My Family Journey: Coming Through Infertility

One Sunday three years ago I watched my husband carry pieces of my daughter’s crib to the end of our driveway for the trash crew. Months before, we had moved Mattie into a “big girl” bed. The crib had been recalled because it had a dropside, and there was no fix for it. The recall was a legitimate excuse to get rid of the crib. The real reason I wanted it gone though, was that I couldn’t stand to look at it anymore. The crib had been empty for a long time, waiting and waiting for a baby that didn’t come.

My husband and I quickly and easily welcomed our daughter, with no issues. We decided we were ready for a baby and she obliged ten months later. But by the time our daughter had turned three and a half, I had experienced six miscarriages and emergency surgery for a ruptured ectopic pregnancy. In complete shock, we began to realize that we might not be able to give our little girl a sibling.

I began to sort through endless internet posts about “baby dust” with confusing acronyms, medical terms and heartbreaking “TTC” chat rooms. I felt selfish for wanting a second child, having our daughter and knowing other women sometimes don’t even get one. Infertility is one of the most difficult life experiences a woman can endure, even more devastating than the loss of a parent. Then I learned there were terms for what I was going through: secondary infertility, unexplained infertility. Infertility is often defined as the inability to conceive. But in my non-medical opinion, I’d categorize infertility as wanting a baby and not being able to have one.

Infertility is, quite simply, not being able to fulfill the dream you have for your family.

Infertility is also the grieving process that goes with the loss of that dream. It is obsession, isolation, anxious hope and starting over and over. It is anguished keening at 3 a.m. while your husband silently holds you with tears running down his face. It is endless doctor’s appointments, blood draws, and ultrasounds. If you can afford it, it is paying a good amount of money to get the opportunity to simply sit at the pregnancy roulette table. And if you win the roulette game and actually get pregnant, it is 14 straight weeks of self-administered progesterone shots that hurt like hell and endless prayers to make it through the longest 20 weeks of your life. And even then, it is living with the fear that the baby still will not arrive.

Infertility sucks.

I know more than a dozen women who have gone through or are going through some form of infertility. My friends have gone through fertility treatments for their first child but not their second; gone through treatments for their second and unexpectedly had a third, or gone through treatment in order to have each of their children. I know women who’ve gone through treatments and are still waiting for their first child, or have given up on treatments but are still holding onto hope that a miracle will give them their second. What these women have in common is that they are all hoping to realize their dream of their family. There are so many women infertility affects and it breaks my heart when I hear of someone struggling like we did.

And I know I am one of the lucky ones. We have our daughter. And our second round of IVF worked.

For weeks after my son was born I’d check on him seventeen, twenty times a night. Every cough or rustle propelled me out of bed to make sure he was still breathing. I could not believe he was here and healthy. I was terrified that somehow I still was going to lose him, that his being here was some freak accident the universe would not accept, because for three years not having him had been our reality.

Being a mom is hard. There are days when I just want to crawl in a hole where my children can’t find me, and cry, or drink a bottle of wine. There are nights when I count the minutes until the babysitter arrives so I can go have a conversation with my husband, and eat without listening to whining or wearing a shirt covered in dried pee and snot. There are weekends I wish daycare operated on Saturdays. Deeply loving your children does not ease the difficulty of the day to day.

Yet. Some nights when my son wakes up screaming at 3 a.m., I slip out of bed to cuddle him. I smooth his funny curls and touch his wet cheeks and try to calm him. I hold him while he fusses. Sure, it’s easy to feel exhausted and irritated, knowing I have to be at work in four hours. But I have not forgotten what we went through. The crying at 3 a.m. could easily be me, still missing a baby I never was able to have.

Instead, I am deeply thankful.

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6 Responses to My Family Journey: Coming Through Infertility

  1. Avatar
    Sarah Anderson Apr 23, 2014 at 10:17 am #

    Thank you for sharing your story. Life requires so much bravery–and you have it in spades.

  2. Meg Sacks
    Meg Sacks Apr 23, 2014 at 4:14 pm #

    Thank you Sarah. There are a lot of brave women out there!

  3. Avatar
    juniper76 Apr 23, 2014 at 8:46 pm #

    Your 4th last paragraph really sums up my experience of motherhood after IF. Even at 3 years old, I am still afraid someone will take away our long-sought-after IVF miracle. And now we struggle with the prospect of not being able to give her a sibling (almost 3 years TTC#2 so far and little chance of success without donor embryos)…

    I’m glad you had success and have your precious son. 🙂

  4. Avatar
    Tara Apr 25, 2014 at 7:08 pm #

    Meg – wonderfully written! I too have secondary infertility, but even after all the traditional options (AI and IVF procedures) and non-traditional options (massage therapy, aroma therapy, accupunture, Chinese herbs) I was never able to conceive again. I love that you wrote this because people who do not experience this do not understand how infertility takes over your life. I am glad your story has a happy ending. God bless you and your family.

  5. Avatar
    megsacksjmb Apr 28, 2014 at 11:15 am #

    Thank you for the kind words Tara and Juniper!! I am sorry you all have gone or are going through the same thing. Hugs to you both.

  6. Avatar
    Melissa T. Jul 5, 2014 at 7:04 am #

    Thank you so much for sharing this MEg! Our first try with IVF we put 2 embryos in and neither took. We tried again a few months later with 3 embryos and where blessed with our beautiful little girl Ryleigh. My pregnancy was anything but easy. We almost lost her during the first trimester and then I had to have my appendix removed at 29 weeks and we almost lost her again. When we decided to try again we where told we had 2-3 cycles, but when we went in for a transfer the doctor told us that only two embryos had survived. I knew at that moment that we only had one try and if it didn’t work then we would have to be okay with one child because there was no way I could go through all of that again. When I was told that is worked and that we where having our little boy Davis we where over the moon! It is an emotional roller coaster that many go through and many do not succeed. We are blessed to have our two children (Ages 5 and 2) and if I can be a support or inspiration to even one woman by speaking about what we went through then it is worth sharing our story.

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