Finally Pregnant…With Science.

June 20th, 2014

With a lot of love, luck and hope, and even more medical science, we are finally expecting the 4th member of our family! Science Baby Due December 28, 2014.

 

In case you know me at all, you know that getting pregnant was not happening for us the last while. In fact, if not for the wonders of modern medicine, it wouldn’t even be happening now. However, science is great and sometimes, money CAN really buy a certain type of happiness. If you’re interested more in the process we went through to get this human being inside my body that post is over here.

If before you want to hear the science, you want to hear there story, here goes:

After BlogHer12 (August 2012), I, and the entire rest of the female blogging population in attendance came home with the same plan: get ye pregnant. Some had it happen immediately, some had it happen by surprise, and some took a normal amount of time to get pregnant. I was none of those people. By December of 2012, I wanted to talk to the doctor, just to see.

He told us to come back when it had been 6 months (FINE I’ll play by the rules).

February 2013 we were in there immediately (patient I am not). By the end of February 2013, we had received some pretty devastating news about the state of our fertility. Despite getting pregnant once before, we were not going to enjoy the same fate again. We simply didn’t have the sperm count.

May 20130 we saw specialists – first a urologist, and then a reproductive endocrinologist (an RE is basically a fertility doctor). They went over our fairly limited options – we try an experiment to see if we can’t get ourselves into a normal range, or we skip straight to ICSI (Intracytoplasmic sperm injection). ICSI is basically IVF, but they inject each egg with a single sperm. SCIENCE! We are otherwise given a 10% change of getting pregnant naturally over 2 years’ time (so, a 0.46% chance per month).

From June 2013 – September 2013 I obsess over every bit of information on the internet, cry, rage, make our lives hell, chart and time our sex life like a militant orgasm dictator. I’ll spare you the details but when you live your life in 2 week increments, surrounding the upcoming sex window, obsessing over if you ovulated, symptom obsessing, and then being crushed by your period even though you know that it’s coming, it’s not enjoyable. I did eventually seek professional help for my insanity (and marriage), and it was a good idea.

November – December 2013 we decide to try said experiment (a series of self-injections my husband underwent 3x per week for 3 months), and it fails. We sort of knew that might happen but you always think the universe will throw you a bone (delusional optimism). With every passing month our daughter gets older, I recalculate what the age gap will be if we get pregnant this time. I make deals with the gods. I look for signs. I beg, barter and plead with anyone in the cosmos who might be listening. I try to rationalize it; I try to embrace the single child life. I try anything to feel normal again. I kind of hate everyone.

In January 2014 – February 2014, it’s time to accept this isn’t going to happen on its own. It’s time to realize we’re not going to be “those people” with “that story” of how they tried so hard for so long and just when they gave up it happened. No matter how many times I told myself we’d given up, it wasn’t true. It’s time to prepare to go through an ICSI cycle, and see what happens. It’s expensive, it will be hard on us physically and financially, but the alternate isn’t exactly doing great things for our family. We get prepared. Forms, money, tests, procedures, plans, appointments, tests, tears, long talks, fears, stress and more tears. The prospect is daunting.

March 1, 2014, we get going. There is a whole post on the actual cycle and process so I’ll spare you most of the details. However, I started birth control pills for the first time in 6 years (ironic, right?) and had the most relaxed and enjoyable month I’d had since August 2012. Removing the possibility we might possibly maybe possibly get pregnant was amazing, even if only for a short time.

In April 2014, following what turned out to be a pretty straightforward cycle), we are PREGNANT with our little science baby! The reality hardly sets in for a while. As I write this, we STILL can’t believe it and we’ve both seen and heard the baby in there. Even when the nurse calls me to give me the news I can’t muster excitement. Waiting on the call was agony, but when I received it, time stopped. I couldn’t breathe. It wasn’t real.

At the end of May 2014, we finally tell Everly what is up, and some of what has gone on. She knew the doctors told mommy and daddy they couldn’t have another baby, so we explained to her that they helped us. She’s thrilled to be a big sister, and immediately convinced the baby is a girl who she will name either Annabelle or Permia. We will discuss this with her later (the names change daily, some are really hilarious).

On June 16, 2014, we hit the long anticipated 12 week milestone and still cannot believe it’s real, and one June 18, we complete our first trimester screening and are told the baby is healthy.

So that’s how that happened. If you’re interested in the actual process, I wrote about that here. Complete with some gnarly pictures of self-injection and a count of how many people were up my vagina to make this baby (hint: none of them are married to me). For now, I need to go find something to eat.

Science Baby says hai!

Science Baby says hai!

 

Turns out, when you’re an auntie to be, you have to drink for 3…these two are working hard not to let us down.

Shirts read "I can still drink". Brats.

Shirts read “I can still drink”. Brats.

 


The Making of a Science Baby

June 20th, 2014

Alternately titled, no penises were inserted during the making of this science baby….

If you’ve ever known anyone to do an IVF cycle, most of what I’m about to tell you won’t be a shock. However, I’m surprised by how few people actually KNOW what it entails, so I thought I would share for what it take to make a science baby. Plus this feels like the ultimate oversharing opportunity.

What we actually did was ICSI, intracytoplasmic sperm injection. Once the eggs have been retrieved, a sperm sample (my husbands) is washed and the highest quality sperm are individually injected in the each egg. Then you see which fertilized and which ones keep producing. The background to how we got here, is in this post.

Here is a handy chart of stats from the cycle,  in case you don’t want to know the nitty gritty:

Total days on birth control pills 23
Total days of self-injection 8
Total number of blood vials drawn 32
Total vaginal ultrasounds 8
Total procedures I underwent 6
Total self-injects given when not at home 4
Total rounds of antibiotics 2
Total vaginal progesterone suppositories 174
Total number of people in and around my vagina who are not married to me 15
Total number of pounds gained that weren’t baby weight 5

Good times, right?

The birth control pills are pretty straightforward so I’ll spare you any details. The very first thing that happened in all this happened in July of 2013, when I underwent a procedure called an HSG (first 2 people in and around my vag who weren’t married to me, check!) and a round of blood work. You can read about that here.

Before we got started with the fertility clinic, I was also sent to do a complete blood work up, including a review of all my infectious diseases. They took 13 vials that day.

Once we were given a green light to go, I underwent a pretty standard ultrasound with what I will henceforth refer to as a dildo cam. It’s technically a “transvaginal ultrasound wand” but they literally put a condom on it before each procedure and it’s pretty phallic so, dildo cam it is.

Dildo cam condom stash!

Dildo cam condom stash!

This process just counted my antra-follicle count (how many eggs were sitting in my reserve, to determine if I had average or below average for someone of my age) and looked at the thickness of my uterine lining. Everything looked good here!

Mount up!

Mount up!

The next was a saline sonogram which wasn’t as bad as the HSG but something I could live without. It’s saline into your uterus so they can see it. It causes contractions like in early labour. Plus you’re half nude and watching it. More people up the vag, more dildo cams and SURPRISE, you have an intrusive fibroid and are going to need a hysteroscopy to have that removed.

The nice thing about a private clinic is things move fast. We were set up for the hysteroscopy within a week and I was there for my 4th up the vag procedure. I had to use mistoprostol to dilate my cervix (which is also used as an abortion drug). I got a nice little cocktail of oxycoden and Ativan and 2 very nice ladies showed me on a screen a procedure in which they snipped a 2 cm fibroid out of my uterus. There was a LOT of uterine contraction with this, especially because they shoot air up there so they can maneuver around. This was uncomfortable but totally tolerable. I was at home in bed with a selection of snacks 2 hours later and back at work the next day.

I spotted for basically an eternity after that process, which was terribly inconvenient. Pretty soon I was off the birth control and in for my baseline blood draw and SHOCK, another dildo cam. This is where they check hormone levels and determine your medication protocol. I was deemed likely to over respond, which meant I would need extra monitoring. We went in for a brief training where a nice nurse showed us all the ways in which I would inject myself. I left hoping my husband was able to listen, because after stabbing myself and bleeding on the training supplies, all I could hear was buzzing in my ears. We left that day with a selection of medications and tools. This was really happening.

The week we were set to start injections, my husband’s grandmother died (on our daughter’s birthday) and had him travelling 4 provinces over to attend a funeral. This left me on my own with a 4 year old and injections to give myself for the first time. Lucky for me, I have amazing friends and one was able to come over to play with Everly so I could have dedicated time to my first self-stabbing.

I sat in the bathroom sweating and anxious. I had to mix the one med with the right amount of saline, using the special Q-cap to move the liquid to the solid vial, then mixing and changing the cap for the syringe to a needle. I then had to set-up the inject pen for the second shot, properly putting in the needle and dialing up the right dose. Once I was finished, it was go time. I had The Thread on iMessage for back-up.

All Set Up

All Set Up

Here we go!

Here we go!

I managed not to pass out, but did realize I had forgotten to swab my belly with alcohol before the first shot so, texted my husband immediately that I was going to die. Aside from a little burning and getting an instant hot flash that lasted about an hour, this wasn’t so bad.

Vampire Shots!

Vampire Shots!

After math.

After math.

The next day, I had to attend my grandparents anniversary party, 4 year old in tow, and due to timing was required to do my injections in the bathroom at the party. This wouldn’t have been an issue had my husband been with us, but it was a bit nerve racking being my 2nd day on injects, and seeing that no one else knew. I managed with minimal panic, and the next several days were done without much excitement.

This continued on for 5 days. Every morning at 730am, I drove 30 mins to the clinic to have a blood draw, and because I was responding so quickly, a dildo cam for added effect. They wanted to be sure not to overstimulate me and risk cancelling the cycle.

On the 5th day, we added a 3rd medication to be taken in the morning, which is designed to stop your body from spontaneously ovulating all the follicles you’re working so hard to get to the same, proper and mature size. The first time I had to do one of these, I actually had to do it IN MY CAR. Timing man, with this it’s LITERALLY EVERYTHING. I did feel kind of bad ass when I did it, however I also hoped no one caught me shooting up in a business park parking lot at 815am.

Getting ready for the car shot.

Getting ready for the car shot.

Go time!

Go time!

So now we’re at 3 shots a day if you’re counting.

More blood draws, more dildo cams, more people up the vag.

On the 8th day, I was told I could trigger in the evening. The trigger shot is given approximately 36 hours before they retrieve your eggs so that you ovulate and they can aspirate them with a catheter which is, you guess it, attached to a dildo cam.

This is the mixing needle. Do not inject with the mixing needle.

This is the mixing needle. Do not inject with the mixing needle.

Fun fact: Pregnyl is made from the distilled urine of pregnant women. I envision them being force fed slurpees in a large warehouse.

Fun fact: Pregnyl is made from the distilled urine of pregnant women. I envision them being force fed slurpees in a large warehouse.

By this time, I feel like a turtle desperately searching for a hole. I am FULL of eggs. Walking hurts, sitting hurts, everything hurts. I can’t wear my clothes, I already look 4 months pregnant.

10 days after starting injects, it’s go time. I’m changed into my fancy gown, all my vitals are checked and I’m given an IV.

Ready to have these eggs retrieved...otherwise I'm looking for a hole in which to drop them.

Ready to have these eggs retrieved…otherwise I’m looking for a hole in which to drop them.

While I gown up the husband heads off to the porn room to make his contribution and is back waiting for me in the recovery area when I’m done.

Laying in a room with my legs in crazy stirrups, I remember saying hello to my Dr, his nurse, a resident and someone else…4 more people to the list of those around my vag. I remember his assistant telling me they were putting the conscious sedation medication into my IV and that I might feel sleepy. I remember thinking something really funny and I probably passed out cold with a giant, stupid grin on my face. I only hope I didn’t tell the RE that he looked like Aidan from Sex and the City and that if someone is going to make a baby in me that isn’t my husband, I’m glad it’s him (I totally said that I’m sure).

The next thing I recall I’m drinking water in the recovery area asking my husband if I had walked out there. He’s looking at me like I’m insane for even thinking I could walk. I wasn’t very coherent. We get a report: 12 follicles retrieved. We breathe a sigh of relief, I’m informed that my usual pea sized ovaries are currently the size of plums.

Within an hour, they have me up so I can use the bathroom. I take a minute to see how I’m feeling, and promptly puke up my water. GLAMOROUS BABY SCIENCE!

My hubs drives me home while I roll around in pain, puts me to bed and I sleep the sleep of 1000 tired women.

Recovery.

Recovery.

There is bloating and discomfort but I’m back at work the next day and things aren’t so bad (except still looking 4 months pregnant and being up 5 lbs.).

The next day, we wait on the fertilization report. The kids aren’t even really genetically complete human beings yet, and they are getting report cards.

11 mature eggs, 10 fertilized. SCIENCE BABIES!

It’s time to start my progesterone. Do you know what an effervescent vaginal tab feels like? Because I do. In fact, I know what 3 per day for almost 6 weeks feels like. All 174 of them. Certainly the most unpleasant part of this entire thing. I particularly enjoyed the 3pm bubble vag I got to do at work each day.

EFFERVESCENT?

EFFERVESCENT?

The next several days are a series of breath holding, hope and anxious phone rings. Every morning we get a call from the embryologist with an update on the eggs, and luckily everyday things are looking good. The goal is a 5 day transfer, when the baby has made it to blastocyst stage. Alternately, if they don’t think they embryos are high enough quality to make it, or if there is a clear winner in the race toward genetic supremacy, they will opt for a 3 day.

By day 4, we still have all 10 embabies, at varying stages of advancement. This is some really serious science and I won’t even get into all the details. Basically, you’re looking for the cells to divide at an average rate over the course of the days. We’re booked in for a Day 5 transfer on a Saturday. Once again, my friend comes to the rescue and takes Everly to her dance class so we can go and get impregnated.

Let's put a baby in there!

Let’s put a baby in there!

Back in my gown, back on the table, this time with my husband in the room. We talk to the embryologist who informs us we have one little leading embaby, and no others ready for transfer or freeze. Out of 10, only 5 look like they have a shot at making it to day 6, when they will cryogenically preserve them for use at a later time. This is actually above average results, so we’re still quite pleased.

Within 15 mins we’ve had a catheter guided impregnation. This time, they even skipped the dildo cam and use a uterine ultrasound wand. We watch on the screen as a tiny bubble appears in my uterus; a tiny bubble which contains the genetic material of an entire human being. Just like that, I’m PUPO (pregnant until proven otherwise) and we head back to the city for a quick lunch before going home to our daughter.

The little white dot is the air bubble around our blastocycst. Science baby!

The little white dot is the air bubble around our blastocycst. Science baby!

9 days go by and we wait. We are surprisingly calm, but I refuse to pee on a stick because every time I’ve done this in the past it’s been met with crushing disappointment. My birthday comes, and I spend a lovely day at the spa with my mom and friend, and eat an obscene amount of Chinese food later. 2 days after, I line up on a holiday Monday at 7:30am to get my blood draw to see if I am in fact pregnant.

I have no signs. No symptoms. Nothing. I have only a long string of painful disappointments in all things pregnancy to reflect on. I can’t even begin to let myself believe this could work. I watch my phone obsessively the entire day, knowing the clinic will call me. I cannot miss the call.

When I see the clinic number come up, I freeze. I am home alone with my daughter and I know I have to answer it and deal with it, no matter what. I hear the nurse on the other end say “I just wanted to let you know your results are in, and your beta HCG is 145 – at this stage anything over 100 is considered pregnant”.

Shock and awe. My daughter is yammering. I can’t formulate words. The nurse asks if I’m ok and all I can say is yes. She’s confused, so I tell her I was so convinced she would have something else to tell me, and I can’t even absorb what she’s said. She laughs and congratulates me, tells me to get another blood test in 2 days, and if I don’t hear from them, all is well.

Unfortunately, my husband texts from work to see if they’ve called and that’s how I tell him we’re pregnant. Not the romantic, cute way to announce it but then again, nothing about this process has been romantic or cute. It’s been pure, amazing science.

That was April 21, 2014.

Since then, things have been pretty status quo. I feel pretty awesome; we saw at heartbeat at 7w2d and then heard it for the first time (160 bpm) at the midwife at 11w2d. At 12w3d we completed our first trimester screening, and everything looks good.

CRL - 5.95cm

CRL – 5.95cm

We’re having a science baby. For real.

There are 3 snowbabies in a lab 30 mins from the city. Technically twins of the baby I’m carrying (they all come from the same ovulatory cycle, so they would be considered quadruplets I suppose). We will leave them there for a year, and then decide how to proceed. SCIENCE!


Sometimes, I Lose It

May 29th, 2014

It’s true. From time to time in my parenting life, I just get pushed to the absolute brink of my sanity, and I lose it. I yell, I swear, I slam the door and ask to be left alone. Sometimes I cry out of sheer frustration, and I don’ t always hide that part from my child. And I’m not going to apologize for any of it.

Not to you anyway. I have always and will always calm myself and apologize to my family after this has happened. However, I don’t apologize for getting to that point. I only apologize for allowing my frustrations to create discomfort in our home. I apologize to my daughter for raising my voice, because at the end of the day, it’s not the most constructive way to be, for anyone. However, I always let her know what drove me to that point. Not in a blame way, more in a personal accountability way.

Don’t yell. Don’t punish. Don’t get angry. Parent exclusively with kindness. Never get short. Never show you’re overwhelmed. Never let life get to. Take it all on.

Never let on that you aren’t perfect.

That seems to be the pervasive theme in today’s perfect parenting mantra. If you’re yelling, getting angry or doing anything but gently coercing your special snowflake off the edge of the cliff with a soothing tone, you’re breaking their spirit. You’re setting them up for a life of therapy in which they will pour over how unloved they were because their mommy yelled “SERIOUSLY?” from the laundry room after being asked for the 93rd consecutive glass of water in the last 4 minutes when you were capable of getting it yourself.

And it’s just bullshit.

Life, it gets hard sometimes. Modern day woes blah blah, we’re all over taxed in our time. That doesn’t mean we don’t love our children. It doesn’t mean they aren’t the most important thing in the world to us. It doesn’t mean they deserve to suffer the brunt of our stress. However, it does mean that some days, sometimes, it’s all just TOO MUCH. And they are often the straw that breaks you. When you JUST want the day to end because you’re exhausted and have been going since 6am and it’s not almost 10pm and they are still calling you to their bedroom repeatedly for increasingly stupider things as a way to stall the inevitable, sometimes, you just cannot keep it together.

I think that’s ok.

That’s ok because in real actual life, one in which we live amongst other people, things can go sideways pretty quickly. Protecting your children from emotions which reside outside the happiness box is only going to confuse them later in life. I was 8 the first time I saw my mother cry (my grandma died) and I had NO idea how to deal with it. I literally though adults just didn’t cry. What an impossible standard for a kid to try to live up to. I still cry over pretty much anything, it’s just my way. Why deny allowing my child to know that part of me?

People who don’t feel are strange little robots that not only tend to lack the passion to care about things, but lack the ability to be empathetic.

As a person, I feel deeply. Joy, sadness, anger, stress, they sit high and heavy and I don’t always do great at burying them. If I bury them, they fester. No, I don’t need to get manic and lose my mind over every jump on the couch, but some days, I just reach the end of my rope.

So I emote. Maybe not in the perfect parent verified way, but that’s ok. I emote, things happen, sometimes I even feel bad. And then, we discuss it. I apologize for raising my voice, I tell her that I love her and that no matter how frustrated I get, it will never change how I feel. I explain why I’m feeling so overwhelmed. I remind her that she’s the most important person in my life, but that some days, mommy is just having a hard time. I let her know that it’s ok not to keep your emotions perfectly in check and that the most important thing to remember is never to get physical and always to walk away when you can’t handle it anymore. And then I tell her I love her some more. And then we hug, she forgets and we probably eat a cookie.

Sometimes I lose it, and that’s ok.


The Unbearable Likeness of Being…4

May 6th, 2014

I need to talk a little bit about the transformation to complete lunatic my child has undergone. I don’t really know how it happened. I didn’t see it coming. I heard of this kind of thing before but I didn’t think it could happen to me. However, it has, and now, I don’t know where to go.

She turned 4, and that may well be the end of me.

I don’t know why people fear the “terrible two’s”. Sure, there are periods of writhing around on the floor because you won’t let them eat butter for dinner but, for the most part, they are still smaller than you and you can still distract them from their crazy. I will take 2 any day, and while I thought that then, I’m even more convinced now.

And then, there was 3. People warned me about the 3’s. The term “threenager” wasn’t coined without reason. 3 was not without its challenges. Willful and lacking full ability, there was frustration that came with that 3 year old body. However, there was wonder. Things became easier. My daughter became a delightful sidekick who, for the most part just went with the flow and did what made sense. Of course there were issues; of course it wasn’t all bliss. It’s just that it wasn’t that hard to manage her. She was driven by single Smarties, and distract and bribe are tactics I’m not ashamed to have used.

And now, we’re at 4 and at only 5 weeks into it, I feel like I’m thrashing around under the water’s surface, with a boot just gently resting on my face. Not pushing hard enough that I actually drown, just keeping me gasping for air and wondering if I’ll make it out alive.

Headstrong, precocious and stubborn. Qualities that, as she grows into a young woman, I want to her to thrive on. However, in our current state I don’t think either of us is prepared for the full weight of them. She struggles with her emotions, while I struggle with mine. I believe she wants to listen, for things to go smoothly, for us to all have our needs met, but she’s unable to. She can’t control the impulse she has to simply be defiant, over anything and everything that’s happening in the moment. I believe she hears me when I say that life would be easier for all of us if she too could learn to pick her battles, it’s just that she cannot, and lately neither can I.

I am not innocent in this painful dance. I tell myself she’s just a small child and cannot be expected to operate with logic and rationality. Only I then see her execute both flawlessly in one moment, and I’m unable to reconcile why she seems so capable on one hand, and so helpless on the other. I love her fiercely, and every moment not spent in the throes of confusion and frustration are spent watching her be amazing. She’s warm and funny, kind and imaginative. I don’t even have the capacity to understand how she came to be so wonderful, and yet, we struggle.

She’s like a minefield that needs to be supported emotionally. As we navigate the path, barely breathing, we only sometimes make it to the other side without an explosion. The rest of the time, we are reduced to the messy clean up that follows what she believes is a massacre of her right to just be however she wants, at all times.

I am not proud of the way we are walking this path, her hand barely in mine. I struggle not to hold a grudge or take personally the mess that’s left. I’m just as confused as she is, only I’m supposed to have the answers. How can you manage someone who is acting so inappropriately while still teaching them that they are valid and loved and respected? How do you balance lessons with understanding so that the moment is not swallowed up in the feelings? How can I understand that there is no malicious intent here, that she truly just does not have the tools to control herself effectively, while still getting my needs met?

Life is about the child, and I get that. It’s just that life still needs to happen. The only way to give her the life she deserves is for me to function, to work, to manage a household. Only, she’s constantly holds that in a stronghold. The days blur together and I feel as though we’re spiraling out of control, only I don’t want it to end because I fear the bottom.

I want to mother with love and compassion for her circumstance but I cannot deny the fact that sometimes, she just needs to do what she is told. I’m so tired of fighting over simple tasks I have hardly noticed that nothing, on its own, is really that significant.

This morning dissolved into disaster simply because she believes that 45 mins is an appropriate amount of time for her to muck about before getting dressed, despite being instructed otherwise. Such a simple task that has the ability to set off a trajectory of chaos, that leaves me late for work, and thus us late for getting home later. It then affects the time I have to make dinner, and sends her to bed too late because of that. And we repeat tomorrow.

Four, you are winning. However, I think you’re confused about what that term really means, because honestly at this moment, we’re all losing.


It’s National Infertility Awareness Week

April 22nd, 2014

Seeing as  it’s National Infertility Awareness week, and the topic is near and dear to my heart, I wanted to join in the conversation.

Infertility is such an interesting concept when you really think about it. It has a major impact on the lives of so many (some stats say 1 in 8 couples, while others say 1 in 6 couples), and yet the topic remains taboo in a lot of ways. If you’re not struggling with it, you don’t have to acknowledge it, and that only serves to isolate those who are.

When you’re sick, people rally around you and your family. Support is offered in many ways. Rarely does anyone judge you for your illness. And people tend to understand it, at least on the surface. There are intricacies in infertility that most people cannot understand, and sadly, human nature makes people afraid of that which they don’t know.

It’s so strange to feel judgement for something you did not cause, and do not wish on your worst enemy. To hear that tone about something that has robbed part of your life and left you a broken shell of your former self. It just doesn’t seem to be understood by the general population as being as overwhelming as it is. People think it’s small, because it won’t directly kill you, it can’t be that terrible. Like it’s simply a take it or leave it scenario. No one ever told a terminally ill person that they were trying too hard, that it was time to get past it, that everything happens for a reason. You don’t look at someone suffering in the eye and pseudo blame them for their situation because they want something too bad.

However, with infertility, it’s almost all that.

Sure, there are increasingly more people who understand what it is, what it means, how it can impact you. There is just so much of the opposite as well. So many fertile people telling those struggling to just relax, asking if they’ve tried this that or the other, wondering why they cannot be content with the life they currently lead. You hear comments about how hard parenthood is, as if that’s a consolation for your empty womb. And believe me when I say NO ONE has ever wanted a beer badly enough to trade their ability to get pregnant for a free pass to enjoy patio beers,  no matter what you think.

Infertility is doubly cruel in how it strikes. Most people don’t know in advance of trying to have a baby that they cannot. So you’re already deeply entrenched in the idea, clocks are ticking, friends are growing and glowing, and you’re ready to jump on the baby train. Only, you don’t get a ticket. Not only did you not get a ticket, but if you want to arrive at the same destination as your friends who are napping in the club car, you have to run, jump, leap, fall, bleed, cry, navigate, beg and pay for a CHANCE to get there. The journey changes your life, it changes your relationships, it changes who you are. And everyone else simply gets to arrive.

I’m not saying pregnancy and parenthood is easy, but it’s a completely different struggle. When you’re infertile you spend just as much time desperately trying to become a parent as you do petrified of the idea. Most people get pregnant with relative ease, and THEN they get to panic about what having a baby really means. Infertile people get to struggle to get pregnant, all the while wondering if there is some greater cosmic reason they can’t, and perpetually trying to talk themselves out of it because maybe life really is easier the way it is. You don’t get to enjoy the process of trying to start or build a family and THEN worry about what it means, because you have time to do it all together.

Time is another frightening concept to those suffering infertility. It passes quickly, but you’re always waiting. You live your life in 2 week increments, each one causing you more stress. You want to get to the next step, but that brings you rapidly toward the later years in life when things get even harder. Time builds long gaps between your friend’s kids and yours; it builds long gaps between siblings. It ages you, just as the struggle does and with every tick of the clock, you’re reminded of your failures.

I don’t know if you can ever get past the struggles either. In talking to people who have either succeeded in building their families or simply moved into a new reality, it seems it never goes away. There is always that part of you that mourns the loss of simply getting pregnant.

Infertility is many things. It’s unfair, it’s difficult, it’s stigmatizing and it’s lonely, it’s more than there are words. So take a moment this week to think about the people you know who are suffering, probably silently, with it. And with 1 in 8 odds, you can be sure you know someone.

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