I can still remember that day, the day I got my first positive pregnancy test. We’d been trying for only a few months then, maybe five or six months, and I was relieved because I thought it might be harder or take even longer. You can imagine, then, my anger and frustration when later that same day my period started, making it clear that it had been nothing more than a fluke, a false positive, which apparently happens all the time with home pregnancy tests.
Little did I know at the time that the road we were on was going to be one full of that anger and frustration, with an even greater grief ahead, when the pregnancy test WOULD be positive after a cycle of IVF and I’d stay pregnant for nearly six months with twin boys before the other shoe dropped, the bad thing happened, and I’d find out lying in a hospital bed connected to things six ways to Sunday that in fact I could no longer stay pregnant if I wanted to live.
You should never have to choose your life over your child.
Infertility has shaped me, it’s carved my bones into a different form, it’s left black marks on my heart that will always be there. You cannot imagine how awful it is – to want that most basic element of humanity, a child – and not be able to do it without help.
You cannot imagine the way it changes your relationships with people, how you can’t bear to receive a birth announcement or go to a baby shower because while you’re there it feels like you’re sitting on a chair full of incredibly sharp knives. Or how deeply it hurts when your friends blurt out things that are so fraught with ignorance and dismissiveness (why don’t you just adopt? Oh, I don’t know, because it costs ten times as much and you won’t necessarily have a child at the end of the process?) that you can no longer look at them full in the face.
It’s easy to think you know about infertility when you haven’t been there. It’s a rocky, challenging road full of dead end cul-de-sacs that leave you exhausted, fatter, angrier, and lonely at the finish – and some of us don’t even get to have a child when all is said and done.
Today I sometimes hug my living child with a fierceness that leaves us both breathless. Some days I cannot believe she is here. Some days I can’t believe my boys aren’t here. My infertility has left me scarred. The scars are inside where you can’t see them, but trust me, they are there.