Some Things Never Change
There's nothing like years of infertility to change a person. I suppose my infertility is different because we have eventually achieved success. I can't imagine what it would be like otherwise, and to assume would be insulting to those who are at that point. Instead all that I know is from my own experience so I'll speak from there.
We started trying to have a child in 1998. For our anniversary, we both exchanged cards that said we'd like to have a baby. I had escaped from Arthur Andersen and the 70 hour weeks. Matt was only a year away from graduating college. We had bought our first house, had a good dog, and my sister had moved back to my mother's. I had also stopped taking the pill a few months earlier. That Halloween we went out with our friends (who now have 2 kids) and I was joking how without the pill it was like skeet shooting, "Release the Egg" and then the rifle shot. It was fun. I bought What to Expect and Girlfriend's Guide and read the first several chapters of both. I joined an online bulletin board and gained some new cycle buddies. Our cycle group had some goofy name like Summer Sweetpeas. My mother had 6 kids and my father had 9, so how could I not be super fertile. And Matt, well check him out, he's all man, super masculine, very strong, fantastic in bed, has to be super fertile as well. This won't take long at all.
Not long after starting the ttc (trying to conceive) bulletin board, I learned about charting. I bought the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility and started taking my temperature everyday. We timed our sex and I put pillows under my hips. It was all so cute and still very hopeful. I'm the perfect student. I followed everything I was supposed to do and knew it would soon lead to success. By following these tips I felt I was going to get us there sooner rather than later, and all under our control.
But it didn't work. Cycle buddies graduated month after month and I was still there. I studied my charts and changed our sex to every other day and started on the Robitussin. There's nothing I can't accomplish as long as I just try harder.
Eventually I lost some of that innocense as we started doing tests and it was quickly determined that I have PCOS and Matt's male factor was such that we were told to go directly to IVF. How do you switch gears that fast from trying at home to IVF? I could tell you that I was really depressed, but I was really in complete denial. I still believed that we could do this without all that. Besides, we didn't have the money for IVF anyway. I shoved the thought away and refused to acknowledge it.
After that comes the months of testing, some physically painful like the HSG and some just things that you have to do. A little clomid renewed my optimism, but a few months of negative HPT's shot it back down. I got tired of reading about the successes of the other women online. There were those that got pregnant right after joining the group. There were also those who gave all credit to praying, being positive, or one well timed night of passion. They weren't trying nearly as hard as I was. They didn't know about reproduction nearly as much as I did. I was a good student. I did everything I was supposed to and more, yet it wasn't working.
Eventually we went on to IUI's. Hope resurfaced. Surely our time was here. The first IUI, Negative. The second IUI, Cancelled. The new second IUI, Negative. We took a month off. I was losing hope. If it didn't work with 6 eggs, how could it ever work? My mind calculated the new possibility of failure and it was very high. Yet, what were my options? We couldn't afford IVF and we knew natural cycles or those with drugs alone didn't work. We did a third IUI, and the doctor told us that there was no chance it would work because of the male factor and that we needed to go straight to IVF. His exact words were "wasting our time." Minutes later the IUI was performed and I had 20 minutes to lay on that table and think about it. Under that exam table was a big black sea, with wave after cold wave crashing over me. I couldn't shiver and couldn't leave. Although there was no hope, I was the good student. I did everything right. I would lay there my 20 minutes so I could go home to cry on my couch.
I don't remember much about the next two weeks. I don't know how I got through work. I don't know what else I did besides cry. I remember laying on my best friend's couch watching the Super Bowl trying to just be normal. Her stupid friend Keller found out we were having trouble and told me to use a turkey baster. Normally such comments are so easily ignored. I smile at their blissful ignorance and think how wonderful it must be to go through life never having a clue. But when you're sitting in the pit of despair, such a comment can hit right on target. My shield wasn't up, it was forgotten in some corner. I was an easy mark.
Two days after releasing my rage on our RE, I got a positive pregnancy test. The first one in my life. I could say that I broke down crying, but I didn't. Actually, I stopped crying. I didn't believe it. Obviously the test was broken. I finished packing for our Valentine's weekend and soon we were in our friend's car on the way to an inn. I spent the next few hours quietly thinking about it. How could it be? Was it really there? It was really faint.
At the inn, when we were supposed to be dressing for dinner, I took another test. Secretively. In case it didn't work. Besides, who was I to have hope when I knew there wasn't any? It was positive. I left it on the sink and left the bathroom to see my lover sitting on the bed. He asked what I was smiling about as I straddled him. "I think I might be pregnant." He stopped smiling. "I took at test, and there's a faint line." He still looked at me seriously like I was about to hurt him. I got up and retrieved the test from the bathroom and showed it to him. "Look." I smiled. He looked. He looked at me. Then he smiled and we laughed and laughed until tears came down our faces.
I call it success except it's not the right term. It doesn't really feel like our victory. We didn't conquer infertility. It didn't come from anything that we had done because we did everything the same as before when it had failed. It was just luck. Just a mystery. Something that happened and may never happen again sort of thing. Still out of our control and no advice for next time around. Still very infertile.
This time, I don't believe that a positive test means baby. I held my best friend's stillborn daughter in my arms only 3 years ago. She was perfect except that she was dead. The same friend is now getting her 5 month old daughter with Down's ready for open heart surgery. I've had friends with miscarriages without any explanation. I don't believe in fairy tales. I have a hard time with happy endings. Maybe Cinderella married the prince after just one date to escape her horrible home life. Maybe the prince has a foot fetish in that he wanted to marry only the girl who fit into that shoe. What's wrong with us big footed gals? What's wrong with dating for a few years or even living together first? Did Cinderella and the prince ever have kids? You never hear about them. Maybe happily ever after is a lie. A way to end the story and get us to sleep before the rest of the real story gives us nightmares.
Being a pregnant infertile is better than the alternative, a not pregnant infertile. Yet, for me, this time it doesn't bring on with it the showers of happiness. Sure, I have happy times, lots of them. But I haven't bought anything for this baby. I haven't started cleaning out my office for the nursery. I only bought maternity clothes because I absolutely had to. I'm still scared that I'll have to go back to all those I told I was pregnant to and say that I'm not pregnant anymore. I'm keeping a mental list. The thought of telling my boss that I need maternity leave seems impossible.
I don't need anyone to feel sorry for me because I know things could be much much worse. I don't write out my heart for pity nor even understanding. It's more of a chronicle of my truths. The ultimate truth I've learned is that a pregnant infertile is still infertile. My heart is scarred and my journey has changed me. I can't take anything for granted and guard my hope in self preservation. Even now.