The Diary of an Infertile Woman

May 11, 2013

This is a somewhat fictional account based on my experiences.  Lots of the details, dates and names have been changed, because I felt like changing them.  

Beware: The contents may not be appropriate for all audiences.  If you don't feel comfortable with the words Sex, Sperm, or Mucus, you may not want to read it aloud to your 6 year old.   Also, it is LONG.  Sorry about that.

January 1:  So this is it.  We have been having unprotected sex for a year today and now we are a officially an infertile couple.  We have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow.   With a specialist.    I don’t want to go.  I don’t want to see some stupid doctor.  I don’t want to deal with this.  I’m nervous.  Can’t I just get pregnant so I don’t have to deal with this?   Ugh.  I hate facing my problems.  But Richard is sick of me moping around and figures we ought to see if something can be done.  Humph.  Darn him and his decisive actions.

January 2: Well, we had the appointment with a fertility specialist. We told a man we don't know all our most intimate secrets: Yes, we have been having unprotected sex for over a year.  Yes, I get my periods regularly. Yes, we are pretty sure we are doing it right. Richard was cracking jokes like he discusses his sperm with strangers every day. The doctor reviewed our test results with us, pointing out the problems and discussing options and treatment in a very soft, pleasant voice, but what he was really saying suddenly hit me all at once.  This isn't a fluke or a quick fix or a simple problem of intimacy.  We can’t get pregnant.  We can't get pregnant.   Not without some really serious intervention and the chances are pretty crappy even then. The air in the room started to feel thick. My ears got heavy and I couldn't swallow. I had to dig my fingernails into my palm to keep myself from falling right through my chair into the hole that opened up in my heart.

How can something be wrong? I’m healthy. I've always been healthy. And I want kids. People get pregnant all the time that don’t want kids.    Shouldn't those who want them get them? All I want to do is be a mother. How can this be happening?? I feel like I have been betrayed by my body. I've had to deal with the pain, inconvenience and anxiety of a period for over ten years and it was all for nothing? I can’t seem to think anymore. My hands are shaking so bad I can barely type. What are we going to do? What am I going to do?

January 10: Cried for the last week straight.  Last night Richard made me dinner, cleaned the house, did all the laundry and bought me flowers. He's so nice, especially since I know this isn't easy for him either. I really should try a little harder, for his sake.  But I don’t know how to deal with this.  Unless crying counts as dealing.  If it does, I'm dealing with it like a pro.  

January 27: Ok.  So we are infertile.  Whatever.  That doesn't mean we're sterile.  Who does that doctor think he is anyway? I went to the library and checked out several hundred books on fertility and read them all. Now I’m not sure if the source of our problem is a vitamin C deficiency, hormones in our chicken, not enough breaths of fresh country air, or my choice in laundry detergent. I guess I'll have to read some more.  Richard tried to convince me that all the girls he knew in high school who spent all their free time reading were not the ones who ended up pregnant.  

February 12:  We started a cleanse that I am really hoping will boost our reproductive systems: Beet Root and Molasses. I, for one, am really excited about this! But I think Richard might want to kill me. It is clearly a testament to how nice he is that he is both eating the beet root and not complaining about it. We have also started a vitamin regimen, and a very strict exercise schedule. We are going to have the most well functioning bodies the world has ever seen! I am not ready to give up yet!

February 28:  Got my period.  I don’t know how long it is supposed to take before my body starts functioning like the perfect machine that it is supposed to be, but I am starting to suspect the cleanse was a dud.  Stupid beet root.  I wonder if Richard would be above going to a witch doctor?

March 3: Am I being greedy? My life is good. We have so much. I love my husband. Shouldn't he be enough for me? Shouldn't our love be so complete and all consuming that I never need anything more? I really, really love him. But it’s like there is this whole separate compartment of my heart set aside for loving a child. Because it is not getting used it is dying from the inside and spreading to the rest of my heart like a disease.  And it seems wrong for me to feel this way.  Which makes me depressed.  I am such a mess.

March 16: I figured since the library and its wisdom failed me as far as fertility cures go, it was time to turn to the wisdom of the internet.  And boy did I find some good advice:
  • Rub the belly of a pregnant woman.  (That seems like a service they should really be charging for.)
  • Drink the same water as someone who is pregnant.  (Tomorrow I will be sneaking into my local Lamaze class and going to town on their water bottles.)
  • Pluck the feathers of a hen during the new moon, and then spread the feathers in a circle.  Have intercourse on the full moon feathers and you will conceive. (Also, you will get feathers up your bum.)
  • Capture a little dirt from where your man of choice man has walked (without his knowledge) and bake it into a cake that you both eat. This will ensure that you carry his child. (And will ensure that you both eat dirt, which adds excitement to an otherwise boring meal.) 
  • Stand in the rain in view of a rainbow for a full 10 minutes. Sleep with the wet clothes under your pillow for two weeks and then wear them again during intercourse. (And what man isn't into moldy, smelly, wrinkly clothes?)
I read these to Richard over dinner and he almost choked in his broccoli he was laughing so hard.  He thanked me for cheering him up and I told him we'd just SEE who was laughing after we tried the rainbow trick.  That one is gold, I know it is.

April 4: I just had another conversation with the old lady next door about our disturbing lack of offspring. She tried to convince me again that children are a joy, worth all the sleepless nights and messes. I wanted to say something obnoxious, but instead I just nodded a lot and told her in solemn tones that she is probably right.  Despite what you think, Nosy-People-of-the-World, I do not have to tell you my business if I don't want to!

April 25:  I cannot seem to make myself schedule another appointment with the fertility specialist. It just seems so bleak. And I cannot continue hoping every month. Every time I get my period I die a little. Every time I hear a baby cry I nearly start lactating.  I’m tired of waiting with no end in sight. Today we started to talk a little about adoption. Just as a possibility. I've been thinking about it for a while but haven’t brought it up because I thought Richard would hate the idea. But he doesn't.  He was even a little enthusiastic about it, much to my surprise.

April 29: My Period is a day late. I am never late! Maybe just considering adoption was all we needed to do!!  

April 30: Got my period. When will I learn to quit hoping?

May 2: I heard a lady say 3 times today that she gets pregnant every time her husband looks at her.  Apparently he is so fertile it is actually coming out of his eyeballs.  Maybe they could channel that fertility like a laser beam into a bottle and sell it on the side of the road.  I'd buy some.

May 4: Called the adoption agency and set an appointment to meet with a case worker. No commitment. Just to see what it is all about.

May 8:  We went in for our meeting at the adoption agency today, and while we were there I felt a peace I haven’t felt in almost a year. By the time we walked out the door we had a packet of paperwork in our hands. I guess we are going to fill it out and see what happens.

May 9:  Started filling out the paperwork.  Holy crap there is a lot of paperwork. I feel like we should have been warned. 

June 23: Have I mentioned that there is a lot of paperwork? Surely this rivals the physical pain of childbirth. They want to know everything: How I feel about myself, how I feel about my husband, how much money we make, how much money we spend, how I feel about how much money we spend; our hopes, our fears, and what wonderful parents we think we will be. We have to get fingerprinted and have background checks and document nearly every moment of our lives. Will it ever end?  

We are supposed to write a letter to our prospective birth parents, including a section all about the wonderful traits of our spouse.  I finished my part of the letter, writing all about Richard in just a couple of days, but I could not get Richard to sit down and do his. So I finally decided to write it for him. If he wasn't going to toot my horn, then what choice did I have but to do it myself?  "Elesa is the most amazing person I have ever met” I wrote,”and without her in my life, I wouldn't have the strength to go on living. She is beautiful, and kind and loving. She is smart and funny and the best dancer ever. Her grace and intelligence daily bring me to tears. She is just so totally awesome!!" I proudly read the letter about myself to Richard. Within an hour he sat down and rewrote it.  Reverse Psycologied!

June 30: We have started telling people that we are planning to adopt. I’m not even sure when we made the decision, but it just all feels right. And everyone has been so nice and supportive. We have gotten a lot of unsolicited advice on how to conceive, as well as awkward questions about our intimacy that Richard find hilarious.  I had a more graphic conversation about “tips and tricks” with my aunt than I ever wanted to have with anyone. I can’t figure out why sex is mostly a taboo subject until you’re trying to get pregnant, and then it's everybody's business. 

July 9: The past few weeks have been crazy busy. We've gone to a bunch more interviews where we've tried our best to seem both charming and responsible. We've put together picture collages of all the educational and fun things we do together. Then they came to our house. They claim they are mostly checking for safety, not cleanliness, but it seems like cleanliness can only help us at this point. We cleaned deeper and more thoroughly than we have ever cleaned anything before. Richard kept telling me that our case worker wouldn't get down on all fours and check behind the toilet, but what if he did?  So we just kept cleaning and I guess it paid off because our case worker was satisfied.   I was hugely relieved. And exhausted. And then Richard made me cookies and we turned off our brains and watched TV the rest of the night.  

July 27: We just got The Letter! We are approved for adoption!!! The last three months have been exhausting but it is over.  They have given us their stamp of approval and all we have to do now is wait for someone to choose us as the future parents of their unborn child. What could be easier?

August 28: I have never known impatience before now. Has it only been one month? 

August 29:  Our case worker has told us that we shouldn't just wait to be chosen by a birth mom, we should actively try to find one of our own.  It's a good idea, but we're not really sure how to do that apart from approaching pregnant women on the street.  And I don't think they would appreciate that much.  Richard suggested going to a local bar and buying drinks for young girls, but I told him that wasn't even slightly funny and smacked him on the arm.

August 30: Saw not one but TWO teenage girls buying pregnancy tests at the store today.  I spent several minutes nonchalantly following them around trying to figure out how to tell them that I wanted it if they didn't.

September 26: Still waiting. Our case worker likes to remind us that this can sometimes take up to 3 years, so I am trying to be patient. And I am failing fantastically. In my head I know that we have not been in the adoption pool long, and that waiting is part of the package, and that it won’t be forever. My heart, on the other hand, thinks that it already has been forever. And it is not interested in listening to reason.

October 18: Went out to dinner with my college roommates  Every month I listen to them talk about being pregnant and giving birth. Which is fine.  Just because I have a problem shouldn't mean they have to watch everything they say.  Tonight, however, someone said, “There is nothing worse than being pregnant.”  I wanted to punch her in the face.  I still want to punch her in the face, but I really try not to do that to my friends anymore.

October 31: This afternoon we had a routine visit with our case worker. We made small talk for a bit. Then he smiled and handed us an envelope. Inside was a card. A birth announcement with a sweet, handwritten note inside: “My name is Amy and I have chosen you to be the adoptive parents for my baby. He is due December 10th.”  

I bawled.  Richard and I hugged each other and cried and I thought I might not ever be able to stop.  I can't believe this is really happening!  Oh, great.  Now I am crying again.

November 5: Pregnant ladies claim they have the corner on brain-deadedness, but I believe that it has more to do with expecting a child than it does with actually being pregnant. Ever since we read the card from Amy my mind has shut down.  I can’t complete a sentence, I've burned several dinners, and started running over people with my shopping cart. There is always just this other thing to think about that is so much better than anything else that is going on.

November 6: Tomorrow we are going to meet Amy. How do we prepared ourselves for something like this? How do we dress for something like this?  What kind of clothes say “Fun, happy, successful couple who will be loving parents, competent teachers and perfect examples”?  I think I am expecting too much from my wardrobe. What if she changes her mind??

November 7: Today we met Amy.  And I don’t think either of us have ever been that nervous before.  About 5 minutes into the meeting, though, the nerves were gone. Amy said she knows we are the right couple, and she is sure this is what she wants to do. She is nothing that we expected and everything we need. There is a tangible bond between her and us. It still doesn't feel real to me. She is due in a month.  My brain doesn't know how to process this.

November 17: Richard and I wandered happily around Babies-R-Us for a good 2 hours today. Then we went to the mall and I tried on some maternity clothes, just for kicks. Tomorrow I am going to try nesting for a while.   

November 26: This is my last childless Thanksgiving. I don’t think I will miss it at all. But I am glad for all the time alone with Richard. And it is so fun to watch him get excited for this. He has built a tiny little work bench in the nursery, because it is never too early to learn to use power tools!

December 17:  Yes. It is the 17th. Amy was due on the 10th. No baby yet. But she emails every day to keep us posted. The doctor says he doesn't think it will be before the 22nd, so we might as well keep busy till then.  Thank goodness for Christmas to keep us occupied.  Well, mostly occupied.  Sort of.  Sometimes.  I cannot wrap my head around the idea that next week there will be a baby in our house.  That we will be parents.  And the suspense is killing me!

December 21: He's here!  He's here!  Harrison was born this morning at 4:00 am.  He weighs 7 lbs, 11 oz, is 19" long and healthy as can be.  We're on our way to meet him right now.  We're going to meet our baby!

December 21:  We just got home from the hospital.  Amy seemed so excited for me to hold the baby. Our baby. Our Harrison.  We all exclaimed and cooed over Harrison's every wrinkle. Seeing that tiny baby in Richard's big arms was almost more than my swollen heart could bear and I nearly broke down again.  We never wanted to set him down.  But after a couple of hours we kissed him and her and said our goodbyes so that Amy could have as much time as possible with him without us in the way.  

December 23: Placement.  It was over so much quicker than I expected it to be. We exchanged gifts and then Amy held Harrison one last time.  She told him she loved him and then started sobbing.  Part of me wanted to yell at her just to keep him, that we couldn't put her through this. Then she braced herself,  looked at me, and said through her tears, "Here you go, Mom", and placed him in my arms.   Then she hugged me hard, told Richard and I she loved us while we both cried and said we loved her too, and then she was gone and we were left alone. With Harrison. I still can’t believe it. My joy is overwhelming, but my heart breaks for Amy.  I hate that my happiness came at the cost of so much pain for her.  I know we didn't do this to her, and I know if it weren't for us she would have just picked someone else.  But I feel like we took her baby away and it is killing me.  How can I be so sad and so happy at the same time?

December 25: We are parents.  I am a mother. The waiting is over and the real adventure is ahead of us. We waited so long, and hurt so much and suddenly he is here and our lives are different in every way. That hole in my heart is gone. The hole in our lives is gone, filled in an instant by a baby because of a girl with the guts to give him to more.  

I feel like I've been holding my breath.  Watching everyone around us breathe and wonder why that basic bodily function was denied me.  I wanted air so desperately that every inch of my body was screaming for it and I couldn't understand why I didn't just pass out. 

And now, suddenly, we’re parents.  We brought him home and put him to bed and while I fed him in the middle of the night it hit me that it is my turn.  That this is real.  I took a deep breath and oxygen seeped into every inch of me and I finally know what peace feels like.  And I know what joy looks like because I am holding it in my arms and staring into its sweet face.  

And this is only the beginning.