Infertility is a Bitch
A friend’s blog so aptly states Sometimes It’s Hard to Get Pregnant. “It’s hard to get pregnant. It’s hard to stay pregnant. And it’s hard to continue the journey.”
In college I was polka dotted. I visited approximately 732 dermatologists to figure out what was wrong with me. Finally, a doctor shared it wasn’t just an epidemiological stylistic body modification choice (although I do still bear the scars). It was an endocrine, autoimmune disorder. My body was attacking itself.
“Be aware, this may cause problems getting pregnant,” she warned. Naturally I blew her off as a quack. I was 19. What the heck did I care about pregnancy? I’d spent the better part of my adult(ish) life trying NOT to get pregnant.
Seven years later I sat in a doctor’s office, clad in the oh-so-modest pink paper drape. My doctor smiled at me. “Simply stop taking birth control.” It was supposed to be that easy.
Weekly doctor appointments. Weekly blood draws (my blood damnit, MINE). Daily hormones. Daily shots. PROCEDURES. I. Do. Not. Like. Needles. Sex on schedule (which, let me tell you, is NOT sexy/romantic). And monthly heartache when we’d learn we still wouldn’t be parents.
Modesty went right out the window. Show up, strip down and suffer the humiliation of being poked and prodded by at least three medical professionals at every visit. (This does not come back. See yesterday’s post about my underwear for the world to see.)
I hungrily searched for commiseration. “When you’re over 35…” began all the blogs and books. I was 26. Wasn’t I supposed to be in my prime? Why? Why am I broken as I sit in waiting rooms reading about the latest surge in teen pregnancy?
Finally, my daily habit of peeing on a stick paid off. “Pregnant” announced the Home Pregnancy Test. I shrieked! I asked our dogs how they felt about becoming big brothers and spent the evening basking in an ignorant mommy-to-be glow.
A week later I was slumped against a wall at work – fighting tears as I struggled to accept my first miscarriage. Two months later I had my second. “I’m sorry. Your HCG numbers just aren’t climbing appropriately. This pregnancy is not viable.”
Both miscarriages occurred very early on. People tried to console me – did you know 70% of early pregnancies end in spontaneous abortion? Your body clearly knew something was wrong. Better now than later. It was meant to be.
I convinced myself I just needed to hear the heartbeat. I just needed to make it past the first trimester.
And then I got pregnant. Really pregnant – not just a little pregnant (which, by the way, there is very much so such a thing as).
At 14 weeks I laid on the exam room table, once again wearing that pink paper drape I’d come to dread. “There is no heartbeat.” With those words, as if on cue, I lost all composure and burst into tears. My body was a hostile environment.
I called my friend Michelle. She was supposed to be my doula; she’d also struggled with infertility right along with me before having her two beautiful children. And in 1992, she’d lost her sister Daniela to a car accident on Nov. 15 (my birthday).
Baby C was gone. But he wasn’t alone. I imagined Daniela swaddling him as he arrived in the great beyond. We had guardian angels who would watch over the muppets future struggles. And maybe that was necessary. Heaven knows I put my own guardian angel through the paces as I grew up. (See Firemobile.)
Naively I thought once all those high-risk baby doctors declared me normal the hard part would be over.
I was wrong.
November is Prematurity Awareness Month. Tomorrow is World Prematurity Day. This is a cause I will fight forever – no matter how big the muppets get. We fight because they shouldn’t have to. The battle is for a time when no baby will be born too soon.
I used to be so paranoid, such a conspiracy theorist. So why do I now air my dirty laundry for all the world to see? Because it’s not dirty – sure it’s still not folded or put away, but it’s clean. You may be broken, but you are not alone. And this should not be a taboo topic.
So there you have it: my life as an open book. Funny, maybe I am the novel I always wanted to write…