My heart is heavy.
I can’t stop thinking about a friend of mine who’s suffered a crushing loss this week.
She found out yesterday that her fifth (maybe it’s her sixth – I’m losing track) attempt at getting pregnant didn’t work.
When I write, “attempt” I don’t mean that she and her husband have planned romantic date nights in the hopes that they’ll conceive their second child.
In this case, “attempt” means countless doctor visits, invasive tests, popping pills, wearing drug patches, injections with scary huge needles, spending tens of thousands of dollars, and riding an emotional roller coaster you can’t being to imagine unless you’ve ridden it yourself.
The call telling you your babies stopped growing in the petri dish so there’s no reason to come in for your embryo transfer.
The home pregnancy test that shows one line instead of two.
The adoption you thought was a sure thing unraveling just as you were starting to let yourself dream about using the onesies and bottles you hid in the hall closet.
Starting your period when you’ve been praying like crazy that the latest round of artificial insemination will be the one that gives you your miracle baby.
The voicemail from a nurse letting you know that your blood test following this round of IVF was negative and you should schedule a follow up appointment to discuss “next steps”.
When you’re dealing with infertility all the steps are excruciating. Sometimes they’re also exhilarating – filling you with hope and possibility – but they’re always excruciating because you’re forced to analyze your various “banks”.
There’s the one holding the savings you’re considering draining, the loan you’re mulling over and the credit card you might max out on “just one more try”.
There’s the physical toll… the crazy hormones pumped into your body, the lack of sleep, the stress, and putting everything else in your life on hold so you can medicate yourself on schedule or drop everything to meet birth parents or a baby that might end up being yours.
The bank that always ends up in the red is the emotional one. Infertility exhausts your emotional capital fast, and it’s hard to replenish it time and time and time again.
There’s no easy way to deal with these diagnoses and decisions, but I can tell you that going through it alone doesn’t help. My husband and I felt like we were stranded on Infertility Island for years, and the longer our quest to become parents went on, the more isolated we felt. It took a huge toll on us as individuals, on our relationship, and on those “banks” I mentioned.
This week is National Infertility Awareness Week and one of the goals is remove stigmas and barriers that stand in the way of building families. One of the ways to do that is by joining forces with other people who lived with infertility.
Here are some resources that can help: