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From a New Member of 'Club Infertility'
a blog by Katie Landry, September 24, 2013
I'm still pretty new to this infertility club, but I got my initiation pretty quickly. My guess is that I was just as stunned as everyone else when I realized that I couldn't get pregnant when I decided I wanted to.
True, I was a late bloomer, not marrying until I was 36, but infertility was not even on my radar. I had always been healthy, I had not had any health issues - female-related or otherwise - I just figured that a baby would happen naturally. Like it seemed to happen for everyone else, right?
Well, my rude awakening came about two years ago. At that time (2011), we had been married for a little over a year when we decided I should go off the pill, figuring nature would take its course. Just like that. All those horror stories we heard about girls having sex once and getting pregnant (I sort of missed the part about them being teenagers, with LOTS of young, healthy eggs) somehow convinced me that just going off the pill would be enough to get me pregnant. I literally thought I would be pregnant the next month. (Oh, you, poor naive thing...)
The thought that I was 37 never really crossed my mind. Well, it did, but I didn't think it would be an issue. Lots of women my age easily get pregnant, right? False, Little Miss Know-It-All. Some women do; many women don't, and many women who end up pregnant needed lots of help to get there. Somehow I missed that fact, too.
So, a year of not preventing produced zero results. Well, I did have one time I thought I was pregnant, but it just ended up that my period was just screwed up and two weeks late for no reason. My cycle ended up staying screwed up for the next eight months or so. With no explanation. Yeah, that definitely helps when you are trying to get pregnant. By the next summer (2012), after nature was clearly not going to help us out, we got serious and broke out the Clear Blue Fertility Monitor. The first cycle - no luck. The second cycle - my levels went up to 'high fertility' for about 12 days, but it never hit 'peak fertility' (the equivalent of the 'smiley face' on the CBOPK). Then it went back down.
We sort of gave up during that cycle because we never could figure out when -or if - I was going to ovulate.
After being a week late, on a whim I tested, and I got a BFP. That was October 28, 2012. I remember that because that was the day before Hurricane Sandy hit - only the first of two hurricanes that would blow through my life. Shocked is an understatement. No matter how I played the numbers, I could not figure out when I ovulated or when we had timed 'fooling around' (as my RE calls it) to correspond with ovulation. Nothing added up. But somehow, it was true. I was pregnant.
The sad part of this news is that I was able to enjoy that pregnancy only for about two weeks. My first sonogram at about 7 weeks showed there were some issues - enlarged yolk sack, slow heart beat, too small: all signs of an impending miscarriage. I prayed, I agonized, I cried, I prayed my guts out that this baby would live, but things went downhill fast. By the day before Thanksgiving, our baby had no heartbeat. I had already started spotting. And just like that, we lost our first baby.
Gratefully, I didn't need a D&C, and everything passed naturally. My doctor told us that we could start trying after I got my period. But, if we weren't pregnant by the spring, we should see a specialist. We held out until June, but finally, seeing that wishful thinking was now hurting us and not helping, I called the RE (fertility doctor). And I will never forget, after my first appointment, handing the receptionist my chart and seeing my diagnosis: Infertility. If I hadn't figured it out (accepted it, I should say) already, I was now an official member of the club. I'm not really sure what date I should put on the 'Member Since'-line on my card, but it is really the 'Expiration Date' that I wish I had some control over. We all know how that goes. But according to my chart, I am an official, card-carrying member. However, during my rookie year (give or take), I have observed a few things during this (most unwelcome) process. Here is my perspective, limited as it is:
- The infertility world is an incredibly compassionate community. The sisterhood and support in a club none of us would have chosen to be in has been has been nothing short of remarkable. The listening, the commiserating, the cheering, the praying, the finger-crossing, the hoping - even in the middle of personal pain - has been some of the most moving displays of selflessness I've ever come across.
- Infertility causes you to question everything - I mean everything: Your identity as a woman, your usefulness, all the plans you had for your life, your future, your faith, your inner strength and resilience. It's like the firm footing you had under you is malevolently yanked out, and nothing feels certain, sane, real, or normal anymore.
- Infertility brings out depths of you that you never knew were there - depths of jealousy, depths of grief, depths of hopelessness, depths of fear, depths of anger, depths of numbness - and I also think - depths of perseverance. For the non-stop tidal waves of emotions that crash on us, threatening to drown us, we somehow manage to find our feet and get up again. And again. And again.
- Infertility proves that we are stronger than we ever thought we were. What we put ourselves through, our bodies through, our emotions through - all for the chance that maybe, somehow, this will result in a miracle of a baby - shows that in spite of all the pain, disappointment, and daily roller-coaster of emotions, we are strong. We are determined. We are committed. It takes an enormous amount of inner toughness and courage to do this time. After time. After time.
And, in spite of all this. I have hope. For all of us. I believe that miracles can still happen. I believe that somehow we will have families of our own, in whatever form it takes. I believe there is a reason for everything, even why we have to walk down this road. I believe that good things still can happen. To all of us. I believe that, even in the middle of infertility, life can still be good. And even joyful.
So, thanks, sisters, for a kind welcome into the club, and here's to hoping that all of our memberships expire. Soon.