I've been wanting to do a "sum up my thoughts on that subject so I don't have to speak of it again" kind of a post about my infertility journey. Well, this seems as good a moment as any. Especially since this day last year I was on a table in a Dr office while my husbands gentlemens relish was being squirted up my lady bits. Yup, today is the one year anniversary of our successful IUI.
Lets start further back than that. Way back.
Morgan and I followed all the rules the older generation stresses are so important. "Make sure you are financially secure before starting a family! It's better to be living in a house than an apartment when you have a baby! Don't have a baby out of wedlock! Enjoy your youth and worry about having kids later! Trust me on this, you don't want to have a kid before you're ready!"
Oh, if only I could go back and pat myself on the head and give a gentle warning of what would be the most difficult time of my life. I would have let myself know not to waste all that money on birth control. I would have reassured myself that getting pregnant before all the planets have aligned and you have achieved that mythical "I'm Ready" zen is perfectly fine. I would have done anything to avoid the heartache and self hatred that is infertility. But even in the youth of my mid 20's it may have already been too late for me to have children the old fashioned way. I'll never know.
Oh, but surely I'm exaggerating when I say it was the most horrible thing that has ever happened to me. Right? Being the victim of abuse at a very early age had to have been worse. As so many people know, the pain of teasing and bullying in middle school and high school had to have been more trying. The heartache of a really bad break up is pretty hard to beat. Surely taking care of a dying father and then burying him when I was 15 was harder. With a little bit of shame (at least on that last one) I have to say no. All of those things helped shape the odd person I am today, but none of them had me questioning what I would be reincarnated as if I hit a tree on my drive home from work. The 3 years that I waited, from the day we started trying to conceive to the day my son was born, were the darkest I've ever experienced. I shall hence forth refer to them as "The No-No Years."
The thing is, there's no way I can really express to you just how bad it was. There is no way you can know how I died a little inside every month unless it's something you have also experienced. Just as only other cancer survivors can truly appreciate and understand what another is feeling. Only a recovered alcoholic can really know how hard it is to walk past a liquor store. Those are two experiences I hope to never be able to relate to. And I would not wish what I went through on anyone. 'Cause that biological clock thing is a bitch and a half. No lie.
The endless Dr appointments, medications, injections, and blood draws were the easy part. The mental anguish and slow break down of your psyche is what destroys you when dealing with infertility. Month after month of failing, grieving as you menstruate, and then trying to build up a positive outlook for the beginning of the following month is exhausting. The ache of carrying around an empty womb when all you see around you are friends, family, and perfect strangers taking for granted what you would move heaven and earth to get. The comments, mostly meant to be helpful or encouraging, that cut you to the bone. Making things even more complicated, my job often involved working with small children and families. I longed for a puppy or a kitten. Something small and warm with big eyes that I could snuggle in my arms as a temporary fix. It was an all encompassing sadness that even my husband doesn't fully understand because I wouldn't let him. I hid just how bad things had become for fear that he would stop the fertility treatments.
And from that rock bottom it only got worse. Miscarriage. Stab me in the heart. Kick me when I'm down. Throw dirt in my face. Beat that dead horse, give it mouth to mouth, and then shoot it in the head. Silver lining - at least I had proven to myself and God that I could get pregnant.
About a week or so after the miscarriage I went to visit a friend in an attempt to get away from the hell for a while. I have a very vivid memory of laying on her couch in the middle of the day. She was exhausted from months of sleep deprivation, due to her adorable infant daughter, and had passed out on the floor only moments before the baby started to fuss. I put my hand out to the tiny creature and she wrapped her fist around my finger. I laid there and cried silently so my friend could get the scant 20 minutes of sleep she so desperately needed. I don't have to explain to you the thoughts that raced through my mind, just that there was a tone of hopelessness behind them. My friend, who's heart is bigger than her head, is really the only person I confided in about all this darkness. And even she didn't know it all.
Okay, breathe. It gets better, I promise. In fact it gets better right. . . now!
June 12th, 2011. Our 4th and last IUI. The Rockville office of Shady Grove Fertility was the setting, mid morning was the time, and I don't even remember the person who performed the IUI aside from she wasn't very gentle. Frankly, the only thing I was really concerned about that day was where we were going to eat after the appointment. I was trying not to think about the IUI too much. Pancakes or crab legs? That was the big question on my mind. Crab legs won. Turns out that was Sam's first meal. A nice dose of mercury right off the bat. Go Mom!
It wasn't long before I could tell something was different about my body. I had a case of the rages that could put a war lord to shame. I took a pee test a couple days before my scheduled blood test and it showed positive. Happy panic is pretty much all I can say to describe that moment. Happy panic and a husband who forgot how to breathe.
Pregnancy, the second time around, was pretty easy for me. Which was not at all what I was expecting. I kept waiting for the next bomb to drop, but it never happened. The worst symptom of my entire 9 months was indigestion. That's pretty awesome. Even more wonderful was feeling that dark veil of misery lift away. Feeling my baby boy move inside of me. Feeling that womb full that was empty and rotten for so long. Slowly feeling like I could trust my own body again. Knowing that this shitty journey was almost over. Feeling normal, hopeful, and excited.
Having my little boy, now 3 months old, here with me is the best thing ever. Imagine your most favorite moment and multiply it by 12. Yeah, it's that amazing. The years of struggle are now replaced with a child more perfect and quirky than I could have hoped for. Even on his worst days, when the growth spurt cries are at bleeding eardrum level, I smile and kiss his forehead knowing that he is mine. My worries are of the normal variety now. "Does he have clean bottles? Did he poop today?" I love changing diapers 'cause I get to see his little belly! I get to listen to him sleep and watch his face spasm with smiles caused by mysterious baby dreams. Best of all I know he has two parents who both love him endlessly. I have no idea if I will ever talk to Sam about what we had to go through to have him in our lives. I don't know that I would want to burden him with it. But I certainly hope he appreciates how badly he was wanted and how much he is loved.
And there you go! I guess I have that "closure" thing done. I have what I needed and I can put that chapter of my life on the back shelf to gather dust. The No-No Years seemed like an eternity of purgatory, and yet I know 3 years is a relatively short infertility journey. I don't think I could have survived a 5+ year struggle, as I know so many have. Hats off to them.
Nowadays my crying is reserved for when I have to pack up and retire the clothes he has grown out of. Each little outfit lovingly folded and kept just in case he has a little brother. Yes, we have already started talking about it. What can I say? Glutton for punishment. Besides, there's plenty of love here to go around and the world needs more ginger babies.