Recently I’ve been feeling a growing need to express some of my thoughts about an issue that impacts more people than you might think. Infertility. Infertility fucking sucks. Trying to have kids is such a personal journey and one that just doesn’t seem to be talked about openly because it’s so personal. But not talking about it creates so much unbearable isolation and loneliness for those who are struggling through it. So here I am. Talking about it.
For those of you who are dealing with infertility issues and who can’t stand to hear another “happy ending” story, I can assure you, this is not one of them. As a woman who’s going through the brutal struggles of infertility, I can say in all honesty that I really don’t know if we’re ever going to be successful in having a child. So for anyone out there who is going through this too, don’t worry, this is not a story with a ‘and we’re finally pregnant’ ending.
I thought it would be good to share what people really shouldn’t say to a woman who may or may not be thinking of, or is currently in the process of trying to conceive. I can tell you that it is not helpful hearing stories about how couples have tried for years and years, invested thousands of dollars into trying to get pregnant, then somehow, miraculously they get pregnant after they just stop trying. It is also not helpful hearing “well enjoy the ‘trying’ part!” Or, “have you tried changing your diet?” Or, “it will happen when it happens”. “At least” statements are not super supportive either. Trust me, these are not useful. What IS useful is just listening. Empathizing. Not judging. And just being supportive.
You know when I first saw James in the ICU after his accident, one of the first things I thought was that I CAN’T lose him. We never even had the chance to have kids! I thought if he had to die and we had kids, at least I would still have a part of him with me. I guess that’s why I’m struggling so much with the fact that I can’t seem to have kids.
For a lot of people with CF, facing the fact that we may die prematurely is a reality. I’m too practical not to think about how this disease will likely be what kills me. I know. This just got real heavy. Sorry. I don’t mean it to seem like I’m having a pity party for myself. I guess I just thought that if we had kids, then at least there would be a part of me left behind in this world.
Please don’t feel sorry for me. That’s never the point of putting my thoughts out there for everyone to read. I just hope that by putting this shit that’s been floating around my brain out there, maybe it will create less loneliness and less isolation for others who might be going through the same thing. And in doing so, if I can find the same type of release I have often felt from past blog posts, hopefully I’ll find my way to feeling more peaceful. I should also say that this journey is my husbands and mine alone. It’s not the same as others who may have very different opinions and experiences. These are just my thoughts.
Going through the process of trying to conceive is incredibly personal. For us, even deciding we wanted to become parents was a painstakingly and well thought out process of weighing the benefits against the potential sacrifices since, well we’re not your average couple. We struggled with this decision for so long because we know what a great responsibility it is to become parents and we’ve already got baggage that we would never want a child to have to deal with. I know full well that my health will probably suffer if and when I become a mother. And James’ ability to handle stressful and overwhelming situations has definitely changed since his accident. But, we were (and are) willing to make all the sacrifices you make when becoming a parent because of the simple fact that - we want to have kids. I’ve wanted to be a mother my whole life.
When we did finally decide to take the parental plunge, I knew it wouldn’t be straightforward since fertility and CF don’t mix terribly well together. So I knew I shouldn’t expect an easy fertility road ahead.
Surrogacy seemed, and still does seem, like the most practical and responsible option since there’s always a good chance I’d be put on antibiotics that would potentially harm a fetus. Pregnancy would also be pretty hard on my health, which has already been pretty up and down for the past 5 years. But I could deal with that. Not having the pregnancy experience was a definite bummer, but I want to be a mom. I want to be a healthy mom, so if that’s my ticket, then I’ll take the surrogacy route any day. It’s also helped that I have truly amazing people my life who have offered their uterus to me. So although it’s not my first choice, it’s the option I’m taking and I feel incredibly fortunate to have this be a choice that I get to make. So having made that decision, although it took us a long time to get there, we were on our way to IVF since that’s what is necessary when using a surrogate.
Before our first attempt I had no doubts that IVF would work. I had no reason to think that my eggs were poor quality and in low quantities. I thought that for woman my age who happen to be using a surrogate, why shouldn’t IVF work? I mean, when you do IVF you usually get multiple babies right!? Reality check. Things are not always what you see portrayed on television. One womans fertility journey is usually completely different than another’s.
I’ll spare you the details of where our fertility issues lie but I will say to any woman out there, single or not, if you have even the slightest desire to have children at some point down the road, get the blood test that tells you how your egg reserve is doing. Just so you know. If someone had told me when I was younger that at 32 years old I would have few and poor quality eggs I would have never believed them. But at least I would have had the opportunity to freeze any eggs I had.
After five years of wanting and trying for a baby, I am left with feelings of not being good enough, being inadequate as a woman and that my body has let me down. I know in the grand scheme of things, this problem is not that relevant or worthy of problems. But I’m just so tired of feeling like my body is letting me down. And I have to wonder; am I not supposed to be a Mom?
There are times when I’m filled with such overwhelming sadness deep down in the pit of my stomach. Every time I see a happy pregnant woman walk by or hear of a pregnancy announcement or see those cute little baby pictures on Facebook, my heart shatters a little more. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t in any way blame parents for posting those adorable photos. I’d brag like crazy if I had a kid! Look out Facebook world, here’s my beautiful child! I mean of course I’d post photos of my kid on Facebook. It’s not even really about that. It's just a reminder of the fact that despite our best efforts, we are not even close to having a child. I’m so envious of those that seem to have everything they ever wanted. But envy never gets you anywhere does it.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m incredibly grateful for everything I have in my life. I think I would have lost it a long time ago if I didn’t have the perspective I have. But infertility is harder than I ever thought possible. How presumptuous and arrogant of me to think that fertility was never going to be an issue.
It’s ok though. I’m fine. We still have options. I should know by now that the plan I had for my life may not come to be a reality. In the meantime, I will use what this experience is teaching me and continue to be grateful for what I have. A supportive husband, an amazing family, and thoughtful and encouraging friends. AND a dog that farts like a trucker but has the best personality!