Sunday, March 02, 2008

Infertility at a time like this?

"Barren Karen" posted an interesting question that I've thought about myself numerous times. Although she didn't put it this way, this is what I see as the main issue: At what point do you stop being a member of the club, if ever?

Is it at all legitimate for a woman who's currently overdue with her 6th child to hang around infertility blogs as if she has something to contribute?

I spent years trying to get pregnant with Hadas. 8 months into my first marriage, 2 months before I turned 21, I went off the pill and hoped to become pregnant. My period was irregular, so the two-week-wait was often a 4-week-wait, ending always in the same disappointment. I was so convinced that everything was OK that it was only 14 months later that I made my first appointment. And then the tests began. And treatments. There was no internet, no support groups, and no one who really had any idea what I was going through. I went for IUI after IUI and then for IVF. And another IVF. On the 2nd IVF I got lucky. My beta was 2500 at 19dpt (that was the earliest they tested back then, because they gave hCG shots as late as day 8). One (much older) friend had told me that bleeding is common in IVF pregnancies. It didn't really help me not to freak out when I started gushing blood right around 6 weeks... but she was right, everything was OK & I carried Hadas to 42 weeks, when finally I was induced.

I was 24-1/2 when Hadas was born & my chances of getting pregnant hadn't changed. I didn't want her to be an only child and went through 2 more fresh & 1 frozen cycle (which took nearly 18 months) before I became pregnant again. Matan (b) and Lilach (g) were born just after my 27th birthday.

So, I was young and I had 2 healthy pregnancies and 3 healthy kids. How could infertility still possibly affect me?

Well, even with 3 kids in the house & even though their care fell almost entirely on me, from the time M&L were about 6 months old, I felt someone was still missing. The feeling was so strong that no matter what I did, I couldn't shake it. Some months I would fantasize that a miracle happened and that I'd be pregnant. I would try to calculate the odds again and again, but more than 60 cycles later, it still hadn't happened.

I did go back for another IVF cycle. I conceived on the first try, but had a really bad pregnancy that ended around 13 weeks. From the time I started TTC until that miscarriage, 12 years had passed. Twelve years of looking at other people and trying to convince myself that pregnancy-by-sex was not just a myth... years of knowing how fortunate I was to have had successes, but still feeling sad at the loss of a dream. At my inability to determine if/when I would have a child (or another child).

Does what happened after that erase the past? In some ways, it does. I look at pregnant women with a big smile on my face. Seeing mommies with little kids is the most natural thing in the world for me. Any jealousy that I had or difficulty going to birth parties (we don't have baby showers in Israel) is completely gone. I can even honestly say that after, with G-d's help, our baby is born healthy, my family will be complete, that I've 'done the pregnancy thing' and 'the breastfeeding thing' and the 'being a mommy to a baby' thing. I look at my kids and think how lucky they are to have each other and each one is an incredible blessing...

What will stay with me forever is the understanding of what it is like to go through infertility. The uncertainty, the fear of never succeeding, the frustration, the anger, the jealousy... I've also gained experience and knowledge during these years, so although my family may be almost* complete, I hope that I will be able to provide support and information for others who are still at the beginning, with the hopes that they will be writing a similar post someday. And, because I am free of any of the negative emotions that infertility carries with it, I have the luxury of always being purely happy to read other people's good news.

So, in answer to the question... you stay part of the club as long as you have something to contribute to the infertile community. I believe I still do.

*BTW "any day now" is getting kind of old, since people have been telling me that since late January... Note that I'm actually getting FARTHER from my due date every day.


Anonymous said...

I think it's especially important for the success stories to stick around. Too often, people fall off the map when they have kids. It's so nice to remember that an infertility story can have six happy endings.

Just my .02.

And hey! Any day now! You can kick me later (if you can bring yourself to kick a pregnant woman).

Rachel said...

I just wanted to add that I think you should definitely keep posting and commenting. We are here to support each other and not to compete for the most complications and disappointments. You have a lot of experience with IF and also with babies, which is something we hopefully will all need someday. I also have to say that when I started this process I was surprised by how few religious women were blogging, and it's always nice to read about someone who has negotiated all of those extra complications.

Bea said...

I have always found your contributions thoughtful and helpful. What more criteria do you need to meet?


Aurelia said...

I'm always glad to read of success stories, and I do think we should stick around after we have kids because it's important for people to know that it can work out and that it is possible to be normal moms and be happy for others afterwards.