It’s not even 8:00am and I’ve been sitting in this waiting room for 45 minutes. The nurse pops out again. “Clara A” she calls. Another first name, last initial gets called but it’s still not me. I look around the waiting room. An array of ethnicities and ages make us all very different from one another. We all probably have a varying story of how we got here but one thing makes us all very much the same; we are all women who struggle with fertility. We are the women who want a baby more than anything and yet our bodies refuse to cooperate. I debated whether or not I should write about this. It’s a personal issue between Tom and I and let’s be honest, people who use social media as a platform for their medical issues are big fat Debbie Downers.
The deciding factor for me was that I am not alone. Women who have a hard time getting knocked up are not a rarity and yet NOBODY talks about it. Why the hell not!? Is it because nobody wants to use terms like “sperm” “egg” or “ovulating”!? God forbid we talk about our periods. Wake up world, women bleed from their vaginas once a month and it’s totally ok! Don’t whisper it, don’t cringe. Woman up and accept it as a healthy and normal function. If you’re not uncomfortable yet then now is a good time to let you know that women also poop. I know it’s not considered ladylike or socially acceptable for a broad to talk about her bowel movements the way dudes do, but we ladies do doodoo. We love it too. The bigger the poo, the flatter the stomach. Yasss girl!
I digress. This is not an equality blog. This is an awareness blog. It’s been just over two years since Tom and I decided to pull the plug (his term for birth control) and go for it. Two years to some women tying to conceive is child’s play. To them, Tom and I have just barely reached the tip of the ice berg but it doesn’t make it any less difficult. I’ll spare you the details but it’s been 25 months of cutting back caffeine, second guessing every workout, wondering if it’s ok to eat sushi and over analyzing every single thing that happens with my body. “My stomach itches, OMG I MUST be pregnant!”- an actual thought that has crossed my mind.
When people find out we’ve been trying to conceive, one of two things happen. The first reaction is the oh so generous unsolicited advice. Eat this food, take that pill, try this position, don’t eat this, stop taking that, blah blah BLAH! The most common piece of advice though, and my definite favorite, is “Don’t stress out about it.” And then it’s always followed up with some lecture about how stress affects the body. Ummmm, thanks for that. I had NO idea! I know people mean well but telling me NOT to stress only makes me feel more stressed.
The other thing that happens when people find out we’re trying is an amazing amount of support that comes from from sincere understanding. Something magical happens when one women opens up to another about her intimate fertility battles and she can actually relate. When I first started this process, hearing other people’s struggles or things like “I know someone who tried for years…” used to piss me off. I’m sorry that happened but this is about ME. It wasn’t until recently that I realized that if I stop being so selfish and open myself up to the stories of other women out there who have experienced this kind of personal tragedy, it alleviates some of the sadness, fear and stigma that surrounds this issue. Don’t get me wrong, I still have moments of anger and jealousy. When I receive announcements of friends or families expecting, I can’t help but initially feel envious. “It’s so not fair” I think to myself. I hate to admit it but it even caused an unspoken tension between my best friends and I. When Meghan announced she was pregnant I was so overcome with a mix of happiness because I love her so much and frustration because it felt so unfair that she had only tired for a few months and I had been trying for a year. Of course, she’s such a good friend she was more sad for me than she was happy for herself. Love conquers all and now she has a beautiful baby boy and though I still want the same for myself, my happiness has drowned out any envy.
I know I haven’t made it easy on the people closest to me who know what I’ve been going through. The hormones that come with NOT being pregnant don’t help. Last time Tom said, “I’m sorry you’re feeling hormental”, his slip of the tongue word that so appropriately describes how I feel.
Each month is the same cyclical pattern; a week of determination, a week of hope and excitement, a week of sadness mixed with anger and cynicism and lastly, a week of indifference. Unfortunately the emotion that I feel the most is anger. I feel it for many reasons, some valid, some not.
“When will you and Tom have babies?” Well intrusive acquaintance, I will tell you. Toms sperm has to make its way to my egg, this is of course only IF I drop an egg. THEN they have to stick together inside my uterus, IF it is a welcoming environment, and then it has to brew for approximately 9months. Thanks for asking.
I say all of this with such bitchy sarcasm because the unfortunate reality is that just getting pregnant is half the battle. I can name five women, FIVE that have had miscarriages, one that had a stillborn and one that had a premature baby that only lived for 40 days. “Don’t stress it” they say. Invaluable advice.
So you’re probably wondering now that I’ve scattered all of these eggshells, “jeez Jess, what’s the appropriate approach then!?” Unfortunately I don’t know. No one really knows. I’ve found honesty and candidness to be the easiest method. It doesn’t always make others comfortable but when I keep it to myself, the emotions build up and no one wants a hormental breakdown.
My decision to post about this is not a woe-is-me attention seeking plea but rather a public service announcement of sorts. Women around the world, MILLIONS of women struggle with getting pregnant and millions more struggle with going full term. Ideally, the more we talk about this issue, the more we can chip away at the unnecessary stigma that surrounds it, with the end result being that those of us that struggle with loss or infertility feel less alone. I know I’m not alone, I have an amazing circle of friends and family that are basically the whole premise of my website but I also belong to a community of women who I need right now. Women who are brave enough to share their own personal struggles. Women who know what it feels like to be sucker punched in the uterus by well-intended people on the regular.
I know I am young, I know I still have options. I also know that when it happens, I will be an excellent mother. My apologies if you’ve been one of those “dont stress it” advisers and even deeper apologies if you’re one of those people who think asking when Tom and I are going to have kids is socially acceptable small talk. At least now you know it’s not and hopefully, if anything, that is what I accomplish from this very personal and scattered blog. Don’t ask me “when”. Nobody knows when. Maybe this month, maybe in two years. I want to write some uplifting positive-vibes-only crap about how it WILL happen. “One way or another, I WILL be a mother.” But I don’t know that for sure. All my life, if I’ve wanted something I’ve made a plan, took control and made it happen. Well this is something I have zero control over and it sucks. Insert minor temper tantrum here.
It took some back and forth mental battle about opening up about this, some women probably prefer to keep it private and that is their prerogative. To the women who know what if feels like to ache for something so bad and be constantly reminded that your body is failing you, I want you to know you are not alone. I don’t have advice, I don’t have a solution but I do have an open ear and a bottle of wine. I mean… if we can’t get knocked up, at least we can drink!