For me, infertility had three distinct phases. Each one had its own painful theme.
Phase One: We deserve to get pregnant because of how much this sucks, please, God, please.
Technically the first year we were trying we were not yet considered “infertile”. But Gemma was almost three. Three!!! I’d spent ALL of 2014 obsessing about having another baby but we had all these other goals we needed to check off our list first. Salary. Savings. House. By the time we did start trying I was already very eager. And then we were bludgeoned by a horrific loss. We finally had our life more together and then we lost Bill’s mom. So we deserved to get pregnant. Because she died and, damnit, it wasn’t fair. I see now the neon flashing immaturity of this response but grief is a dark monster even when you’re trying to deal with it in a healthy way. It’s a black shadow looming over everything and it feels like the sun is never coming back out again. So I thought we deserved something wonderful to happen. Total brat, I know. But my husband missed his mom and we both wanted a baby so much. Sure, I was anxious every month. I begged every month. Please, please give us a baby because everything sucks. Obviously I was sad every month when my period showed up. However, I didn’t really believe we wouldn’t eventually get pregnant. But then we didn’t.
Phase Two: Panic and desperation, OMG, what if this really doesn’t ever happen, I have to control it and I have to get pregnant but what if I can’t, OMG?!?!
This was after we were evaluated. It’s when it hit me that it really was possible that this may not ever happen. The thought of that made me want to crawl out of my own skin. Because, at the end of the day, so much of the pain of infertility is a result of learning how little control we actually have. It’s a bone jarring collision with your own powerlessness. Fear and desperation bled into everything. Friendships. Mental health. Intimacy. Nothing was untouched. A frenetic thrashing that hid beneath seemingly placid water. Because all the while I drudged up a casual smile whenever someone remarked about Gemma’s age or asked us when we were planning to have another baby. All the while we kept this dark, panicked secret.
Phase Three: It’s not going to happen. Because if it were it would have already and it hasn’t.
By the time we had been trying for almost two years I was in pretty bad shape. No one knew, of course. Because if there is one I can do like a boss it’s function like everything is fine. But I wasn’t fine. I should have been treated for depression at that point. I do this thing sometimes where I think it’s easier to simply accept the thing I’m dreading as reality rather than hope for the best and get destroyed. But that’s so destructive. So unhealthy. Healthy would have been to accept that we just didn’t know if we’d ever get pregnant. Maybe we would, maybe we wouldn’t. But I couldn’t stand that. So, as if I knew the mind of God, I decided flat out that he had given us his answer. Of course that didn’t stop that terrible little ember of hope from blazing to life once a month before my period would come. Nor did it stop me from berating myself viciously for being a childish idiot every month when we we weren’t pregnant.
I had to stand in line for preschool pick-up beside other moms who either had babies and toddlers with them or were sporting beautiful pregnant bellies. I stood beside them knowing that I wasn’t like them. That I was tainted and that God loved them more than he loved me. Not because God was mean. But because I must deserve less. It’s really hard to see that typed out in black and white. But I felt set apart. I was different. Abandoned.
At that point I “understood” that for most people everything happened the way it was supposed to happen. I wasn’t jealous anymore. I knew people deserved their happiness and I really did want it for them. We were just different. We went to three weddings while we were trying and I knew each couple was going to be pregnant before us. And they were. All three of them. It was just the ways things were.
It’s very humbling to put this all out there. I’m not proud of all of it. Because no one deserves to get pregnant or not to get pregnant. No one earns their way to blessings by trudging through excess suffering. I know how easy it is to be eaten alive by perceived injustice and to feel like your family is more entitled to a baby because you’re “better people”. Or because you’ve endured more while “they” have had everything so easy. It’s human nature to feel this way when you’re in pain but ultimately it’s just plain immaturity. I was immature. I’m not proud of my lack of faith. But infertility hurts. It hurts so so much and it’s unreasonable to expect a person to be perfect when he or she is writhing in pain.
But God didn’t expect me to be perfect and he didn’t leave me. I just couldn’t see because the clouds were so dark.