Tag Archives: secondary infertility

Pregnant.

(Written exactly one month ago, on September 19th 2017)

I am pregnant.

After feeling the movement for almost six weeks and being filled with amazement and joy and fear that it is simply a delusion born of my own unrelenting desire to experience this again. After confessing my worry to my doctor and having her give me the same reassuring words my midwife shared almost six years before, “That’s your maternal instinct.” After hearing a heartbeat, twice. After five ultrasounds. After 10 weeks of nausea that is still lingering. After receiving three phone calls from three separate offices to let me know that my blood work came back fine and we were having a girl. After spending six weeks not exercising and being told to rest after each call to the doctor to update them on more bleeding. After seeing a little baby that was all beating heart. After weeping into the shower as blood poured down my legs and being certain that it was over. After the first twinge of nausea that brought utter delight. After the second beta that was over 900 and feeling too excited to not burst out with the news to a student. After the first beta that I got to take four days before I thought I could and hearing back that it was over 200. After progesterone suppositories and estrogen pills I had to take three times a day for almost 14 weeks. After watching Frasier for 30 minutes after the IUI the Sunday before Memorial Day. After laying still and listening to guided meditation after the IUI the Friday before that. After I started to consider IVF because I could not shake the hope of having a baby. After my doctor told me that she would let us do one more IUI before we needed to move on to IVF. After our doctor said we were “basically unexplained” and seeming perplexed by our failures. After crying every month for eight months on the day I learned my body told me no. After 11 shots and countless prescription pills and learning to inject myself through fear and bruises. After Ubiquinol. After meditation. After acupuncture. After Chinese herbs. After Tibetan massage. After avoiding caffeine and alcohol and sugar and dairy. After a failed IUI the week of spring break. After getting the final call that no birth family chose us, and our agency opted us out of an opportunity to be considered for twins because they miscounted the number of rooms in our home. After the adoption agency told us that there were now three potential birth families and asked if we would we consider staying on the books and my certainty that the timing of this call the day after our first failed IUI was a sign that we would have our placement. After a failed IUI the week of Thanksgiving. After realizing that I wanted to try science after all. After thinking that I could not throw myself into the extra training to transition to a state adoption without a break. After realizing I could not stomach the risk of trying infant adoption with another agency. After learning that our adoption agency would no longer continue with their domestic infant adoption program. After getting another phone call that the birth family did not want to consider an adoptive family with a biological child. After being told there was another birth family that would see our profile. After surgery. After diagnostic tests. After thyroid medication. After D3. After four case workers. After getting the call that the birth family did not want to consider an adoptive family with a biological child. After Leila asked me, “When are we going to get our baby?” and I had to tell her that it may not happen. After we learned that we had yet to be considered because no prospective birth family wanted to consider an adoptive family with a biological child. After learning we were paper pregnant after an application process that took 12 months. After an exhaustive home study. After two fire safety inspections because we did not have the commercial grade fire extinguisher. After an invasive application process that forced us to share credit reports and tax statements and answer five separate questions about our sex life. After a single visit to a fertility doctor. After meeting with a nutritionist and taking a daily dose of a dozen supplements. After the first try of acupuncture. After four years of trying to grow our family.

I did not want to share our pregnancy with anyone. The moment I received the call about our second beta numbers, I blurted the news to a student. I could not contain my excitement. For four years I dreamed about sharing the news. And when I had the news I was terrified. It felt safe with me. I knew every step of these past four years. I knew how wildly miraculous and mercilessly fragile this pregnancy was. A hemorrhage at six weeks that precluded travel forced us to share the news with our parents. And I certainly would not let Leila come second, and so we shared with her. And my dad told my brother, and so we shared with our siblings. And still I kept the information close to my heart. I worried about breaking Leila’s. And not sharing the news would have robbed her of any joy, as we certainly would be open if there were any loss. I have been curious at my own reluctance. At the way I always cushion the announcement with my hesitancy. At first I thought it was to protect myself from losing this baby girl. I realized it was to protect myself. But not from my personal loss. My attachment was cemented when the nurse first called with my numbers, and it grew exponentially the second I saw that beating heart when I was sure there would be nothing. Even as my waist expanded and the questions came, I wanted to keep it to myself.

I wanted to protect myself from other’s expectations. I wanted to protect myself from other’s discomfort. I wanted to protect myself from sharing beyond anyone I knew could sit with me whatever road this pregnancy took.

I wanted to wait and wait and wait and wait.

I wanted to only share when there was a baby in my arms.

But nothing is certain.

And impulse to protect myself was robbing me of experiencing this pregnancy, this baby, without qualifications. My natural, maternal fear of loss mutated into a paralyzing fear that the prospect of having to comfort and explain such a loss to others.

With Leila I can experience uninhibited happiness. To squeal over the smallness of baby clothes. To buy more. To imagine what life would be like to snuggle this new person, so small and loved.

I am learning to let it go. I have this exhausting sense of justice that compels me to want to qualify every announcement.

A girl in Target asked me what I was having. I paused, shocked. And then I looked down at my belly and back up at her. “A girl,” I said.

I still tell people it took time and science and lots of plans. I think that is important. But it has a place. Not everyone will get this. Most people won’t. It’s too painful to sit with others in their darkness. To empathize. To understand that the only separating you from another’s tragedy is some amalgam of genetics, environment, and good luck.

As I got my blood drawn the woman responded to my story with, “You’re going to get pregnant again!”

That anecdote. That fairy tale. That story I have heard so many times. The different versions. The imposition of something that happened to them onto me.

My story cannot stand alone in the world. Every time I share it will morph as it hits the ears, an inevitable game of telephone where the translation is lost the second it leaves our lips.

And so I might as well say it. I might as well give myself a chance to tell the story.

I am pregnant.

(Still) Not Pregnant

Still Not Pregnant

Every month I find my toilet paper stained pink. I have no need to wait for it, let alone hope it will finally not come. It arrives with timing so precise I wonder that the same body seems incapable of so much else. For the past year we have received emails and phone calls and texts from our rotating cast of caseworkers telling us there is this situation and then nothing until the possibilities have dwindled into nonexistence. The birth families do not want to look at an adoptive family with a biological child.

Most days I forget we are waiting. I have Ben and Leila and Wrigley and the store and yoga and all of the other things that fill in the cracks of my time. How could I even fit the sweet, long days of newborn life into these days? I sometimes wonder this to myself, more as a consolation than a question. I keep my parameters to help me continue to forget. You cannot want what you do not see. Like longing for a unicorn. It’s just foolish. My imagination is dulled by these habituated unconscious protections.

Then one Sunday I have a conversation with a friend and we discuss our only children and her definitiveness of their family situation is intoxicating after years of unknown. And after class a friend and student marvels at my daughter and declares how much she loves only children. She shares about her status as one and her unwavering decision to continue the pattern.

I start to wonder if this is a whisper I should listen to, to wonder if it could possibly be an accident. When I think about it, my heart cannot grasp at accepting our family’s completeness. At what point do I acknowledge that and quietly shutter up these windows we have kept open for over three years?

But I have wondered if that is what the birth families are seeing in us. Something already finished.

Leila’s heart is still open. When I share news of her classmate’s adopted brother or gather her baby things for the upcoming birth of her cousin’s little sister or as I prepare a meal to take to friends that just welcomed a son through adoption, her face lights up and she asks, “When will we get our baby?” And my heart breaks. Because she is saying the words I’m not brave enough to ask. And I tell her that we just don’t know. And maybe we will get a baby and maybe we won’t.

And then a friend with tenderness and empathy gently shares about being an only child. And how nice it is. And I tell her about these whispers. And I wonder again at what we are doing.

I question how long is too long to wait, because I am still not pregnant, and our crib is still littered with all the discarded things from our home. And I wonder if the universe is whispering. Because they tell us to wait, that it will happen in God’s timing. I don’t quite grasp how a human can dilute and diminish God into timing and certainty of things to come.

And so I sit with the discomfort and grief and emptiness in a house that is full.

PS I’ve written before about my reactions to our secondary infertility here and here and our adoption experience here.

The Wait

The Wait

*I wrote this for our church‘s 2015 Advent Meditations

I was pregnant, the cusp of the final trimester coinciding with the first Sunday of Advent. Round with child, my heart longed for a heightened spiritual experience.

After a church service my husband’s aunt remarks, “Isn’t it wonderful to be pregnant at Christmas?”

“Yes,” I lie.

I echo her knowing smile, but I feel no kindred bond to Mary or Elizabeth simply because my womb is full during this particular season of the liturgical calendar – my waiting being mitigated by its brevity, the certainty that it will end.

Last December I pulled up to the San Jacinto College campus to pick up Ben for the 117 miles to Lufkin.

During the drive we listen to the Serial podcast and let ourselves get lost in another story. After our mandatory meeting finishes we go out for hamburgers – the same meal as after our singular visit to the fertility doctor. This time I allow myself to top my burger with cheese, sandwich it between buns and eat it alongside a side of fries. I am no longer hoping to cajole my body into holding new life by abstaining from grains and dairy and sugar and alcohol and caffeine. I am no longer making weekly visits to the acupuncturist or taking my temperature each morning.

The excitement and hope I felt, or perhaps simply pretended to feel during the meeting has waned, and loneliness settles in as we eat our dinner. A loneliness particular to longing and uncertainty and from this I begin to feel a connection to the season – my barrenness a catalyst for a visceral anticipation for joys to come. Advent surrounds me. The grandness of the story pulls me from my inward preoccupation. This story of redemption, born from shameful places – an old woman, an unwed mother, a group of lowly shepherds, a devout servant, a widow prophetess. This story of redemption, intertwined with grief. What a complicated story it is.

It probably is irrational to believe in something so blindly. Sometimes I revel in my foolishness. Each Sunday I look up at the baptismal and hold back tears at the thought of holding another child of ours over this sacred fount. A joy wells in my heart and overflows. Somehow I can see this child that does not look like me more clearly than I could four years ago as I felt a little girl kick and turn and watched my belly button protrude ever farther. Sometimes I am stricken dumb by the absurdity and tongue-tied by my doubt.

I have been telling myself that officially beginning the waiting would ameliorate my anxiety. It was hopeful. And it was true. The application complete, I breathe in the freedom. The work has been done.

I am ready for this season of pronounced waiting – small, quiet, grand, life-changing – waiting.