It has now been just over two calendar years since I finished my first cycle of actively trying to conceive. This will be my third Thanksgiving since we started this journey, my third Thanksgiving that I have been hoping to have good news to announce by New Year’s.
It is interesting for me to look back on the person I was two years ago and the person I am now, and to see the ways in which infertility has shaped me. Infertility does not define me, but it is a huge part of who I am, and it has influenced me and changed me in so many ways.
Last night as I went to bed, my heart was heavy. I had spent the afternoon with a wonderful friend and her little baby. I had a great time chatting and holding the sweet little one, but then I came home to find a hefty doctor’s bill in my mailbox, and the weight of my situation came crashing down around me again. I tried to distract myself all evening, but my mind kept running back over the past two years, remembering the many heart-wrenching, embarrassing, and absolutely devastating moments that I have endured throughout this process. I couldn’t help but think how absolutely unfair it all seems.
Two years ago, I knew that the time was right for us to start trying to have a baby. This was a change in plans for us; we had originally been thinking that we would wait a while longer. We felt that God was calling us in this direction, though, and I couldn’t deny the impressions I felt. This was a huge act of faith for me, because, in a very real way, I felt that I was completely changing my life direction and giving up many of my personal goals. I will never forget how I felt that first month. If it was the right time for me to become a parent, I was going to be completely dedicated to it. I was going to do whatever it took, sacrifice whatever was necessary: my body, my soul, my time, my dreams. It seems dramatic now, but this really was a big deal for me at the time.
In those early days, we assumed that a baby would come right away. I knew it could take a while, but everything just felt so right. I remember feeling a connection with another woman I knew who had been in a similar place in that she had decided to start having kids earlier than she and her husband had once thought they would. They got pregnant fairly quickly and were then planning for the arrival of their little one with faith and anticipation. I was so inspired by this story and felt sure that I was on a similar path. Well, now this friend has two little boys, and I am still trying.
Exactly two years ago this week, I was on my way to my parents’ house for Thanksgiving after attending an academic conference. I had spent the weekend sharing a room with two wonderful women who I was working with but didn’t know well. We had a great time at the conference, attending sessions, exploring the city, and getting to know each other. As luck would have it, this was right when I was at at the end of my very first cycle of trying to conceive. My period was late (of course) so I had convinced myself that I might be pregnant.
I would never do this now, but I actually told the two girls I was staying with about my situation and that I was hoping for a baby. They were excited for me, and we chatted about what this meant. I decided I’d buy a test the next day if nothing had happened. Before I got a chance to use that test, though, my bleeding started, and my heart was crushed for the first time. I knew my friends were right when they comforted me and reminded me that it’s normal for it to take a while, but I was still sad. After this conference, I continued to see one of these women regularly, but I didn’t mention babies or trying to conceive to either of them again. I eventually moved to a different state, and we only stay in contact occasionally through Facebook. Sometimes I wonder if they remember this experience and if they wonder, when they see me pop up in their news feed, whatever happened to me. As it turns out, two years later, I am still trying.
I know that my problems are not the worst that can be experienced, by far. They seem pretty small when I turn on the news and see what is happening in the world, but they are still so real and significant to me. Infertility now dominates my life to the point where I have to consciously push it aside so that it does not completely take over. I’m trying to remember lately that, although infertility may be shaping my life in many ways, it does not have to control me.
I never imagined two years ago that this is the path my life would be on now. I’m sure that I will eventually resolve my infertility, although I don’t know how, but it is so difficult when I am in the middle of it. I just hope that something good will come from this, that there will be some small silver lining that I can find underneath all of the struggle.