Jack and I had been dating for about six months. It was Christmas time and we were taking his son to see Zoo Lights at the Point Defiance Zoo. We had stopped for dinner at Shari’s (don’t judge, it was convenient) and were discussing our plans for the evening when Jack leaned over and casually asked “So, um, has “it” come yet?” Of course, we all know the “it” he was referring to. “No” I replied. “But you know me, I’m never on time.” I had said these words believing them. I wasn’t regular and knew I had fertility issues. I’d been married before and I had never been pregnant. Ever. I didn’t think it was possible. That night after our Zoo Lights adventure, Jack went back to his place and I went back to mine. On the way home I stopped at Target. “Oh hell” I’d thought, I’ll pick up a pregnancy test – better to just put this issue to rest and ease his mind.
I arrived home, turned on the lights to my Christmas tree and headed for the bathroom. I did not want to do this. Ease his mind, sure, but that meant being reminded that I couldn’t reproduce. This thought had bummed me out countless times over the years and the last thing I wanted to do after such a lovely evening was dive head first into the black pit of emotions that came with seeing one pink line. I sat. I peed. I waited. Holy Crap!!!! TWO PINK LINES!
I sat there, stunned. It was too late to call Jack and never mind, this was NOT the kind of information you give your boyfriend of six months over the phone. I went into the living room and sat for hours staring at the Christmas tree. I was thrilled! Scared and anxious as well- but mostly I was thrilled! I had DONE IT and with a man I knew was my “meant to be”! The next day I went over to Jack’s place and told him the news. Ever the gentleman (and cool cucumber), he took it in stride and with a few sweet words of reassurance, a hug and a kiss we moved on.
That December was like a dream. Best. Christmas. Ever. It was New Year’s Eve day and I had my first ultrasound appointment. Jack came and picked me up, and we headed off to see our babies beating heart. I could hardly wait!
We sat there, waiting for the ultrasound tech to show us the image. Instead she said she was having a hard time finding it. She tried listening for the babies’ heart…nothing. Finally she got up and went to get the doctor. I looked at Jack terrified “Something’s wrong! What’s wrong?” I asked, tears streaming down my face. My sweet Jack hung his head. “She can’t find the heartbeat babe.”
The tech came back into the room after what felt like hours. This time she had the doctor with her who informed us that the baby had not developed past six weeks and three days. I wanted to throw up. How was this possible? Why would God finally give me a baby and then take it away? I didn’t understand. I didn’t want to understand. I wanted my baby!
After the loss of my little one, I wanted answers. What exactly was my problem? I saw my OBGYN who said he thought I had PCOS and I started clomid and progesterone. Months went by – nothing. Jack and I bought our house that June and continued talks about having a child. I knew it was tough on him. He already had a child. I knew he didn’t have the same burning desire, and I knew it was hard for him to see me in so much pain. Finally, after months of failed attempts, I made an appointment to see a specialist.
Several tests and a thousand dollars later we had our answer; I have blocked tubes. The right one is completely blocked and the left one is technically “open” but looks like a never ending series of cul de sacs – empty round-a-bouts where my little eggs wound up lost and looking for a way out, never mind the poor sperm trying to find them. I also have a “less than favorable” level of FSH or follicle stimulating hormone the hormone responsible for prepping and releasing eggs. My doctor told us that in vitro fertilization was really the best and most likely, only way we could conceive a child. The fact that we had done so on our own was nothing short of a miracle. She continued by saying that time was running out for me. If I needed time to think about my options, I had three months – not six. Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.
After many stressful (and often tearful) conversations, Jack and I decided to go for it. We scraped together the $25,000 we
would need to make a baby and I started the procedures. Daily shots, blood draws and doctors’ appointments every other day. To say the least, I was a basket case.
It was during this time that I needed the love and support of my friends the most. It was during this time that I found I had it the least. Don’t get me wrong, they wanted to be supportive. They wanted me to succeed. They just didn’t know what to say, and in their attempt to be positive, they made me furious. I heard it all. “Why don’t you just adopt? There are so many kids who need a loving home.” “Why don’t YOU adopt then?” was what I wanted to say. “You want MY kids?” was another one of my favorites. How about “Just forget about it. As soon as you start thinking about something else it’ll happen.” Really? Hmmm, who knew that if I’d just turn my attention towards this springs fashion trends my tubes would magically open up and I’d get pregnant? My number one least favorite thing people said was “God has a different plan for you.” Ooooh! Just typing it pisses me off. Not because I don’t believe in God, I do, but because it implied that my friends were having conversations with God behind my back and knew something I didn’t. If God were willing to let them in on his plan, why wasn’t he sharing the news with me? I was devastated by the loss of my first pregnancy. I had been furious with God about it.” Why would you do that to me?” I’d wondered. The last thing I wanted to hear was someone else’s opinion about God’s plan for MY fertility.
If you’re reading this, you may be thinking “Wow. Take it easy, your friends were just trying to help!” I agree with you. Nothing anyone said was intended to hurt me, which is why I am writing this column. I want to offer advice to those of you who have a friend in the same situation I was in. Think of it this way, what would say to a cancer patient? Would you tell her “I know you’re worried about losing your hair, but you can always just get a wig.” How about “You want MY life? I’m stressed out and could USE a break!” Or maybe “Just forget about it. Focus on something else and the cancer will just go away.” And for the love of Pete, would you EVER, EVER consider saying to someone with cancer “This must be God’s plan for you.” Hell no you wouldn’t! Most likely you would say “I love you. I am here for you. I don’t understand what you’re going through, but I will try and I will be here.” THAT is what I wanted to hear. I didn’t expect anyone to understand unless they had been through it themselves. I just wanted to be able to talk about it without having my feelings diminished (however unintentional). Please don’t misunderstand me. I am aware that cancer and infertility are different subject matters altogether. The point I am trying to make is that the heartache, loss, defeat and sometimes even jealousy are very, very real emotions and a person in this situation should be treated very carefully and very lovingly. The best thing a friend “said” to me came by way of a card tucked into a bouquet of flowers after my first round of IVF failed. It was a bible verse that simply spoke of patience. It makes me tear up just thinking about it. She didn’t preach. She didn’t speak about something she didn’t understand. She simply reminded me to be patient and at the end of the card she told me she loved me. I felt loved and I will love her forever for many reasons, but most of all, I love her for that reason.
I have a friend undergoing IVF treatment as I write this. I love her and I am in her corner one hundred percent. I talk to her often and try to be a voice of encouragement. I don’t KNOW if her treatment is going to work. I BELIEVE it will, but I am not the one in charge. My hope is that I can make her feel loved, understood and hopeful. It was absolutely excruciating to talk to people when I was going through my treatment who would say “Oh! My cousin did IVF for like, seven years!” “Did it work for her?” I would ask. “Noooo, but I’m sure it will for you.” WTF? Again, folks, before you open your mouth, ask yourself “Is this something I would say to a person struggling with cancer?” Undoubtedly, you would NEVER say “Oh! My cousin had cancer. She died, but I’m sure you’ll live!” Be the voice of hope. It’s all someone who is undergoing infertility treatment has. Faith, I assure you, wanes at times but hope is ever present in our hearts and in our minds.
This past New Year’s Eve I was in the hospital. I had just given birth to my beautiful son Wyatt. I was tired, I was in pain but I was also elated, and I was grateful. I had come a long way since that fateful New Year’s Eve two years prior. It was a long journey, but it was sooooo worth it! To all you hopeful mamas- to- be out there, I am here for you. I am in your corner and I am thinking of you and praying for your success. Keep your chin up, and hang onto hope. Miracles do happen, sometimes more than once…
Cindy, guest blogger