Monday, August 17, 2009

I've become "that" woman...

The one in the room full of wonderfully, blessedly fertile woman who everyone else looks at with pity and discomfort immediately after another of their ranks announces she's pregnant. It's even worse when the newly pregnant have already "lapped" me in pregnancy before.

It's awful and awkward. It's incredibly, unbelievably uncomfortable. I don't know how to look back at everyone upon hearing the wonderful news and adequately express my genuine happiness and joy for the newly pregnant one without betraying the sadness and shame and embarrassment I feel inside for not being "one of them." And I don't know what to say or how to say it to put them at ease either. I know that my inevitable "Oh, that's wonderful! Congratulations!" comes out sounding just a little bit too cheerful, but I can't help it - I'm obviously over-compensating because I don't WANT to be the one no one wants to tell that happiest of news to.

It is, in a word, a nightmare.

Nonetheless, after three-and-a-half years of trying to conceive a second child without success, I knew it was bound to happen eventually, my metamorphosis into "that" woman. It was easy enough for everyone to hang with me in optimism and hope through the first year that we tried to conceive, and even through most of the second year. Almost that entire time, everyone who knew me felt totally comfortable and at ease asking me how that was all going and where we were at, etc., as the inevitable question came up often by the time Super Boy was 18-24 months: "So, are you guys planning to have more?" It was a perfectly reasonable question and I had no problem answering it, thinking as I did that it would happen "soon."

But I actually had my first taste of being The Last One to Find Out about a new pregnancy last year after a friend got pregnant with her third baby in a half-dozen years. It hurt being the last one to hear the great news, and yet it was precisely because of my struggles to conceive that she didn't want to tell me, in the hopes of sparing my feelings.

I know that those around me who know how long we've tried and how much I've agonized over this care about me and Super Man, and would love nothing more than to see us get our wish of another child. I think that most people don't try to be hurtful when it comes to that issue, and I'm enormously grateful for that. I just wish there was a way to make them understand that by treating me ANY differently than anyone else in sharing their pregnancy news only makes me feel worse, different... other. I want to be able to celebrate with them and share in their joy without having to feel like the pink elephant in the room.

Because the thing is, I never in a million years thought I'd find myself here, being "that" woman. We conceived Super Boy in three months, for crying out loud! And I was only 32 when we started trying for a second baby, when Super Boy was three, so we had every reason to believe that it would only take a few months to conceive again.

I cannot tell you how surprised I was when six months had gone by with no second pink lines or plus signs showing up on my pregnancy tests month after month. Or how absolutely flabbergasted I was when TWELVE months of the same had gone by.

By 24 months, I was definitely feeling some despair, both because I was still lacking the thing I want most, and because our insurance at the time was abysmal and wouldn't cover any testing to figure out what the problem was. It felt like the worst kind of limbo at the time, but I've come to find out that this new place I'm in is definitely worse.

After 36+ months of trying, even I feel more than a little pathetic, and like maybe this is hopeless. Despair doesn't even begin to cover how it feels. How can I blame anyone else for thinking that when they look at me after another friend or acquaintance announces their good news?

Since changing insurances, we've been fortunate to be able to pursue fertility testing, but the results have been "good news/bad news." The good news is that they're not finding a clear problem to pin the lack of conception on. The bad news is that despite the good news, they can't tell us why we're not getting pregnant after more than three years of trying.

This troubles me. This gnaws away at me month after month as I try to somehow pay closer attention to my body during what is supposed to be my "fertile time." Frankly, I'm wondering if I even HAVE a "fertile time," because it sure doesn't seem like I do! We've tried to target every day, every other day, every three days, starting a few days before, and continuing to try a few days after the supposed window... Nothing has worked.

I've laid in bed for 20 minutes afterward with my legs in the air, pillows under my ass, in crazy yoga poses with my feet all the way over my head and NOTHING.

I've tried Reiki, putting special stones that are supposed to enhance fertility over my abdomen, prayer and NOTHING.

All of this nothing is hard for an aging girl to take, I've gotta say. Between being 35 now and the potential for premature menopause breathing down my back due to the family history on both sides, with each month that ends in bloodshed my hope dwindles more.

It

is

Hell.

I see my ob-gyn again in a few weeks for my annual. While she has been the one to order all of my and Super Man's tests and has run the show thus far, I'll be asking her to recommend some fertility specialists now. While I appreciate the steps she's taken, I feel like we're spinning our wheels and getting nowhere while the clock keeps ticking away. I need someone who can HELP us figure this out, to tell us what's not working and help us find the solution to the problem. If there is one...

And, if there's not, I just want to know. I need to know.

At this point, EVERY other aspect of my life is hinging on the question of second baby or no second baby. I feel more in limbo in my own life now than I ever have before. Because this is a HUGE chapter of my life, and it's one I'm not mentally ready to close the door on yet. If that door is closed for me, due to some problem that is out of our hands, that changes things. But until I know one way or the other, I cannot close that door yet.

I envy the women who had the precise number of kids they wanted to have and then made the CHOICE to be done, to "get fixed" or have their husbands fixed. They got the family they wanted and were able to prepare themselves for and come peacefully to the decision to close that phase of their lives. They were able to pack up and get rid of all the maternity clothes, the baby clothes, all the baby gear, all the random sippy cups still hiding in the corners of their kitchen cabinets. They were able to ditch the electric breast pumps, the bottles, the bibs. They could give away the potty seats/chairs, the sweet little baby bathtub, the infant car seats and strollers. They could take a few nostalgic photos and then paint over the nursery walls and move on to the big kid decor once and for all.

For me, I expected to follow in those footsteps. I expected that we would have the family we envisioned as we planned our life together all those years ago, to savor the two healthy, successful pregnancies we wanted. I thought I would get to care for two newborns, to nurse two babies, to raise two children together. I envisioned us bidding our farewell to all of the baby business and STUFF eventually, feeling content with that decision, that choice, even if it was a bit sad to think there would be no more babies.

To know at this point that I don't HAVE that choice, that I can't DO all of that, is frustrating. I feel cheated. I loved being pregnant with Super Boy. I LOVED it. Not the nausea those first few weeks, but EVERY other aspect of pregnancy was magical to me. I have always looked forward to experiencing it a second time. Especially these last two years of me being at home, because I could enjoy a more leisurely pace without a full-time job in the mix, and I could help ease Super Boy into being a big brother. I also looked forward to it because I'd be able to be home full-time with a second baby now to really experience all of the firsts this time, which was not my experience with Super Boy, much to my sadness. I don't want to move on from that hope until I'M ready to.

Is this a decision I can control? Well, sure - I suppose I could just say, "You know what? Forget it - I'm done with the drama of this. I will CHOOSE to be done having children." But in my heart of hearts, I know that I'm NOT done. And as long as I'm still fertile - and Super Man (who is older than I) still wants to tackle the whole newborn thing with me - I don't think I can make that choice to stop trying. Heck, even if I COULD do that, with my luck, about three years AFTER THAT would be about the time my body would stop screwing around and I'd get pregnant!

I do not wish any of this on anyone, be it those trying for their first, their second or their sixth. To ever want a baby and not be able to have one is a unique brand of heartache. It's different for each of us experiencing it, to be sure, but there is nothing like the feeling of that hole, that place where something - someone - is missing in a woman's heart.

For all of you who struggle with fertility problems, my thoughts and very best wishes are with you. While my "baby dust" doesn't appear to work very well, I send you what I can, and I hope that it's what you need.

Lots of love,
SW

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