I have waffled back and forth over whether to write this post, and if I was going to write it, what would I say? This post is highly personal and is more serious than most of what I write. It has nothing to do with my knitting, and I hope you'll forgive me for that. It deals with a complicated and heart-wrenching topic that affects more than 6 million couples in the United States. Canada has not measured their own statistics. I'd like to ask why not, but that's not really the point of my post. This post is about infertility, and the heartbreak a couple feels when they finally realize that they may never have children on their own.
Infertility can be heartbreaking. Chances are someone you know has impaired fertility, reduced fertility, or is just plain infertile. I discovered on Thursday that I have reduced fertility. I may be infertile. In any case, I don't seem to be able to get pregnant on my own and the doctor is sending me to a Reproductive Endocrinologist at a fertility clinic.
There is nothing that can describe the feelings you feel sitting in a doctor's office while they toss terms at you that go straight over your head. They don't bother to explain what these terms mean, so you go home to Dr. Google for an explanation. But those explanations are filled with more complicated terms and you just end up feeling more lost and alone than ever.
Sometimes you come out with a new term or diagnosis every time you visit the doctor, and so these visits become a source of anxiety instead of help. When I visited the gynecologist last year, after an ultrasound, I was told I had polycystic ovarian syndrome. In short, the follicles surrounding my eggs were not maturing properly, so no fully mature egg was being released to be fertilized. But there was still a hope that I might get pregnant, so H and I continued to try to conceive naturally. I continued to take my basal (first morning, before moving or getting up) temperature every single morning. I continued to menstruate regularly (an oddity in itself if PCOS was the preventing factor), and my basal body chart continued to show an ovulatory pattern. So back I went to the doctor. Inquiring minds wanted to know...if I am ovulating on a semi-regular basis, why am I not pregnant yet?
This time there was something new wrong with me. This time I was told that there was something unusual in my bloodwork from last year. My progesterone levels are strangely high. The doctor couldn't confirm without further tests, but it looks like I have something called "Adult Onset Adrenal Hyperplasia." That was a such a mouthful that I forgot all the rest of the questions I wanted to ask. Questions like "If I have this and it showed up in my bloodwork, why didn't anyone call me back for more tests to confirm this? Why would you let me keep trying? Why wouldn't you want to treat me for it?" I didn't ask that. I left quietly (after being given another pregnancy test which, not at all shockingly, turned out negative). I went home. My period came. I cried.
I can't be sure if this is the deciding factor. My overall impression of doctors between my migraines and my impaired fertility has been that they really don't know much more than the average person and spend a great deal of time guessing. Maybe that's unfair. I'll give the reproductive endocrinologist a chance. Maybe she'll find something new wrong with me, too. I'm supposed to see her at the end of January.
Here's how infertility hurts: It breaks your hope and your spirit, one month, one negative pregnancy test at a time. After a while, a new month doesn't signal just a new hope and a new chance, it signals the death of your previous hope. Your heart starts to break, little pieces at a time. You turn numb to turn off the pain, just so you can put your smile on and pretend to be normal.
The questions start and the pain bubbles to the surface.
Why aren't you pregnant yet?
How long have you been trying?
When are you going to have a baby?
It's your turn to produce a child now.
Are you pregnant yet?
Then the well meaning but equally hurtful comments start.
Maybe it's just not God's time yet.
Trying is the best part.
Your life changes so much after having a child, maybe you're not ready yet.
Children are so much work.
It's not all fun and games, you know.
Why don't you just adopt?
You don't have enough faith.
And my heart keeps breaking, and my fake smile gets faker, and the pain goes a little deeper. I dig a little deeper to find the strength to move on, to keep hoping, to keep praying, to not lose heart. It won't define me nor make me bitter. I push forward on the long road, and in my ear, I hear Aslan's voice whisper: "Courage, dearheart."