Monday, May 21, 2012

My Life: Infertility

I lie on my back and stare at the florescent lights overhead. I'm wearing a hospital gown, naked from the waste down. Small talk. Latex gloves do their job, then depart. The nurse  whispers good luck, and shuts the door leaving me to wait. And wait. And wait. It was all that waiting, and all the hormones that nearly drove me to insanity. Two weeks. Then the cramps would come, and inevitably the blood and tears.

It took nine months of hormones, ultrasounds, shots, and "IUI" (inter-uterine insemination) to conceive my second son, Evan. Zachary was also a "fertility" baby, but it only took four months of clomid to create him.

Now I am a mother of three biological children that I carried to term. I cannot say with a straight face that I truly understand infertility. I have only had a bitter taste. I have experienced the envy of discovering yet another friend was expecting, I have wandered the isles of Babies R Us searching for shower gifts wondering when it would finally be our turn.  I have felt rage at the site of a scowling teen, belly bursting with life in my OBYN's waiting room. Not fair. Not fair. But of course, I don't REALLY know.

I have met plenty of women over the years who have truly had to deal with infertility. They have spent tens of thousands of dollars on treatments that never worked. They endured miscarriages and hopelessness. This was not my path. I have been lucky.

My third baby came naturally and, thus was a much different experience. I didn't take pills. I didn't monitor my ovulation. There was no probing, no sterile visit with a nurse. It just happened. A gift. A gift so many never receive. If my "brush" with infertility taught me anything, it is not to take that experience for granted.

While I was pregnant with Julian I had an acquaintance email me in response to some Facebook whining that I was doing regarding morning sickness. She told me that I was lucky to be pregnant and that I should never complain about it. She told me there were women who would give their right arm to be in my shoes. I recognized this to be true, but was also angry that I was suppose to deny myself an opportunity to publicly express my excitement, worry, fear and discomfort to spare the feelings of others. I needed the support of my friends and family through my pregnancy, just as I did through my infertility.

So many people are quiet about infertility. It's a secret. It's shameful. You don't talk about it, and thus, you don't get much needed support from the world around. I'll tell anyone my story. I'll tell them because I want them to know that they can tell me theirs as well, and that even though I am a mother of three crazy boys,  some part of me understands the struggle. I will never forget those months of trying and waiting. The roller coaster of emotions. Those months will always be a part of who I am as a woman and as a mother. It was not a happy experience, but I can honestly say I do believe it made me more empathetic, more understanding and eternally grateful for my little birds.


  1. Not only has infertility traditionally been a taboo and private subject, but so has miscarriage and infant loss in the last stages of pregnancy. Everyone is hush-hush and no one knows what to say. There is a new organization here (a nonprofit network of social workers) geared toward helping women who are fighting infertility or multiple miscarriage, and bringing it to the forefront. It is run by a friend of mine, who has put her heart and soul into it, even though she is expecting her EIGHT child this week. She wrestled with infertility and then gave birth to triplets several years back. I applaud you for addressing it.

  2. A hard topic -- but I am so glad you shared. My sister had a miscarriage before each of her three children, completely unexplainably, and she told me she had no idea how many women have miscarriages until she started sharing with people. It gave her hope/comfort.

    I have several friends with fertility issues right now...what do you say? How can I be a supportive friend when I don't have a way to empathize? I want to be there but don't want to sound trite.

  3. Such a meaningful post. Our first, Finn, came basically as an accident. NO trying, not even really ready to be pregnant. Then we wanted #2. We tried for awhile, finally got pregnant, then miscarried and waited about 4 months for the miscarriage to be fully complete. And then it took months of trying to actually get pregnant again. Funny how it happens like that, isn't it?
    However, I have a very good friend who has been trying to conceive for years. At the same time that I had my miscarriage and was struggling to get pregnant with Phoebe, she was in the same boat--miscarriages and struggling-- but then I got pregnant and had that baby. And even though I already had Finn, I think that experience of me and my friend struggling together, and then me getting pregnant (while she didn't) was too much for her. We now send occasional emails, but she can't really bear to talk to me. Which is terribly sad for me, but I guess I don't really understand how she feels, now, years later, still without a baby.

  4. Before I had you, I experienced an awful, drawn-out miscarriage. I never got much support or sympathy. I was usually told "oh, you can have another baby". Well, I've been blessed with you and Erica, but I won't ever forget the little one who never came to be.

  5. So true, so true. After my oldest daughter, and then her twin sisters, I found out I had premature ovarian failure at age 36. The doctor kept telling me at least I was blessed with 3 beautiful girls - made me want to punch him in the throat. Of course I was lucky and happy to have my three girls. But did that mean I wasn't allowed to grieve? I wanted to be the one to decide when I was done. I did end up pregnant, 4 years later - a fluke. However, at eight weeks, it turns out it was a fluke that almost killed me - an ectopic pregnancy that ruptured. The grief of losing that little life, only overshadowed by the terror of almost losing my own life, was too much to handle for so long. And it still hurts....thank you for posting this. Sharing pain always helps.

  6. I understand the idea of being grateful for what you have when you're in a difficult moment -- like your morning sickness situation. I try it all the time. It's a valid way to look at life and if you can get it done, more power to you. But pain is relative, and people need to be acknowledged for whatever they're experiencing at the moment. Not ridiculed for not being grateful 24-7. I mean, at least I don't need to be ridiculed. It personally makes me nuts.

    I'm glad you got your babies, and I'm sorry you had to go through so much difficulty. But I'm sure you helped somebody today.:)

  7. There is all kinds of pain...but the one felt from the loss of a child is profound. I am fortunate to not have gone through such a tragedy, but so many women in my family have. That little life is always matter how many children they have or how much time goes by.

    Thank you for sharing your story.