(You get a special prize if the title of this blog post made you think of this song.)
For two years, we wanted a baby.
When I first started lurking on infertility websites and forums, the acronyms were confusing. I knew that TTC was “trying to conceive” but all of the other bits seemed as if someone poured out a box of Alphabits cereal on the floor and then let a strong breeze blow through. The terms did not make sense.
But then, sadly suddenly, they did.
After a few months, I started tracking ovulation using at-home tests, and “OPK” (ovulation predictor kit) and “DPO” (days past ovulation) became common in our home. Several more months gave way to an understanding of what “TWW” (two week wait) and “BFN on a HPT” (big fat negative on a home pregnancy test) meant. The term “AMA” (advanced maternal age) came into play after a year. I learned that Clomid tastes horrible and does crazy things to my blood sugars; Letrozole did not. After two years, I knew what an HSG was (hysterosalpingogram), had experienced IUIs (intrauterine insemination) and discussions about IVF (in vitro fertilization) were marked in my file, alongside “unexplained secondary infertility.” Our insurance did not cover any of these treatments. The stress on my family was tremendous. The depression that came about as a result of this process was hard to describe but effortless to immerse myself in.
Last summer, I was pregnant, the result of an IUI. It was awesome, but briefly so. The baby wasn’t able to stay, for whatever reason, so they left when I was in the middle of a conference. Despite having friends to lean on and my family a phone call away, it was violently isolating.
I felt like my body had failed me. Again, and this time in a way I had not expected. Not making insulin is standard fare after decades with type 1 diabetes, but not being able to make a baby broke my heart in a way that diabetes never could. Maybe it’s because I’m used to diabetes. Maybe it’s because the journey of having my daughter was almost effortless, by comparison. Maybe it’s because the miscarriage question couldn’t be answered, instead with doctors and friends alike only able to say they were sorry.
I feel guilty that I’m only sharing this now, with my growing belly as a comfort. Fifteen weeks pregnant with my second child and I’m still paranoid about every doctor’s appointment and ultrasound, still checking for blood every time I use the bathroom. I wasn’t brave enough to talk about infertility and pregnancy loss over the last two years, and that makes me feel like a crumb because I should have been open about it then. I wish I had been open about it then, because I would have benefitted from the support of friends and family. My mother and my best friends knew, but outside of that circle, this was an experience my family went through in silence.
People would ask, with kind intentions, if we were ever going to give Birdy a sibling and we should “Hurry up!” Or they’d look at our independent five year old and say, “Aren’t you glad the days of diapers are behind you?” And I became used to that feeling of my face settling into an expression of shielded pain, where I tried to make them feel more comfortable for asking.
It’s awkward to talk about, or at least it is for me. Diabetes is something I am very comfortable sharing and discussing, but infertility was a shrugged-off, silent weight we carried, one we pretended wasn’t happening except every morning and every evening I documented this strange sadness on a spreadsheet that I brought to the doctor’s office with me every few weeks.
I’m sharing this experience now, despite still feeling vulnerable and nervous about my current pregnancy, because I found a lot of comfort in reading other people’s stories and raising my hand in a, “Me, too,” even if I did it in silence. I never felt better that other people were experiencing a similar journey, but I did feel comforted, knowing I was not the only one.
I didn’t feel jealous when I saw pregnant women, because I had only recently learned what kind of struggle it can take to arrive at that moment. And I would have shared this story whether I ended up pregnant or not, because the loneliness of infertility was suffocating. I’m sorry I didn’t say anything sooner. I wish I had, in case you were reading. You, the one dealing with this, too. I’ve been where you are, or at least my version of that experience. I have no idea what any of our futures hold, but I know you’re not alone.
You are not the only one. You are not alone.