I didn’t realize National Infertility Week was actually a thing until recently. It is from April 22 -April 28 this year. I saw a few posts online yesterday and it got me thinking and reflecting. I probably would have scrolled right past these posts unless it was something I or somebody close to me had gone thru. It’s a subject most people do not talk about. National Infertility Week is not a celebration..because infertility is anything but a party. It is to create awareness, provide information, support and hope to those who are experiencing infertility and all its frustrations. Infertility is hard. It’s hard on the individual , and it’s hard on the couple. It is emotionally, mentally and physically trying. It is a devastating medical condition, and many people are afraid to share their pain, their sadness, or their journey with others. It’s very personal, and very difficult for many to talk about, but it is important for women and couples to know that they are not alone.
I am blessed. I have 2 wonderful babies. They aren’t actually babies anymore as one is going to be 18 years in May and the other turned 10 in April. I often refer to them as my Elusive Teen and my Lil Diva, regardless they will always be my babies. Now if I have 2 children, why the hell am I writing about infertility?. Well… my little family was not created so easily. When people hear the almost 8 year age gap between by son and my daughter, they usually assume my kids are from different relationships (enter eye roll..it sort of makes me crazy that this is their first assumption). I usually joke and say “nope, same guy. It just took us that long to decide we never wanted to sleep again and have another baby”. It’s just easier than explaining the story, and frankly it isn’t anyone’s business….unless I decide to share it, which apparently I have and will share again. I do not share it so people will say ” I’m so sorry”, or “that must have been really hard” (all of which are very nice and thank you), but rather because maybe my story helps someone else, or it brings awareness. 1 in 8 couples struggle with infertility. It is more common than people think. I am fortunate. I got a happy ending.
Getting pregnant with our son was easier than expected. I had been treated for endometriosis for years and was advised that endometriosis could make getting pregnant more difficult. Imagine our surprise when we got pregnant the first month. I was in shock, happy shock. My husband took all the credit of course (lol). It was a relatively easy pregnancy and in May 2000, we had our baby boy.
Fast forward 3 years, we decided it was time to add to our little family. I am an only child and loved the idea of a big family. My endometriosis had started bothering me again, so I had another laparoscopy to make sure there were no issues and we decided to try for #2. Within 3 months we were expecting baby #2. We were so excited, we told everybody. We didn’t wait the 12 weeks because we never assumed anything would go wrong. We were happily baby dreaming for 7 weeks, and then we weren’t. I imagine it is different for many, but for me, miscarriage was devastating. I was shocked. I was crushed. I cried for days. I was already attached to the idea of my baby and to have it taken away was not something I was prepared for. I was assured that many women experience miscarriage. It is sad, but normal and likely would not reoccur. We waited a few weeks and tried again. Within a few months we were pregnant again….until we weren’t. This happened 6 times in total. Each pregnancy after loss #3, became clinical. We did our best not to get emotional invested. We started to just expect the worst, but hope for the best. It sounds horrible to say, but for me, it was how I dealt with the repeated losses. After lots of blood work and tests, we were repeatedly cautioned to not get our hopes up as each pregnancy didn’t appear to be strong. My HCG numbers weren’t doubling and without fail, between the 6-10 week mark, we would again lose our dream of baby #2.
After #3, we tried fertility medication, in hopes of increasing our chances of a stronger pregnancy. I went thru exploratory surgeries, blood work, fertility specialists, all of whom concluded I was a mystery. I had unexplained infertility. I could get pregnant, but my pregnancies were not viable and no-body could figure out why. Doctors felt because I had my son, there was a possibility I could have a viable pregnancy. That said, the fertility specialists cautioned that after so many miscarriages, the likelihood of a viable pregnancy was decreasing. Not impossible, but not likely. Friends and family thought we were crazy to keep trying. People would say to me “you are so lucky to have your son”, “be grateful for the one child you have”, “why do you keep doing this to yourself”?. It would make me so mad. Of course we were grateful for our son. He is our boy, our child, and we love him in amounts I cannot articulate but that didn’t change the fact that we wanted more children. In hind sight, I sort of understand why people said those things and I appreciate their concern, but there was something deep inside me that told me I was not done. I was not ready to give up and I didn’t and still don’t expect some people to really understand…and that’s ok. It is hard to explain and to understand unless you have gone thru it. People thought it was crazy that my magic number was 10. If after 10 pregnancies we didn’t have a viable pregnancy, I would give up trying. We decided if we got to 10, we could and would adopt. I should mention, my husband is a rockstar (not literally). He was supportive thru all these ups and downs. He was patient and caring when I fell apart. He was encouraging. He never missed an appointment or tried to tell me I was crazy for wanting to try again. He is an amazing.
#8 was an ectopic that had begun to rupture. I had emergency surgery. It was scary and it changed everything. We decided I couldn’t do this anymore. It had become unhealthy and we had our little man to consider too. I think my husband was relieved. It was hard for him too. We agreed adoption was the next step.
We requested the adoption package. We were getting excited about starting the process and yet 7 weeks later, we were pregnant with #9. It was a total surprise. We had been avoiding “those days” marked on the calendar. We didn’t get excited, we were very cautious. Sort of like “honey, I’m pregnant again, pass the salt”. The funny thing about this pregnancy was that I didn’t even suspect I was pregnant. My husband told me I was pregnant. I didn’t believe him. I had always known each time before those 2 pink lines appeared, and had never been wrong, so I didn’t believe him. We even argued about taking a test. He won. I took the test and he was right. We went for the tests, expecting the worst, but this time things were different. My HCG numbers doubled. I was so nauseous and tired. We went for the ultrasound and there was a heart beat….a strong heart beat. I had the technician get my husband who immediately thought something was wrong. I told him “look there is a heart beat”, and he said something along the lines of “are you effing kidding me”. This was a hard pregnancy. Bed rest, placenta previa, more bed rest, high risk, lost some amniotic fluid, and an early, fast and hard delivery (not sharing those details…suffice to say I had no epidural, and passed out due to blood loss). #9 was a 7.14 pound, beautiful baby girl. Our rainbow baby. Now, just to make things even more crazy, the paediatrician thought our baby girl had meningitis and told us to prepare for mental/ developmental delays, and possible death. She was transferred to another hospital without me (no beds available) 2 hours after she was born. The universe was seriously testing my strength and sanity. I keep thinking “I do this 9 times, and I finally get to the finish line and the Universe does this to my baby”?? In the end, 6 days later, after amazing care in a specialized hospital unit, our baby girl came home. Healthy, and with no meningitis (false alarm). I had my remaining tube tied.
We are blessed. We have 2 amazing children. We know the happiness in discovering 2 positive lines on a test, and of having a baby. We also know the sadness and emotional toll of losing a pregnancy. I understand the devastation a mom to be feels when she losses a pregnancy. I understand the feeling of guilt, grieving the loss, and of the desperation for answers.
Every child is a miracle. So many things biologically need to happen for a pregnancy to occur, to be viable, and to create a little human. Pregnancy is not a given for everyone. For so many, infertility and pregnancy struggles are very real. I am so grateful for our pregnancy journey because it gave us our children. I always think of kids as my pack of 9. 2 of which I have met and love in the present, and 7 who I will meet much later and will always love and remember. For all those people who have experienced infertility and pregnancy loss, I truly hope that in sharing our story, there may be some light in your journey. You are stronger than you think. Love and light to you all. I truly hope you find the answers you need.
Baby #1 and #2 (preg #1 and 9). My Loves