There’s this misconception that having a child after infertility means the entire situation has been resolved. Now that you’re holding a baby in your arms, you’ve been cured, and you can now move on with life. That couldn’t be further from the truth.
I’ll never forget the day a friend and I were having lunch at a nearby restaurant. I was about four years into my infertility journey and just had my third intrauterine insemination (IUI) fail. As I sipped my Coke, I told her the details and confided to her that I wasn’t sure this would ever work. She leaned into me and said confidently, “It will. You’ll get your baby and this whole thing will be a distant memory.”
She was right about one thing: I did have a baby. My daughter finally came to us after our next three in vitro fertilisations (IVFs) and first donor egg cycle failed. She finally came to us after $50,000 of medical loans and eight months of daily blood thinner injections. She was worth every penny (and every shot in my stomach). To the outsider, we beat infertility and we have our miracle daughter. We could now move on to the next chapter of our life.
But my infertility is not a distant memory. It’s not resolved. And it’s still f*cking with my life to the point of needing therapy and writing articles on it like this one.
When my daughter was born, I thought my heart would burst. For so long, she was the sole motivation to keep going, to do that second IVF after the first ended in a miscarriage. To make the decision to move on from my own eggs and use a donor. To take the leap of faith and travel across the country to a clinic that held a certain appeal that my own clinic couldn’t offer. And have the strength to do that one last cycle before our funds to have a baby were exhausted. Though at the time I didn’t know my daughter as the little person she would become, I knew she was out there if I just took a chance on that last fertility treatment. She came into the world almost three years ago and my life is infinitely better now that she’s here.
But every month, my period comes. Every month, my husband and I have sex with reckless abandon and without contraceptives. And every month my period still comes, like clockwork every 25 to 28 days like a giant middle finger. I’ve never once gotten pregnant from sex. I probably never will.
This is how I can have a child I’ve longed for, for so long, and still be infertile.
My journey isn’t over, because our family isn’t yet complete. Facing fertility treatments all over again is just as hard as it was the first time. Yes, my daughter softens the blow. In time, I can learn to be okay as a family of three, instead of the family of five I had decided on before I knew having a baby wasn’t going to come easy for me. But I want this next treatment to work. I want my daughter to have a sibling, and I want to be pregnant again.
As our next cycle approaches, I can’t help but feel those old feelings of infertility: the jealousy, the anger, the frustration. Most people see my success in the form of my daughter and don’t realise my infertility journey is far from over. Not being able to have the size of family I envisioned because of my faulty reproductive system, is disheartening. It’s unfair, and it leaves me feeling perpetually defective.
Infertility steals your choices from you, steals your life plans away, and while everyone around me is conceiving over a bottle of chardonnay, I am making plans to fly back across the country to our clinic to have one of our three remaining embryos transferred into my uterus by a team of medical staff. While everyone around me is adding to their family, I am hoping and praying for the chance for it, all over again.