Since learning that I am infertile, one of the hardest things I’ve had to come to terms with is learning to ‘grin and bear it’. I will admit it is not one of my strongest personality traits as I am one of those people who whatever I am feeling is almost guaranteed to show on my face. If it’s annoyance, anger, disbelief, happiness, or sadness, the expression is there on my face. I don’t like to hide, I don’t like to lie, but at the same time, sometimes the time and place for such conversations are not appropriate. My Princess is almost 4 years old now and many of our friends and family are having children. And with that, the question Hubby and I dread is being asked at every turn.
“So,” they cheerfully ask, poking me in the abdomen. “When is she getting a brother or a sister.”
Cue the awkward smile and shift in my stance. Most of the time they corner Hubby and I alone so we are unable to lean on each other for support or help with the answer. I know they don’t do it out of spite or malice, but I cringe when I am asked it.
“Oh, umm, you know, hmm, when it happens. We’ll see how it goes.” I divert my eyes anywhere but in theirs. I don’t want to have to see their expression when I don’t give them a straight forward answer. How do I say, “Well my prolactin levels are extremely high and have drained my estrogen levels so my body is incapable of maintaining any pregnancy and my ovaries are not releasing any eggs. My body is essentially going into early menopause and I’m only 26. Oh and my ovaries are covered in cysts.” That doesn’t really make for a great conversation. It is one thing for me to be uncomfortable, but I really wouldn’t want to be the cause of someone else’s discomfort. I’ve had strangers on the bus ask me, teachers at my daughter’s daycare, coworkers, friends, family and everyone else in between. I haven’t yet found a suitable answer.
So many people I know are having babies. My sister is pregnant and so is a close family member. My cousin just had a baby and her sister is due any day. My hubby’s brother had a beautiful blue-eyed baby girl 6 months ago and my friend is having a baby as well. I am all very happy for them, I really am. I rub their tummy’s, ask them how they are feeling, celebrate the life the life that is about to be brought into this world. But as I smile there is a dull ache that lies inside. It’s not cramps from bad food or from menstruation or ovulation, it’s a dull ache from a fear that I may never get to feel another kick, hear the whooshing of the ultrasound, crave pickles, have heartburn radiating through my body or be hunched over a toilet praying to the porcelain gods again.
I’ve received so many comments from people who I know mean well, but they come off so inconsiderate and back-handed.
“You just need to go back and enjoy sex again. Then you’ll get pregnant.”
I really wish it were that simple. Out of 28-35 days, depending on your cycle length, you only have about 25 – 30% chance of becoming pregnant. You have to determine when you ovulate, how long your luteal phase is, how soft and where your cervix is. I took Siberian Ginseng, Prenatal Vitamins, Evening Primrose Oil, Dong Quai and Green Tea for their ‘fertility’ aid. I was charting my entire cycle. I charted my basal temperature, my cervical mucus, how tender my breasts were, lower back pain, how heavy my flow, how long it lasted, basically acting as an ovulatory detective searching for clues when my ovaries will release an egg and when to approach Hubby and give a very small timeline to when we have to “enjoy sex”. Nothing says ‘sexy’ like “We have to have sex right now and tomorrow and I have to elevate my hips for 30 minutes.”
“Just chill out, you are way to stressed.”
Unfortunately stress and infertility often go hand in hand. Stress can lead to infertility and infertility only increases stress. It’s a damned if you do, damned if you don’t kind of situation.
“You should be grateful you have one child. Some people don’t have any.”
I would have to say this is the most inconsiderate and cruel comment I’ve ever received. I am very grateful for my beautiful brown-eyed, blonde curly-haired little Princess. She is my entire world. I look at her and thank every lucky star in the universe for giving her to me. We almost lost her at 3 months, and the cord wrapped around her neck during labour and she was born via c-section. I hug her and kiss her and tell her how much she means to me every single day. Most of my happy moments are the ones where I am with her. But I also dreamt of giving her siblings. A house full of siblings. I always wanted to be a mom to many children. I took care of my sisters and babysat many children. I love kids. Their laughs, smiles, their attitudes, everything about them makes me smile. They are so innocent and happy that it always boggles my brain when people say they annoy them. The old adage “Barefoot and Pregnant” was my mantra growing up and I couldn’t think of a better dream for me. I’m not talking about pulling a Dugger, but I wanted at least 4 kids, if not more. Just a house full of children running around, me ragged and tired, but overjoyed. The doctor says I’ll be lucky if I am able to have one more.
“There’s always adoption and surrogates.”
Generally it’s these people who know nothing about costs and legal matters. These options are not always available to everyone.
I think what hurts the most is that I have to look at my little girl when she asks me where the ‘baby’ went and why she doesn’t have a sister and try to come up with some sort of child-friendly response and then look at my Husband, who wanted a house full of kids and try to articulate ‘I’m sorry’ that I let him down. I am 26, at the supposed height of my fertile years and have to say “I’m infertile”. I never thought that phrase would ever come from me. I’m not embarrassed or ashamed. I have come to know many people who are infertile and are suffering from what I am suffering from. It’s just an overwhelming sadness, guilt and grief that is so very hard to explain, comprehend and come to terms with.
After 2 years of trying to get pregnant, I have found an online community that has truly helped me realize I’m not alone and one blogger in particular, Practical Katie and her post “When One Isn’t Enough” really did help me understand this. And to my readers, your kind words have really helped pick me up when I have been feeling down. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.