it. I came out of hiding and became, or hoped I had become, a voice for infertility awareness. I made lifelong, meaningful connections with women that understood loss, longing and pain. I became part of a band of women who fought the good fight.
I kind of thought I had it all figured out.
And, on that fateful day in January I realized, again, that maybe I don’t. Five years ago, I would’ve fallen to the floor with tears of joy over a surprise pregnancy.
Instead, I crumbled at the news.
This wasn’t supposed to happen. I was supposed to blog the whole IVF process and put it out there for everyone to see. I wanted everyone to see the magic of IVF. To fall in love with it like I had. I wanted my friend to finish her cycle, and for me to get pregnant a few months later (with a girl).
In a weird way, I felt robbed of all of that. I didn’t have anything to blog about. I didn’t have anything to say.
When I was an infertility patient, the last thing I wanted to hear was a story about a girl who got pregnant out of nowhere. What the heck does a girl like that know about a girl like me?
My friend, she went through a failed cycle. And, then a loss. And, then another dear friend experienced loss.
How in the world could I face these two, dear friends and tell them I was pregnant — surprisingly pregnant — while they hurt? On top of it all, I didn’t get my girl, but a third boy. A third C-section on an already thin uterus and a 30-something-year-old pair of ovaries rapidly approaching age 35 and losing out on prime opportunity for another fresh transfer (if needed) to round out our family.
I had just finished writing the alternative “happily ever after” to my long, arduous story only to have it ripped away from me.
What I had forgotten along the way … something pivotal in the rewrite of my story is that hope endures. Always. I had given up hope on ever conceiving without help. I tread lightly while I say that because I understand the statistics, especially after having an infertility diagnosis and seven years of failed TTC under my belt. I felt a degree of resentment that I was supposed to find joy in the midst of others experiencing pain. I felt frustrated that we could’ve had our girl this time around and felt complete, all while sharing a message and raising awareness to the platform of infertility.
You see though, the beauty of hope is that it soars in the face of adversity. It makes for a more beautiful way. It stands firm in the face of disappointment. It conquers heartache. It brings to the surface forgotten dreams, quieted prayers. It shows us that although we can’t control everything, maybe in the end it’s better. That life is full of sweeter surprises. I had forgotten this.
My heart still aches for my dear friend. I continue to shed tears and mourn alongside her as she finds her way through this. I battle every day with the irrational me, saying I don’t deserve this baby while she hurts. That somehow this is some sort of karma telling me I don’t deserve for those beautiful frozen snowflake babies to work now (the ones that I’ve loved and hoped for so much longer than this surprise).
I struggle with and hope that you (yes, you!) reading this, still find hope in my story. That you don’t write me off because you may be undergoing fertility treatment or loss while I am not (right now). I hope that the connections I’ve made will continue to grow, that I can be a voice for hope for those in the dark.
I used to think — and sometimes honestly still do — that being a light meant that I had to spend more time in the dark. But maybe, just maybe, it doesn’t mean spending more time in the dark. Maybe it means being willing to share MORE about finding my way to the light and letting hope soar.
Hi! I’m a proud IVF mom of two amazing boys, thanks to the expert care at Fertility Specialists of Texas. I know, first hand, how lonely infertility can be, which is why I write personal entries for the FST blog — it’s my way of helping break through the isolation. To let you know you’re not alone. And, neither am I. If you ever want to chat with someone who’s had empty arms, who knows the heartbreak of this journey, I’m here. And, I’d love to connect: firstname.lastname@example.org