I’ve been sitting here staring at my screen for ten minutes because I don’t even know how to start this story. For so long I couldn’t talk about this with anyone other than a very close, small circle. Many times I thought about blogging our infertility experience as it was happening but it always felt too raw. Too many screaming exposed nerves. And I’ve never been a person comfortable with being publicly vulnerable. I used to believe that the only way the world would tolerate my existence was if I stayed quiet and never made waves. Don’t make yourself a target. Be bulletproof. Look perfect. Not healthy.
And, of course, talking about infertility would make it real. It would solidify the fact that I was a lesser woman. A lesser wife. A lesser mom. Less loved by God. Just less. But everything is different now. Now I know that allowing oneself to be vulnerable is one of the bravest things a person can ever do. I know now that the only way to survive ANYTHING is to allow yourself to feel it. Don’t fight it. Let it well up within you so then it can blow past you. And then you can process it from a less emotional place. Something it took me 32 years to even begin to understand. So let’s do this.
Our Infertility Story
Oddly enough, I have to begin this story by going back to our first baby. The one we conceived the first time, and I mean the first time, we took a lackadaisical shot at it. If you are currently in the midst of your struggle to have a baby then I know that this is the last thing you want to read. Believe me, I get it. And I’m so desperately sorry for your pain. You should know though that there came a time when I was certain we were being punished for how easily Gemma came to us.
Bill and I were not yet 25 when we got married in the spring of 2010. Young? Yep. Stupid? Maybe a little. But one thing we knew for certain was that we wanted a large family. Five kids, maybe. Four kids, definitely. A little over a year after we were married we were talking seriously about getting started on that great big family we were planning. We didn’t have much money but to us, with our first “real” jobs, it seemed like plenty. We were young and in love and living by the sea in dream-like Charleston, South Carolina. Why not? One cycle and we were pregnant. Gemma was born in the spring of 2012 and we spent our first year as a family of three on the southeast coast. She was everything.
But the truth is that infertility was very much on my radar as we jumped into to trying to conceive. Which made absolutely no sense. I had a classically perfect menstrual cycle. Clockwork 28 days. We were both young and completely healthy. But there was this nagging sense of unease that just wouldn’t leave me. Then by chance I came upon some bloggers and vloggers who were documenting their infertility. I started following their experiences and I had this inexplicable sense of kinship with them. I just had this feeling. When we immediately got pregnant I felt like an idiot and ashamed of myself for connecting with these women and their heartache. I chalked those feelings I’d had up to my typical anxiety, something I’ve battled through my life. But those feelings I have sometimes…I’ve learned not to ignore them. I didn’t know it then but, yes, infertility was going to be part of our lives.
Two and a half years later we were back home in Ohio and feeling blessed to be raising Gemma near our family and friends. Life was busy but happy. We bought our first house. I was laid off from my job but then Bill immediately got a better job. One that was enough for me to stay home with Gemma which was what I’d always wanted to do.
As we headed into the first Christmas season in our new home we started talking about having another baby. The twinkling warmth of Christmas and all the goals we had accomplished that year made our world bright and full of possibility. We decided it was time. It’s funny now, typing that. We decided it was time. As if anyone has the power to decide when they will have a child.
Rationally I shouldn’t have been worried again. After all we had gotten pregnant right away the first time. We were in better physical shape than we were when we first conceived. By leaps and bounds we were far more financially stable. Life was on track. It was going well. The long-suffering logical side of my brain was telling me to relax. That while I likely wasn’t going to get pregnant that first time again there was no reason to think it wouldn’t happen within the time window we were planning.
But I was still nervous. That word, infertility, just tugged and tugged at my consciousness all the time. Some people might say that it was my own fear that brought infertility to me. I don’t agree. Because I felt the same foreboding before we conceived Gemma right away. I could see the dark clouds out over the water. I just misjudged how fast they were rolling in. As we started trying again I couldn’t shake the feeling that something wasn’t right. That a storm was brewing. And I was right.