Growing up the thought of never being able to have children or that I would struggle with infertility never crossed my mind. Aunt Flo decided to her monthly visits the month before starting eighth grade. My cycles were like clockwork and I could have easily marked a calendar. The only time there was a missed cycle was during my heavy long distance training my senior year which was not a surprise because of the mileage I was logging. So, if you had asked the 17 year old me that I would have issues getting pregnant, I would have laughed.
You see, I come from a fertile family. My cousins seemed to have no problem at all getting pregnant (and continuing to get pregnant multiple times). My mom didn’t have any trouble getting pregnant so my genetics were ok, right? Even when I was diagnosed with endometriosis, I didn’t want count myself out because 70% of women with endo are able to get pregnant (sometimes with the help of fertility treatments) so my logical self found the statistics to be in our favor.
So when the decision was made to try to make our family grow to three, we were feeling positive. I had an understanding that maybe we wouldn’t get lucky on the first try but that was ok. We knew our time would come and it would be our turn to make a baby announcement that so many of my family members had made.
When you start trying to conceive (TTC) begin to plan your time in 28 day increments, the calendar can move slowly. We had to change it up a bit as some cycles were 35 days, some were 60, so it seemed we were in a perpetual state of “what if.”
Time clicked by and knowing my pain from endometriosis would creep up not being on birth control, we decided to step up the game by tracking my cycles. Every day began by checking my basal body temperature and entering it in onto my fertility calendar. This calendar also dictated when we should be intimate. Surely with all that knowledge, I would be able to get pregnant right?
Months ticked pass. Soon it was six months. Then right in time for my 25th birthday, we were branded. INFERTILE.
I cried as John and I sat in my doctor’s office making decisions about what to try next. Trying to get pregnant became a roller coaster of emotions. We would start every cycle hopeful as we would be using a treatment/medications to increase the chances of getting pregnant. Midcycle we would be anxious about the multiple numbers (follicles, lining, etc) and what they meant for us. Then the next two weeks we waited with baited breath on what the verdict would be. I would over-analyze every feeling and emotion wondering if it meant I was pregnant. A small fortune was spent on ovulation and pregnancy tests. Then the day came – NOT PREGNANT.
This went on for three years. I am typically a fan of roller coasters but this was one that I would have liked to get off. We cried. We searched for answers. We wondered why we were infertile when no one else in our family was. Had we done something wrong? Everyone in our families could have kids so why couldn’t we?
It was hard to be surrounded with babies and pregnancy announcements in the three years that we waited. My struggle with infertility became very lonely. The “just relax” and “your time will come” comments which were once meant as comfort became words of hurt. We felt isolated as it seemed like everyone but us was able to get pregnant or others had gotten to a point where they didn’t know anything else to say.
Becoming a parent through the miracle of adoption has been a tremendous blessing. Words cannot describe how much I love my daughter and words cannot express the gratitude I have for her birth family who gave us the honor of being her parents.
However, it does not erase the scars left behind by infertility. In my case, I have a very literal and visible scar from my infertility. There are the still the questions of what it would have been like had we been able to get pregnant. Its not the same as saying we would have rather have a different family that didn’t not include adoption so don’t read it wrong. Those questions include what it would have been like to see pregnant on a pregnancy test or seeing the heartbeat on an ultrasound for the first time or feeling the baby moving. These are the experiences that we grieve. We would not trade our family for anything but please do not forget what we have had to go through to get here.
This week is the National Infertility Awareness Week. Please check out more about NIAW week at resolve.org!