It’s been over ten years–ten years of waiting, wishing, and hoping for this ending: The ending of my infertility. After ten years, it really seems never-ending, and in so many ways, it always will be. As we look forward to a new beginning at the start of the year, I can’t help but think of the series of endings that have defined me.
Month after month of temping, checking cervical mucus, charting, Clomid, Letrazole, praying and more, we decided to face the infertility monster head on almost a year ago. On the back end of 39 years old, one tube lost from an ectopic pregnancy, adhesions from endometriosis and a c-section, 13 years of secondary infertility after my daughter died of SIDS… IVF was really the only option left for us.
I went into it with little hope, but when you have reached that point, what else do you have to lose? What was one more loss after so much?
And then the most unexpected: After my first IVF cycle, I was actually pregnant, albeit with a beta of only 32, but then it doubled as it should have!
And then the cramps and blood came, and then the call saying the beta had dropped. The small amount of grey tissue passing, the realization that it was an early miscarriage, or a chemical pregnancy since it didn’t even last long enough to be seen on an ultrasound.
We had five embryos frozen from this cycle, so we picked ourselves up and two months later embarked on the frozen embryo transfer. More needle sticks to pump me full of progesterone. Estrogen to help my lining. Still, this was a relatively drug free experience and I went into this cycle allowing myself a little hope. Supposedly FET works better for some because your body is in a more “natural” state.
So, it was with tentative optimism—something sorely missed in the last 13 years— I watched that second pink line emerge. I still had this fear of seeing blood every time I wiped, but now my first beta was over 200. It doubled, it doubled again, until a week later it was at 4000! And then the ultrasound showed the fetal pole; we listened to a normal heartbeat, and experienced an earth-shattering moment, allowing the hope to flood through.
Now, here I sit at 31 weeks, nearing the end of the year. Anticipating a new beginning. A beginning we barely could have conceived of.
We aren’t home free yet. Apparently my body had more tricks up its sleeve, with my placenta implanted low, covering my cervix. No bleeds yet, although statistics show a 50-90 percent chance depending on the study. C-section planned at 36-37 weeks, to avoid labor and the hemorrhaging that comes with it. If she isn’t ready for the world when she has to come out, our rainbow baby could face days, possibly even weeks or months in the NICU.
After years of my body being broken, the fact that we have gotten this far is almost unfathomable. Only her kicks, the numerous ultrasounds, and my expanding belly tell me otherwise. Yet, my body will never become fertile again, like it was over 13 years ago when carrying my first daughter. Even with a baby at the end of this rainbow, even with our suspended-in-time excess frozen embryos.
There is a baby inside of me because of modern medicine, plus a dash of miracle, and certainly not because my body did what it was supposed to do. I am what the critics of infertility treatments point to when they argue for survival of the fittest. My baby can’t even come out of me without medical intervention. If this were 40 years ago, my body wouldn’t be able to make a baby, nor birth a baby.
I sit here, feeling the kicks, and no matter how hard they are, I can never forget the years of disappointment and hopelessness I learned to live with. I realize my infertile life will always overlap with future motherhood. I am, and always will be, an infertile mother.