I am infertile. I am infertile and nobody knows why.
5 years. 3 different Fertility Doctors in 2 different countries. One surgery. A bunch of diagnostic procedures & tests. Endless questions. Countless blanks filled in, & forms signed. A dozen acupuncture treatments. Zero concrete answers. One bullshit diagnosis:: "Unexplained Infertility".
I grew up the 2nd oldest child in a household of four, and I always wanted to be a Mother. I loved babies and little children, and began babysitting neighbour's children at the tender age of 10. I played 'House' passionately with my best friend, pretending to breastfeed my plastic baby-doll; wistfully day-dreaming of a time when I would hold my real-life baby up to my breast. I would be the most wonderful mother, and my children would, of course, be the cutest and most wonderful children. I started secretly collecting & hoarding baby clothing in my late teens and early-twenties-- an adorable onesie or jumper here & there that was too cute to pass up. I'd stash them in the lower drawer of my nightstand, beneath all of my other secret, personal things. When my ex-husband and I first started 'trying', I had a niggling sense of something being awry. I, like many/most/all young people, had occasionally been sexually irresponsible in my youth. I'd made my fair share of bad choices in the heat of certain passionate moments, yet despite these lapses in judgement, I'd had the fortune of never getting pregnant.
Luck? Perhaps, but I wasn't so sure. A deep, dark, very absolute part of me was insisting that something was not right.
My ex and I pushed forward. We bought the ovulation tests, and the books, and I took my temperature every morning, and I kept little charts, and we let our whole life fall away & around this one goal-- to have a baby. But it didn't happen. After 8 months, I was sitting in the office of my (first) Fertility Specialist in Marin County, California. I was telling my story, a story that 5 years later would remain unchanged and tiresome. But right then, at that moment, I felt hopeful. I felt sure that this Specialist, with her Specialist Training and Specialist Knowledge would be able to peek under my hood, our hoods, do a bit of tinkering and-- VOILA!-- fix us. My husband had his sperm tested-- it was fine. I anticipated being pregnant within the next 6 months. We were terribly excited. A cute, perfect little baby!
Only, I wasn't pregnant in 6 months. Or 12 months. Or 24 months. Or 48 months, for that matter.
Somewhere in there, my first marriage withered on the vine before it had really even begun to sprout. 6 months after we had met with that first Fertility Doctor, my ex-husband fell in love with someone else and left me. It was complicated of course (as these sorts of things always are) but that's the long & short of it. He fell in love with someone else. I counted my blessings that this happened before we'd gotten pregnant and took some time off to lick my wounds & get my life back on track. It was a difficult time.
Fortunately for me, my now-husband entered the picture much sooner than I ever could have wished. The brother-in-law of my best friend, Jerred (my now-husband) had been briefed by my best friend about my fertility situation, and came into our relationship with his eyes wide open. He and I discussed the issue frankly early on in our relationship, and agree'd that we'd try not to think too much about it until we were serious.
Well, we got engaged in January 2013, and that's when things got pretty serious.
That spring, living back in Vancouver, BC, I started seeking help from Fertility Specialists again. Not because Jerred & I were ready for babies at that point, but because I figured it couldn't hurt to be proactive. I wanted to get to the bottom of my issues, so that when the time came for kids, I'd be ready. The first doctor that I saw asked her questions, ran some tests, and referred me to an reproductive endocrinology specialist, thinking that I might be dealing with tubal issues. I then sat on a wait list for quite awhile in order to have a diagnostic surgery done to look at my fallopian tubes & uterus. When I woke up from that surgery, still groggy from the anesthesia, I remember the Surgeon/Specialist coming to my bedside, patting my hand and telling me, "You are in perfect health. There is no reason why you can't get pregnant."
So I tried acupuncture. And I tried foul-tasting Chinese herbs that stunk up my medicine cabinet. And I tried drinking lots of water. And doing yoga. And positive thinking. I tried laying with my hips elevated after sex. I tried trying to strategically time my orgasms. I tried all the things, and yet another year later- I still not gotten pregnant. But, I did turn 31. And I did have a pretty big realization:: That I'm done trying. I am done investing my time, energies, worries, anxieties, tears, and efforts into getting pregnant. I'm done with Fertility Doctors who don't have any answers. I'm done with Acupuncturists who talk to me about my 'Liver Blood' and my chakras. I'm done with ovulation tests & charting. I'm done. I gave up the last half of my 20's to 'trying'. It consumed me. It consumed my relationships. I refuse to allow it to consume my 30's as well.
I am also done lying about, and glossing-over my fertility troubles. The hardest part of being infertile is not the expensive doctor's visits, and the poking and the prodding, and the wishing and the hoping, and the pain of seeing other people conceive their 1st, 2nd, and THIRD babies while you are still waiting on your 1st. No, the hardest part about being infertile is having to lie to people around you about being infertile. It's painting a fake smile on your face and saying, "Oh, we just don't know if we want kids...." and then having to bite back the tears while people natter on and on about how being a parent is so great, and "you'll-change-your-mind", and "You're so great with kids! It'll be a waste if you don't have them!"
I will not lie about my Infertility any more!
We still have options of course. There's IVF & there's adoption... and maybe one day we will decide we want to pursue one (or both) of those. And there's a slim chance that we'll miraculously conceive on our own, after all we are "in perfect health, and there's no reason why I can't get pregnant!" At the moment, though, I'm spent. The last 5 years have left me worn out, and (quite frankly) rather put off. There was once a time when I knew with absolute certainty that I wanted children. It was a certainty that came from the very core of my being. But somewhere along the way, I've lost a bit of that certainty. Maybe I'll wake up tomorrow and it'll be back. Maybe it's gone for good. I can't say for certain. All I can speak to is how I feel today. Today, I love my life. I love my marriage. I love my husband. Today, I am at peace with the very real possibility that we will not ever be parents. Tomorrow may be different, but that's for Tomorrow-Tamara to worry about. One day at a time.
For those of you who are also coping with Infertility- know that you are not alone. Remind yourselves that you are not the sum of the contents of your uterus. Remember that you are worthwhile, and wonderful, and whole even without children. And above all, don't get so wrapped up in 'trying' for tomorrow, that you forget to live today.
(PS-- For those wondering, my husband is wonderfully supportive and absolutely happy with this arrangement. For the duration of our relationship his stance has been that "he wants whatever I want" and could happily go either way when it comes to having kids or not. I am extremely thankful to be married to a man who does not pressure me in either direction, allowing me the freedom to really think about what *I* want. Also, yes, he has had his sperm tested. And his soldiers are marching.)
"A deep, dark, very absolute part of me was insisting that something was not right."