When the two lines don’t bring joy and excitement, they bring fear.
I wanted what many women want. I wanted it all, the career, the husband, the house with the white picket fence. Most of all I wanted children. Just two. Two to two and a half years apart. Did I have the names picked out? Of course I did.
I was on the right track. I had a great career, I was married to an amazing man who shared all my family values and dreams. My bubble was safe and comfortable, formed from my goals and my dreams. We were on our path and we were happy. Our bubble was solid.
It happened pretty quickly, our first month trying. I peed on a stick and there was the line. I couldn’t believe it. For some reason I just assumed it would take time. We were thrilled – for two whole days. Then, while out shopping I started getting bad cramps and the happiness ended.
I had what would be my first miscarriage. It was very early – what they called a chemical pregnancy. What my doctor said was very common and not to be concerned about, and that I could try again as soon as we wanted to.
My bubble was still solid but a little smaller.
We started trying again right away, and wouldn’t you know it we got pregnant right away again. I was scared but excited at the same time. Nine months later my daughter was born. She was beautiful and perfect in every way. The miscarriage we had was but a fading memory. Our family was formed and we were so happy.
We Thought We Knew What To Expect
When my daughter was 16 months old, we got started on trying to give her a little brother or sister. After trying for a few months, I became pregnant only to lose it again much the same way as the first miscarriage. Maybe this was what my body needed to do? I mean, I knew I could get pregnant. It’s okay, we’ll just try again and a few months later there were those two lines again.
At this point, you have to understand my bubble was a little deflated. Those lines didn’t bring me joy and excitement. They brought fear. As much as I wanted to see the lines, I was also terrified of seeing them.
This time around my doctor was monitoring me and everything was looking great. My HSG levels were rising as they should be and I was experiencing those first trimester pregnancy feelings. My doctor and husband were assuring me things were looking good and to start enjoying it, so I finally bought my daughter her big sister t-shirt and we began to tell our family. It’s strange when they say it’s important to listen to your gut. Everything was looking good and everyone around me was excited and happy but the more people I told the more my inner voice was screaming at me that something was wrong. This was not going to end well. But was it my gut or my fear? The line was so often blurred between the two now.
At six weeks we went for an ultrasound. No heartbeat. We were told we had to wait until I was nine weeks to confirm that there was still no heartbeat. The longest three weeks of my life. That’s when I learned new words like blighted ovum and D&C.
And secondary infertility.
My bubble was popped.
Infertility. In My Case – Unexplained Infertility
Infertility is defined as not being able to get pregnant after one year of regular, unprotected sex if a woman is under the age or 35, or after six months if a woman is 35 years or older.
1 in 6 couples struggle with infertility in Canada.
40% of cases are due to female factors.
30% of cases are due to male factors.
20% of cases are due to both male and female factors.
10% of the time, the cause is unknown.
A variety of factors can lead to female fertility problems, including age, sexually transmitted diseases, medical conditions, stress, poor diet, excessive alcohol use, smoking, and premature menopause
I was suddenly thrown into the world of Reproductive Endocrinologist, saline sonohysterogram, clomid, IUI, IVF, cycle days, blood work monitoring (one day it was 18 vials, I kid you not.) Tests came back normal. All looked well. It’s what is called unexplained infertility. The diagnosis may have made some happy, but not me. I needed answers. A reason or cause would give me a bit of control that I desperately needed. Why was this happening? What do we need to do?
This story isn’t about the stats and procedures though. It’s not about what physically is happening and what medically may need to happen. It’s about what we women, who suffer from primary or secondary infertility, go through emotionally. While our bodies heal from procedures or losses, our head and hearts are what truly suffers. There is only one word to describe it.
You feel hopelessly and utterly…alone.
Struggling Through It
The world goes on and forgets. I can’t tell you how many times family and friends let me down. I knew I couldn’t expect them to get it. They didn’t understand the loss. I also knew it made them feel uncomfortable asking me how I was doing. All I wanted to say was “instead of thinking about yourself and how uncomfortable it is for you imagine what I’m going through. It’s not about you.” But I didn’t. Because that would mean talking about it out loud in a world where the subject is still so taboo. My husband was my support and he was amazing but still the experience for him was different. It wasn’t his body that was letting us down. It wasn’t him that was going through the tests every single day. He didn’t feel the loss in the same way and though he tried to understand, and I love him for that, he couldn’t truly get what I was going through.
I was sick of being the girl who had the miscarriages. I was sick of waiting – waiting to try, waiting to pee on a stick, waiting for my HCG levels, waiting for ultrasounds. You’d think at this point I would be an extremely patient person – not so much. I was sick of the unknown and not having any control. I was sick of crying. I cried every single day. I was sick of being prodded and poked. I was sick of the world continuing to go on as usual and it felt like I was stuck in slow motion. I was sick of it being the first thing I thought about when I woke up in the morning and the last thing I thought about when I went to bed. I was sick of all the fake smiles that I kept having to put on for everyone else’s benefit when all I wanted to do was curl up in bed and cry. I was sick of people just not getting it – never mind not getting it, not even trying to get it.
I was sick of being angry.
I was sick of being scared.
Facing the challenges of infertility requires extraordinary energy – both emotionally and physically. Through this struggle, women discover the importance of tapping into their own inner power to continue forward on the path to pregnancy
My daughter was my inner power. She deserved to be a big sister. The fear of her one day asking me “mommy how come I don’t have a brother or sister?” would shake me to the core. How would I answer that? If not for her, maybe I would have thrown in the towel. Probably not…but maybe?
Deep Breath. Sigh. Repeat.
I remember being at the clinic and there was a woman sitting in the reception area. As I was leaving we made eye contact and smiled at one another. It was a split second thing but so many words were exchanged. We knew what we were going through. In that one smile we said – I know. I know the pain you’ve suffered and we will get there.
The End Of Our Infertility Journey
And I did. Those who know me, know how my story ends. Through IUI and almost two years of trying, we conceived our twins who were born healthy and to two extremely happy parents and one completely enamoured big sister.
Someone said to me once “It’s painful, but it’s all a memory once they arrive.” There is some truth to that but it’s more than just a memory. It was a journey that we had to take to have the family we wanted. While it will be a forever memory it will never be a distant one. It is one that is still very raw and real even six years later.
If you are suffering from infertility, please know that you are not alone. Reach out to friends and family. They want to be there for you but just don’t know how to do it. You’ll be surprised once you start talking about it how many others have gone through the same experience.
It’s also okay to take a break from those who just truly don’t get it. You need to think about yourself right now and your family. If you know someone who is experiencing infertility, call her. Ask her how she’s doing. She may not want to talk about it but at least you are letting her know she is not alone.
You are not alone.
Alanna McGinn is a Certified Sleep Consultant and Founder of Good Night Sleep Site – a Global Pediatric and Family Sleep Team. She provides free child and family sleep support through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. She invites you to join her sleep community as she works towards Good Night Sleep Site’s mission of a healthier rested family unit. For more sleep tips, subscribe to our newsletter and visit Good Night Sleep Site.