I originally posted this on the RESOLVE support site, about halfway into our journey. It was a means to vent back then, but I am hoping it will be informative and offer support now.
- I’m lucky, but I’m not: I absolutely love my young son, and truly appreciate the ability to have conceived him. However, I never imagined having only one child, and neither did my husband. My gut tells me that having two children is what is needed to complete our family. I know that those who are experiencing primary infertility would do anything to have just one child. Please try to put yourself in my shoes to see if you might just feel the same if you were in my situation.
- Infertility is expensive – We spent approximately $1000 to conceive our son. So far trying to conceive a second, we have spent somewhere in the range of $9000 on medication for ovulation, three IUI attempts, two miscarriage “repairs,” and a battery of tests to confirm that both my husband and I are “normal.” Our current insurance covered the miscarriages only. We are left with the diagnosis of “unexplained infertility.” We are moving on to IVF with genetic testing, which will cost an additional $30,000 or so. We are gambling – putting all of our cards on CCRM, a world class facility, hoping we’ll walk away winners.
- Envy and jealousy – Because I have a young son, I am constantly at places (parks, birthday parties, Children’s Museum, music class, swim class, the circus, play dates, ice cream shops, etc) where pregnant women and their children run rampant. While people experiencing primary infertility typically notice the pregnant woman, I notice her two, or even three children by her side. I compare the age difference in the kids, remembering how I was supposed to have kids two years apart as well. Then I was supposed to have kids just over three years apart. Now it will be closer to 3 ½ to 4 years if I’m so blessed.
- Announcements – I constantly wonder who the next one will be to announce her pregnancy. Will it be my 41 year old friend who had her first child at 39 (after 3 months of trying), or one of my husband’s MANY female cousins who seem to naturally breed, or any of a number of my friends who are probably working on number 2? I can’t describe what a stab in the heart it is when I hear or read one of these announcements. Although I am 100% happy for that person, I can’t help thinking “WHY NOT ME?”
- I’ve been able to control my life – I avoided getting pregnant for 16 years before we started trying to have our first. I dated a lot of guys, and got to know my husband for 6 years before we married. I traveled the world, lived in two different countries, went to grad school, ran a marathon, bought a house, and had a well-paying job. I was prepared. I was finally ready to put down some roots and set up shop. We were financially ready. I was sure all of my preparation would make this happen.
- Things that people say – There have been many wonderful articles and posts about this one. There probably isn’t one I can list here that those of us haven’t heard. I’ll list the ones that have been said directly to me:“Just relax and it will happen.”
“Everything happens the way it should.”
“Have you thought about adoption?”
“When it’s meant to happen, it will.”
“I have a friend who was about to adopt, and got pregnant.”
“I have a sister who was about to do IVF, and got pregnant.”
“I have a cousin who tried to get pregnant for 8 years and right when she gave up, she got pregnant.”
“You should be lucky for the one you have.”
“Why don’t you try that thing where they do it for you (IVF)?”
“Don’t stress out so much.”
While I appreciate people trying to help, I can tell you none of these, and I mean NONE of these help. In fact, they do just the opposite. They send people like me away crying, and wondering if we’re causing ourselves to not become pregnant – something that we shouldn’t be worrying about on top of everything else we’re worrying about.
- The pain – I just cannot explain how emotionally painful and isolating infertility can be. I have spent each month sitting on the bathroom floor crying, devastated by the thing I can always count on happening – my period coming. I have spent many hours driving to and from ultrasound appointments, blood work tests, and IUI procedures, only to walk away with nothing. I have been to an 8 week ultrasound appointment where I saw my perfectly healthy baby’s heartbeat, and then to the 13 week appointment where I saw him or her on the monitor “just resting” according to the ultrasound tech. I’ve been to Planned Parenthood for a D & C where everyone around me was having an abortion, and protesters were standing outside holding signs. I’ve had a mother with mental health issues not acknowledge my 12 week miscarriage, and who was not present for the birth of my first child, and who has never supported me throughout my entire life. I’ve had a young son who could not understand why mommy often cried, was sometimes unresponsive, and sometimes not able to get out of bed. I’ve had a husband who is very emotionally stable, and did not deserve what he was put through.
- The frequency of infertility – It is said that 1 out of every 8 couples in the US is infertile. That seems like a high number until you experience it yourself. You then realize how many others around you it has happened to, or is currently happening to. I’ve met someone in a professional networking group, as well as my son’s school, who are IVF veterans. They of course know many others who have experienced the same. We’re all over the place, whether people know it or not. And because people often view infertility as “shameful,” it doesn’t get talked about as often as I wish it would. I can’t describe the comfort I’ve gotten in going out to lunch, and for coffee with these incredible women, to discuss my “problem” and not feel like I’m the only one it’s happening to. I am grateful for CCRM’s support groups which have introduced me to others who are experiencing similar situations. I’m able to laugh, complain, and cry with these people, and leave the group feeling uplifted instead of shamed. My wish is that everyone who knows someone who is experiencing infertility (or who has had a miscarriage(s), to just be there for that person, to listen and not offer advice, to simply say “I’m sorry this is happening / has happened to you. How can I be there for you?” All we want is to feel a bit of normalcy from the “normal” population.