Today I'm linking up with Kelly over at Kelly's Korner to share my story of infertility with her Show Us Your Life - Infertility. To link up with other women sharing the same struggle, hop on over to Kelly's blog.
I struggled with infertility for over two years before getting pregnant with Cole. For most of those two years I stayed silent, mostly due to embarrassment and shame. We kept our secret for so long, until I couldn't bear to deal with it on my own. And when I "came out of the closet," I discovered that so many of those around me have dealt with the same issues.
Infertility feels like loss. It feels like grieving all the time. You wake up thinking about it, and go to bed thinking about it. I ate only organic foods. I didn't eat meat. I meditated. I exercised. I was young. I was healthy. There was absolutely no reason for me not to get pregnant. But for two years, I didn't. I had approximately 20 failed cycles, most of them medicated, including seven failed IUIs. And that's when we made the fateful decision that led us to parenthood, a decision that I've vaguely shared here, but never typed out.
Three letters. IVF. For a long time I felt so much shame from those three letters. Mostly because there is such a stigma already around infertility, and IVF always gets people talking. So often you hear reports of IVF being overused, or complicating the health of babies, or creating a pregnancy when you shouldn't have had one. It feels like cheating. Many times I've heard people say, "If it's not happening, maybe it wasn't meant to," or "Maybe this is a sign that you should go another direction." All this really feels like is, "You don't deserve to birth a baby because your body is struggling to get pregnant."
At one point I struggled with faith and IVF. If God wanted us to have a baby, wouldn't I have one? Was IVF playing God? And then I actually went through the IVF process, and I quickly realized that IVF doesn't promise a pregnancy. And a pregnancy doesn't promise a baby. And if God wanted my IVF to work, it would. And if he didn't, it wouldn't.
I had twenty-two embryos during my IVF cycle. Only two survived. And when, by a miracle, I got pregnant with one of those embryos, a week later we were told that I had a 50% chance of miscarriage due to two giant blood clots sitting next to my placenta. When we asked my doctor what we could do to save our baby, he said to us, "Do you believe in God? Go home. Do not get out of bed. Pray. This is bigger than us now."
And that embryo sleeping in his nursery right now. And he's perfect.
The physical aspects of infertility and IVF are incredibly painful, but the social and psychological aspects are much worse. You feel alone. You feel judged. You feel overwhelming embarrassing shame. And for me, the only way to erase the shame is to shine a light on it. IVF does not define my baby, and it does not define my motherhood. I'm a mom because the Universe wanted me to be, and you can bet that every night before I got to sleep I thank the Universe for the incredible powers (scientific and otherwise) that led to my pregnancy.