Last Spring, I stumbled upon a video about infertility entitled "What IF?"
At the time when I first saw it, we were knee deep in grief over Peyton and had been trying desperately for nearly 9 months, without success, to achieve another pregnancy. The previous December, I had gotten the news that an infection from my c-section had left both of my tubes scarred beyond any usefulness, and that my only option, and not a guaranteed option at that, was IVF.
I was in shock.
For over a year after Peyton's birth I had complained to my doctor that I wasn't ovulating or menstruating. When she gave us the green light to try again last June, and I failed to conceive, I knew something was wrong. Through it all, my OB explained my infertility away as the result of me "grieving too hard." "If you don't get over this," she would tell me, "you will never get pregnant."
Lying alone and half naked on a steel table at the hospital, my unresponsive tubes glaring down at me from a monitor overhead, a sympathetic doctor delivered to me the news that I would never again be able to conceive on my own. "There is no justice in this world," she told me, taking a deep breath, and as she did, any last shred of hope that I had held onto for a family of my own, flowed out of my eyes and down my cheeks.
In that moment: grief stricken and infertile - I felt my life was over.
Discovering that I had lost my fertility after losing my only child undid several months of healing, and brought a million questions to my mind. Hard questions. Painful questions.
Was I still a woman if I couldn't conceive?
Was I still a mother if my only child was dead?
Was I still a Catholic if I was willing to pursue IVF when the church is so strongly against it?
Was I still a wife if I couldn't give my husband a family?
Were we still a couple if making love could never create a life?
For someone who just a year and a half prior had been a confident 28 year old, with a promising career, thriving social life, happy marriage, and first child on the way - the downward spiral of those 18 months took me to the darkest depths of my life. Everything I believed would be suddenly felt like a lie, and the truths that I was facing were hard to swallow:
I had lost our child.
I had lost our fertility.
I had lost our hopes.
That's not a typo. I HAD LOST these things, or at least that's how I felt. In my mind, the blame for all of our losses and failures, were mine and mine alone.
I don't know why I always viewed hubs in a different light than myself. In many ways, I saw him as a victim in all this. He had married me and I had failed to hold up my end of the bargain.
Maybe it was because our IF issues were with my body?
Maybe it was because when he proposed he told me he wanted to "grow old together and have lots and lots of children," and the realization I couldn't give him that made me pity him for staying with me?
Maybe it was because I was Peyton's mother, and our miscarried baby's mother, and mothers always blame themselves.
All I know is that when I stumbled across this video, it struck a deep chord with me. I had, for months, been asking myself many of the same questions posed in the video.
What IF I lost my sense of self to my infertility?
What IF I lost my sexiness to infertility?
What IF I lost my spouse to infertility?
Today I was looking around on the internet, and once again came across this video. As I did, the tears came, but they were different somehow. Today I cried tears of gratitude. Though I had felt so sure just six months ago that infertility would beat me, today I realized that I have beaten infertility.
It took over a year of trying, months of hormone injections, the pain of twisting an ovary, Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome, 4 weeks of bed rest for the Ovarian Hyper Stimulation Syndrome, the heartbreak of learning our first cycle had failed, many, many, MANY hours of therapy to deal with the above mentioned feelings, facing a second cycle after failing the first with no explanation, a bleed that has kept me on bed rest since week 12 and in all likelihood will continue to keep me bed ridden for the next 20 or so weeks, tens of thousands of dollars, countless tears, fears and anxieties, and all the emotions that go into having a high risk pregnancy after loss, but I am here - pregnant - full of hope - and very grateful.
I guess that is why I am writing this post. To let others on their own infertility journey know that I get it. I have been there, at the bottom, the very bottom. I have questioned every aspect of myself, my worth, and my life. I have wondered if joy would ever again return to my heart. If I could ever give my husband a family. If I could ever survive this, and the answer is yes.
There is always a chance.
Sometimes we have to wrestle with these big questions to find our way, but in the end, we can all get there. For us, a couple who lost their fertility to birthing a dying child, our chance came with IVF. For others it comes with surrogacy, or IUI. Medications, or adoption.
I don't know what the future holds for us, but I do know that it is looking brighter once again, and that is something that once felt impossible.
I guess that what I am trying to say is that it is only when we open our eyes and our minds to all of the possibilities in front of us, even those that we fear or resent or are unsure of, that we can find pathways to hope.
Here is the video that had such an impact on me. I am sure for those of you haven't seen it before, or are viewing it a second time, you will feel it resonates at some level with you too. (Be sure to pause the music player in the right column of this blog to hear the video.)