I dedicate this post to anyone who has gone through this. Past, present or future.
About five years ago, Jared and I decided we were ready. Let’s have a baby! What an exciting decision and the thoughts of a little one with brown hair, freckles, and blueish-green eyes filled my thoughts. As the months went on I kept getting my monthly cycle. We all can agree periods are a bummer. Not only do they cause cramps, bleeding, acne, swollen or tender breasts, tired feelings, trouble sleeping, upset stomach, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, headache, backache, appetite changes or food cravings, and joint or muscle pain, but my personal favorite “You’re Not Pregnant” is the main thing that crosses my mind when I get my monthly cycle.
A period is a big red flag you’re not pregnant and for those women who want to be, it’s basically insult to injury. Oh you wanted a baby instead of bleeding for seven days? Well, better luck next time. Month after month, year after year…this is how I feel getting my period each month. Pregnancy symptoms are the same as period symptoms and as an incredibly optimistic person (and constantly changing cycle), I always think THIS IS THE MONTH. I’m totally pregnant. My boobs hurt, I’m tired, and my belly is bloated. I take a pregnancy test and then I set my iPhone timer and come back into the bathroom to find that same sad one line. I usually just stare at it and imagine what it would be like to have two lines. I mean I’ve had so many friends experience it and I know of so many people who weren’t supposed to be able to have kids and end up pregnant. THUD…that stick goes into the trash.
The truth is after one year of trying to have a baby, Jared and I went to Seattle Reproductive Medicine and did extensive testing. We found out that our chance of getting pregnant was slim to none and began to look into In Vitro Fertilization or IVF.
IVF payment options: If you have good luck at a Casino, then you might be a good candidate for IVF. A.K.A. I’m a terrible gambler and always want to “cash out”. I’m not a giant risk taker and the way they presented the financial options I felt like I had to choose between “MAX BET” or bust. Let me explain. The average woman takes TWO tries of IVF to get pregnant. They break the options up into three choices. Choice 1: Try one round of IVF for a crazy amount of money. If you get pregnant, great and if not, you are out a down payment on a house. Also, you know that from the information above it takes two tries for the average woman to get pregnant so you’re taking a risk. Choice 2: Try two rounds of IVF and cheaper than if you did Choice 1 twice, but still more money overall. Choice 3: Three tries and a HUGE amount of money up front. Also, if you don’t get pregnant in three tries, you get a large percent of your money back, but you don’t get any refunds if you get pregnant on the first or second try. Anyone else spiraling into despair? How the heck do you decide? All the options are expensive and most of all none of the options have a guarantee. It all starts to feel predatory because reproductive clinics have supply and we are the ‘baby fever’ demand, willing to for-go any college fund for the kid, just to get the kid here.
Other Weird Things to Consider: Let’s say we go with IVF and we get more than one viable embryo. We then need to decide if we want to pay monthly frozen storage locker fees to keep the baby for a possible sibling in the future. What a weird bill to get in the mail each month. Oh, ya know, just paying to keep my future kid frozen.
“When you grow up…you get married and have kids.” Although I never remember anyone telling me this. I do remember plenty of Disney movies and toys sending that message frequently. I mean there was no Cinderella, Ariel, Aurora or Jasmine who just traveled and got some pets. How many times did I play the game of “Life” and pack my car full of little pink and blue peg children? How many times did I play with Barbie and Ken with their RV and babies? The answer would be A LOT. I mean the population of our species depends on people procreating. It makes sense. It’s the norm and it’s hard not to feel “off” being 31 years old and in the non-mom club. When I tell people I’m 31, the response is “Oh you’re so young! You have plenty of time!” Mary M. Murry, R.N., C.N.M. states “Turns out about 14 percent of births in the United States are to women 35 and older. They are considered advanced maternal age. Women over 35 may take longer to be able to conceive. This is related to those eggs we have had since birth. We don’t make new eggs as men make new sperm.” Plenty of time for me equals about four years. Four years to really decide if it’s important for me to be pregnant and with each year that goes by, the chances of IVF working decreases.
As a family photographer I get asked a lot if I have children. I’m GREAT with kids and most moms assume I must have some of my own. I’m not sure if it’s my age or ability to make kids happy or a combination of both, but the expression is always the same after I tell them I don’t. It’s a look of “Huh, would not have guessed that.” They always looked stumped. Trust me…it surprises me too. Then I always feel like I need to explain myself…oh the choices of what to say…”Well, we have been trying, with no luck” That statement seems oddly personal for meeting someone for the first time. “We have pets.” That one always seems like we value animals more than humans and comes across like we don’t want children. “Not yet, but hopefully soon”. This option definitely makes for an awkward moment because now it feels like I’m trying to throw myself a pity party or the mom feels sad she asked because it obviously implies it’s a sad subject around my household. If anyone has a suggestion for what to say when that question presents itself, I’m all ears.
What about adoption, fostering or using a sperm donor? We’ve looked into all those options and honestly are still exploring the possibilities. It’s a lot to take in. We research and then pause. Research and then pause. Every family has to make the choice that is right for them. I have such an open mind at this point and I think how ever we want to have a family is wonderful. Whatever route we choose, it will include lots of effort and a large check. I mean heaven forbid we just have sex. 😉
The National Infertility Association states – “Infertility is a major life crisis for 1 in 8 couples. For these women and men fighting the disease of infertility, the infertility experience involves many hidden losses for the individuals, their loved ones and society as a whole, including:
Loss of the pregnancy and the birth experience;
Loss of a genetic legacy and loss of future contributing citizens to the next generation;
Loss of the parenting experience;
Loss of a grandparent relationship;
Low feelings of self-worth;
Loss of stability in family and personal relationships;
Loss of work productivity; and
Loss of a sense of spirituality and sense of hope for the future.
Because infertility often involves major personal life issues and decisions, it is often experienced as a private matter and is not ordinarily discussed in public forums. The personal nature of the infertility experience contributes to the failure of the public, politicians, healthcare professionals and the media to recognize infertility as a disease. This causes a lack of sound knowledge and available resources about infertility.”
Well…here I am, talking in a public forum. It is my hope this post takes away some of the isolated feelings associated with infertility and even though I don’t have the answers of why we are dealt certain cards, there are lots of reasons for us to be happy even though our life didn’t end up the way we assumed it would. This year we will be married nine years and including our dating time, we’ve been together for an entire decade! We’ve traveled, we’ve made wonderful memories, we’ve overcome physical pain, emotional pain and we feel more connected now than ever. I’m thankful this experience has brought us together rather put a wedge between us. Another silver lining in this is having seven nephews and two nieces to practice our parenting skills on. They range in age from one year to 11 years old and they are all so wonderful, unique and keep us laughing. Being an auntie and uncle is the best! We also have many friends with amazing kids and we love our connections with their families. Lastly, we have two dogs and two cats, who definitely live a pretty pampered, attention filled life. I mean we put our dogs on our Christmas card last year and consider our pets to be family. We are definitely not lacking in opportunities to make a positive impact in a child’s life.
This can be a tough road but with each passing year that goes by we have the opportunity to learn and to grow. With age comes wisdom and I’m hoping by the time we have a baby we’ll be wise beyond our years. I’m still optimistic there is a chance we’ll have a miracle baby. I hear this story all the time and will shout it from the rooftops if this ends up being our story. I’m not sure what the future holds but for anyone who is struggling with infertility. I FEEL ya. I heard this quote while at hot yoga about a month ago and tears ran down my face while in Shavasana pose, “Patience is not simply the ability to wait – it’s how we behave while we’re waiting.” – Joyce Meyer
Let’s behave kindly and with gratitude.
P.S. I bought the game of “Life” just so I could take that photo. Thank you macro lens!