Being infertile feels like crap.
I wish I could say it more eloquently, but I really can’t. I felt like a total loser. Now I would never feel that way about anyone else going through infertility. But when it came to myself, I felt like a total loser:
“Why the hell would my body turn against me”?
“Why would I have the ovary health of a middle-aged woman”?
“Why after so many losses in my life would this be yet another one”?
The multitude of questions that barraged my mind suffocated any joy the experience of family planning once brought. Infertility brings up a lot of questions that won’t ever get answers. Questions that never find the relief of closure.
Starting with ambivalence
Here’s the thing…..the absolute truth. I was quite ambivalent about children for most of my life. I didn’t even feel ready to start talking about the possibility of having a child until I was 31.
I grew up poor and very much valued freedom. Freedom to do what I wanted when I wanted as well as the freedom to spend my money as I saw fit.
My ambivalence was also the result of an absent father and difficult childhood. That soft part of every little girl was long gone by the time of childbearing age. I never wanted my child to go through some of the hardships that I went through. Ever. I would rather go childless. And maybe I just wasn’t that sweet motherly woman who you KNOW is born to birth babies.
I am a type A, hard exterior, no-nonsense woman who doesn’t feel the pangs to nurture often.
But the thing about infertility is that it forces you to decide what % you’d like a child. For me, it was 50/50. I’d be ok not having a child.
But what about my husband? He said at first he’d be ok with it just being him and I. But he really wasn’t. I think he said that to make me feel better, but the truth always comes out.
When we first started down the infertility path we both agreed to keep trying for a year or two and then quit. We’d still have a full life of traveling, starting our own business and moving to a beautiful coastal town.
But after lots of testing, doctor appointments, and surgery, my husband wanted to go to any length to achieve parenthood. What the actual fuck! Why did he suddenly gun it onto the highway while I was still tinkering away in town?!
Stay or leave?
Then the big question emerges. Should I leave my husband so that he’d have a chance for a family with someone else?
But I couldn’t do it. I loved him too much. I was selfish.
Now to shame
So then comes the guilt. Guilt over robbing my husband of this important life experience. Guilt over not wanting to go to any length to be a mother. Guilt overvaluing money and my health over a baby.
But then guilt is really just shame isn’t it? Shame of who YOU are. Of your body.
What started as a fun and exciting adventure to create a family pretty quickly turned into a sinking knowing. The “naughtiness” of unprotected lovemaking escalated to scheduled sex. Passion, connection, foreplay, and pleasure were replaced by ovulation strips and basal body temperature readings. Romantic huh?
Something few want to admit, but which plays a big part in the decision to pursue fertility treatment is MONEY. And how far in debt you’re willing to go for the small percentage chance of success.
Given the odds of a 5-10% success rate who in their right mind would take that bet. Who wants to be $5k+ in the hole for one IUI attempt? ONE. That is hard for a logical business minded woman to digest. One who already has issues with money! And if you think insurance will foot the bill, they won’t.
Then morality kicks in
There was also the question of morality for me. I don’t mean this in the religious sense. I am not a religious person in any shape or form. I am perfectly fine with things like abortion and extending science to its furthest reach.
But manufacturing a baby just felt “icky.” I know that won’t be a popular statement. But it’s far different from the giddy couple romping around under the bed sheets.
The first step of “manufacturing” my baby was shooting myself up with a variety of hormones. It just felt so wrong. Doesn’t that freak anybody else out? No one really talks about the possible catastrophic side effects.
The shots in particular were something that weighed heavily on me since my mother died early from cancer. Any doctor who assures you there is no possibility of long-term side effects from large doses of Human Menopausal Gonadotropins and Synthetic Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, just to name a few, are lying.
But either way, after the shots there were now a half a dozen hyper-stimulated eggs growing in my womb. Talk about painful. If I was doing this the old-fashioned way there’d be ONE egg. So, having 6+ eggs is not pleasant, to say the least.
Romantically my husband then went to deposit his “specimen.” Alone. With a cup.
Mad scientists then took his shit, inserted it into my shit. And kaboom let’s hope for the best!
Phew I almost climaxed from all that romance. “Made with love.”
The two week wait
But now comes the worst part. The two week wait. The time between ovulation/fertility treatment and your period. The feelings during this time are the same whether you did it the old fashion way with your husband or the new manufactured way with your doctor.
Every little thing made me feel like I was pregnant. Every weird stomach pang or strange food aversion. It just HAD to be because I was pregnant. “It’s a SIGN”! Then you see a little blood. “Oh wait it might be implantation bleeding.” “Yep that has to be it.” “Ok phew I can keep reading What To Expect When You’re Expecting.”
Allowing myself to feel
All of this hopeful anticipation might seem strange to you since I prefaced this article explaining my ambivalence about having children. And I’ll admit it is confusing. But when I started treatment I allowed my closed heart to pry open and let myself feel. I allowed myself to feel soft. And to feel maternal. I allowed myself to begin to open to the possibility that I WOULD be a good mom. And that maybe I really did want kids.
Because ambivalence is really just a front with the sole purpose of hiding the truth. To cause confusion. It feels like you’re in a fog. And that you’re THIS close to discovering the answer. But it’s always just right past your fingertips.
And it turns out I did want to be a mom. Imagining a baby lying on my chest melted all ambivalence. I’d never allowed myself to even think about what it’d be like to be a mom. And I think that since I’ve never been pregnant, I’ve never fully understood that longing or connection. I always thought my experience would be similar to Miranda’s from Sex and the City. She never knew she wanted to be a mother until she was pregnant.
I remember staying up all night during my 2-week wait to feel any period cramps. I wanted to be prepared. I didn’t want my period to creep up on me like it had before. I hated waking to my period and feeling that heartbreak at 5 a.m. It’s just too early for that shit.
Then I’d get my period. And I wanted to die. Literally. I felt sick with grief. All that time, money and heartache were for nothing.
But then I would rally. Because that’s what women do. We pull ourselves together and keep moving.
What about other options?
I then considered an option I NEVER thought I would. Egg donation. You can probably already guess my feelings about that!
I would never say the following to any other woman making this gut-wrenching decision. But this is how I felt: it wouldn’t really be MY baby if I use an egg donor. Would it be my child emotionally? Yes. Of course. But biologically it wouldn’t be. I know that’s harsh. And I’m truly sorry if that’s triggering for some women. But I’m far to logical and left-brain dominant to tell myself otherwise.
I knew women who believed that magically the DNA of the donor egg merges with your DNA and kaboom you’re biologically connected. But no honey. We’re just talking pure science here. This is your husband’s child with another woman.
This was supposed to be a little person WE created together. An expression of our love (as corny as that sounds). I was supposed to be able to say “oh little Bobby has my eyes and your smile.” And now it’s just turned into a stale science experiment with the end result being that I wouldn’t really be “Bobby’s” biological mother.
It made me so sick to my stomach just thinking about it.
Oh and this time you’re out $20-40K. PER CYCLE. Just had to throw that in.
Alright, so what about adoption? I’ll admit it does sound like a slightly better option. I worked in social work for 6 years before entering the business world. I know the atrocities many children go through. Lots of babies are neglected and worse. I told my husband once that I wish a parent-less needy child just knocked on our door.
But that’s not how it goes does it? I should know better. The formal adoption process is not for the faint of heart. Or for the PRIVATE. And for good reason. So I figured if I didn’t want to go through that type of work for a child, I’d better just sit my ass down.
So after my IUI attempt in October 2016, that’s exactly what I did…..sat my ass down. I remember sobbing uncontrollably in the kitchen with my husband after I got my period. He could see that I just couldn’t do it anymore. Does that make me weak? Maybe. I know many women who continue on for many more years and do many more treatments. But I couldn’t continue.
I wanted to move on with my life. I wanted there to be other realities in my world besides doctor appointments, treatments, surgeries, and the emotional roller coaster.
I wanted to get back to MYSELF. What did I enjoy before infertility? What were my goals and hobbies? And who is Jessica now?
I refused to define myself as any less womanly or feminine if I didn’t procreate. I knew that I still had a lot to give to this world. I wanted to help heal other women going through this unbearably painful experience.
And honestly, I LOVED my quiet life with my husband. I loved traveling. I loved FREEDOM.
So, I just moved on. And I am HAPPY. It took a while and it was a lot of work to get here, but I am honestly so happy. All worked out as it should. I now trust the Divine’s BIG plan for my life.
And as a final note, if any of what I have said has offended or hurt any woman, please know that was never my intention.
I have such deep compassion for the millions of women still putting one foot in front of the other on this journey. I can honestly say that my heart aches with you. YOU are the reason I created this website and work tirelessly to create Yoga specifically for you. Because I want to help. I know I can help.
I applaud you. I bow in deep respect to you. You’re so strong. And fearless.
It is my hope that through my experience, and the Yoga tools that I have created, that I can help you find YOUR happy place too.
Jessica Desai is a blogger and yoga teacher specializing in yoga for infertility. She is passionate about bringing peace and healing to women who are struggling to reach parenthood. Jessica provides customized yoga sequences and self-help exercises to mend broken hearts and help women reclaim their inherent value as WOMEN regardless of parental status! You can find out more about Jessica and her story here.
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