When my mom and sister died, my life was forever changed, but my life plan was not substantially changed. I still had a sense of certainty as I knew that their deaths were final and that I had no ability to change the events of that day. Real life isn’t Buffy the Vampire Slayer where you can bring people back to life through magic (it’s a little bit more like Harry Potter, where you can look into the Mirror of Erised (aka my memory) and see them again.) This event changed my life in countless ways, but it did present me with a choice on how to live the rest of my life.
At 14, without really knowing it I had a vague life plan – going to high school, going to university, meeting the dream guy and then having a family. The life plan was based on expectations from my parents and very little actual thought on my behalf. It was just what I was going to do. I didn’t even really think about alternatives. So, when my mom and sister died, my life plan didn’t really change because I chose to continue with the plan. While they were no longer alive to be part of the execution of the plan, I could still live the plan. I could have easily tried to hide from the pain of my new reality through drugs and alcohol. But, instead, I distinctly remember making the conscious choice to live my life in a way that would make my mom and sister proud of me. This seemed like a no-brainer to me, and really wasn’t a hard decision. So, I chose to keep reaching for the stars, through continuing to achieve top academic results. I chose to continue to be a good person and to live my life based on the positive values I had been brought up with.
But, my most recent struggle with recurrent pregnancy loss, is entirely different. Although, each miscarriage result is the death of a baby we never knew, the choices before me are much different. Specifically, that we still have a choice about what’s next. We can choose to try to create a healthy child again, we can choose to adopt or we can choose to have no children. We have choices before us, each with daunting statistics and possible outcomes. But, unlike the certainty that I felt after the death of my mom and sister, the death of our babies through miscarriage has resulted in my world being consumed by uncertainty. I am not good with uncertainty. Evidently, I liked the plan and I liked knowing what’s going to happen next.
So, now, how do I live in a perplexing state of uncertainty? This has been one of the hardest things for me to do. How do I move from living the certain life plan, to living a life of uncertainty? How do I make this transition? How do I find a way to live in the moment, and not in the planned future? How do I accept this new route and come to peace with the fact that my future may be very different from what I always envisioned?
I’m told I need to practice mindfulness. I’m told I need to learn to live in the moment. I’m told I need to learn to not think about the future. I am told I need to live for today.
I am trying. But I am also struggling.
Infertility as defined by Webster’s Dictionary is:
Medical Definition of INFERTILE
: not fertile; especially: incapable of or unsuccessful in achieving pregnancy over a considerable period of time (as a year) in spite of determined attempts by heterosexual intercourse without contraception <infertile couples><an infertile male with a low sperm count><an infertile female with blocked fallopian tubes>—compare sterile 1
—in·fer·til·i·ty noun, pluralin·fer·til·i·ties
Full Definition of INFERTILE
: not fertile or productive <infertile eggs> <infertile fields>; especially : incapable of or unsuccessful in achieving pregnancy <infertile couples>
— in·fer·til·i·ty noun
I read these definitions, and I just don’t think of us as being infertile. We can get pregnant. We are actually really good at the creation part. We’ve had four completely natural pregnancies in 19 months – but each one has ended in miscarriage (3 + consecutive miscarriages is known by the medical term of recurrent pregnancy loss). Simply put, we are good at the conception part, not so good at the rest of it. Why? The medical community has no idea – after many, many, many tests, they have determined that are perfectly healthy. This should not be happening to us.
So, since we can get pregnant, why and how do we fit into this definition? If, infertility, by its definition, means that a couple cannot conceive through the century’s old technique of sex, then why are we part of the definition? Why do we get sent to a fertility clinic which specializes is getting people pregnant through medical procedures such as IUI and IVF? I figure it’s because the medical community is trying to fit a square peg into a round hole. Only 1% of couples will experience RPL, so our numbers are too low for it to be considered a standalone pressing medical condition with its own medical specialization. So, we have nowhere else to go and no experts to solve our problem.
I know, there is a substantial difference between being unable to get pregnant versus being unable to maintain pregnancy. Yet, here I am also being a square peg trying to fit into the round hole – looking for someone who understands. And the closest I have is, people who cannot get pregnant. While, I am unbelievably thankful for the support I have received from so many of you, I also know the experiences are not the same. After following many blogs, I feel as though I can make the assumption that both experiences are grounded in similar emotions of frustration, loss, disappointment, anxiety, sadness, etc. But given our experience, I am nearly clueless when it comes to fertility treatments, and acronyms like IUI, IVF, CM, AF, etc. Our doctors have made it clear that these treatments will never be possible solutions for us, because our bodies have that part figured out and our testing indicates that we are healthy and since our genetic testing is fine there is no reason to do IVF with genetic testing. So, no medical interventions, regardless of how unpleasant, are possible for us.
That said, learning about all of this other infertility stuff from the questions we have asked our doctors and from everyone in the blogging community has been a great experience for us because it’s truly interesting to understand. And I have a deep appreciation for the immense struggle that infertility causes couples. It’s fascinating to know what people are willing to do to have biological children, myself included. I’m desperate for a possible solution, and only wish I had medical options.
But also, and likely more importantly, learning about infertility has been incredibly important because I find myself educating people on fertility treatments all the time now. When people here about our situation the first thing they suggest, even before adoption, is the miracle cure of IVF. Thanks to my education in fertility treatments, I can now explain more about these treatments, and how they affect those struggling to have children. I can also explain to the naive people out there, that fertility treatments are not physical fun, emotionally easy, affordable or even simple. Because of this, I am becoming an infertility advocate for education and awareness. And, thanks to my fellow bloggers I have a much better understanding of just how difficult these treatments are.
So, thank you to all the infertility bloggers for helping me to know more and for letting me hang out in the fringes of your world as I attempt to find comfort through my journey as a square peg in a round hole. In in return for your amazing support, I resolve to continue my quest to know more and to raise awareness through education of those I meet.