In 2005, after miscarrying a very spontaneous pregnancy, I was told my ovaries suck. The medical term is Poly-cystic Ovarian Syndrome, but we call it Pee-kos in our house. Lately PCOS tends to trend more towards Please Cease Over Sharing; despite being told my chances of having a biological pregnancy were pretty slim to none at one point, I managed to pop out another baby, my second biological, third child in my family.
At this point in the game, the question is, do I have one more? (Yes, I’m a Latter-Day Saint, no there aren’t Sister-Wives, although I do think that some days that would be AWESOME, until the idea of synching up with another woman brings me back to reality.)
I’m having a bit of identity crisis over this.
After an incident which involved calling the fertility clinic about repeating the instructions they gave me for Clomid (because my daughter ate them) in early 2009, I started an infertility blog. I blogged all about my fertility treatments trying to have my son, and again when we decided to add another. The journey to get pregnant with my son took eight months, with one miscarriage, followed by bed rest for the first trimester, drugs to stay pregnant and being told not to get attached. It was a thrilling and gripping story.
My daughter, born in early 2013, was the result of our first try on Clomid, no bed rest, no real complications (that were related to my fertility.)
For all intents and purposes, other than the round of Clomid (no IUI, an HCG shot to time it right since hubby was traveling and some Metformin) I had as normal of a pregnancy as I will ever have. We figured out my ‘magic formula’ and now know how to get pregnant.My pregnancies involve an entire office staff and a nurse shooting me in the behind with hormones.Click To Tweet
The possibilities opened up to me; we could have another baby. We could even do it quietly, so that not everyone needed to know what was going on. Privacy, surprise, normalcy.
In 2014, I finally spoke with an endocrinologist, who adjusted my Metformin dosage. From that month on, every 28 days, I have a period (I have a hormonal IUD, so they’re light but once a month I feel like eating raw meat and killing everyone, followed by bloating, some light spotting and then suddenly I’m fine) followed by extreme horniness and then alternating sharp pelvic pains fourteen days after my period. I’m ovulating and I’m having periods. I’ve also managed to lose 55 pounds, so I’m back to a size 6 (from a 14) and don’t even look like I have PCOS anymore.
When I got pregnant with my daughter, I found my infertile friends were dropping away quickly. When I was pregnant with my son, some of them backed off because it hurt. This I understood. But this time, I was being told it wasn’t fair; I got pregnant so easily and not only that, I already have two kids, a boy and a girl.
So what am I? I’m not fertile; even if we know my “magic formula,” it’s still not easy and can have complications that arise quickly. I will always have the symptoms of PCOS; the weight gain, the hair growth, the hair loss, the threat of heart disease and all of it. I will always be infertile, even if I can get pregnant spontaneously, nothing is for sure.At what point do we, as an infertility community, consider someone infertile?Click To Tweet
But now, I’m apparently not infertile enough because I CAN get pregnant, even if I might have to take drugs.
So what am I?
Do I still have a right to try to be a voice for the infertile community? Despite not feeling those emotions all the time like I used to, I still remember the emotions, vividly. I’ve been working with my best friend while she’s going through the process of Clomid, HSG tests, the heartache as her younger brother became a father while she was skipping a cycle so she could fly out and see the baby and the pain she’s feeling is so familiar to me and I hurt with her and for her.
One foot here, one foot there, not belonging anywhere.
I’m almost ashamed of my sudden faked fertility. Instead of feeling blessed, I feel like I don’t have the right to say anything anymore.
At what point do we, as an infertile community, consider someone infertile? I didn’t go a full year with trying; after miscarrying I was diagnosed within four months. Is it after someone has two miscarriages? Even if they’re not in a row? Is it after we’re told there’s a problem? Are we infertile if we struggled to get pregnant the first time and were able to do it after a successful pregnancy? Is it after we can’t get pregnant again after a successful spontaneous pregnancy? Are we infertile if we need drugs to get pregnant? Even if it doesn’t take much? Is it a medical diagnosis? Is it having to be on bedrest, being violently ill, making it to the “safe zone” and then miscarrying, yet again? Waiting? Loss?
Are we infertile? I found myself asking, “Am I infertile enough?” I took down my infertility blog a few months ago because my daughter asked me to be more private about her history and I just felt like I didn’t have any right to say anything about infertility hurts anymore.
When did I hit this point? I still feel jealous sometimes when my friends have their wild nights of delight with their husbands and get pregnant. They don’t have to tell anyone; they just do it. It’s special, it’s secret and it’s private. My pregnancies involve an entire office staff and a nurse shooting me in the behind with hormones. I take two pregnancy tests a day for the first eight weeks because I am paranoid that it will go away, that the first 49 tests were a fluke. We don’t get attached to our babies until we find out the gender because we’re always told “don’t get attached.” I have PCOS, which means I have about a 40-percent chance of miscarrying each pregnancy.
I’ve already had two miscarriages, two successful pregnancies, so that means my last one will be successful right?
Our entire life, our home, our house, our marriage, our financial situation, the fact that we have a birth mom as a part of our family, our daughter doesn’t look like us, my diet, my health, even my frigging hair is because I am infertile.
* * *
My feelings towards babies are still reserved. I’m a photographer. In fact, I happen to be a pretty stellar newborn photographer. In every single session I’ve ever done where a new baby was involved, I only touched the baby to pose or if I had to move them a very specific way. I never pick them up, I never cuddle them, I never look that closely. I still don’t go to baby showers, instead opting to send a gift and an apology for not attending. I still feel sad and a little sick when someone close to me announces a pregnancy. My heart aches because I don’t know if I could have another one if I wanted to. Even when my friends who have struggled to become pregnant and sacrificed so much announce finally their pregnancies, I hurt. So those feelings are still very present, easier to mask and work past, but the sting is familiar and unexpected.
* * *
So does infertility lie in the inability to get pregnant spontaneously?
Or is it more than that? Is it a culture, one which I am no longer privy to because of my aided pregnancies?
I don’t want infertility to define who I am but I don’t want to feel like I’m not allowed to consider myself a part of the community I’ve spent the last ten years being a part of.
So the question I ask myself each time I get another text, email, message or question: Do I still have the right to be a voice for those who hurt when my own pain isn’t fresh and the wounds have poorly healed? Can I work to advocate for their feelings, their rights and their voice when my own isn’t considered to be valid by many anymore?
Does my voice still count?