I am many things. I carry many titles. Wife, daughter, sister, aunt, friend, craft-addict, control freak. Above all, I am a mother. This is the one I am most fiercely proud of and the one I worked pretty damn hard to earn. Sure, the mother title is hard earned by everyone. Birthing a child is actually the third most difficult thing I’ve done. Second on the list is trying to create the child as we struggled with infertility. Both of these things have been superseded in their difficulty over the past year and a half by something that a lot of people don’t know – nor talk – about.
It’s my own personal demon. My “dirty little secret” for the way it makes me feel. It’s secondary infertility. It’s the seemingly impossible struggle to have another child. Well, the time has come for me to pull this nasty little bugger, kicking and screaming, out into the open. I’m taking back my secret in the hopes that the countless other women who struggle with this will feel a little more “normal.” And that putting it out there will help me feel a little more “normal” too.
You spend a great deal of time and effort in your life trying to not get pregnant. After all, we’re led to believe that getting pregnant is “easy.” I’m calling bullshit. Sure, for some it’s really easy. Even accidental. For some others of us, it’s easier to sculpt the Eiffel Tower out of butter with our toes than to get knocked up. Of course, no one ever really tells you that until it’s too late. No one mentions it until you’ve been beating yourself up for at least a year while watching everyone else get pregnant. And I mean e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e.
This is the point in writing where I start to question myself. How do I come off sounding light and humorous and not bitter, bitchy and angry? Truth is, I can’t. It’s impossible. Because you know what? I am bitter. I am bitchy. And I am most definitely angry. But, dammit, I think I’ve earned the right to be all three of those things (and more) from time-to-time.
I have always wanted to be a mother above all else. That was my career goal. Call me old-fashioned. Call me crazy, but that’s the only “job” I ever really wanted. All of my other girlfriends would cringe when I said that I couldn’t wait to be a stay-at-home mom. There was also a mixture of shock, disbelief and a touch of “she’s nuts” when I spoke about it. Imagine my surprise when I’m finally fiscally and domestically ready to achieve my goals and… nothing. Nada. Zilch. Seriously??? Whose Cheerios did I piss in to cause the karma police to put my uterus on lockdown?
It took about six months, but we finally got that amazingly beautiful plus sign on the pee stick! We were thrilled! Immediate family was called. Happy news was shared. Tears of joy were cried. Then, just as quickly, those tears of joy were replaced with tears of sadness. It was gone. I felt empty and hollow. Most of all, I felt broken. I felt like I had failed in my one job on Earth. And it sucked. Big time. After about a month of deserved wallowing, we got back on the proverbial horse. Another seven months on the “job” and I was referred to the Infertility Clinic. Yup. That name is even a smack in the face. You think they could call it the “Oven Repair Clinic” or something less crushing?
I went in for a battery of tests to try and discover what was up with my faulty oven. (Side note: People get so pissed at me when I call it that. Why? It’s mine. I can call it whatever I want.) Many vials of blood were drawn. Numerous cups were peed in. Multitudes of pictures were taken of my internal workings. I was poked and prodded for months all in the hopes of getting answers. Just when I was at my lowest and most bitterly discouraged point, fate saw to intervene and I got pregnant! Whoopee! Hooray! I was overjoyed, deliriously happy and… TERRIFIED!!! Inside I was intensely afraid to move or breathe as to not cause this little bean to vanish like the one before. Outside? Outside I carried on with a smile on my face, barfing my guts out and being thrilled about it all. (Word to the wise, Fruity Pebbles are amazing if you’re constantly chucking.)
The months passed and everything was textbook. I relished every single second of being pregnant. Even the insane swelling and the feeling that an alien had taken control of my body. Our beautiful, amazing, fantastic (there really aren’t enough adjectives) baby boy arrived one day after his due date, on Groundhog Day. He brought us out of the dark depths of winter and into the warm sunshine of spring. That tiny, pink, little bundle of a human saved me.
During my checkout exam at the hospital, I asked the OBGYN how soon I could do it again. She laughed. I told her I was serious. She told me I was the first person in her entire career to ask that question three days after delivering. Was I possibly insane? Maybe. Whatevs. I was ready.
We waited the allotted time, got back on the job and immediately became pregnant. The oven works! It’s fixed! Not so fast. Two weeks later, I would miscarry. Seven months later, we’d be in the same boat. Six months later, we’d be back in the clinic. The oven was faulty again. Secondary infertility, they said. Ummm…what? Another curveball. So, we started over. More tests. More blood. More… everything.
During the two years of trying, there’s been another Baby Boom. Hollywood is churning out newborns at a dizzying rate. Halle Berry just had a baby “naturally” at 46. Really? She can suck it. Countless friends have had babies or are pregnant. And, they’re all pretty much afraid to tell me. You know what? Don’t be afraid. You’re my friend, I love you, I’m over the moon happy for you and I can’t wait to meet your new little one. I will relish in shopping for wee little baby things.
This doesn’t mean that there won’t be days where I scroll past your pregnancy updates on Facebook because it just hurts too much. There will also be days when I just can’t be around pregnant women. When the sight of their bumps makes me want to run around screaming, pulling my hair out, and spewing a tapestry of profanities. I’d like to avoid that scene, as it will most likely result in me being carted off to the looney bin in a hug-me jacket. There will be those days. The most amazing thing you can do for me is to listen and understand.
People are funny creatures. They say things out of comfort that can really piss you off and make you feel like a piece of shit on a shoe. Hey, I do it too. Sometimes I suffer from horrendous cases of foot-in-mouth disease. Over the past two years, I’ve heard it all:
“It’ll happen when it happens.” Really? I know this, but it doesn’t make the waiting any easier.
“Everything happens for a reason.” Oh yeah? What kind of fucked up reason is behind miscarriages and infertility when junkies can have babies? Yes, Teen Mom 2… I’m looking at you.
“You should feel blessed and grateful for the one you have.” Uh, yeah. Every. Single. Second. That little boy is the reason I breathe. He’s my everything. I cannot fathom a world without him in it. It doesn’t mean that I don’t yearn to have another. After all, The Dude would make a kick ass big brother and I’m so sad I haven’t yet been able to give him that.
You see? Bitter, bitchy and angry. I don’t point this out to make anyone feel bad about what they say to me. I greatly appreciate the fact that you listen to me whine and moan, and respect me enough to respond. Some people don’t have the balls to have the conversation with me at all.
This is my truth. My journey. I’m a walking science experiment of fertility drugs, injections, and the occasional stark raving lunacy. Whatever the outcome, I know I’ll be okay. I have an amazing husband, an incredible little boy, the best family anyone could ask for, and a wonderful set of badass friends. To all of you, I say thank you. Thank you for loving me and supporting me through this. Thank you for saying all the appropriate (and inappropriate) things to talk me down off the ledge. Just… thank you. Now, let’s get that oven working!