Jeff and I decided, before we were ever married, that we would probably wait about a year before trying to have children. Well, we also determined pretty quickly that the birth control pill I was taking was doing some nasty things to me and my hormones so at my check-up my doctor wrote me a prescription for a new pill, but casually made the comment "well, you're married now, so it's not like it would be the end of the world if you did get pregnant." I knew then that is was also time for a new doctor. Within just a few weeks, Jeff was officially laid off from his job. We knew it was probably coming but it was still hard. We figured it wouldn't last too long. It lasted a lot longer than we ever would have imagined starting out. In the middle of all this the new birth control pill still wasn't fixing the issues I was having (which I now think were mental/emotional as much as they were physical) so I quit it completely. It was one less bill to have to try and come up with the money to pay, and we could just address the reproductive concerns in other ways. In the end, we didn't do a whole lot of active prevention, but we weren't actively trying either.
Our first anniversary came and went and we were hopeful that Jeff would get a job soon, but I was also feeling tugged toward a CPE residency, so late in the summer I applied to start in the fall. The good news was that we had health insurance again. The bad news was that, because it was a 12 month residency there was really no provision for maternity leave. We decided that we would wait to start trying until February of 2011. That way, if I did get pregnant the first try, I could still finish out my residency before I delivered. Yes, I would lose my benefits before the actual delivery but it would at least cover most of my pre-natal care.
So that was the plan. And that was what we did. I started charting my cycles a few months out with a handy iPhone app so we would know when was the best time to "do the baby dance". And even in the middle of my dad dying and CPE getting crazy and Jeff STILL not being able to find a job, we tried. And every month my period would come right on time and I would be crushed. And I would cry. Or my period would be late and I would take a test and it would come out negative and I would be sad but still wait and hope until my period did show up (which it always did) and I would cry even harder. It was easy to blame it on hormones and stress and everything with CPE and everything else in my life, but I hated it.
By the time CPE ended Jeff had a new job. We had new insurance. But I was getting increasingly frustrated with the whole situation. I felt very betrayed by my body. I kept replaying all those high school lectures about how easy it is to get pregnant and it didn't make sense. I felt a lot of shame, like I was a bad woman because I couldn't reproduce like I thought I should be able to. I was barely 26 years old. This was prime time! Or at least I thought it should be.
At the end of October I finally got up the courage and called a new doctor to make an appointment. At this point it had been almost two years since I had seen anyone (yes, I know, I'm bad) and more than anything I needed to know that I wasn't "broken". I am so thankful for my new doctor. I never thought I'd be comfortable seeing a male for "female stuff" but he was wonderful during my first visit. He sat down and explained all the what-ifs and numbers and what is "normal". He drew blood and checked hormone levels and assured me that, from what he could see at that point, everything was working fine. I wasn't broken.
The one "number" that stuck with me was that, after 12 months of unprotected sex (not even active "trying") without a pregnancy, a woman can be diagnosed with infertility. At the point of my appointment I was "sort of" in that gray area already (since we weren't really keeping up with that kind of thing before) but now I have definitely crossed that line. Even though I haven't been back to the doctor to make it official, I know where I am and what I'm dealing with and I feel a lot of shame and loneliness in it. Don't get me wrong, I'm so happy for all of my friends and all of their sweet little miracles. But I'm also very jealous.
My husband has been wonderfully supportive in all of this. I know he hurts right along with me every month that we don't get a positive test result. We have cried together over this several times. There have been moments when we have both felt like failures. We can sometimes make jokes about it, but most of the time we just dream together about our future child. We have talked about how far we are willing to take medical intervention and what we would like our next steps to be. We have decided together that, if nothing has happened by the time I go back for my next check-up with my doctor, in addition to exploring more on the medical end, we will also start actively pursuing adoption.
We have made some decisions about how far we would take medical testing/intervention, and the answer is "not nearly as far as most people." We're not willing to go to as far as exploratory surgery or IVF. I just can't see putting myself through all of that. I respect all the women that do, but I'm just not one of them. If I had an identified physical need for those things, it might be different, but that isn't the case. I do believe that everything happens for a reason and everything that DOESN'T happen also has a reason. I may not know what that reason is, but that doesn't mean it doesn't exist.
On some level I wish things were different. I wish we had gotten pregnant quickly and had an easy, uncomplicated pregnancy and given birth to a healthy baby and we were a sweet, happy family now. But I do appreciate the fruit that has come from this journey. Jeff and I are definitely closer and I think more able to communicate about our feelings. I have had some great experiences I wouldn't have had if I had a child. I am looking forward to the experiences that are yet to come. I'm not sure I would have reached the point in my person growth that I have reached if I were focused on someone else rather than on myself and my stuff, and at the end of the day I feel like my being healthy is the best thing I can do for my family.
I am a firm believer in the idea that everything happens for a reason, and everything that doesn't happen also has a reason. I rarely understand those reasons (especially on the front end) but that doesn't mean they aren't there. I know that someday I will have the child and the family that I am meant to have. And until then, I will keep waiting and hoping, and praying, and preparing as best I can.