I don’t just sympathize – I truly empathize with you. I feel your pain. I walked in your shoes. Whatever you are going through or feeling right now, I probably experienced it:
…..Miscarriages, adoption paperwork, IUI, IVF, Clomid, Follistim, Bravelle, Lupron, progesterone suppositories, 1.5” needles, glass vials, cysts, insensitive comments from strangers or non-strangers, meeting with social workers to prove that my house was suitable for children, getting fingerprinted at the police station like a criminal to prove that I was suitable for children…
…Spending $1500 out of pocket at the pharmacy for one month’s medications, enduring laparoscopic surgery for endometriosis, waking up in agony after egg retrieval surgeries during IVF cycles, wasting thousands of dollars when my period started and that cycle didn’t work, breaking down in tears at family parties, screaming in pain during not one but two HSG procedures (barbaric), blood tests every other day, vaginal ultrasounds sometimes EVERY day…
…Genetic testing for me and for my lost fetus, trying to change everything from the lotions I used (parabens!) to the temperature of the water I drank (the ayurvedic doctor said only hot water!), crying in Wal-mart because I saw a poster of a baby, wanting to run over the “stork parking” signs in parking lots, hating my body because it couldn’t do something that teenagers/ out-of-wedlock couples/ drug addicts can do by accident… (And I’m worrying about the kind of Teflon on my pots?!)
Did I forget anything?
The whole thing was infuriating, and it made me feel powerless over my life and my body and my future. I wanted more than one child, and the clock was ticking. I even listened to my doctor say, “Well, if it hasn’t happened in five years, it’s probably not going to.”
So, yeah, I get it.
But, I am here to tell you something. I not only survived infertility, I kicked its butt! I never want to dull the pain of what happened to me, because I want to support those who are coming down the infertility path behind me. I want to be a small source of hope for you. Everyone is probably telling you stories (like “My friend so-and-so…”), but I don’t want to be that person. I just want you to know that I felt how you felt at one point, and now it’s over. It’s over. And it will be over for you someday too. I know it.
I experienced all of those things, and more. After 13 rounds of fertility drugs, 2 rounds of IVF, miscarriage, and adoption, I now have three beautiful boys. Although we haven’t used birth control in nearly a decade, none of those children were conceived in my own body. One of them came to us through adoption, and two of them came to us (simultaneously) through IVF. All of them have souls that belong in this family.
While the acute pain of infertility has ended, I refuse to forget about it. I think I know what you are feeling. And that feeling won’t last forever.
I reflect on my infertile time each day at naptime, when I settle my three big baby boys on my lap for their milk. Combined, they weigh almost as much as I do. They take up all the space on my big rocking armchair. My lap literally cannot hold them all. I get weepy and emotional each day during this rare few moments. It’s the only time of day I get to cuddle them all. I think of a scripture each day during this time: “I will…open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” (Malachi 3:10) That scripture runs through my mind as they try to sit there on my lap because there is literally “not room enough to receive” them all. My arms are full. My lap is full. The windows of heaven opened, and, I must say, we worked really really hard to open them.
We may have never had this lap full/chair full/ house full of children if we had not prayed, or had miscarriages, or done the adoption paperwork, or decided to do IVF twice. I don’t know. All I know is that, in my case, I had to wait. I had to wait and learn and be patient and work really hard. But, most of all, I had to break. I didn’t bend when I was supposed to bend. I was not a strong branch. Eventually, instead of bending, I broke. But after that, I accepted my life/journey/path/challenge (ugh, each of those word choices is equally as cheesy as the next). I reached a state of peacefulness and true patience somewhere around the eight-year mark – and that’s when my children started arriving.
There was not room enough to receive them.
[And, yes, I do know that the verse from Malachi is about tithing, not IVF.]
10 thoughts on “To My Readers Who Are Struggling with Infertility”
Oh my beautiful young friend, I walked your path so many years before you. We literally went broke with the cost of the fertility treatments. You know my 15 year in the making, joy of my life, miracle/mistake. He’ll be 16 next Monday.
For 15 years, I prayed and pleaded and kept going back for more treatments/abuse. I still cringe remembering the guttural demonic sounding cuss word I threw at the Dr when he asked if I was still with him while he performed that first HSG. Grant you, I was only 23 and was passing out from the pain. I don’t really remember the pain sensations of childbirth, but after 27 years I still cringe thinking about that HSG cold steel table and…. shiver to think. For those of us who survived Lupron therapy the good news is, it was tougher than real menopause. The hot flashes I get now that I’m past that magic half century mark are easy compared to what I endured on those shots. Same goes for the mood swings that alienated my loved ones.
I had a near nervous breakdown when they made me nursery leader and I miscarried 3 weeks later. Church leaders couldn’t understand why it was such a big deal, I “needed to get over it” After all, if I wasn’t getting pregnant and staying pregnant, it must be “Gods will.” I tried my best to ignore the “well meant commentary” and I clung to my sanity by teaching early morning seminary classes and attending the temple weekly. Those weekly temple trips were where I felt the strongest that I was to be a mother here on Earth. The years of telling myself its OK, were sort of working until I ended up with a tumor and a few cancer cells. Then started a cycle of heavy drugs and some of the procedures you discussed with a few others.
For those of us that have gone the distance, you know you get to the point where the doctor says this is the strongest thing we have and this is the last time we can give it to you legally. You are on the last week and still have no eggs developing. It’s Thursday, and doctor says, “Here is your refill script. Don’t worry about the ultra sounds over the weekend we are at day 19 and there is nothing measurable happening. Come for a blood work and sono on Monday.
I got to the pharmacy so depressed that another $800 for my copay on the shots would likely be just a means of making me cranky and irritating my already cystic ovaries. Oh the shock when I found my script was only $600 because there was a new generic version of my drug. If I wanted the name brand I would have to pay the full $2400… gulp, deep breath, shed a tear and take the pretty purple box of glass vials that he promises are the same drug.
Heaven help me, it couldn’t be the same drug. 4 vials a night that burned like fire going in. I was so sick after the 2nd dose I almost gave up. Heart racing, face flushed nausea so bad I thought I was going to die. But I took those shots, went to the lab on Monday and waited for my Doctor to call. Call me she did! My estrogen was high enough to cause a stroke and I had 32 eggs. But she was afraid my now grapefruit sized ovaries would rupture. It seems the bright purple box was the next generation drug, not generic… I had taken an dose nearly 3 times the recommended dosage in an I.M. syringe instead of the cute little subcutaneous skin deep needle suggested on the undelivered paperwork. It was suggested I sue the pharmacist, however his error gave us 2 little men. One of which did not make it to term, but that is a story for another time.
I’ve held so many other women’s hands as they have walked our painful path over the years. I stopped promising them it would happen for them too, I knew within 2 years we would never have another. I lost my first ovary a week after 911. I ached to have more children, but I did give up all hope. After having 11 abdominal surgeries to repair problems caused by a large multiple pregnancy and the years of abusive treatments to uncooperative reproductive organs there wasn’t enough left to successfully carry a baby to term. There was no money to make the attempt, and I almost bled to death delivering the miracle/medical mistake that lived. I’ve given up on even having the energy to try to raise a small child as an over 50 mom. I watch my almost 16 yr old young man working on his Eagle scout award, practicing one of his many instruments, or walking into his college classes and think, “It’s OK. It’s not what I planned or all I ever wanted, but it’s OK.”
Thank you for sharing your story! I miss you!
Thanks for your post. I think anyone suffering from IF can relate. I agree that for me, it was the toughest most challenging thing in my life, but it also became my biggest triumph, and showed me I had strength I never knew I had. Nothing in this world worth having comes easy, and so I was blessed in other ways. While many women complained about their twin pregnancy or caring for newborn twins I relished every moment of every day no matter how “bad” because for me, it was heaven. I am sure I would not have felt that way if I had taken a different path. Congratulations on your beautiful family 🙂
Thank you so much! Congratulations to you as well.
Thank you for this post. I only wish I’d stumbled upon it as I was trying to conceive. I didn’t go through as much as you… but I struggled nevertheless. There I was at 20 “not trying but not preventing” thinking that hubby and I were young, fit and healthy. Nearly a year later, wondering when it would ever happen and it did but quickly ended in miscarriage. Then clomid helped us conceive our daughter. Second time around and clomid was no longer “strong enough” for my uncooperative ovaries and so we commenced the injections, only to fall pregnant and miscarry again. Age 24 and finally on our 4th pregnancy we cleared 12 weeks and thought it was all smooth sailing… now I’m 28 weeks and have been in hospital due to complications for over a month. Never expected this… and I have those moments of WHY ME! But I read your blog and remembered that it’s not only me who has struggled to create my family! So thanks for your beautiful thoughts and what gorgeous children you have!
Thank you for your story! I will be thinking of you. Hugs!
Infertility (and all that goes with it) takes so much strength…or does it actually CREATE it? Hmm. I’ve experienced so many things relating to pregnancy and babies and miscarriages, that I don’t know what’ll come of me once I am actually DONE having children, as it has taken so much of my life thus far! 😛
Well-said! I agree whole-heartedly.
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