5 long years. That is how long it took us to become parents. Those five years felt like 50 years though. I'll never forget the pain I felt, and how empty I felt all those years.
I wasn't technically infertile. I actually got pregnant quicker than quick most times. Fertile Myrtle they called me, and I would cringe every time I heard it. My problem was that I couldn't stay pregnant and in those 5 years I suffered 8 miscarriages. I remember going to the Infertility clinic and being frustrated to hear that the options that most infertile couples had - were not an option. An IUI or IVF procedure would get me pregnant, but not keep me pregnant. My options were to get a surrogate, adopt, or keep trying and pray for a miracle. If you know my story you know we opted to keep trying and we got two miracles. Our odds were less than 1%. When you sit in an office and hear those odds it is truly heart breaking.
The first hardship of being labeled infertile would be the medical piece of it. Calling insurance, paying thousands of dollars for co-pays, deductibles, and prescriptions. Trying to get things approved, and figuring out how to financially cover things that aren't was tough. I remember getting a genetics test done and it was going to cost me several thousand dollars if it didn't show anything. How do you make a decision like that if you don't have money to throw around? Lucky, I guess, for me - it showed a genetic mutation called MTHFR so insurance ending up covering it. Asking my husband to deposit his goods to check for sperm motility, yeah that was fun. Getting an HSG done and screaming in pain. Watching other moms get discharged from the office. Making excuses at work to attend more appointments than I care to remember. UGH. All of it.
The second hardship is baby clothes. I remember being at a craft fair and seeing the cutest onesie and running into the bathroom to cry. I could not handle it. It was a symbol of everything I didn't have and I just wanted to be able to buy that onesie because it was my turn. It wouldn't be my turn for a few more years. I still get sad when I walk past the girl section of the clothing store - not because boys aren't great - but because several of my miscarriages were girls and I still wonder what their little souls would have been like. Truth be told, if those babies had lived I wouldn't have the two amazing little souls that I have now (10 kids??? No thank you!). It still stings all these years later.
The third is hearing other moms bitch about being moms. Now that I am on the other side of this I am guilty as hell. But when you can't have a baby, you don't want to hear "just be glad you don't have to get up all night". Because when you feel empty - you would give ANYTHING for the chance to be up all night rocking a crying baby. When you do though - you will have to fight through the sleep deprivation to remember that you wished and dreamed and prayed for that opportunity. Let's face it being a mom is HARD. Crazy hard, and crazy beautiful. I know you want all of that - the whole package. So my advice if you are still waiting for that wish or prayer, is to try and just enjoy your life at the moment. Because most of us DO have babies whether it's through medical procedures or through adoption. You will be here eventually and that is not to downgrade how heartbreaking your situation might be, but rather to just cherish the moment you are in - because you can choose to cherish it or choose to be miserable. Stay in bed all day with a book, book a last minute vacation, go out to eat, binge on Netflix. Tell yourself that you are indulging while you wait for your miracle. In this situation everyone needs to be kind. Be kind of the woman who aches for what you are complaining about, and be kind to the mother who is at her wits end and needs to tell anyone to help herself get through it. No one wants to hurt the other - it just isn't a good situation.
The fourth is the dreaded 2 week window and the loads and loads of pregnancy tests. Then the heartbreak that comes when aunt flow comes back for a visit. A whole lot of emotions happen then. My poor husband. The 2 week window was actually a great time, because I was excited that I might be pregnant. Not knowing was sometimes easier than knowing. For me getting a positive pregnancy test actually created more worries, followed by the worry of whether the baby would make it. That whole thing sucked. Like a bad rollercoaster of emotions that you can't get off.
The last and hardest thing of going through infertility is watching everyone around you get pregnant. It really doesn't matter who it is - it breaks your heart. I dreaded baby showers, and anytime a friend called to announce a pregnancy in those years, I acted poorly and it left me depressed for weeks. Depressed not only because they were getting to experience something I longed for, but also because my pain took away my joy for their miracle. I think I felt worse about not being happy for them, than I did about the news hurting my feelings. Looking back, I still feel awful about that. I think my friends were afraid to break the news to me and I was often the last to know which hurt worse. My advice if you are pregnant and have a friend going through infertility now would be to tell your friend right away, let them know you are sensitive to their feelings and then give them space and time to process. Let them know it is okay to not be excited that you understand. Understand if they don't come to the baby shower, or rush to the hospital. I promise you they still love your baby, and it isn't for being selfish, but rather for being heartbroken.
Thankfully I was blessed with two active healthy boys eventually, and my husband and I both feel that we appreciate parenthood even more because we knew how hard it was for us to get there. We have spent many sleepless nights looking at our little ones and thanking god for their existence. We have also spent many sleepless nights, crying and fighting from a new found level of exhaustion. I hope that any of the couples reading this who are going through struggles, get to experience all of that too. The good, the bad, and the tired.