I really wish that I had found the ALI community when I was pursuing ART treatment and during the hell that was my life during infertility. It’s odd to be a blogger after the fact.
April has posted two incredible, brave posts about how infertility has made it very hard for her to connect with the outside world. I cannot express to you how courageous I think she is for talking about this.
I have bragged about how rad my twenties were. I had tons of confidence and everything went my way. Until it didn’t. I was diagnosed with a really strange medical condition at age 31, exactly a year after being married, right when Darcy and I had decided to try for a family. I haven’t talked about that here, and someday I will but not today. It lasted one year, almost exactly, but completely totaled my self-esteem, sense of adventure and belief that everything would always turn out my way. I had to go on disability leave. I went from being a vibrant workaholic winner to a shut-in. And I don’t use that word lightly. I did become a shut-in.
I decided to work full-time for our family’s home-based business, and I did that quite successfully. As soon as the medical condition lifted and I was cleared to start a family, I entered the world of trying for a baby with absolutely no confidence. Soon six months turned into one year with no results (not one BFP) and I knew. I was already alienated from most of my friends because of my medical problem from 2004 which had turned me into an invalid, and all I heard from them now was about their own pregnancies and BFPs and babies and shower invitations and christenings and brises. During that miserable year of 2005, 17 friends announced the birth of children.
People talk about women’s biological clocks ticking. Mine was a loud, metallic gong. Even worse, Darcy’s was the countdown from the James Bond movies: “4 months, 3 months, 2 months, 1 month AND COUNTING!!!” Strange how he, the one I had to convince to have children, suddenly had to have children YESTERDAY once the process began. But he’s a super successful perfectionist who drives everyone around him to do things no one thought possible.
2006 was a frantic, desperate nightmare of a year. I didn’t leave the house except to go to the infertility clinic. We decided our home was cursed and moved to an apartment in the city. 3 IUIs, nothing. All tests were good. (And we did them ALL). But I knew. June 2006: IVF #1. Disaster. One egg retrieved and I was diagnosed with premature ovarian failure. Then a miscarriage.
The news, more out of my power than any that I have received since to date, sent me into a spiral. I didn’t want to be anywhere I could feel out of control so I didn’t go anywhere. Darcy refused to accept the failure of my reproductive system. I was ready to exit the game, move onto egg donation or adoption. Those were options he was unable to accept. So we were stuck in a wary game of chicken.
I took a break from the infertility clinic and just worked, really hard. At home. At least I could make Darcy proud of the work I did there. It wasn’t enough. Every day I woke up knowing I was an enormous failure. Men can’t go to Carfax and check if their partner’s bodies are lemons before they marry them. I was a lemon.
Finally, we decided to try IVF again. No dice. And finally, one last time in Feb 2007.
IVF #3 worked but the pregnancy was fraught with risk, worry and bedrest. Once again, I was a shut-in. I went to one wedding and my own baby shower. Other than that I went to our local grocery store and my doctor and the hospital.
Then my beloved twins, the lights of my life, were born, healthy. I thought that would be my release from my home prison. I had finally triumphed over my crappy body! Life was good. I spoke to former co-workers, contacts. I could re-enter my old career, but the hours would be 80-90 a week and Darcy already worked more than those hours. His career offered a higher rate of return. So who would watch the kids? We don’t have family who would or could do childcare.
That was almost four years ago. I am still at home almost all of the time. For the most part, it’s everything I wanted. But then I’ll have a week from hell, like last week. And my body continues to be a lemon. I get tired too easily, get sick too often. I’m a bummer more often than not. At weak moments, I get sad I don’t globe trot, have a nanny, or write about my $175 (obviously non-existent) sea salt or see an awesome band in the lobby of my NYC hotel or live the “Dream”.
The truth is tragedies and hardships effect us in ways we would never know or could imagine they would. For me, they made me not want to leave the house. And I’m glad I realize that. Thank you, April, for helping me to “get” that. You are not alone. You are not alone, at all.