Last week Andrew and I came out on Facebook as Infertile.
It was terrifying yet completely exhilarating.
Not that I think my uterus and our sex life is anybody's effing business, but the effort and feelings of shame in keeping it a secret while simultaneously fielding the awful (inappropriate) questions from virtually everyone about when we were going to have a baby (of if we "wanted" to have kids, or just how BIG our house was for just the two of us... yeah) was emotionally exhausting and like continuously getting punched in the heart every time.
That and I realized that people at home in my rural nosy village already knew. And I'd rather they not talk about it as the shameful secret they weren't supposed to know. Because eff that noise.
What I've realized in both living and sharing about our experience is that infertility is VERY common among couples. And usually the only time someone "comes out" is when they actually manage to get pregnant. Which is so unfair.
Our journey reads like almost every other blog post out there.
Up until about three years ago I had no idea, no concept that making a baby would be that difficult. I mean, I had just spent ALL of my adult life actively avoiding that very thing. It was never even a QUESTION whether or not I'd be able to make a baby. The ability to conceive was always a choice I had.
At least. That's what I thought.
If you're not experiencing a similar journey, you have absolutely no idea what it feels like to be so betrayed by your own body. And no matter what anyone says, in today's society infertility still implies shame and blame on the would-be mother.
For us it started with testing prior to actively trying to conceive due to my years of disordered cycles. All those awful, invasive tests followed by loads of blood work just to determine that well- everything physically appeared just fine.
Then, two years ago we decided to try to conceive. We figured it would take a couple months, at the max five or six.
Months of daily temperature checks, cutting caffeine in half, eating almond butter from a spoon every morning and following a ridiculous meal regime recommended by the naturopath, tracking my cycle-symptoms and sex life with a ridiculous App on my phone... And every three weeks the crushing, heart wrenching realization that we had failed. Again.
All this in secret.
At the year mark it became obvious that we weren't going to just "make a baby". A referral to the fertility gynaecologist was made.
Followed by more blood work and more invasive test after invasive test. All the while every three weeks we faced another cycle gone by. Another missed opportunity, another failure where we must have done something wrong. Each month I can't help telling myself- "NEXT month we'll do things right. We'll eat better, meditate more and catch it exactly at the right part of the cycle. Next month we will succeed."
At around month 16 "living as if I were pregnant" was starting to wear on me. All it did was to remind me several times over the course of the day what we'd failed and what we struggle against. My first waking thought was shutting off the alarm and sleepily taking my morning temperature. Followed by a disgusting breakfast that hurt my stomach, lunch vitamins, a special fertility three part cycle specific smoothie at supper and the evening Folic Acid.
I decided it was too much. We stopped going to the Naturopath- I couldn't take the daily reminders of our failure with the intense fertility regime AND go through all the painful and personal medical testing that had to be done.
Last fall the gynaecologist sat us down and shared our options: either we keep trying (which for the past 18 months had not been working), I go through exploratory surgery to see whether I had endometriosis (for which I have ZERO symptoms other than infertility) or we go to the fertility clinic and begin the process for fertility treatments.
January 9th we returned to the Naturopath and the fertility "boosts" have returned.
On January 12th we met the fertility specialist at the fertility clinic and paid 175$ for 30 minutes of her time (NOT covered by Canadian Health Care system nor my work health insurance). As we sat there, I still had a tiny glimmer of hope that she would have some good news.
Holding hands nervously, we listened as she outlined the truth: at this stage of trying to conceive Andrew and I have a 3% chance each month. The longer we aren't successful, the lower that percentage gets.
It felt like being slapped in the face. It still feels surreal. My body FEELS fine. I am healthy, I am active, I eat well, I have taken care of my body. I did all the right things and I have all the right parts. I AM SUPPOSED TO BE ABLE TO DO THIS.
Our only real option with any hope for results over 20% success rate is IVF: In Vitro Fertilization. She kindly went through a diagram of the entire process. I could barely process a word she said. I remember acronyms, weeks of drug injections, more blood tests and then some scary procedures.
There's an info session. We haven't gone to it yet.
The week before this appointment, on January 5th, Andrew lost his job. IVF costs over 10,000$ per procedure. None of that is covered in our health care system nor in my insurance.
So. Here we are. Last week I tried acupuncture. It was awful. The acupuncturist judged me and gave unhelpful and hurtful advice. She told me to "just act as if you're pregnant all the time". I wanted to slap her. Who can live that way for years on end?
This is not like "choosing" to wait until later to have a baby, or "choosing" to not have a baby at all. This is not my choice.
This has been the most difficult part of my adult life so far.
So, EcoYogi peeps. I am sharing this here because it's such a huge part of my life now.
Because I think it's unfair that we keep something that happens to SO many couples a shameful secret. Because I want at least one person reading this to reconsider the next time they ask someone "when are you going to have a baby" or "do you even WANT kids?".
And because I haven't given up.