Today I was reading a fellow bloggers post about how infertility is shrouded in silence. I commented that I am much more open about my infertility now that I have a child than when I was struggling to conceive. She asked me why I thought that was and it really got me thinking.
When we first started trying to conceive I was so optimistic. I never believed that I would have any issues. All the women in my family are “breathe on them and get them pregnant” fertile. My mom had four kids, 4 healthy pregnancies, and according to her it never took more than a month or two to get pregnant each time. Her mom had 7 children, 8 pregnancies with 2 miscarriages and one set of twins, which was probably not all that uncommon at that time with prenatal care being nowhere close to what it is today. In fact, my grandma suspected a twin pregnancy but the doctor didn’t know until she was in labor.
As for myself, after 7 failed cycles I began to grow concerned. I was only 28 years old, why would I have this much trouble getting pregnant? So I consulted an OB/GYN when I suspected that I don’t ovulate during my cycles. I left that office with a prescription for Clomid and a diagnosis of infertility on my medical chart. I remember the dichotomy of that day. The diagnosis of infertility at the age of 28 filled me with despair, while the Clomid gave me a teeny glimmer of hope for the future.
I suffered mostly in silence, apart from my husband, I kept silent about my struggle. Why? I felt shame and embarrassment that I am a woman and I can’t make a baby. I also felt foolish for assuming that I would have no issues. For spending much of my 20’s being terrified of an unplanned pregnancy, like having a baby I didn’t plan for would be the worst thing I could imagine. In reality, wanting a baby and not being able to have one was the most difficult thing I had ever encountered.
I opened up a little bit when I lost my first baby, an ectopic pregnancy, that resulted in the loss of my left ovary (due to a cyst likely from the Clomid) and fallopian tube. In reality I only told my parents who told a good portion of my family against my wishes and a couple of close friends. They knew what happened to me but they did not know the effect it had on me. Again I was too embarrassed to really talk about it. I feared that my marriage would crumble because I couldn’t give my husband the children we both wanted so badly. At that exact moment, I really couldn’t have imagined what a rock my husband would be to me, seriously, that man is pretty amazing.
Sometime after I became pregnant for the second time, I really gave a lot of thought to the rationale behind my shame and embarrassment. I had felt broken but I realized I wasn’t broken, things just weren’t going to be as easy for me as they are for some women. I could have given up and let my diagnosis consume me. I could have dwelled in my misfortune for years, as it was, it took 6 months after the loss of my first baby to get the courage to try again. Something deep inside was saying “it’s not over until it’s over, kick infertility’s ass.”
I’ve become even more open about my infertility since the birth of my son. As soon as he was born people immediately began to ask when we were going to have another. I don’t know the reason exactly but I was just ready at that time to tell the truth, even to people I didn’t know well.
The truth was we weren’t 100% sure we wanted another baby and more so, we weren’t sure we could have another baby. It took a long time for us to get pregnant, even longer to have a successful pregnancy. We don’t know if we’ll get lucky again. So that is where we are. We’re hopeful that we can kick infertility’s ass one more time.