Happy New Year to anyone stumbling upon this page. Welcome and apologies for hitting you with the hard stuff on your first visit.
I’m trying (early) to stick to some in-my-head-only New Year’s resolutions, and one includes writing more. Here. There. Everywhere. With the exception being said resolutions.
I am sharing a couple versions of a story I wrote last week on our desire to have kids and our inability, as of yet, to do so (I purposely try to avoid using the word infertility because it sounds so finite and hopeless).
I sent my personal essay to an editor at The Guardian, and to my surprise, she wanted to publish it. It went live on their site Tuesday and I was proud to see it at the top of their opinion section. Today it’s still visible on the site and has garnered over 200 comments.
Click HERE for the edited version. And if you’re curious to read it pre-edits you can read below:
A decade ago a boy I’d just met asked me where I saw myself in 10 years. I took about three seconds to respond, “Married with a few kids!” It was a pleasant surprise he didn’t bolt scared shitless — we ended up dating for the next two and a half years.
I don’t recall many conversations with my ex-boyfriend, but I’ll always remember how suddenly certain I was that I wanted to have a family. Just not at that moment hungover sipping coffee and shoving bagels in my mouth.
For most of my younger life, particularly my 20s, drunkenly barhopping and blissfully kissing my way through Manhattan, getting pregnant terrified me. But now, 10 years later, MainMan and I will celebrate our second anniversary in April. He turns 36 next week and I’ll be right behind him in September. I am ready, waiting and dying to be pregnant.
On the horrible-things-in-life scale, infertility is galaxies away from the worst. I try to constantly remind myself of this so I can better appreciate what gifts I do have. A former co-worker of mine recently died of breast cancer. She was 33. Another friend is living with cancer. Some friends have lost parents. Some have lost children in horrific ways. I work in the media and am inundated with heinous crimes on a daily basis. Some women are further down their path of infertility and options to birth a child of their own are no longer viable. I realize we still have hope, and yet, here I am, bawling so hard I can’t breathe on a morning I’ve woken up to discover, yet again, my period came — a depressing sign our efforts this month too were futile.
I stopped taking birth control pills about a year or so before we got married. Not because I understood birth control could be a pregnancy deterrent long after you cease taking the pills. But because an alternative health-pushing neighbor of mine spooked me into believing they were unnatural and “terrible” for my body. To me a few short years earlier, terrible would have been single and pregnant.
After MainMan and I got married, we decided to roll the hay. I wanted to have kids, but I also didn’t want to work at having them. I wanted a baby to come naturally. I refused to be that neurotic maternal Madusa scheduling sex with her husband. The mere thought a few years earlier was absurd. As a 20-something, I couldn’t comprehend how some people knew their date of conception. Were they having sex so infrequently that one day stood out among several? Too bad for those people, I thought.
I took for granted I’d get pregnant without having to think twice about it. Man, how wrong I was.
While living in Los Angeles, I met a lovely couple who struggled with getting pregnant — they tried IVF a couple times without success. The wife lent me “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” and I tossed it aside thinking this challenge she’s facing isn’t my challenge. It’s not going to happen to me. I’m young. I’m healthy. I will not face what she’s facing.
This book, a bible of sorts for those unlucky in baby-making, now has a permanent place on my nightstand. I’ve read it. I’ve highlighted parts. I’ve ripped out pages of charts. And still, nothing’s changed.
My doctor recommended fertility yoga and meditation. I signed up for classes at a local yoga studio days later. I Googled “fertility meditation” and listened to a soft voice for 15 minutes telling me to chill and think about becoming pregnant. I used to be an athlete so I do see value in visualization “drills.” My doctor also prescribed my husband — after a sperm test we learned his count is good, but his motility is not — Mucinex to help break up his stuff.
The pain of dealing with this is something I have a hard time grasping and sharing with people. It makes me feel weak. I think of women who have just given birth. The euphoria they feel. Flip that upside down on the feelings spectrum and that’s what this feels like. I feel betrayed by my own body, one that is built specifically to achieve the one thing I cannot. And there’s very little I can do to control it. I’ve always been a fairly positive person. I try to find joy in all aspects of life, but now I’m living with this strong black tide that rolls in uninvited and washes the joy and happiness away.
One of the lowest points of my experience was crying when a close friend told me she was pregnant. These were not happy tears. These were ugly, dark green tears of incredulous jealousy. She’d only gotten married a few months earlier. I was the one who was supposed to be pregnant. As I cried to MainMan, I thought what was happening to me? And what sort of demonic witch had I become?
Only a handful of friends ask how we’re doing with regards to becoming pregnant. And thank god for them. It’s the friends who don’t ask who hurt the most. I have one close friend who is almost on the exact path we are. After months of trying, they’ve turned to Clomid, and are still waiting for the magical pill to work. I know I’m not alone, but as a work-at-home dog mom living in a new town, it’s easy to forget. I have a greater appreciation now for friends and relatives who, long before I was ready, battled their own infertility with as much strength and grace they could muster. I wish I had been there more for these friends.
Some have asked, “How’s MainMan handling this?” He’s handling it like a champ –with a big smile and an even bigger heart. He’s my always-due-north compass. And I don’t thank him enough.
After about a year of no results sans outside help, six months of charting unsuccessfully, and peeing on dozens of ovulation sticks — praying for two dark lines and questioning the darkness of one over the lightness of another — I decided to start taking Clomid. I’ve completed three rounds of it (you take it on days 3-7 of your cycle) and I’m already eager to move to the next phase: IUI.
I don’t know what 2015 will bring. I just know what we want desperately. Maybe there’s a silver lining in all this – with the new year I aim to stay more positive — but today it’s just out of my reach. Like a baby.