Saturday, November 7, 2015

Fertility, Hope, and Grief

For many people trying to have a baby is this very exiting event filled with hope and wonder. Early on that is how it was for me, exciting, dreaming of our family, wondering what life would bring. It is no secret at this point it took us a while to start our family. Not so little anymore L, took several months of "getting it on" on a strict every other day schedule. Eventually it worked, we made it through with a healthy baby. The reason it took this schedule is because I have Poly-cystic Ovaries, that's right many little cysts all over those little organs because my eggs start growing, they don't finish, and then they form cysts instead of dissolving as they should. We knew this just a few months after we were married because a problem of a feminine sort had come up and I landed in the doctor's office begging for help.  Having babies would be hard but not totally impossible. We prayed and prayed not just for a baby but to understand God's will and timing and not ours. We accepted that our family may start in a variety of ways. We also decided a ton of intervention was not a route we wanted to go. Five years later we were holding baby L. 

That baby just turned six over the summer. She has started asking for a sister. In all honesty we haven't really prevented conception since she was born. We have even gone through periods of trying the "schedule" which is so much more difficult when there is already a kid in the house. Life is settling and I am not getting any younger, I have about a half of a decade before I am pretty sure this baby making shop will close. After spending six months on the job here, I went to a new doctor because moving makes us do that, and had a very frank conversation about wanting more children. After agreeing we weren't getting any younger we are trying the first line of intervention. A medication that is not hormone based but in theory can help level mine out, allowing an egg to mature. This is also a medication I have taken before to help with weight loss because it's all related to my ovaries, their sort of eggs, and hormone levels. The last time I took it I was so sick I had to stop. This time I am struggling with crazy hormone fluxes that have me shivering and sweating, dragging energy levels and just over all feeling crummy but trust me when I say this feels doable.

I have been really quiet about this because it feels so personal and posting it all over the internet may not help my negotiating a better maternity leave package cause. We are two months in on medication and a modified schedule. Many days I feel greedy because I have my one and I would be lying if I said there weren't days when I prayed please God just one. I feel bad because I have one and I know so many women who are struggling to have "just one" like me.

I know it takes time and two months isn't a whole lot of time. Yet every month a little more hope dies and a little more grief comes. So this week when Aunt Flow arrived early it took me to my emotional knees with grief and longing and a little self pity. Struggling with fertility means sometimes just common human experiences hurt, there are days when I will be out and encounter no less than 10 very pregnant women... or when I open social media and see the announcements or new baby pictures... or when I shop for a baby shower gift. The emotions come flying at me and they are diverse from jealousy, to anger, to sadness.

Yesterday, it wasn't social media, pregnant women, or newborns that got me. Nope it was a little cake plate in a party store with a little baby bee buzzing on it as I walked through the baby shower section to look for crowns for our Magi at Christmas. If no one would have seen me I might have just crumpled onto the floor and cried holding cake plates right there in the store. The grief was raw and real, everyday it feels like the chances of growing our family biologically are slipping away, and I am sad because I wasn't done yet. Even though we will very likely adopt in the future, even if we have more biological children, I can't help but feel this overwhelming sense that my body has failed me. Sometimes it is like I failed my body. None of it is rational. It just happens.

I think in that moment something pivotal happened. I started letting go of the dream of another pregnancy. The grief is tremendous. Almost unbearable this time of year, Christmas always makes me long to hold another miracle baby. As I read the familiar story this week and chose music for Advent I felt that familiar twinge of hope and wonder. I was reminded of the Christmas when only Paul and I knew L was on the inside, how beautiful and amazing it was. I longed for it to be true again and grieved that it wasn't.

The point of this writing is mostly catharsis I suppose. To just name all that I am feeling. If you are the praying kind we wouldn't mind a few, if you are the vibes into the universe kind we take those too. If you are one of my sisters that deal with this struggle to conceive and carry a baby, know that I am praying for you.

Amidst all this deep grief there is just the tiniest twinge of hope left and for that I am grateful, even if it makes it that much harder.

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