Do you sometimes get the feeling this can't possibly be your life? That at some point you'll pinch yourself, wake up, and be free of pain from infertility or loss? This sadness and yearning wasn't part of The Plan, the rough timeline of how you expected your life to turn out. It certainly wasn't part of my plan, which included easily popping out at least one kid before age 30.
I started babysitting in middle school. I was the neighborhood babysitter, the one parents trusted with their colicky newborns and large broods. Some of the kids were so special to me that I was a little jealous of their parents. How amazing would it be to parent this child and be around them 24/7?
I never doubted I would have children of my own. When I was 28, everything seemed to be in place to realize that dream. I was engaged to a nice man who wanted to start trying to get pregnant right after the wedding. We fantasized about which features our mixed-race children would inherit. To my great disbelief, our relationship fell apart 6 months before the wedding. I cried to my sister that looking at her children filled me with fear that I wouldn't get married and have children. They reminded me of everything I might not be able to have.
I met my husband a quick 2 months later and we were married within a year and a half. I gushed to my friends that my husband was the first man I'd ever dated. The rest were boys. From a non-romantic standpoint, I was thrilled to be back on track with The Plan.
Unlike my ex-fiance, my husband wasn't on board with trying to get pregnant immediately. He wanted to take a couple of years to enjoy life as a twosome. I suspect that after 36 years of going it solo, he needed some time to get used to one major life change before making another.
When we first got married, we were renting a spacious apartment that happens to be only a mile from my current infertility clinic. I would drive by the clinic's prominent sign on my way to work and think about the women who were patients there. What were their lives like? How did they deal with one of the toughest problems I could imagine? Thoughts would sneak in telling me I could be one of those women in a couple of years. It seemed too awful to contemplate.
I'd always had horribly painful periods and they seemed to be getting worse during those first years of marriage. I was somewhat aware of endometriosis and suspected I had it, but I had other things to worry about. Getting my doctorate, getting married, buying a house--big changes were going down.
The last year of waiting before we pulled the goalie was a long one. I felt like we'd never reach the next chapter, the one I'd looked forward to my whole life. We finally started trying in August of 2009 and I was giddy with excitement. During the first two week wait, I was absolutely, 100% convinced I was pregnant. The sharp twinges I was experiencing were my fallopian tubes cramping up as the zygote traveled to its resting spot. Despite the fact that I'd never heard of fallopian tubes cramping, I was certain mine were. The first period was devastating because I'd been so sure I was pregnant.
Luck came to us very early on when our fifth cycle resulted in a pregnancy. It all fell apart when we found out at 7 weeks that I would miscarry. After the miscarriage, the months of trying started adding up and eventually put us into the infertile camp.
No one thinks they'll become an infertility patient. I'm sure it's the same for other hardships. How did I end up here? How do I go on and cope with the way my life is turning out? Now that I'm the infertility patient I dreaded becoming, I have an answer that mostly works for me. It involves taking Prozac, making myself get up to take a shower in the morning, and finding support from friends. I still have plenty of moments when I think this can't possibly be my life, that it's not possible for me to be in my mid-thirties with no children. It's scary not knowing how this will turn out.
What keeps you going as you deal with infertility and/or loss? How successful have you been at throwing away your timeline of how you expected things to go?