When I first started writing about infertility, wonderful women from across the globe reached out to tell me about their long roads to motherhood. Many had gone through 3, 4, 5, 6, rounds of fertility treatments and I thought: "How awful for them! I'm planning on having this work the first time."
To do otherwise seemed terribly inefficient.
I was wholly convinced our first round of IVF would work, even when the doctor explained the embryo he was implanting wasn't actually viable. I was absolutely certain our second round of IVF would work with the implantation one good embryo and when that didn't take, I was positive the next round would absolutely result in a pregnancy. The third time, though, wasn't a charm either.
This is the first time since we have embarked on this road that I have really had to face the reality that I might not get to be a mother. All this hardship might very well result in nothing. This fourth cycle might not work. And then what? How long can we go through this? How long can we ache before making peace with the reality of our biology? Maybe we'll stop. Maybe we'll rescue an animal or two.
This is the first time since we have embarked on this road that I have really had to face the reality that I might not get to be a mother.
Of course our hearts and minds are open to adoption, but, for various reasons, I doubt we would be at the top of anyone's list. Still, I routinely walk the dog by a local high-school, on the look out for pregnant sixteen year olds.
"Are you pregnant and not want to be?" I guess I'll say. "Have you seen the movie Juno?"
I'm frustrated that for the very first time in my life I really did try and live The Secret. I had long suspected my negative attitude was contributing to negative outcomes in my life in a self-fulfilling prophecy sort of way. I really believed that if I could just banish my pessimism, visualize positive outcomes, they would come to fruition. Over the course of every cycle, I imagined hearing the good news at the end of the two week wait. I imagined my uterus bathed in a peach light, like my infertility meditation instructed me to (oh, yeah, I also bought a fertility meditation).
I Googled fertility yoga poses and breathed through them, convinced I was exhaling life from my lungs into life giving cells. I imagined myself holding my baby, right until the very moment the clinic called to say the pregnancy test for each cycle was negative.
When the clinic called back once, an hour after delivering the bad news, I was certain they were calling to say they had made a mistake, that they had mixed up my file and I was, in fact, pregnant. Except I wasn't pregnant. The file they had been looking at was mine and it had an outstanding balance. I settled the bill. And then I felt so very foolish: for being hopeful, for ever believing any of this could work. For thinking I could get to be a mother just because I want to be. I've also wanted to be a much more successful writer by now and that hasn't happened either. What the fuck was I thinking? Who do I think I am, daring to disturb the universe?
Life. Ammi right?
As Augustus Waters says in The Fault in Our Stars, a book about CHILDREN WITH TERMINAL CANCER, I remind myself: "The world is not a wish granting factory." It's just not.
Despite my deep longing to be a mother, I am somehow feeling more resigned now as we wait to hear the verdict of our fourth cycle. I feel much less desperate, much less crazed about it working. Because chances are it didn't, no matter how hard I wish it did.
A fellow infertile woman writes me that having decided to stop trying for a baby after multiple rounds of failed fertility treatments, her husband told her he didn't really want to share her with anyone else anyway, because he loves her so much. I relate this anecdote to my husband.
"Isn't that just so lovely?" I say. "So very romantic?"
"Yes," he agrees. "It is. I want to share you, though, with one, little baby."
I have a pang of sadness, wishing I could be enough for him, that he would take my face in his hands and say "you are enough for me to be happy." But I understand. I do. Of course I do. I want to share him with one, little baby, too. I want to watch him be the amazing father I know he could be if given the chance. I already share him with the dog and cat and I love watching him snuggle with the kitty he vowed to never, ever live with. Things change.
Despite my deep longing to be a mother, I am somehow feeling more resigned now as we wait to hear the verdict of our fourth cycle. I feel much less desperate, much less crazed about it working. Because chances are it didn't, no matter how hard I wish it did. My hope feels irrelevant and in relinquishing it I feel more prepared this time. I am steeling myself off, encasing my heart, bracing myself for bad news. I am not imagining the baby I hope is growing inside me. I wonder if that will make it easier this time: to hear again there isn't one.
Wendy is currently writing and developing a web series about infertility called How To Buy A Baby. You can check out the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sLqSlmok9KAALSO ON HUFFPOST:
Chef Gordon Ramsay is one of only a few celebrities who have talked about male factor infertility. He is outspoken on the relationship between food and infertility. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
Actor Tom Arnold has been open about male factor infertility. He said, "I've worked diligently to become a father for 23 years. Twenty-one cycles of in-vitro with four different women, but the moment [my son] Jax was born I realized that this was exactly the way it was meant to be." (AP Photo/Dan Steinberg)
Actor Hugh Jackman revealed in 2012 on the Katie show struggles with infertility and recurrent miscarriages. "“It is a difficult time. The miscarriage thing — apparently it happens to one in three pregnancies — but it’s very, very rarely talked about,” he said. Jackman and his wife turned to adoption. (AP Photo/Eric Jamison)
Jimmy Fallon and his wife struggled to get pregnant for five years before they had their two daughters via surrogate. He said in a Today interview, "I know people have tried much longer (than we have), but if there's anyone out there who is trying and they're just losing hope . . . just hang in there. Try every avenue; try anything you can do, 'cause you'll get there. You'll end up with a family, and it's so worth it. It is the most 'worth it' thing." (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
Legendary rocker Rod Stewart and his wife Penny Lancaster used assisted reproduction to get pregnant after they were unable to conceive naturally. With the help of IVF, the couple gave birth to son Aiden in 2011. (AP File)
After attempting to get his wife Carin Kingsland pregnant, Sugar Ray frontman Mark McGrath tried IUI (intra-uterine insemination). The couple tried IVF and finally gave birth in 2010 to twins Lydon Edward and Hartley Grace. (AP File)
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