So I guess I should, at least once, talk about infertility. I mean, it's not like infertility is a huge facet of our lives but still... it's there. And it's obviously influenced the way our lives have gone. Through reading many, many infertility blogs I think I'm finally finding a sort of peace with it. In fact, recently I found that I wasn't at peace with it at all, so I guess through reading other's words I'm finally realizing that A) yes, we're infertile (hooray denial!), B) we didn't do anything to become at peace with infertility and C) we're glad for it.
So I guess I'll be addressing those points middle school style. Ah, how long has it been since I had an opening paragraph, three points and a conclusion? 10th grade maybe? This brings me back :)
But to get on with it....
OMG, we're infertile. Infertile, infertile, infertile. We began dating when he was 17 and I was 19 and used protection religiously, and even took pregnancy tests for every twinge that seemed out of place. But we were infertile and didn't know it. We discussed our family, knowing full well we'd "eventually" adopt but so certain that our young, oh so fertile loins would produce offspring near instantaneously. We were young! In the prime of our youth! And we were infertile. We bought a house in a nice town in a nice neighborhood with a painted nursery. I babysat in exchange for baby items. We wrote down our favorite names. We talked about which month we wanted our first (and second) to be born. Infertile, infertile, infertile. And we got married. And I stopped taking the pill. And we stopped using condoms. And we didn't even pray or hope or anything because, dangit, we were 21 and 23 and seriously who ever heard of people THAT age having a problem conceiving? Inconceivable!
I thought I'd conceived on the honeymoon. In Disney World I touched my stomach and felt phantom twinges. Would it be a boy or a girl? Should I pick up the adorable Winnie the Pooh onesie in the gift shop as a souvenir? Would we give it a Disney inspired name?
A week later we were at the mall. I'd had a negative test that morning but I wasn't letting it get me (too) down. We walked past Pottery Barn Kids, and adjacent to it Pottery Barn baby. I went to the restroom. I had my period. And it was fierce. I came out to find my husband gazing wistfully at the store display. I think that was one of the most horrific moments of my life.
But it was only the first month trying, and I'd only just come off the pill. I had to give it time!!!
We didn't give it too much time, though.
Over the next 6 months I saw the doctor, who didn't see any issues but suspected PCOS if only because my sister has it. I set up a blog dedicated just to keeping watch over my cycle, talking about our future baby, dreaming and hoping and ranting and raving and even whining about my husband when he wasn't in the mood when it was obviously time for him to be so. I joined epregnancy.com and got to know many of the moms-to-be on there. I told everyone, EVERYONE, we were trying to conceive.
Then... it happened. A woman* on epreg posted a note about how they just got their semenalysis results. There was only one sperm in the whole sample. And it was dead. Cue a rush of everyone in our little online group calling their doctors and coaxing their husbands. We shared stories of what it took to convince our men to do this for us (and our future children). We breathed sighs of relief collectively as, one by one, the results came back just fine. Except... well, my husband was willing to take the test, but not willing to call the clinic. Perhaps he knew, inherently, that something was wrong. And it was.
Our last cycle before finding out I was a week late. I tried to disregard negative tests. It's easy to get a false negative, right? I just... felt pregnant. I was so certain. My breasts felt like they were bigger. My stomach twinged. I felt nauseous. It had to be. IT HAD TO BE.
And then the bitch came, with a vengeance. I had everyone online rooting for me, too, and I felt like I'd let them down. And Nik down. And my family down. And my future children down. I was a failure.
So, honestly, it actually was a bit of a relief when my husband casually told me that he'd called to get his results. He was infertile. Tons of sperm with spindly tails and tiny heads, only 1% or less normal in a sea of swirly mutant spermies. Three more tests since then have showed similar results (actually the last two his sperm count drastically dropped).
We grieved, him silently staring at a tv screen and me weeping on the bed and in my best friend's arms.
We studied fertility treatments. Looked at clinics. Looked at IUIs and IVF and sperm donation if we needed to.
And we made a decision.
It was easy, really. We'd established on our second date that we'd both always hoped to adopt. It was a life goal. And I recall us both saying "even if I never have a biological child, I want to adopt."
Looking back I realize it was also a way to ignore a problem. We knew we were infertile and we were letting our life change course because of that fact, but we didn't want to acknowledge it. We kept saying "we'll adopt now and do fertility treatments later, if we feel like." There was no making peace with our infertility. There was only the need, the raw hungry need, to become parents.
And I'm glad for it. Without that need and that drive and that, well, denial, I don't think we'd have Paxton. And as much at that boy drives me absolutely bat-poo insane I love him and am grateful every day that we were blessed with our incredible, intelligent, spontaneous, exasperating and hilarious little boy. He is truly a treasure, as is his brother, and had we pursued fertility treatments we might never have even met our incredible sons, let alone have the joy and privilege of being their parents.
We are still infertile. We are still incapable of conceiving a child without fertility treatments, and we don't even know if we could conceive one with treatments.
This alone sets us apart from so, so many of our peers. And the older I get the more I realize it.
When Paxton first entered our lives, people we knew that were our age weren't settling down yet. We were different because we were settled, with a marriage and house and child. And now... they're getting married. They're buying houses. And they're conceiving with ease... Now, we're still different, but for a new reason. And I've realized, recently, that the older I get the more obvious this will become.
I try not to let it bother me, and 99.999% of the time I honestly don't give a flying poo. So what if the people on the breast feeding forums talk about when they're going to conceive #2 (or 3 or 4) as if they're planning when to go to the movies? Why would I care if people I know discuss losing pregnancy weight? Who gives a rat's patootie if my friends are all being told "wow, your son/daughter looks just like you/has your eyes/is a mini me!"? The fact is we chose this life and we love it, and we love our children for who they are, and we truly are a happy family. We know how blessed we are.
And yet... there's that little bit, that .001% bit, that still aches. That still wishes. That still hurts. Some days I see a pregnant belly and while much of me calmly acknowledges I wanted that, some innate part of me screams And I still want that! And sometimes when I hear a birth story I wish, if only for a second, that I'd actually been able to have that home birth I'd planned on. And when I look to the future and think about adoption #3 sometimes I think, Well, we did plan to adopt 3, but what about #4? Is it possible? Should we try it?
We have time, and I think that's the hardest part of coming to terms with our infertility. We're young. Very young, by some standards. I'm 27, my husband 25. If we bring our next child home in 2 years I'll be 29 and him 27. Even if we want to give birth before hitting "advanced maternal age" that would still be a 6 year window in which to try, already with 3 wonderful children at home. It's hard to truly be at peace when there's still the possibility hanging over your head.
But I think... I'm finding some peace now, by acknowledging that I was very much not at peace beforehand. And I'm starting to embrace my identity for all that it includes. Perhaps, even if we never try to conceive again, and even if we find there's no chance in the world that we even could conceive... perhaps I'd be absolutely fine with that. Because I love my life and I love my kids, and they are absolutely MY OWN kids, and truly I don't think it would even be possible to love anyone ever more than I love the 4 year old napping upstairs or the baby sleeping at my breast.
I still have a ways to go, I believe. And I think there'll always be a twinge of pain, just a tiny one, at the thought of never being pregnant. But I'm okay with that. I'm allowing that. I'm accepting my own humanity and my own emotions and realizing that not only is this normal, but it's common. There are people like me everywhere. And while we may choose different paths (adoption, treatments, living child free), we start from the same place and feel the same pain. I'm realizing, more and more, that I'm part of this community as well, this group of women, of families, who expected one way of life and ended up with another all because of our own fertility or lack thereof.
Okay, I should end this now as it really hasn't gone the way I'd planned. But I think I'll revisit the subject as needed. I always feel better working out emotions through writing, and this is certainly no different.
I will leave off with my one big conundrum... if we were to pursue fertility treatments in the future, would it harm our children? In other words, would they think we were doing it because we didn't see them as good enough? Or is it just the same as adopting a child after giving birth? This... is my greatest fear. Not the fear of treatments not working, but the fear of accidentally causing my most beloved children to believe they were somehow "less than", somehow less wanted and coveted and loved. Perhaps I'll write about that next time I'm feeling introspective.
*I found out later they adopted from Russia.
Lily in a loafing barn
4 weeks ago