“Do you have any children?” I asked the woman. We were riding the elevator up to our hotel rooms after the dinner sponsored by the convention. Since it was a mom-blogging conference, I thought it likely that she did.
“No, we’re trying,” she answered, the far off look in her eyes betraying her cheerfulness. “We have a fur baby.”
“Oh,” I said feebly. I didn’t know what to say.
I should have.
Six years ago it seemed that all my college friends had run up to that so-called fertility finish line of age 35 either with a baby in their arms or pregnant. Some with both.
I went off the pill and was convinced we’d be pregnant within months. Surely after all the time I’d spent treating pregnancy like leprosy my body would cooperate, knowing that this time I’d stopped running. It would know that this time I wanted to catch this blessed affliction, and I wanted it desperately.
After nine months and an empty belly, at the insistence of a good friend, I marched into my OB-GYN's office and demanded tests.
Dr. G asked me to wait three more months, claiming that after a year we could officially admit something was wrong. I refused. She obliged.
We did test #1. It wasn’t J. His fishies had moves like Lochte.
I was put on six months of Clomid, which did nothing but make me a raging, hormonal bitch (which, as you can imagine really promotes intimacy) and caused me to pass out cold during a friend’s music set at the Empty Bottle.
We moved on to a hysterosalpingogram – a mildly uncomfortable process in which dye is run through the fallopian tubes to make sure they are clear.
Both tubes were blocked like a porn site on an office desktop.
We began our course of Eastern and Western Medicine. We saw the amazing Dr. KellyLee Whiteside at Harmony Health, where I began a regimen of regular acupuncture, fertility massage and an anti-inflammation diet. I also had a tubal cannulation performed by the wonderful Dr. Edmond Confino, the doctor who pioneered the procedure.
Now for those of you wondering what a cannulation is, it is basically roto-rootering the fallopian tubes. Since all you get to numb the pain is a lousy valium, it is HELLACIOUSLY PAINFUL. Seriously, if any terrorists or rogue governments want to torture women, they'll have hit pay dirt with this operation. I would have ratted out my own mother and promised to behead a baby kangaroo if it would have ended the suffering.
Dr. C succeeded in opening one tube and suggested that we do an intrauterine insemination.
It failed. IVF was our only option.
One of J’s clients gave us a recommendation to Dr. B, a stern, no-nonsense, but ridiculously successful reproductive endocrinologist, and we began treatment. I still went to acupuncture with its healing and calming aura in comparison to the anxiety provoking visits to the RE, where the waiting room was heavy with sadness -- where although we were all going through the same thing, no one ever met anyone else’s gaze. We were all on the same cycle, but no one ever smiled or talked or acknowledged anyone else’s presence. Everyone just stared at the TV, at a magazine or into the distance.
But everything marched along. I took the pills. I gave myself shots in the belly. I grew and harvested 17 eggs. Only five were viable. Of the five fertilized only two survived. Both went in. We hoped for twins (Ha!).
We waited for two weeks. I joined an online support group. Those women were my lifeline. I was afraid to teach class, for fear I'd jostle things around and prevent implantation. Every day J gave me a shot in the butt. Every morning, convinced that we would get bad news, I woke up and sobbed.
The day we were supposed to find out was J’s birthday. I couldn’t imagine that the universe would be so cruel.
Thank God, it wasn’t. We were blissfully, astoundingly lucky. After one try we were pregnant!
Once the pregnancy was underway, I got a little greedy. I asked my OB-GYN if we’d be able to get pregnant naturally next time.
“Probably not,” she answered.
When Mr. R was 9 months old, I was pregnant again. Lady A is our miracle. We are light years beyond fortunate to have found two pots of gold at the end of our infertility journey.
So, lady in the elevator, I know exactly what you are going through. I didn’t want to gush. I didn’t want to get too personal in such a public and transitional space.
I only wish I could have let you know that I’ve been there. Let you know that you’re not alone.
And most of all, I wish I could have said something -- anything at all-- to take away that lingering feeling of being incomplete.