I initially thought about this topic and planned for it to be funny. I know there’s nothing funny about IF, but I still had hopes of it being lighthearted. Then I started jotting down my thoughts. And they weren’t funny at all. So I apologize for the somewhat morose tone of many of these, but it is what it is. They are also very specific to my IF journey, but I have to imagine you can relate to many of them anyway.
Here, my friends, are the top 10 things (in no particular order) that I think suck about infertility.
1) The Fear
Will this all just end up being a waste of time? Will it be a waste of money? Will it ruin my marriage? Will sex ever be fun again? Will I be childless? Will my husband leave me for someone who can give him children? What will happen at my monitoring appointment today? What is my E2? Will I sleep through the alarm and miss the exact time for my trigger shot? Will I ovulate before they get in there to retrieve the eggs? Will any eggs be mature? Will any eggs fertilize? Will any eggs make it through the first night? The second night? Will I POAS and see stark white? Will I always be angry – at fertiles, at the IF Gods, at myself? Will we be bankrupt, with nothing to show for it? What are other people saying about us? Will I ever be the one in the maternity clothes? Will I ever be able to repair the friendships that I’ve neglected? Will I ever feel good about myself again?
2) The Self-Loathing
I’m broken. I’m barren. I’m weak. I’m defective. I’m pathetic. I’m an embryo killer. I’m a baby killer. I have lazy ovaries. My uterus is useless. God must know I’m going to be a terrible mother and that’s why I’m infertile. I’m fat thanks to the IF weight gain. I’m not a real woman. I’m a whiner, why can’t I stop bitching about not having a baby? I’m sick of hearing my own self complain. I’m ugly on the inside – angry and jealous. I want everyone to pity me, yet I can’t stand the idea of being pitied. Basically, I just suck in every way.
3) The Money
I refuse to add up how much we’ve spent. I can’t stomach it. There are so many different places that we’ve hemmoraged cash, I’m not sure I could even remember them all… a basal body temperature thermometer, OPKs, REs, HSGs, acupuncture, copays, drugs, syringes, needles, suppositories, HPTs, fertility massages, BCPs, acupuncture, visualization CDs, books, herbal supplements, D&Cs, fertility yoga DVDs, bracelets. The list goes on and on. Other people get knocked up for free. They don’t spend tens of thousands of dollars trying to make a baby. They spend it on stuff like vacations and clothes and flower gardens and beach houses. Damn them.
4) The Loss of Control
I don’t get to decide when, or where, or how we make a baby. It’s decided for me, in the form a protocol from the RE. I never know what to expect when I show up for daily monitoring – I’ve taken my meds, I’ve visualized my follicles growing and my lining thickening, I’ve drowned myself in positive thoughts – but will it be enough? I can’t enjoy carefree planning with trips or vacations or social activities, these things are dictated by monitoring appointments and trigger shots and inseminations and egg retrievals and transfers. I cannot will this to happen. I can’t try really, really hard or practice or take a fancy shortcut to make this happen. I’ve worked my whole life to make good things happen, to try harder than the other people, so that I could get what I wanted. Infertility doesn’t work that way, and that sucks.
5) The Waiting
Waiting to see that elusive 2nd line on an OPK. Waiting two long weeks to see if that worked. Waiting the requisite amount of time (full of failures at home) to consult an RE. Waiting to finally call, but then not getting an appointment for 6 more weeks. Waiting for your consult. Waiting for your bloodwork results. Waiting for your HSG to be scheduled. Waiting for your protocol to be developed. Waiting for your cycle to start. Waiting for your meds to arrive. Waiting for your name to be called so you can get a camera shoved up your ladybits. Waiting for your E2 results. Waiting for the appointed trigger shot time. Waiting for the anesthesiologist to knock you out at the retrieval. Waiting to hear how many eggs they got. Waiting for the fertilization reports. Waiting for your transfer time. Waiting to pee after the transfer. Waiting to POAS. Waiting to see if a line appears. Waiting for your beta. Waiting to see if your beta doubles. Waiting for your sonogram. Waiting to miscarry. Waiting for your beta to drop to 0 so you can get on this God-awful rollercoaster and do it all over again. Waiting to tell people The Good News until you are sure it’s going to be okay, and then having it all turn to shit anyway. Waiting to see if you will ever, ever have a baby to bring home. Waiting to use that perfect name you picked out. Waiting to pull out that cute onesie that you stupidly bought during the first month of trying when you were sure it would be so easy.
6) The Exhaustion
I’m tired of trying to make a baby. I’m tired of being angry. I’m tired of being pathetic. I’m tired of the waiting, the wishing, the hoping, the crushing disappointment, the heartbreak. I’m tired of crying at baby showers. I’m tired of sobbing after pregnancy announcements. I’m tired of doing the mental math to figure out how old my babies would be if I hadn’t miscarried. I’m tired of realizing that people who started trying after us now have 3 kids. I’m tired of waking up at 6am to get poked and prodded and have the blood sucked out of me. I’m tired of feeling like a bloated, drugged whale. I’m tired of waiting to make plans just in case. I’m tired of the lack of answers. I’m tired of other people’s optimism. I’m tired of the stupid shit people say to make you feel better. I’m just so, so tired – mentally and physically.
7) The Anger
I’m angry at my fertile friends. I’m angry at pregnant strangers. I’m angry at my body. I’m angry at my RE for not being a miracle worker. I’m angry at anyone who conceives an oops baby*. I’m angry at other people’s stupidity. I’m angry at the unfairness of it all. I’m angry about the wasted money. I’m angry about the delayed plans. I don’t care if God does know what’s best, I just wish it didn’t have to mean I’d have to struggle or have to miscarry. I’m angry at myself for letting this rule my life. I’m angry at myself for being such a huge failure.
8) The Pain
Without a doubt, it’s the emotional pain that hurts the most. The pain in my heart has left scars that are so big and so deep, not even a houseful of kids could take it away. But the physical pain can’t be denied either. It hurts to get a needle shoved in your arm day after day after day. The stim shots hurt. The trigger shot hurts. The PIO hurts, and it just keeps on giving since you have to do it for weeks on end. Clomid and Lupron and the rest of those vile, nasty devil drugs give me painful headaches. The HSG hurts, the dildo cam hurts, retrieval hurts, transfer hurts, D&Cs hurt. Watching your husband cry hurts. Watching your friends feel helpless hurts. Watching your sister live through the all too familiar angst of IF or miscarriage hurts. Seeing the disappointment on your Mom’s face hurts. Getting the “I’m so sorry” comments on your blog hurt (even though they aren’t supposed to). Crying until your eyes swell shut hurts. Realizing that everyone else at work knows your co-worker is pregnant except you (because they are too afraid to tell you) hurts. Hating yourself hurts.
9) The Loss of Dignity / Privacy
Sex isn’t between you and your husband anymore. It involves an entire medical team and that sucks. I can’t count how many different people have seen and/or shoved their hands and/or medical equipment up my private parts. I’ve been told specifically when to have sex with my husband. I have to sit in the waiting room while my husband jerks off into a cup. I have to take time off work (and provide an explanation) for monitoring, retrievals, transfers, and whatnot. As you are sitting in the RE’s waiting room for the first time, you are mortified because you might as well be wearing a sandwich board that reads, “WE HAVE UNPRODUCTIVE SEX. WE ARE BROKEN AND DEFECTIVE AND CAN’T MAKE BABIES.” Nevermind that everyone else in that room is in exactly the same boat as you, it doesn’t matter. You are sure you’re the biggest losers in the building. You have to pretend like it’s okay when you have no great answer for the incessant, “So, when are you two going to have some kids?” question. Your choices are to divulge all the personal details about your failed babymaking sessions or just grin and bear the pain silently. Maybe the only thing worse than the when-are-you-going-to-have-kids question is the one that occurs after you finally spill the beans about your infertility. That’s the “So, what’s wrong with you?” question. ‘Nuff said.
10) The Wondering
Did I cause this? Did I do too many drugs in high school? Did I lay my cell phone in my lap too many times and fry my ovaries? Am I eating too many cold foods? Did I stand too close to the microwave? Was it that glass of wine? Was it the fish? Was it my childhood vaccinations? Was it a drug my Mom took during her pregnancy? Will I ever get pregnant? What will it feel like? Will I miscarry? Will I have a healthy baby? Will my IF friends hate me when I get pregnant? Will a baby fill this gaping hole in my heart? Will my husband and I be able to withstand the financial and emotional war that we’ve been in for so many years? When will the pain, fear and loathing end? Ever?
I’m sure there are dozens more things that suck about it all. We weren’t dealing with MF issues. Although we were on the doorstep, we didn’t embark on the donor egg path. We didn’t get put through the adoption wringer. There are so many other facets to someone’s IF journey that I don’t even begin to touch on. But they all suck.
In another post at some point, I’ll tout the joys of The Silver Lining. Those joys aren’t quite as numerous as the shitty things, but there is actually some good to come out of the journey we’ve taken and it deserves to be explored. That’s another post for another day…
* - About this oops baby anger... it doesn't apply to everyone. There are many of you (and you know who you are -- Farah, Artblog, Mrs. LaLa, S, BuggsMomma) that I am thrilled for. Basically all IFs are excluded from this one. Just wanted to be clear...