This is infertility

When I first went off birth control I was hopeful and naive. I assumed we would get pregnant immediately. I counted out nine months and started wondering how I would tell Andy the news, and then how we would surprise different members of our family. I am a sucker for both planning and surprises.

When we didn’t get pregnant the first month, I figured we would the second, then the third. I kept this up for eight months before I started to wonder if maybe something could be wrong. I had a friend who was in the midst of infertility and I thought it couldn’t hurt to see a doctor.

The Doctor didn’t seem too concerned about my questions and said we hadn’t been trying long enough to worry. She told me it was perfectly normal for someone in their late twenties to take 6-9 months to get pregnant. I mentioned I had recently bought a book on charting to get a better idea of my cycle, ovulation, etc. She encouraged me to use it for a while and start our 6-9 month clock over, now that we were what she called, “actively trying.”

One year later I had 12 pages detailing my daily basal body temperature, date of ovulation, how many days after ovulation my body temp was raised and when it dropped back to normal again to indicate no pregnancy. 

In that year I became all consumed with controlling every aspect I could, in an effort to increase our chances for pregnancy. And I was becoming torn up from the inside out. I lived my life in two week cycles. We were either trying to get pregnant, or waiting to see if we were pregnant. I wasn’t carefree and optimistic anymore. I was a control freak.

Add to that the fact that we had been married for a few years and everyone and their brother was asking us when we were going to have kids. We finally landed on an answer that was honest but not too vulnerable, “We’d like to, we’ll see!”

When I finally went back to the doctor we were diagnosed with infertility because we had been trying for more than a year without a pregnancy. I hated that word. I felt branded. I pictured a big scarlet letter on my chest, but it was an I for infertility. I didn’t want anyone to see it.

Each new pregnancy announcement I heard felt like a personal blow. It didn’t matter if the pregnancy was announced from a co-worker, friend, family member or celebrity. In fact, even pregnant strangers on the street stood out like sore thumbs of what I wasn’t able to get my body to do.

I was becoming bitter and angry and I didn’t know how to stop it. I added jealous and resentful too, for good measure. Each month that my period came I would sob in the bathroom. I felt like a failure. Women had been getting pregnant and delivering babies for thousands of years and I couldn’t figure out the secret. I felt alone.

Fast forward 7 plus years and we’re still not pregnant and never have been (as far as I know). We’ve done several unsuccessful rounds of IUI. I’ve taken various meds, shots, ultrasounds and tests. Our chances of getting pregnant without medical assistance are significantly lower than the average “normal” couple.

And with all that, I still have this stubborn faith that knows God could start a little life in my womb, any day of the week if He so desired. Somehow I’ve moved past the anger and bitterness. Time has helped with that. The first four years of infertility were hands down the hardest. But the good news is, it didn’t stay that way. Day to day life got better. I’m not all dark and twisty over the infertility anymore. It’s a part of my story, even if I didn’t want it. But I’m learning to live with it.

The things that used to be so soul crushing in the beginning, I barely flinch at anymore. When my period comes, I don’t shed a tear over it. It’s just annoying.

When I hear that someone is pregnant now, there’s usually a brief blip of a “really!?!” moment between me and God. But it is short lived, honestly a minute to have that quick feeling expressed and then life moves forward. I don’t dwell or mope about it like I did in the first days of infertility.

One thing I’ve learned in all of this, is delivering a baby is really hard to do! There are so many things that could go wrong, even in just the getting to the “pregnancy” part, let alone having a baby grow in the womb and come out on the other side alive.

I have a deeper happiness and genuine excitement now when people in my world have babies. And that feeling grows exponentially for the ones who have had seasons of infertility and loss first. I’m over the moon for them. I usually cry tears of relief when their babies are born. It’s nothing short of a miracle.

I still love kids and yes, I’d be thrilled if one landed in our laps one day. And there is this other side that’s growing in me too. It’s a little sprig of contentment with our life, as is.

This is infertility.

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Book Thoughts- January and February

I’ve been reading a bunch lately and I figured I’d go back to recap my favorite parts of some books I’ve read recently.

Since I last wrote about reading here, I finished numbers 2, 3 and 4 from that list. For the love, Vagabonding and The Shack, respectively. My favorite of the three was, The Shack.

I loved the way that God belly laughed, cooked and didn’t take him/herself too seriously. The easy way that Jesus spoke often brought tears to my eyes because the words resonated and sounded so true. The Holy Spirit was represented in such a fascinating way, I loved reading it and wondering if parts of that were real.

Side note: I heard some people didn’t like that God was represented as a woman in the book (the reason why is revealed at the end of the book). It didn’t bother me for two reasons. First, I was reading it as fiction. Second, if both women and men are created in the image of God it doesn’t seem overreaching to me that God could appear to a person as either gender.

This is a book I picked up at a rummage sale for a quarter, but I will be happy to keep it and read it again.

In February I read Choose Joy by Sara Frankl and Mary Carver. It is primarily excerpts of Sara’s blog with pieces filled in by her friend Mary. Sara had an illness that kept her housebound and eventually took her life. She wrote to stay connected and found even more friends through her writing. She had an incredibly positive outlook on life despite the fact that she couldn’t leave her home and lived in chronic pain.

One thing Sara wrote that stuck with me was about being a woman without kids. She went on to say that all parents should have a childless friend to love their kids and be proud of their accomplishments too. She figured that friends who were parents could be happy for their friend’s kids but may hold back a little still thinking their kids are the greatest (as they should). A childless friend can be unbiased and unashamedly happy for and proud of your own kids.

I liked this part purely for selfish reasons because it affirmed the way I think about our nephews, nieces and all my friend’s kids. They’re all are amazing! Some are talented athletes and musicians. Some are sensitive with huge hearts. Some are hilarious, creative, and thoughtful. Some love to sing and dance. It’s fun to agree with family and friends that yes, their kid really is the best at xyz. Because it’s all true and I really mean it.

I also read Spark Joy: An illustrated master class on the art of organizing and tidying up by Kon Mari. This book was very similar to Kon Mari’s first book on purging excess belongings, with just more examples of how to put her method into practice. Great in theory, yet I have yet to get back to purging my way through the house.

A friend of mine found a free online checklist for the Kon Mari system and we had been working through it in our own homes. But I totally stopped over a month ago. I don’t even have a good reason. I was going to blame it on the fact that I lost the sheet. But I do remember seeing it when I was looking for a recipe the other day- so now I know right where it is.

Blerg.

Okay it’s a short list, but I have more books to share thoughts on for another day. To sum up, The Shack was my favorite of these…and yes, I am endorsing a book that came out 9 years ago that I just got around to reading this year.