I’m 40 years old and am looking forward to the day when my husband and I will be parents. After reading the various stories about infertility and fertility challenges here on Offbeat Mama, it felt like the right time to share my story.
I’m one of those women struggling with infertility issues. One: my age. I’m no spring chicken. Two: endometriosis — I was treated for that two years ago after suffering for over a year with crazy painful periods, and after my husband and I had been trying for more than six months. Three, high FSH (follicle-stimulating hormone) levels — it’s taking more hormones to kick-start my ovaries and get them working.
There are those who question why some like me wait so long before having children. Women know our reproductive years are only so long, but sometimes circumstances don’t seem ideal. For me, it was career, trying to resolve some unresolved personal issues, and trying to meet someone I wanted to start a family with. After seeing a couple of friends go through a challenging time as a single parent (and I admire them for doing it!), I didn’t have it in me to go it alone.
My husband and I met almost four years ago, and within six months we had moved in together and were talking lifetime commitments. We figured we were serious enough about each other that if an “oops” happened, we’d deal with it. So we waited for our “oops” to happen. After suffering from unusual and intense menstrual pain, and us not having any success with our “oops,” I was referred to a gynecologist who is also a fertility specialist, just in case.
I was diagnosed with a serious case of endometriosis, discovered during a laparoscopy. After some deliberation, we decided to go ahead with in-vitro fertilization in fall 2010.
Needles and I don’t always get along — I get very anxious about any needles. My husband was great about giving me the various injections. One in the morning, two at night. It wasn’t fun, both getting the needles and dealing with how the hormones were affecting me. We made it through the injections, through egg retrieval (two retrieved!) and embryo transfer. The chances got better and better! And then, 15 days later, a positive pregnancy test. We were pregnant! Through December, the holidays and New Year’s, we were ecstatic.
We weren’t prepared for what happened next.
All that was in there was a black, empty shape. Neither of the embryos took. It broke our hearts.
In early January, we were scheduled for our eight-week ultrasound to see how many embryos took. Would it be one or two? When our doctor did the ultrasound and then called another doctor in to confirm what she saw, my heart sank. All that was in there was a black, empty shape. Neither of the embryos took. It broke our hearts. My thoughts were self-blaming: I’ve let everyone down… I should have done this or that… I’m broken… I’m defective.
What happened was something called a blighted ovum. It’s an early miscarriage of sorts. After almost a year, we tried it again. A different experience this time — I responded differently to the drugs, but even with that, it didn’t happen. We got our negative result just over a month ago now, which was a bit of a blow.
Acceptance is hard, especially now that we’re at a point where a pregnancy will likely never happen. To me, acceptance was saying it’s ok, it happened, and bouncing off like nothing happened. I’ve learned that my definition was wrong, though — accepting this is being able to say that yes, this did happen, and yes, it really fucking sucks. It’s saying I’ll be upset and sad and angry and disappointed, but even with all that it’s possible to move forward. I’ve said goodbye to the embryos and the dreams and hopes we had for them in letters, which I eventually tossed into the waves. And slowly, life is continuing on. It is hard at times to see all the pregnant bellies and baby pictures around when I want to be happy for the pregnant women and parents… but I don’t have it in me to be overjoyed. I know this doesn’t make me a bad person. It makes me human.
The biggest thing I remind myself of is this — I am not broken. My ovaries might not be working the way they should be, but I’m not broken or defective. I’m still coming to terms with everything — especially the permanence of my infertility. It’s a loss, and I’m mourning still… the losses of the pregnancy and the embryos… the dreams, the hopes, the wishes tied in with it all.
But this isn’t the end of our story. My husband and I know we’ll be parents somehow. We’re meant to be fantabulous parents. We just have to wait and see what the next chapter will offer. There are going to be different dreams, hopes and wishes to come.