Fertility Injustice

Today is October 15, 2019. This is our story.

As the seasons change, the leaves begin to fall, we recognize that October is here again. This is the month to celebrate those parents that have loved and lost. This story is near and dear to my husband and I. In fact, this was from 2017, as the year was ending. It was a dark place for us. But I’m here to tell you our story, to give you hope. Even if this reaches one person and helps them feel connected to other women sharing a similar story, I did my job. I challenge you to do the same. You don’t have to wait 12 weeks anymore.  

November 2017

This post isn’t about animals or recipes or repainting a junk-picked table. Though it may not affect most of you, perhaps it will reach someone going through something similar. At least that is my hope. Our journey to “family” isn’t one that came easily. Nothing about it has been a breeze. It’s been an all-encompassing, heart-wrenching experience that led to the feeling of fertility injustice.

After the birth of our first child, I believed I was invincible. “We will have our second baby 2 years from now,” I said ignorantly, assuming I held the key. Then we had our first miscarriage. “We will try again in a few months.” Then we had our second miscarriage. “Ok, let’s start exercising, taking supplements, eating clean and we will try again.” Then we had our third miscarriage. Are you kidding me, God!? I have a healthy child, no issues. I had a very easy pregnancy with him. Surely this was some type of messed up joke the universe was playing on me. Perhaps I wasn’t my best self, I wasn’t Godly enough or kind enough or good enough to carry another child.

Then we took a good amount of time off to refocus. Do we want to go through this again? We wanted our son to have a sibling so badly. We would have done anything. Then Mr. Ugly creeps in and you go to baby showers and you feel sad. You are envious, yet happy for the new parents. Deep down, you ask the universe, “Why me? Why us? We are loving parents that will give our children everything.”

We try again to fail…again. Four miscarriages? Now it’s time to see a specialist. We go through that process and are labeled a “habitual aborter,” you know, so insurance feels you are worthy of testing. After shots and pills and pain and sadness, we are blessed with a daughter. There was light again. The feeling of bringing another life into this world is indescribable…

Fast forward a couple of years, we look at each other and say, “we always wanted three kids.” It was something we talked about for years. My husband and I both have two siblings and we love it! We try for a third. We are coming off a high after our daughter was born. We got this! We did it twice, why can’t we have that third child as we always imagined? Immediately, I became pregnant. Everything was perfect. Blood work was perfect. We saw the baby’s heartbeat at my first ultrasound. The baby was perfect in every way. Approaching my 10th week, we sat down to dinner and I told my husband I had some cramping, a little spotting and I felt off. He assured me I was fine. I knew better. My body was failing me…again. I took myself to the ER to check stuff out. No heartbeat. The baby had died at some point. I won’t call it anything else. That is what happened. The baby died. The male doctor wasn’t reassuring or comforting. It was all very matter-of-fact. Like, “it is what it is. This is very common.” I went home and eventually passed the baby. It was the absolute worst experience ever for my husband and I. To see things no one should ever have to see. Yet, everyone just moves about their day and it’s not thought of much. Miscarriage has become such a normal experience for women, it’s become diluted and treated like another ailment, that eventually goes away and we all move on. But WE don’t…

During this whole ordeal late at night, I called the hospital and talked to a doctor that gave me hope. Not hope for another pregnancy or hope for a “cure,” but hope to get through this. As his phone rang and things were beeping, and his labor and delivery department was buzzing, he focused on just me. Talked to me. The woman laying in the bathroom passing her child. He talked to me about God’s plan and grieving. I’m not an overly religious person, but his caring demeanor and focus only on me, is what got us through. We felt like someone understood and someone cared. I will never forget that doctor…five miscarriages in.

Every woman has a very different fertility journey. I’ve heard quite a few times “why do you keep trying?” or “you’re trying again at your age?” Or “maybe it’s time to just be happy with what you have.”

To the woman who is trying to have her first baby, the woman trying for her 8th, the woman with a welcoming womb and loving arms that will care and nurture, yet no baby to hold, I hear you. I see and feel your struggles. I don’t judge you for “tempting fate” or getting pregnant after 40 or question you for not having children, ask why you want so many kids, not enough kids etc etc etc etc etc. This journey is painful enough. We need to band together, support one another’s journey and give hope to those struggling.

I am sitting here 10 weeks pregnant again (November 2017) and just found out the baby died…a day after our 12th wedding anniversary. The hospital registration just called to confirm my scheduled D and C for my “spontaneous abortion.” These are not words I can hear right now. Our baby is inside me, dead…the only place that a child should be most safe and secure…and it’s dead. There is no way to sugarcoat any of this. Nothing about this is easy. This is our sixth and final miscarriage. My heart and my husband’s heart cannot take it anymore. So the changing table sitting in our bedroom collecting dust, and the bins full of baby clothes in the basement filled with what ifs, are moving on. It is time to close this chapter of our lives. Not because we don’t want or yearn for another child. Our hearts simply cannot handle anymore. It is time to get ourselves out of this emotional purgatory and live for us. Live for our family.

I share our story because no one should have to go through this alone. You’re not alone. I celebrate you, my fellow infertility warrior. Be strong. I see you with dried tears wandering around Target with your coffee. I know you want to walk the baby aisles again (or for the first time), and touch the diapers and smell the lotions and powders. I know you feel short-changed. It’s ok. I understand. Maybe those feelings will never end. Maybe they will intensify before they fade away and leave behind a ghost of the mom that once was. But know this. You will be ok. You are strong, courageous and a loving mother…with a baby in your arms, or not.

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