In fact, we didn’t do much of anything. We didn’t understand each other the way we do now, we didn’t communicate well, we didn’t take care of our bodies the way we do now…we weren’t even engaged. We were like two toddlers, equal parts whiny and silent, stumbling into this love thing, wanting to do it, with no clue how to.
And yet…it was so easy.
She came bursting into life, without a plan. When I was eight weeks pregnant, I was driving down Rt. 16 in Revere, and I knew, all of a sudden – she would be strong.
Flash forward 6 years. Flash forward through lots of hard emotional work. Flash forward through couples therapy, individual therapy, AA, Alanon, messes of our own making, and losses that somehow made our sharp edges smoother. We were ready.
The first 6 months weren’t hard. It would take awhile, we knew, as I was 35. I was over that invisible line that rendered me less than those mothers who had done everything right and gotten knocked up in their twenties. Or had they? I knew plenty of mothers who had borne multiple children early on and weren’t happy with their lives. ‘I wish I had gone back to school’, they would muse. But they had three kids. And I had one.
Our failed pregnancy last year sent me to darker depths than I had imagined possible. It’s a strange, strange thing to have life cease to exist inside of you. It was a failure of growth, on so many levels. It was akin to losing my Dad. But, akin to losing my Dad, the first three months were hard, and after that, I stopped feeling like the world was ending. I secretly named her Annabelle, from the Poe poem. She was a soul, fuck you, I would scream silently. Just because she was a mass of cells to you doesn’t mean she was nothing. Just because you had seven miscarriages and I had one doesn’t give you the right to laugh at my minute suffering. Science, science, science is your God as much as the one you detest.
We kept trying. A year passed, and nothing. We decided to get help around November of 2016, and our blood was tested. Our insurance didn’t cover certain tests, so we were limited in what we could do. I was told my thyroid was low, and so I took extra thyroid. They put me on Letrozole, which was supposed to stimulate something in my body. We did four rounds of that. Nothing.
We called our out-of-state insurance company to see if they covered IUI’s and IVF’s. No dice. We then found out that the average IUI cost 865$ without insurance, and the average IVF? 7 grand. We don’t have that kind of immediate money. So my desperation grew.
I had heard good things about acupuncture, so I pursued a referral for that. I soon found out that our delightful out-of-state insurance didn’t cover that, either, so I began to pay 67$ two times a week to have needles stuck in me. Along with this, were the following recommendations from my acupuncturist:
I stopped running, because running is “hard” on the nervous system. Running, may I add, i one of my favorite coping skills for depression and my body image issues.
I started eating congee every day. It’s basically brown rice boiled slowly, and it’s pretty goddamn bland.
I started taking two disgusting droppersful of herbs, three times a day. The tinctures contained scant amounts of alcohol (which is OK for someone in recovery if it’s prescribed by a doctor, but you better believe it gets the mind going with cravings).
I learned how my body was “too hot”. That I was “too stressed”. That I didn’t handle stress the right way.
And so, when Letrozole and extra thryoid and needles and herbs and stopping running and eating rice everyday for breakfast didn’t work, I started to beat up on myself.
That should work, right?
Maybe if I wasn’t so ambitious, I could get pregnant. Maybe if I could just calm down, like all those emotional idiots say, it would happen. Maybe if I wasn’t an alcoholic and depressed in my twenties, my life would have been seamless and perfect and “look right” and I’d have three kids, playing with each other now. Maybe it was because of my eating disorder. Maybe starving myself earlier on had made me barren. Yeah, it was definitely my fault. I screwed up the timeline, and now I’m paying for it. Either that, or it’s some kind of sick karma for all the wrongdoing I caused others.
You see, my mind works so fast, I start to think about how maybe “my kind” isn’t meant to reproduce. That “my kind” doesn’t have what it takes to survive and is too needy and too emotional and doesn’t fit in with the rest of this world.
Long story short? Infertility can take you to some dark places. And John and I feel all these feelings whenever we see a pregnancy announcement or when you deliver your baby. And it’s not something you need to feel guilty about. But as much as you need to show off pictures of your new baby, we need to talk about this.
The irony of having children later and having difficulty is nothing new; we realize this is an age-old story. As people become more educated, and wait longer, childbearing is just more difficult. At the end of the day, I know there isn’t any wacky karma shit involved. It’s just age.
We (I think I, more than John) have arrived at the point where adoption is an OK, accepted thing in our mind. But as much as I know there are many children out there that need to be taken care of, it is a loss to accept that you might not be able to have another of your own. Not as much of a loss as the woman who may never have a child, but a loss. Because we worked hard. And we were ready.
I will end with this: Yes, I write selfishly. I write so I keep my identity and myself sane. But more importantly, I write about infertility and the not-so-fun things because YOU deserve to talk about them too. We have been taught to sweep these things behind closed doors and focus on the POSITIVE and that is a lie. The person who can reveal their vulnerabilities will inevitably be someone you connect to, because yeah, you struggle with that too.
Thanks for bearing with me.
(Image provided by Scientific American Blog Network)