Next Stop, Infertility.
Fact: 1 in 6 couples will struggle to have a baby, with 15 million people (men and women both) affected by infertility each year in the US.
True Story-If you find yourself reading this post, then chances are you're struggling with trying to conceive. And to that I say, take a breath, you are not alone. Despite how you might feel right now, trust me when I say , millions of women are experiencing the same feelings of loneliness and depression and are also searching the internet for answers. So while that might not bring you much comfort, I do believe there is strength in numbers and just knowing that there is a community of women out there who can nod their heads at your story and say "me too" should help take a bit of the sting off your current diagnosis, or lack there of.
Infertility is a scary place. As a woman, you probably spent your whole life trying to NOT get pregnant. Taking the pill, using condoms, panicking when your period was a few days late, taking a pregnancy test with your girlfriends praying you wouldn't see two pink lines? And now here you are, desperately hoping to see that positive pregnancy test, praying that your swollen boobs mean a baby is growing inside of you, and cursing all the women around you who are oops, accidentally getting pregnant.
What I want you to understand is this: Infertility is not who you are, it is WHERE you are. Infertility is a place. It is not a personality trait or a bad habit, it is not a characteristic that should be used to describe who you are as a person. It is a place that you somehow found yourself during your life's journey, a detour of sorts. A broken down town, a shitty Podunk place that is dark and lonely, cold and unfriendly, full of unsolicited opinions and advice, and yet barren in resources such as answers and solutions. You DO NOT stay in Infertility. It is not a destination you live in, or a place to set up shop. If you find yourself there, it is by no fault of your own. Your life's GPS system fucked up and sent you off your smooth and steady highway to Happiness, thinking this backroad to Brokenville might be interesting. Why you're here makes no sense, and shouldn't be your focus. How you get out should be where you put your energy. So lets take a breath, grab a snack, get your bearings and find the fastest, safest route out of this no good, horrible place!
When people get lost, they panic, and this is no different. You are currently lost and in your confusion you might make choices that you wouldn't normally make, out of desperation, or fear. You need to look for the helpers. People who can show you the way out, I like to think that I am one of those helpers. There are lots of helpers in Infertility, mostly doctors and nurses, who promise you solutions and bus tickets out of Infertility, but they come with a hefty price tag. So here is my map out of Infertility. It's drawn on a napkin and isn't very technical but it is the path that I took and it worked for me!!
The first step in getting back to the main road is getting a diagnosis. And then get a second opinion on that diagnosis, because while I believe doctors are amazingly brilliant people, they too can make mistakes, and you don't want to go down some road to nowhere, only to back track and make up for lost time because of a misdiagnosis. So find a doctor that has a great reputation and has a history of helping the women of Infertility. Even if that means a bit of a wait list. Patience is thin in Infertility but it is a resource you must gather and a practice you must learn. Plus it will pay off once you do have kids, cause holy shit are you gonna need patience!!! Moving along....
Next, make a plan. Take that diagnosis and with your partner and doctor, figure out your options. It might require something as simple as chlomid, or as complicated as IVF. It might be a few tweeks of diet and medication or it might mean surgeries and shots. Whatever the case, make sure you can afford it, and make sure you understand the risks and rewards. During this phase, our judgement can become clouded by our overwhelming desire to procreate, and our lack of patience in the whole process. But the last thing you want is to hurt your body in the long term by not understanding the risks involved or spend money you don't have on something that has a ridiculously low chance of succeeding. When I started the IVF process, I was told my chances of getting pregnant were around 15%. To this I took the Pee Wee Herman approach of "LA-LA-LA-LA I can't hear you, I can't hear you". See what I mean about clouded judgement. I had neither patience nor good judgement, but luckily we had a plan in place so I knew how many cycles we could do before the money ran out. Talk to your insurance company, your employer and your bank to find out what is covered, what extra benefits you might be able to get and what loans you can take out if more money is needed. But get the information before you start the process. Stress is the enemy in Infertility so the more you can do to avoid it the better.
Up next, stay positive. This might be the most impossible request you will ever hear from me, but it is necessary if you want to get out of Infertility and back to your life. While you will be stressed and worried about money and success rates, and other peoples opinions, you need to create a space of love and positivity for you and your partner. Think positively about the outcome of your plan, read positive and uplifting stories from women who have been to Infertility and found their way through it. Try massage and acupuncture, meditation and therapy, yoga and book clubs. Whatever it takes to keep you vibing on a positive wave length, even if it's just for a few hours a day. Studies show that people who have positive outlooks on life lead happier more successful lives. Focus on your blessings instead of the shit situation you're in. Other women might be able to get pregnant easily but I bet they don't have the best dog in the world or the funniest spouse. Try and see the good during this time, no matter how difficult that might be. Don't lose sight of your blessings. That's all I'm trying to say.
Finally know your options. Just because a plan failed doesn't mean there isn't another plan to be devised. Sometimes Plan B is the best plan, and you don't realize it until Plan A is a bust. Whatever you do, don't give up. Where there is a will there is a way. I stayed in Infertility for 2 years. I do not recommend that as it is way too long of a stay and at times I feared I was becoming the Mayor of Infertility, population just me. For us, our path out was adoption. It was a path presented to us very early on in our stay in Infertility but we turned our noses up at that way out, thinking it looked less scenic than the alternative routes. We were way wrong. But that's what I mean about knowing your options. When our Plan A, IVF, failed we turned to Plan B, donor eggs. And when Plan B failed we gave Plan C, adoption, a shot. Turned out third time was a charm and we are now blissfully back in Happiness, a place where we not only live, but bought real estate, ran for office and currently plan on staying for the rest of our days. We like it here. A lot.
So keep the faith that you will find your way out. Use my napkin map and ask for help along the way. This community of women you now find yourself living amongst are tough and resourceful and they will help you find your way. I promise.
And remember, Happiness is just around the corner.
I hope to see you around the neighborhood.