I didn't start this blog until Frances was 8 months or so, so I wasn't blogging when we were going through the 4th circle of hell, otherwise known as Infertility. Before I participated in that particular train wreck, I didn't understand when people said it was hard. Hard how? Why would it be hard? We didn't end up having to go the distance: Frances was conceived on our fourth try with Intra-Uterine-Insemination (IUI) rather than In-Vitro-Fertilization (IVF), so I still tasted the bitter pill, but didn't have to injest bottle after tiresome bottle. There are people out there who do a better job talking about it than I... the blog A Little Bit Pregnant is wonderful (and very funny) in exploring what infertility does to a person and how one slogs through it with some amount of sanity intact.
It's Hard because it makes impersonal and clinical something that should be the realm of story and fable, something surrounded by deep heart desires, by yearning. It's a private thing, this desire for children, for creating history, for connection and relation and love, and here you are on a table with your feet in the stirrups.
Also, you have no control.
But not only that: the logistics of infertility treatments provide a lovely roller coaster of hope and emotion. The third day of my cycle (day 3 of my period) I would begin taking oral hormones, and I would nurture this tiny sprig of hope that perhaps this time... Every few days I would go in for an internal ultrasound (a rather phallic wand, not very comfortable) where on the screen I would see the number of eggs developing that month. There they are. Hope. Each time I was there they would get bigger and bigger, until it was time. Then I would give myself a shot at home which guaranteed ovulation so precise the doctors knew the moment the egg was released. Hope hope hope. The insemination part was a turkey baster type of thing, just at the right time, no better opportunity, and now just up to the swimmers to get there. I didn't have to--as with IVF--have my eggs "harvested", removed and fertilized in the petri dish, a painful detail from what I'm told. After the insemination there was the waiting. Waiting. Ten days, which might seem short but absolutely is not. Then. After all that, after you're up up up at the top of the hope hill, you wake up one morning to the bright beginning of your period, and down down down you come. But lest you get too comfortable down there in the pit of hopelessness, in two days you will start another round of hormones and "this time," you think. "Maybe this time."
Oh god it's hell.
Why was I telling you this? Oh yes, the IUD. Well, enough about that.
A Little Bit Pregnant brought up an interesting question recently: does going through infertility hell make you a better parent? (ostensibly because of the sheer gratefulness of finally being pregnant.) But I say no. Grateful as you may be, blessed as you may feel, success granted through all the times you pledged to be a perfect parent if you could only become one forgodsakes, regular day to day parenting still puts you in that spot. That spot without much forest for the trees. You still have the regular frustration of unending care for someone else, and the needs of these little people are great as well as immediate.
The abovementioned blog says it nicely:
I don't think infertility has made me a better parent. If anything, it's made me acutely aware that I am an average parent. If I'm more grateful than I'd otherwise have been -- and whether that's the case is utterly unknowable -- well, so what? Sometimes the only thing the gratitude buys me is the knowledge that I should do better, and the sadness when I don't.Which sounds like a big damn downer. But I actually think it's beautiful. Isn't this what we all hope for when we seek to become families? The chance to try, maybe fail, and then grow?
That's an awfully nice way to frame it. Yes, I believe that no matter what you go through to get here, here is where we all are. Welcome! I think I'll stay awhile.