Let's talk infertility! To me, it's like a dirty word. It represents everything that I hate about myself. And, yet, it is the thing that brought my children to me. Because let's face it, what are the odds that we would have gone out looking to adopt if I had been popping out babies like seemingly everyone else that I've ever met (not really, but perception is reality and what not)? I like to think that we would have. That we would have known that something was missing. Because something definitely would have been missing. But, that's not what this post is about. This is about....infertility. (Now you have to imagine it in an ominous voice and maybe a scary sound at the end.)
I don't like talking about it. I don't like how it makes me feel. I feel like not being able to physically have a child makes me less of a woman. I failed at doing the most basic thing that females were designed to do. And, that just sucks! Now I know that I'm partially dodging a bullet because pregnancy/childbirth is no day at the park but it still doesn't seem fair that I wasn't even offered my turn on the swings. (See what I did there?)
The reason I'm writing this is that we went through a bit of an emotionally harrowing experience about a year and a half ago. I'm still thinking about it so I thought it might help to get it out. Plus I think there might be a chance that I'm not the only woman who has ever dealt with infertility and related things, haha, so maybe someone else will feel less alone.
So after years and years of getting my hopes up and dashed whenever I was a bit late on my cousin, Antonio's visit (As my friend and I used to call it.), I didn't watch as closely. Then one day, I realized that Antonio was a couple of weeks late. Intriguing. And, then later and later. It didn't take long for Brian and I to fall off the deep end of hope ocean. And, we were supremely convinced that this was it. It had actually happened.
But, the pregnancy test said no.
We calculated and recalculated dates. We obsessed over symptoms. We found articles and statistics about false negative results due to timing, low hormone levels, etc. (You really can find anything on the internet.)
Of course, we checked out menopause symptoms; since I'm not actually 29 like I say I am. (Don't tell your friends!) But, still 42 did seem young for that. I obsessively read symptoms for menopause and checked my family history. Nothing matched up. And, I tried to be as objective as possible.
By the time a month and a half had passed, it was all over for us, in terms of any objectivity. We were firmly convinced and very excited. No pregnancy test in a box was going to stop us. It was happening.
So we moved on to a clinic and received another negative result. But, since that was not technically more accurate than the store bought tests, we were not convinced. After another week or so, we headed for an ultrasound for an official word. We may sound like we were grasping at straws a bit but, the fact is it was something. It may not have been pregnancy but it was something.
This is the harrowing part.
We sat in a waiting room with young pregnant women. I wondered if I was finally in the club. I was painfully aware that this was it. Either way, I would have an answer and I might not like what I get. But, what I didn't expect was lack of compassion.
Of course, the Doctor was an older man. No offense to nice older men of the world, but it didn't raise my comfort level. I would have preferred a woman. He instantly started in about how it was probably early onset menopause (Let's give that one scary sound effects, too.) He then did the internal stuff and showed me on the screen how it could not possibly be pregnancy. He went into great details telling me what it would look like if it were pregnancy. It was like someone told him that I desperately did not want to be pregnant and he should reassure me. When, in fact, he was killing my dreams with shocking casualness. I wanted to run away, just get out of there. But, you can't really run from an internal ultrasound. Not without taking some costly medical equipment with you. Enjoy that image! So, instead, I laid there, staring at the ceiling, trying to ignore his words and avoid looking at the pictures of babies all over the walls.
When he was done, they took a blood test to confirm Peri-Menopause. Or as I see it, to confirm that it wasn't "our turn," after all.
Well, as you can imagine, we were devastated. It felt like a death. We had named him. We had planned for him. (Yes, it was a him.) And, even though, we understood that he never existed at all, it still hurt. It was still a loss. I suddenly related to what a miscarriage must feels like, emotionally. And, you women who have experienced that loss (and all others), I wish I could hug you all.
Brian went through a myriad of emotions. If we weren't so sad, it would have been fascinating to observe the accuracy of the five stages of grief. He started with denial with his insistence that the doctor was a quack and didn't know what he was talking about; then moved on to the others. Seeing as I'm not trying to type this with a toddler in tow, we know that wasn't accurate. (Come to think of it, I wouldn't be writing this post at all if I had a toddler, but the point remains.)
I was just beside myself. They had basically told me I was barren and old. Maybe not in those words, but that's definitely what I felt.
And when the nurse called a few days to cheerfully tell me the hormone levels that confirmed early on-set menopause and verify that all hope was lost; I hung up on her. (I haven't done that since my teens!) I blamed her and the doctor. I was so angry at them. I think I'm still angry. Later, of course, I had to call back and apologize so I could get the level amounts and google it to figure out what the heck it all meant.
Eventually, my dear old cousin, Antonio, came to visit. And, he made up for lost time, haha. And he has been mostly routine with his visits since then. It's almost like the universe was playing a cruel trick on us. But, we are nice folks and I'm not sure that the universe has time or interest in humor so
I don't know.
All I know is that it was badly handled by that doctor. What if I had actually had a miscarriage, would he have been more compassionate? Based on a blog that I read about a woman who did miscarry and had to navigate the happy baby picture hallways, I'd have to say no. (I wish that I could find that post.)
I just know that it's plain unfair.
But, the good news is I can treasure those special moments that I had with Brian when we believed that it was happening and felt free to plan and enjoy it. We may not have gotten to see it through, but what we did get was just great fun. And I can treasure the fact that I have 4 beautiful children who do exist and I'm so very grateful for that. I love them so very much.
There's a lot of injustice in the world. A lot of it is way bigger than my pain. And maybe some of it's not. All I know is that I still miss that baby who never actually existed because he sure existed in our hearts.
And it would have been nice if the doctor had taken our feelings into account. It was a baby (granted, an imaginary one), not a Band-Aid. It didn't hurt less when he ripped it off.