If you are a woman who has spent your life imagining what it would be like to have a child, then you know how exciting it is when you finally decide that you are ready to make that leap. You are finally prepared to put yourself second. You are willing to make a child the number one priority in life. You are ready to get pregnant.
If you are a woman who has tried and tried and who has been unable to conceive, then you also know the veritable barrage of emotions that you encounter — grief, embarrassment, uselessness.
As a 27 year-old woman I have been married for almost three years and have been with the same man since I was a junior in high school. I can hardly remember a time when I didn’t want to have children with him. I cannot remember a time at all, for that matter, when I didn’t daydream about being a mother. I feel very strongly that we are all on this planet for a very specific reason and I have always thought that my reason was being a mother.
Every woman in my family is like a fertility machine. They get pregnant the first time they try. They get pregnant every time they try. Imagine my surprise when after a year of trying I still wasn’t pregnant.
You might not think about it often, but it’s a relative shot in the dark. It is amazing how many people get pregnant unexpectedly, actually. It has to happen one of three or four specific days which are often hard to pinpoint for many women.
Frustration sets in. Why me? Why can so many people get pregnant the one time they have unprotected sex while I’m doing everything ever suggested by doctors, old wives tales, myths, and the woman down the street who has eight kids?
When you spend a year trying to conceive and are unable, it is often considered an early sign of infertility. You (and your partner) are then subjected to every test under the sun, most of which involve full or partial nudity in front of one or more people, often with legs spread in a very compromising position.
For many, these tests reveal very little. Some slight hormonal imbalances, a “barely” low count here or there. These things all result in orders to eat better, lose weight, and are more likely than not accompanied by some sort of medication that will throw your body into complete turmoil — in my case, starvation tempered by the fact that the sight of food makes me sick. Exhausted but unable to sleep. Oh, and did I mention the hot flashes?
Another year goes by. I start to feel guilty. My husband and I have always planned to have children. The doctors believe it is likely something in my body causing the problem. As a woman, if I am not able to conceive, what is my purpose? I can say with absolute certainty that my husband does not hold even an ounce of contempt or blame for me. That does not hold off the guilt and feelings of uselessness. They rear their ugly heads on a daily basis.
With the guilt comes the worst feeling of all. When you want so desperately to have a child and cannot, you begin to begrudge the people around you the same happiness you want for yourself.
One of my best friends becomes pregnant. I am simultaneously happy for her and extremely bitter. Her baby shower is torture because not only do I feel angry that things are so good for her, I feel like a heinous person for even having these thoughts in the first place. I am angry at everyone, including myself.
The kicker of all of this? Stress, they say, makes it harder to conceive. Right. No problem.
So here we are, almost three years into the process (because that’s exactly what it’s become – a process) with no results. I am on the cusp of having exploratory surgery to see if there is something being missed. Fertility treatments are not an option for us. Adoption would be wonderful… five years down the road after we can save up the $25,000+ that it would take.
It would be nice for this to have a happy ending like me writing in all bold letters “I’m pregnant!” I’m not. But, I can say that taking the time to explore the virtual tidal wave of emotions that I’ve gone through, and am still experiencing, has made them much easier to weather.
That’s the key, really — acknowledging that you are angry or sad or depressed. Once you do, you validate the feelings and they are no longer so desperate. I urge every woman or couple out there to do the same. Talk to each other. Talk to someone else. Write a blog. Whatever you do, know you are not the only one, even if it feels just that way.