The pain of infertility is very real in our home. The closest we ever got to having our own child was creating an embryo. When going through years of infertility you can get very attached to your embryo (blastocyst). You feel excited that you actually created the beginning of a child with the one you love. You think about that embryo growing, moving and developing into the only dream you have in life. You think about what you’ll call her, what she will look like. Will she have my green eyes, will she have his olive skin? Will she tell the same cheesy jokes like her dad? Will she be kind? You start to fall in love with her.
You think, maybe it’s going to happen for us this time. Why wouldn’t it? We are good people, we deserve to have a child of our own.
The two week wait continues until you finally receive that dreaded call from the fertility clinic. You’re hopeful as you wait to hear the words you can only dream of. You hold your breath… until gut-wrenching words are said from a lab technician who’s making his 9th call of the day, “I am so sorry, you are not pregnant.”
Going through this experience over and over changes you. The pain of infertility builds a hard exterior around you, even though you feel like a lost child inside. Nothing else matters in your life anymore. The only thing you want you can’t have.
WELCOME TO INFERTILITY.
My diagnosis: “Unexplained Infertility.” That’s right. Doctors don’t know why I can’t conceive. Oh and the reason we can’t conceive is definitely me. My hubby’s swimmers have actually been referred to as Michael Phelps from doctors!
All my tests look fantastic and “for my age” I have better than average results. I’ve been told that people with less follicles, lower estrogen, with 1 ovary and partners with poor sperm quality can still conceive, so we should have absolutely no problem!
Our Reality: 2 fertility clinics. Months of ‘timed trying’. 2 rounds of IUI. 3 rounds of IVF.
All this over a period of 3 years and thousands of dollars spent. We were only ever able to make 2 good quality embryos. Nothing ever worked. I received the “you’re not pregnant” phone call 8 times. Each time I lost a little more of myself.
We’d had enough. We could not go through the treatment process again. The physical, mental and emotional strain of trying to conceive had changed me. I didn’t know who I was anymore.
The toughest part about not being able to have your own child (apart from not getting pregnant), is that people don’t know how to act around you. They don’t know what to say and have no idea the level of pain you’ve endured. Due to this, they start calling less, they stop inviting you out and you begin to feel more and more alone. Depression sets in and you pull yourself away from all social situations. This is a vicious cycle and if you’re not careful you can literally hit rock bottom, which I did.
Now that it’s been almost 4 years of trying to conceive, here are 8 things I’d like to share:
1. MY PAIN TOLERANCE IS PRETTY GOOD! Medications, needles, exams, oh my! During IVFs, my ovaries became so large, apparently the size of baseballs (totally NOT normal). I actually looked 3 months pregnant. I couldn’t wear 90% of my wardrobe. During my first IVF I was actually having trouble walking I was in so much pain. By the time I had my last IVF I didn’t even care about the needles. I was an IVF warrior.
2. I’VE BEEN ABLE TO LAUGH AT THE SITUATION (SORT OF). There are resources out there…IVF.ca for example, where you can connect with people through forums to talk about all aspects of trying to conceive (TTC for infertile veterans). Many times, I would find boards with people sharing TTC jokes. Here are a few good ones…
- “If a tree falls in the forest, can anyone hear it? If an infertile bangs her head against the wall in a bathroom at a baby shower, can anyone hear her?”
- “Don’t cry over spilt milk (unless you’re crying because you don’t have breast milk, then it’s okay to cry).”
- You know you are TTC (trying to conceive) when somebody asks you the date and you respond with “day 11”.
3. INFERTILITY FEELS LIKE A DIRTY WORD! Writing this post is a HUGE step for me. I know its not my fault that I can’t conceive, yet I can’t help but feeling like an outcast at times. There was an occasion at work a couple years ago where someone in my department had bad kidney stones. This was during the same week that my 2nd IVF failed. I was devastated, yet I felt I couldn’t tell anyone around me. My colleagues sent sweet messages to my team mate (which I understand – kidney stones are seriously painful). This however was while I was going through one of the most emotionally and physically painful times. By starting to talk about infertility, I hope that it can be less of a taboo subject and more openly discussed. Looking back I wish I felt more comfortable sharing.
4. I SHOULD HAVE ASKED FOR HELP… AND NOT PUSHED PEOPLE AWAY. Due to the immense pain of infertility, I was having a hard time getting through daily life, never mind going out socially. I pushed a lot of the people I love away, partly because I felt no one understood my situation and partly because I was in denial and I couldn’t handle the elephant in the room wherever I went.
5. BEING INFERTILE FEELS LIKE MOURNING THE LOSS OF A CHILD YOU NEVER HAD. It takes A LOT of time to deal with this loss. Period. If you have a friend going through this process, please check in on them. They need you.
6. SOMETIMES I’M NOT ABLE TO ATTEND YOUR CHILD’S (ENTER SPECIAL OCCASION HERE). Trust me – I want to and I feel guilty about this. I love your child, but I’m still grieving and don’t want to cry in the bathroom at your special event. I’m actually much better at celebrating in a more intimate setting with you and not around tons of people.
7. PLEASE DON’T TELL ME “IT WASN’T MEANT TO BE.” Yes, this has been said to me on more than one occasion. Be thoughtful people. Never ever say this to someone who can’t have kids. It’s not “meant to be” that an unfit parent can reproduce, so it shouldn’t be “meant to be” that a loving hopeful mother can’t conceive.
8. DON’T SAY… “JUST ADOPT.” Firstly, adoption is an extremely hard process to go through, sometimes taking many years to find a child. There are also some instances if the bio mother proves to child services that she’s stepped it up, you can have your adopted child taken away from you up to a year of adopting them. This seems crazy, but the system has its flaws. Also, adoption is not always the best option for a couple who can’t conceive since the pain of infertility is most likely very present. My hubby and I talk a lot about adoption, but I don’t want to adopt as a second choice. I want to adopt as a first choice. Time will tell what path we take.
Sharing my personal story of infertility is scary, but I hope others going through a similar situation may read this and not feel so alone. Getting this off my chest also feels great.
- BabyCenter – Support for Diagnosed Infertility
- It Starts with the Egg, by Rebecca Feet. Amazing book that gives you real insight on how to improve egg quality. Many Naturopaths that specialize in fertility follow this book as well.
- There are also a lot of private groups on Facebook. Just search for ‘infertility’.
A Few Thanks… Thank god I had certain individuals in my life through all of this.
- My hubby who was literally my nurse, giving me 5-6 needles a day (at times). He ignored my crazy mood swings and has only ever been loving and supportive to me.
- My close friend who called me every day, listened to my heartache and let me cry on her shoulder for 3 years.
- My stepson who somehow knew when I was at my lowest and would give me extra hugs and kisses (even though he had no idea what myself and his Dad were going through).
- My parents, who went through this pain every step of the way. They listened to my daily medical updates on follicle counts and hormone levels (oh so fun).
I love you all and am so thankful you were there through every step of this treacherous journey.