Fast forward. You have found the resources, buckle up, and are ready to take off. It should be easy enough-inject my egg with sperm-mix it up-put it back inside me, and poof-a baby appears. Right? Not even close.
For the couples who are deep into their own rides, they know. Even if it is seamless and all goes well the first time, we all have learned that you get nothing for nothing. As a professional working with individuals and couples undergoing treatments, I have patients who have purchased all of the pineapples off the store shelves, or eaten so many beans that they got sick. They buy special equipment off the internet that is supposed to lessen injection pain. Why? They do it because they desperately want to participate in the process, and have heard of all kinds of remedies and tricks to secure the best outcome.
How many of you have had every herbal tea concoction known to Eastern medicine? Acupuncture at least twice a week? Practiced so much yoga, you became a rubber band? It is all done in an effort to bind your own anxiety. If I study really hard then I know I will get a good grade on the exam. If I put in extra hours at work, they will definitely give me the promotion! If I exercise, I will lose weight, and be healthy.
All of this is true, but for fertility patients the rules of engagement are not the same. The ratio of effort, money, or energy spent does not increase or decrease the odds of success. Fertility and conception are wild cards. There are no guarantees, just hopes and prayers. This is the opposite of the paradigm we have been brainwashed with since childhood; good things come to those who wait; you reap what you sow; will it to happen and it shall.
A fertility patient is in her own unique category. She worries about everything! She cannot plan a vacation or leave the city limits because of she may need to go to her clinic for monitoring on the cycle that will lead to her baby. She worries about flying lest the air pressure will hurt her chances of becoming a mommy. The list goes on and on.
All of her friends are pregnant, or have just given birth. They want her to come to the delivery room or host the shower, but she can’t! Her friends have no idea how hard it is for her to be around them. She doesn’t want to tell them she is going through fertility treatments because she thinks it is something to be ashamed of. Her parents and grandparents keep asking her when she will start a family. “The clock is ticking dear”, the sweet old great aunt will mutter under her breath at the Thanksgiving table.
Friends compliment her on how good she looks, and how fun it must be to go out with her husband, and not need a babysitter. How fun it is to get tickets to a show on a whim. How lucky she is that she got that new dress that would never fit them now. They have no idea how alone, and sad she feels. Everyone on the street is pregnant, or pushing a stroller with one or two, or sometimes three babies inside. She notices this more in the spring and summer when extra clothing is shed to reveal a pregnancy, or new babies are out in the warm air. The truth is this was going on all winter too, but she was too focused on her own reality to notice.
All of her friends seem to be growing and evolving into the next phase of life. She feels left behind. Alone. Disconnected. It just doesn’t seem fair!
The truth is-that it isn’t fair that some people are tall and skinny and others are short and overweight. Some people work in factories for 12 hour shifts and make very little money and others work half the time and earn double and triple the salary. Why? Because life isn’t fair. The bottom line is that good things don’t always happen to good people.
My patients struggle with the imbalance in the world, and how people who aren’t even trying to become pregnant have an ‘oops’ baby while they continue to try every pill and potion out there. After they drain their bank accounts, and work so hard, the result is often not what they had hoped for. They feel isolated, sad, misunderstood.
When it comes to Fertility, there’s a lot I don’t know. But, if there is one thing I do know, it is that this experience enriches you. It deepens you and mostly makes you a better version of who you already were. It teaches you how to appreciate things you once took for granted, like a great marriage, a wonderful job, amazing parents. It forces you to stop and really smell the roses, not just walk past them. It forces you to take stock of what REALLY matters. You are changed and altered, but not in a bad way. In a way that supports growth and depth.
I know it’s not easy, but don’t let the appointments and disappointments distract you from living. Don’t hurry up and wait for the next call and next visit to the clinic. Don’t forget to live, love, and enjoy the moment. The thing with life is that it never stays the same. Things change, and then they are gone.
I met with a woman yesterday who told me she went through fertility treatments for 10 years! She is many things including a physician. She is far from crazy. But she was determined, and so wanted to believe in miracles. Her passion and desire to persevere in the face of adversity is a true inspiration…just like you! Asking for help to build your family takes courage and strength. Allowing yourself to be vulnerable is true bravery. By the way, she is a mom now. She has 2 daughters that she chose to adopt. One is 10 and the other 13. She is one of the happiest people I have ever met, and so are her daughters.
This is a hard and painful journey. Connecting with other people who are living through the same experience can be very helpful. Find those people. I promise you that they exist. A community and network of support will empower you and embolden you! It will support you in becoming the best person, and hopefully Mother that you can be. More importantly, it will demonstrate in real time, one of the greatest wonders of our world…you are NOT alone!