It seems like right after I got married - and perhaps even on my wedding day - I was asked: when are you going to start having kids? "I don't know," I would answer. "When we're ready." We were ready about two years later, and after just two months of trying, I was pregnant. Nearly 42 weeks later (he was ten days late), my handsome, vivacious, mischievous, hilarious, adorable son was born. He is perfect, and by that I don't mean that he is perfectly-behaved, because he's not. He's a kid and he tests us. But that's what kids should do and so, to me, he's perfect. Even when he whines. (Did I just say that?)
It seems like right after my son turned 2, the next round of questions began: When are you going to have a second? Do you want another? Soon, I would answer. Because I wanted my kids to be three years apart. I wanted them to be close; I wanted them to be in school together; I wanted them to play together and experience childhood together. And so we started "trying." And trying. And trying. And then I had a miscarriage. But we kept on trying. And after fourteen months of trying, I went to see a fertility doctor. That first visit was nearly a year ago.
After blood tests, an HSG to determine whether I have blocked fallopian tubes or residual scar tissue from my c-section, and several other tests to determine whether I am or my husband is the infertility culprit, I was diagnosed with - wait for it - unexplained secondary infertility. You can imagine the relief I felt when the doctor delivered the diagnosis. (Yes, I am being facetious.) I am fine. My husband is fine. For some reason, the sperm and egg just aren't meeting. The only cure is to keep trying. So with the help of medical science, I am. Two rounds of Clomid - check. Two rounds of IUI - check. Two rounds of acupuncture + fertility shakes + finding my inner zen + feigning indifference over whether or not I get pregnant - check. And finally, IVF - check. All failed. My consolation prize from IVF (which I went through in December): the most excruciating, agonizing, immobilizing cysts that ruptured, and which continue to cause me pain a month later.
In the midst of all this, I have a pregnant sister, many pregnant friends, and am surrounded by pregnant women when I walk through the halls of my son's preschool. I am beyond thrilled and happy for all of them. But it's hard on me emotionally. Extremely hard. Yes, I already have an incredible child. No, I do not take solace in that fact. Yes, I know there are women struggling to have their first. No, that should not minimize my desire to have a second. Yes, I am trying to stay positive and hopeful. No, I cannot turn off the part of my brain that wants to have another baby so please don't tell me or anyone like me that it will happen if I just stop thinking about it. Yes, I also know of a woman who gave up and got pregnant during the adoption process. No, I cannot give up. Yes, I know that someday it will happen and I will continue to tell that to myself day after day after day.
There is a silver lining. In the fertility world, 35 is young so I am constantly being told how young I am. I also think it's fantastic that my son has had our undivided attention for longer than expected. So far, he hasn't asked for a sibling or asked why he doesn't have one. I also think that I've probably added a few years to my life by not having two toddlers.
I am (clearly) brutally honest about what I've going through the last two years, and some friends have taken that as a cue to open up about their own experiences with infertility and, man, does that help. Talking is cathartic. But strangely, some friends think that this subject is taboo. Why the hell is that? This is one of the hardest obstacles I have ever had to face as a mom, a woman, and a person, and so many of my friends act as though it's too private to talk about and that I don't want to share. Hell, I'll share with anyone who will offer me support and who will tell me stories of other women who have gotten to the other side of "unexplained secondary infertility" with a beautiful baby in their arms. Helpful hint: if I shared with you the fact that I'm on clomid, the fact that I did a round of IVF, the fact that I've had inseminations, the fact that I am crushed when the pregnancy test says "Not pregnant" (yes, I buy the expensive ones because I always try to fool myself into seeing a line when one just isn't there), you have carte blanch authority to ask me anytime how fertility treatments are going. Trust me, I'll appreciate it.
Where do we go from here? I would love to say that another round of IVF is in the cards but I can't deal with another batch of cysts that cause me more pain than labor did. And the thought of injecting those medicines again makes me nauseous. So we're taking the zen, holistic approach for a couple of months to let my body heal and hope that the healing process brings us the ultimate gift. And, importantly, we will continue to enjoy every moment with this sweet boy.