A year ago today, 22 April 2017, my world was turned on its ear. I received a phone call from the office of my OBGYN that informed me my blood work indicated that my pregnancy would not reach full term. I was meant to miscarry my baby at some undetermined point in the near future. I was gutted...figuratively, soon to be literally. The future that I had spent the last 10 weeks trying to imagine, slowly slipped through my fingers, much like the sand on the beaches of California from my childhood.
Unlike the beaches of my childhood, I was uncertain as to when the sun would return. In fact, I was quite uncertain as to IF it would ever return.
I took to the internet to search for solace and understanding. I would soon learn that it was National Infertility Awareness Week (in the United States). According to resolve.org statistics indicated that 1 in 4 women would suffer a miscarriage in their lifetime. 1 in 8 couples would grapple with infertility. What?!? This was a “thing”? I was flummoxed. I had NO IDEA.
I consider myself a citizen of the world, well informed and educated. How was it possible that I didn’t know the far reaching impact of infertility?
By some unfortunate marketing coordination, it happens that “Take Your Child to Work Day” lands smack dab in Infertility Awareness week. I stayed home from work. Was this some cruel joke?
The aftermath of the miscarriage was brutal. Every trip to the toilet evoked so many emotions. I couldn't imagine living through it all, yet I did.
I can't say I am quite on the other side one year later. I'm obviously older, undoubtedly wiser. My arms are still empty and I long for my take home baby. I'm working with a reproductive endocrinologist, my second actually, to make that a reality. At 46, I am very aware that my chances of conceiving a baby from my own eggs are slim to none. Yet, I persist.
The father of the miscarried baby has left me. I've tried four IUIs with donor sperm. The father of the miscarried baby has returned, agreeing to provide the necessary DNA to make my baby and nothing more. Now, instead of paying directly for sperm, I'm paying for medical and legal fees to have a go at the "known donor" experience. I feel desperate and old.
It seems when I was crafting out my career, I was confused by what it meant to "have it all" and now even though I am financially secure, I am ovarian bankrupt. Who would have thunk it? Not I, that is most certain.
Plagued by the fight against time and the guilt of being greedy, after all, I had a healthy happy living child, yet I pressed forward. There are no emotions I would not feel, no expense I would not bear to refill my empty womb and carry my own biological child. I prayed endlessly to a God, I had barely acknowledged since graduating Catholic school more years ago than I care to remember. I meditated, performed yoga, acupuncture, took a less prominent role at work, all in hopes of finding the right mix of things to give birth to my rainbow baby.
Initially, I pressed on in silence. I was ashamed and guilt ridden. However battling infertility becomes a full-time job. Every outing and event predicated by my menstrual cycle. I can not travel at the beginning of the cycle or just before ovulation. Medical professionals located in NYC are very necessary. I must only travel after the end of my cycle or what I would come to learn as my luteal phase.
Slowly at first, I had to start talking about my miscarriage and my fertility struggles and letting others in on one of the most private, shameful aspects of my life. It was the only thing that would soothe my soul. So be it.
The strangest thing happened. Other women shared they had all suffered miscarriages! Women that I knew, not random data that I found on a google search. It was the most liberating revelation that I had experienced in my 46 years on the planet. Wow. I felt empowered and entitled all at once.
This led me to start speaking openly about my experience. I was on multiple public websites talking about my fertility struggles to strangers. But it wasn't about me. It was about the larger, mostly silent, population of folks struggling with infertility.
One year later, I'm on my second reproductive endocrinologist and a mission to give a voice and a face to infertility. I like to refer to it as my "fertility" (not infertility) struggles so as to put positive energy into the universe. My focus is not only on helping myself have a healthy and happy take home baby, but to helps others learn what I WISH I would have known 10 years ago.
I realize my 1% chance means it is highly unlikely that I will have another biological child. However, I am unmoved. My heart will not yet let me surrender.
Dearest future child, mommy is waiting. I love you.