May 30, 2015 by Tammy
What’s infertility like?
Our family-building plan currently includes the assistance of one reproductive endocrinologist in Orlando, one reproductive endocrinologist in New York, one naturopath in Canada, one acupuncturist, one herbologist, frequent trips to the lab for blood draws, and a long list of supplements, Chinese herbs and medications I take each day. This is in addition to the work I’ve done with several dietitians.
We have recruited the assistance of so many professionals because we’re not sure why we can’t get pregnant. It might be polycystic ovarian syndrome. It might be circulation issues. It might be progesterone issues. It might be thyroid issues. It might be hormonal issues. It might, it might, it might. We seek out professionals from various cities, countries and backgrounds, in hopes that one of them might finally figure out the missing puzzle piece.
We squeeze in the many appointments whenever we can each week, which means dragging our daughter along or leaving her with our baby-sitter (who I am so thankful for). We constantly get new and conflicting information, and many days are spent bawling my eyes out as I wonder if having another biological child is in the cards for us. Sometimes I cry so much, I wonder how I even have the energy to cry anymore. We’re completely and totally exhausted and overwhelmed. At the same time, we are completely and totally determined.
I am one of the most thankful people I know, and the comments to “Just be thankful,” or any variation thereof, make my heart ache. If only you knew how much those comments hurt, as if I’m not entitled to my grief because of what I have, as if I must not be thankful if I’m so sad. Positive and negative emotions can reside within one body.
Under the circumstances, I’m as relaxed as I think is humanly possible, and the comments to “just relax” or “just go get drunk” make me realize I must spread awareness, teach people what it REALLY feels like to go through infertility. So maybe they will ask themselves, “Would I feel relaxed in this situation? Would drinking really improve a complex medical condition or speed along the healing process?”
I am often fatigued, depressed and hopeless. I am still dealing with the trauma of having a miscarriage after trying to get pregnant for two years, the sudden and sometimes unexpected outbursts of tears. At the same time, I must muster up energy to be my own advocate. To point out to my doctors, “Hey, what about this symptom?” And, “Hey, what about this lab result?” Which have many times resulted in answers that may not have otherwise been found.
I smile as yet another woman announces her pregnancy, because I really am happy that she gets to experience this miracle. But maybe I was having a few minutes when I finally wasn’t thinking about it until . . . Boom. In my face. Deal with it. Right here. On the spot. Because usually I’m told in person or on the phone and I have no time with which to process the complex feelings I’m experiencing. (Email, friends. Email is key in this situation.) And I grieve as it becomes all the more poignant that there is something wrong with my body, that I feel broken.
And I am also thankful and joyful for my family, my life, my health. I look at my 3-year-old daughter and think, “What an absolute miracle.” As she puts her arm around me as I cry, gently strokes my hair, and says in a gentle voice, “It’s ok, Mommy,” my heart aches. How I wish my tears didn’t worry you, sweet girl. How I wish I didn’t have to drag you to so many appointments. How I wish you didn’t feel the need to ask me, “Are you happy now, Mommy?” How I wish I could be present in every moment with you, instead of dealing with the potential diagnoses and to-do lists in my head. How I wish I had the energy to run and play with you more, like I did before I was going through this.
And thank goodness I have a husband with a heart of gold. Thank goodness we sometimes find the ability to laugh about it together. Thank goodness he can deal with the tears, the ups and downs, the little annoyances that make me disproportionately angry in my fragile state. Underneath it all, he sees my profound sadness, and he takes the time to understand it. He takes the time to do exactly what it is that I need: Listen. Hug me. Say, “I’m sorry.” And offer input and solutions when I ask for them. But he’s sad, too. “I miss my wife,” he said to me recently.
I miss her, too.
That’s infertility. In case you were wondering.