People who read my blog, comment often about how honest and open I write. For some, this is nothing but a negative, for others, they find it refreshing, bold and sometimes, even brave and comforting.
This post could potentially upset a few people and I feel it necessary to explain that I’m writing this post as an attempt to find solace, and, as my blog has become lately, an attempt to somewhat educate, or at least talk about some important, common issues, that for some reason have become ‘taboo’. This issue is an important one, it affects a lot of people and it deserves it’s own time in the spot-light!
“In the USA this week is National Infertility Week. Run by Resolve.org since 1989 it aims to raise awareness of infertility. Did you know that 1 in 8 couples of child-bearing age suffer from infertility? According to figures from www.babycenter.com only 20% of couples will succeed in conceiving within one month of trying. 85% will take up to a year, while the next 10% can take up to two years. There is no figure given for the remaining 5%. In Texas, having a family is considered to be “a choice”, so infertility is not covered. Our insurance covers diagnostic work but the treatment of any problems is not covered.
- Infertility is a disease that affects 1 in 8 couples of reproductive age
- There are many ways to build a family
- Help reduce the stigma by bringing attention to the details/issues/costs surrounding all ways people diagnosed with infertility can build a family.
- Understand when to seek the help of a specialist
For those of us who fall into that last 15% we constantly question the sanity of sex education in school, where one is taught that it is very easy to become pregnant so one should protect oneself at all costs. Which, if you are one of the first 20%, is mostly prudent and I wouldn’t change it. Yet, one cannot help but wonder, whether at the age of, say, 21 years old there should be some way of informing people that, actually, it can take much longer than that and what to do should you reach a year without any success.” (Source, English Girl In Texas – big thanks to my friend Frances, her fab post on the subject can be found here!)
It’s no secret that Col and I have been trying to get pregnant, only for a few months, ”seriously”, but trying all the same. So far, unsuccessfully. I, like many others, seem to be falling in to the 15% of people who take ‘up to two years’, who knows, it may take longer, they don’t give you a timeline when you start trying. For the most part, I’m OK with that, I really am. Some days more than others, but overall there’s no urgent rush.
It’ll happen when it happens and stressing or crying over that won’t help things along any. We’re both young, ‘we have time’ and although for some people it just takes them to decide to try to have a child and they get pregnant, for others, it takes time to conceive.
What people don’t tell you, is that the issue of fertility and conception is a taboo subject, isn’t as ‘sexy’ as you’re led to believe, in fact, it’s all very ”hush, hush” and not talked about in many circles. Having a child, often isn’t the romanticised ideal that ‘they’ engrain in to you while you grow up.
Out of everyone I know, a concerning minority conceived ‘naturally’, just from a good old fashioned romp between the sheets. What many people don’t realise is, that an overwhelming majority needed help. Whether that be ovulation tracking (hereafter referred to as peeing on sticks), medication, specialists, testing, IVF or whatever.
It’s seriously shocking.
At least it was to me, maybe you all have a less romantic idea about how babies are made than I do, but, in this day and age, it’s not all romance and twinkles in eyes (and, as my friend Emily maintains, storks dropping babies from the sky!)
Someone should probably tell this to you, at some stage in your life. Because for us (my sister, my friends and I), going to a Catholic school, run by nuns, we were essentially told that even looking at a boy will get you pregnant.
Newsflash: this is a crock of crap!
It’s hard work.
Harder than anyone ever tells you it’s going to be!
Lesson one – be prepared!
It may happen on your first try, but, from what I’ve learned, that’s unlikely. It will take time, it will take hard work, and in many cases, it will involved some kind of trip to a doctors office, perhaps even a specialist.
What is difficult to deal with, when you’re ‘trying’ is the aura of ‘other’ politics that surround the entire situation.
Chances are, you’re going to end up ‘trying’ at the same time as some of your friends, *this* can be the cause of major stress for you.
Those who already have kids, are even encouraging you to stop, run away! Live your life! you really don’t want THIS do you? (Yes, actually I do, hence the peeing on sticks!)
Those who are pregnant, have already won their battle, they’ve leveled-up in the ”game” and don’t look back. Last year, I had 7 pregnant lady friends and an 8th who, tragically lost her baby. I went from rarely knowing a single pregnant lady up close (Amber was probably my first), to being surrounded by them.
For the most part, I loved it, talk about baby boom, it’s a very beneficial and worth while education learning about pregnancy and children and I’m very lucky to have been around that kind of education for the last couple of years. But, some days it was not easy, and, before you judge me, or say ‘she’s just jealous’, it’s not that at all. I’m not jealous, I just have a deep yearning to be a mother (which, isn’t silenced by the amount of people who tell me regularly that they think I’ll make a wonderful mother – even though that’s not something I particularly agree with!)
Some of my friends have gone through a heck of a lot worse than I have (so far) in attempting to conceive. They all deserve it, 100%. Some have taken years of trying, been to hell and back, and completely deserve to have a little bundle of joy – yes, that’s what it is for people who take so long and fight so hard to get pregnant. Joy.
They all deserve it and ultimately, if it came down to it, and God said to me you can chose, either you can conceive or all of your friends could conceive, I’d most definitely chose the later. But some days, I’m not going to lie, it’s hard. I want a baby.
They’ve done the conceiving bit, that’s behind them. They are, for the most part, first time mothers and that’s where their minds are now. Panic, stress, excitement… Every conversation is about babies, stuff they need, stuff they’ve read, stuff they’re afraid of, stuff they want to read about, yoga, parenting classes, stuff their kids are learning and doing etc etc etc…and that’s fine, people know that I’m most definitely a ‘baby person’, and, having worked in a baby shop for a few years, I tend to have above average knowledge of all things baby related.
What does concern me, though, is that that, being pregnant, is now how they define themselves. Don’t get me wrong (wow, I seem to be starting more than the average number of sentences with that phrase), I’m aware it is a huge life change, a huge change for the ladies, for their bodies, for their every day plans. Things have changed, it’s different, I get that.
However, I’m still fighting, my life hasn’t changed yet, and while I’ve been overwhelmingly happy for many, many, many of my friends whether they’ve had their first, or second baby, they mostly seem unaware that it might be sometimes difficult to be utterly surrounded in non-stop baby chatter.
I can’t emphasise that ‘sometimes‘ enough, like, triple underlined kind of emphasised. I love kids, I love talking about kids, I love learning about pregnancy and having kids, and I’m really not a delicate person about it, if you talk to me about kids or tell me you’re pregnant, I’m not going to crumble into a puddle of tears about it. I’m not fragile or all ‘woe is me’ all the time.
But sometimes? Sometimes woe IS me and I’d just like for those who already have won their battles to take a time-out and perhaps ask how I’m doing with mine? Yes, my critics will say that that’s just me being selfish, wanting the world to revolve around me, like I always do. However, in the grand scheme of things, I don’t think that’s a big ask – surprisingly, most of my friends have been where I am now, in the trying phase, it’s just as though, when they get pregnant, they forget about it and move on, without looking back.
Like I said, sometimes, it’s hard.
Maybe my experience with Amber was diluted by the fact she lived so far away, or, maybe I wasn’t quite so acutely aware of the huge changes that go on when someone gets pregnant. Either way, it quickly became a steep learning curve.
Newly pregnant friends are afraid to tell you they’re pregnant, because they know you’re ‘trying’. Some, to the point that they stop talking to you completely – yeah, cause that’s *so* much easier on everyone *eyeroll* They think you’ll burst into tears, which, ok, sometimes you feel like doing, but that doesn’t mean you’re not happy for them, that you *can’t* be happy for them, it just means there’s a pang of sadness in your heart, cause it wasn’t you this time.
People trying to get pregnant at the same time as you, are supportive, to a point, they don’t want you getting pregnant first – and if they get pregnant first, well, their battle has been won.
Lesson two – Ultimately, you’re on your own!
For the most part, I’m a pretty strong person, taking each day in my stride. I’m thrilled beyond words for each of my friends who have overcome their own battles (and sometimes wars) with the opponent that is Fertility and I’m beyond thrilled to be ‘Aunty Las’ to all of the babies that have been born in to our circle over the years and even to those that are yet to be conceived, but like the song says, ”every now and then, I fall apart”.
Each month which passes and I’m not pregnant, I learn from it and move along. Though, sometimes, it’s hard. Sometimes, in rare moments, I’m resentful and bitter (The ”you already have a child, why can’t I have one” moments), sometimes I cry hysterically to a very understanding and supportive Col (the ”what’s wrong with me” moments), who reassures me that I’m OK, that it’s normal and that we’ll get there eventually.
It’s hard when people who know that I’m a baby-person, they see me, and some ask me straight out, ‘So, are you pregnant yet?’, ‘When are you guys going to have kids?’ or, my favourite, ‘you know, motherhood is the best thing you’ll ever do’, why, thanks, I had no idea…it’s not like I’m dying to have a baby or anything… it’s definitely hard to brush off those kind of questions and comments with a painted smile on my face, replying with platitudes through gritted teeth, ‘oh it’ll happen when it happens’.
I imagine if I blurted out ”Well actually, we’d love to have kids, but it just hasn’t happened yet”, or ‘we’re TRYING!!!’ I’d feel a lot better, but I’m sure that’d bring about any number of awkward silences, so, I’ve tended towards the ‘grin and bear it’ approach – check me out, picking the path of least resistance for a change! 😉
Though I’m not 100% convinced, that the ‘grin and bear it’ approach is the right one. I mean, for a taboo subject, with so many people oblivious to the amount of people having difficulty conceiving, shouldn’t we be talking about it? May I *should* just be honest when I answer that question.
It got to the stage that I was so tired of it all, I took a time-out from the planning-to-have-a-baby, I took a time out from my peeing on sticks and stopped putting any kind of pressure on Col and especially myself to conceive.
You don’t think you’re stressing out about it, until you stop altogether and you realise how much of a relief it is. It kind of sneaks up on you, but soon enough you’re weighing yourself down with any number of restrictions, expectations and worries.
When day 1 of your cycle hits and you’re surrounded by disappointment (that you’re not pregnant), anger (that you’re not pregnant), confusion (as to why you’re not pregnant when you’re doing everything the books tell you to!) and overwhelming sadness, when your friends call you and tell you they’re pregnant, when your holding your friends kids, playing ‘aunty’ and your resolve to get pregnant becomes stronger than ever the pressure mounts. Because you want it bad. You want it real bad.
Track. Dates. Pee. Sex. Repeat.
The pressure beats down on you, like an invisible anvil bouncing on your shoulders.
I needed a time-out, it was becoming an obsession, though, ‘not caring’ is tougher than it sounds! I’m an organised person, I do lists, I check things off lists and I’m a control freak, a do-er, a go-getter, it’s hard for someone like me, to be completely lacking in control over a situation so complex, I like control. I dislike doing everything ‘they’ tell you to do and still ‘failing’ and having no clue as to why.
I repeat, it’s not easy. And not only is it “not easy”, but you also have very little control over it.
You listen to every piece of advice you can get, pee on sticks, use ‘magic’ lubricants, dangle upside down off your bed or stick your legs in the air for half an hour after you’re “finished”, get drunk before hand, have sex when the sun is in a certain position to the earth, or during certain phases of the moon…
Again, my favourite, ‘just relax’, are you freakin’ kidding me? Counting days, peeing on sticks, magic lubricant, scheduled sex, legs in the air and you’re telling me to relax?! How in the name of God can you even think of relaxing with all of this advice, and pressure (mostly, granted, coming from yourself) beating down on you?
I think I’m ready to ease my way back in (I would say ‘get back on the horse’ but that’d be taken in poor taste by a lot of my gutter-minded friends), recently, I went to my doctor, who gave me some hormone tablets to try and ‘regulate’ everything and I’m constantly working on losing weight and getting in to a better physical condition. I guess it’s all preparation.
Trying to stay calm and not feel like a failure is probably the hardest part, every month when your Aunt Flo arrives for a visit, but, as my friend told me today, you gotta have faith!
Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term after 12 months of trying to conceive. If you are over the age of 35, the time of trying to conceive is reduced to 6 months. It is important to see a specialist, or a Reproductive Endocrinologist, or in some cases your OB/Gyn or urologist for a complete fertility work-up and diagnosis.
For those of you considering trying for a baby, here’s the best ‘aids’ or ‘tools’ to ‘help with the job in hand’ that I’ve ‘found’, ok, I didn’t find them, but they’ve come highly recommended and have been tried and tested by other people, so I’m hoping that, some day soon, they’ll work for me! (Click on the title to open the product in another link)
No, not the candy, the kind you dunk into your pee. You start dipping your pee between noon/12pm and 8pm every day, from the 10th day of your cycle – at the same time every day. You are testing for an LH surge – this is present in your pee at all times, when you ovulate, it’s produced in higher quantities and makes the lines on the sticks go dark.
You could also ‘upgrade’ and pay for the more expensive ovulation tests that show a little smiley face when it’s ovulation time!
This lubricant apparently helps your hubby’s ‘swimmers’ on their merry voyage to meet the little egg.
Simple, one-a-day vitamins, ok they’re like the size of horse tranquilizers, but they’re recommended.
One other thing, recent studies say couples should go and see someone after six months of ‘trying’ rather than the traditional year. Infertility is a disease that needs and deserves attention
Recently, a friend said to me, “You can try your damned hardest to get everything in order but sometimes you are going to need a helping hand, and sometimes nature simply isn’t on your side (with or without obvious reason).” It’s confusing, it’s upsetting, it essentially is a lottery, luck of the draw and, with so few people talking openly about it, many people feel like they’re the only person in the world who is having trouble, or taking longer than they expected, to conceive.
Then the questions start does it have to be my own natural child? what about a surrogate? or adoption? What do we do if it just doesn’t happen? You have to have some foresight, in many cases, you set yourself a deadline, “Well, if we’re not pregnant by X date, we’ll go and see someone” or, in some cases you’ll agree to stop altogether – yes, it does get that stressful.
I wish I could write this blog and give excellent advice to people, to tell them that if they *did* use everything I linked above that they’d 100% guaranteed, get pregnant. But, I can’t. I don’t have any more answers than you, dear reader.
I think the biggest lessons I’ve learned in this process is that the old adages you hear from people, are the most helpful.
Practice makes perfect. (LOL!)
Patience is a virtue.
A watched pot never boils.
Even a broken watch is right twice a day (LOL again!)
For those that *aren’t* trying, yet who are inclined to ask their child-less friends, “Are you having children?”, “Have you thought about having a family?”, or any prodding or poking, knowingly or unknowingly into the fertile-status of your friends, my adages, (proverbs/analogies/whatever) for you are,
Look at both sides of the coin – how would you feel if you had issues conceiving, or, for many of you, WHEN you had issues conceiving?
If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. The one thing that most people say is ‘relax’, well, if you’re making me feel crap about not conceiving yet (whether you mean to or not) that’s not going to be conducive to relaxing, is it?
Be sensitive. Be Supportive. The last thing people, like me, need from people like you, is condescension. Pity. Stress. Pressure. Judgement, for not already having had children, or given consideration to children or realising that they are ‘”the best thing ever to happen to you”.
What you might think is every day chat and day to day questions, for us, it’s just another reminder that we aren’t pregnant, we want so desperately to be pregnant and we are struggling to get pregnant.
I truly hope that my personal ‘struggle’ bears fruit at some stage, because what I want, more than many things in life, is to have children, I’m very much a family gal. However, I’m not averse to the reality that I may end up having to adopt, which, given that my mother is adopted, I’ve been raised to believe is a good, beneficial thing to do, and, even if we can have our own children, I’d like to think it’s something I’d seriously consider doing at some stage.
As for you, reading, I hope that if you have children already, that you’ll give them an extra long cuddle tonight before bed and thank whatever deity that you believe in for sending you your bundle(s) of joy.
For those of you who are trying to conceive, I truly wish you every success in your endeavours, I empathise with your struggles and, if you need an ear to vent to about your own battle – I’ll happily listen.
- Don’t ignore the signs of infertility.
- Don’t ignore each other.
- Don’t ignore people with infertility.
- Don’t ignore the pain.
“Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true” – Leon J. Suenes
For more information,
- http://www.resolve.org/infertility101 (Basic understanding of the disease of infertility.)
- http://www.resolve.org/national-infertility-awareness-week/about.html (About NIAW)