Thursday, August 25, 2011

A Moment of Gratitude

Before we got married, Gene and I would talk about our future children- how many we would have, what we would like to name them, and just general dreams and goals for them that never REALLY went past the age of 5 years old- as then, it was just an idea.  Fastforward to after we got married, again, we had some major financial barriers to having children, and although my time was ticking, we really needed to be realistic and think about what having a child entailed.  It was definitely in the 5 year plan, but still to me, just an "idea."

Closer to the time when we were going to try (approx a year or so before and leading up to), as a nurse, of course we're familiar with how the body would function- bottom line, it's rather unpredictable! And having never been pregnant before or even off the pill, the fears and anxieties of infertility planted its nasty seeds in my head and heart.  So many questions were brewing through my head:

  • Gene is old an older guy, would that make it harder for us?
  • i've been on some form of hormone therapy since i was 17y/o-ish, would that make it harder for us?
  • Gene is a fan of BC bud, will that affect his feritlity? (LOL!)
  • Gene doesn't wear boxer shorts, is that bad for the little guys?
  • What would be our options if we couldn't have children?
  • Would we go into debt to have children or adopt children?
  • Would it make us any less of a man / woman in the OTHER person's eyes if we knew who was "the cause" of our infertility?
  • would we stick through it as a couple or would it be the downfall of our relationship?
Also, there were surges of pregnant people at work which was kind of cool. Of course I was asked when it was "my turn" and well, then I obviously didn't feel ready, but when I was ready, how hard of a time would I have?! I even said to myself I won't tell anyone until someone kind of noticed a bump (this didn't happen though) just to save face in case "something happened."

I'm pretty sure the turning point in my decision was when Sarah (yes, YOU) stated the phrase, "what are you waiting for?" on some random night shift. Things really clicked and I was on a mission since then.  Ok so I did have brewing thoughts like what stroller to buy, who I would be getting it from (Sarah haha) and even baby tips just seemed to stick in my head- but nothing super serious.  Then after her statement, I was like, "i'm waiting for nothing" in my head.  The time was right, the financial burden was ending, and really, I need to get started on a baby-making plan as who knows what type of challenge my body would present to me!  That was sometime in late 2010. 

We had plans for vacation in April 2011, I was thinking of getting off the pill afterwards so I don't fck up that vacation by getting my period- but I just felt SO compelled to get off the pill in Feb.  I took a gamble, I did, and lucky enough, I didn't get my period until the 2nd last day of the vacation (though I was worried about it all throughout that week). My period cycle was 28 - 23 - 28 from Feb to April- irregular I would say?!  Anyhow, the business plan was to launch in May- I mentally and physically prepared myself for the challenges that may lay ahead, and though I didn't buy into the OPK strips (ovulation predictor kit), I did get that preseed stuff just to help things out as Sarah said that worked for her haha!

Fastforward to May 19- where the fck was my period? I want to get this started already!!

Oops, we're pregnant! We tried, but didn't really try as the preseed box was gathering dust under the sink. This lack of "effort" really contributed to my initial disconnect for this pregnancy- seriously, it's pretty pathetic that i'm complaining about how easy we got pregnant vs. being thankful that we got pregnant so easily!  Now i'm very very thankful that we were so "easily" blessed. 

I really need to get my attitude together because there are so many people struggling with infertility nowadays.  I know this isn't much of a segway for the topic of infertility, but it really puts into perspective that...hmm...don't know how to explain it...that I should live in the now, feel pregnant, feel happy about it, love it, swim in it, don't hide it, because i've been blessed. Again, there are so many people struggling with infertility, I need to WAKE UP and be happy and thankful wholeheartedly that it is, what is now for me. I wonder if this makes sense?!  Anyhow, have a read at this persons blog post about her struggles...

We were naïve enough when we got married to think sex was how you made babies. I know people who knew going in to marriage that getting pregnant was going to be an issue, and they were ready to deal with it. But we didn't figure we were those people. I mean, we're both healthy. I have clock-work regular cycles. How hard could this be?
It can be real hard. And our marriage is different for it.

We've lost a lot because of our infertility.

We've lost our innocence. We know having a baby requires a lot more than just fertilizing an egg. Sometimes it requires pills and shots and tests. My big fear is we will go through all of this, get pregnant, and then have a miscarriage and not be able to take our baby home with us. I don't know that I will be able to relax the whole time I'm pregnant when/if that actually happens.

We've lost the intimacy of the process. When you're going to the doctor this frequently, and they poke something into you every time—trans-vaginal ultrasounds, needles, speculum—making a baby isn't that romantic and intimate any more. It will still be my husband and me making the baby, but we'll be doing it with outside help rather than in the intimacy of our home.

We've lost the beautiful surprise that can be finding out you are pregnant in the early morning hours before you've done your hair and while you are still waking up fully, but you decide to use a home pregnancy test because of a hunch you just might be pregnant. I've known people who have kept the results a secret from their husband until they could put together a special dinner to tell him he's going to be a daddy. We're both so aware of my cycle at this point that he pretty much knows exactly what day will be the day we find out if it worked or if we need to try again. No secrets there. Now we'll get a phone call from a nurse with the results of a blood test. It's very possible we won't even be the first to know we're expecting.

However, we've gained a lot as well. Our infertility has become a fertile ground for growth in our marriage.We talk. A lot. And regularly. We ask questions about what we do next, about what we fear, about what we don’t understand. And those talks always end up being about the rest of our lives, as well: work, school, family, vacations, dreams and hopes. We've always been good with communication. But through this we've really cemented how important it is to always talk, and listen, about everything.
We do things for each other in our marriage, so there is no doubt our fertility does not determine our love for each other, nor does it determine who we are. He makes sure I do not feel like any less of a woman because I cannot get pregnant and I make sure he does not feel like any less of a man. A lot of this is based on communication, regularly talking about all the other aspects of each other we love, everything else we've got going for us in our lives, and all the reasons we got together and got married in the first place.
Our love and life are not based on our fertility.

We've strengthened our support of each other. When I tell him the hormones are making me emotional he tells me he'll be my solid support, and he is. I've wet more than one of his shirts with my tears and snot when I just can't keep it all in any more and just have to let it all out on his shoulder. When I'm dizzy and nauseous from the extra hormones being pumped through my system he lets me sleep on the couch while he makes dinner. This process is difficult for both of us in different ways, but we make sure we are there for each other when we need it.

Our support system has grown to include close family and friends we've told. Opening up about our struggles has allowed them to open up about theirs. Each couple's journey through infertility is unique. But we have similar fears and desires. It truly is incredible how many people around us suffer through infertility in isolation. Infertility is one of the last great taboos.

We've gained an understanding of how others have their own troubles, nobody can judge the troubles of another, and the world could do with a little more sensitivity to others. Jokes about pregnancy are no longer funny to me, and I'm realizing that a lot of the things we say in jest might be an unsuspecting knife to the heart of someone else. That's not to say we stop joking, just that we try to do so with more understanding and sensitivity.

And we've gained laughter, even more than we had before. Sex itself is funny to begin with. But throw in the needles, probes, speculum, specimen cups, stirrups, catheters, and a bit of a character for a doctor—making a baby just gets funnier still.
I have never felt more vulnerable than I do right now, wanting something so badly and being almost completely helpless to control what happens. But I know he is laughing, and crying, with me through it all. This trial has strengthened and molded our relationship in a way few other things could. As he put it, every couple has trials, but that doesn't mean they have to be a net negative. This trial for us is truly turning out to be a net positive (even if I occasionally need a bag of chocolate and a good cry before I remember that again).


What is on your mind?


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