Last week, I was reading an article on the Today Show website, regarding Bobbie Thomas’s struggle with infertility and her now wonderful news of being 12 weeks pregnant. During an interview with Kathy Lee and Hoda Kotb, Bobbie admitted to feeling “grateful, cautious and a little bit guilty”. She went on to explain that she felt an obligation to “remember” everything that she has been through over the past two years. My heart went out to Bobbie as the memories of my own infertility struggles began to resurface. My memories of those years are never far from the surface, always present, raw emotions of anger, pain and emptiness. These memories are a constant reminder of how grateful I am for my children. I found myself weeping as Bobbie shared her milestone of reaching the 12 week mark in her pregnancy. I still remember the pain and agony of infertility.
I still remember the weight gain, hot flashes, nausea and side effects from the overabundance of hormones and medications flooding my body.
I still remember standing in front of the bathroom mirror, huge bruises covering my thighs, hips and stomach from the daily shots, struggling to find a new injection site that was not already purple or tender from previous needles.
I still remember feeling as though the wind was kicked out of me when a friend or co-worker would announce their pregnancy.
I still remember when the infertility specialist told us that he could not explain the cause of our infertility, while I stifled tears, trying desperately to not appear vulnerable or desperate.
I still remember the 28 day emotional roller coaster, the giddy excitement that this could be the month and then, the heavy pangs of depression, when the vicious cycle would start all over again.
I still remember weeks turned into months, months turned into years, panicked with the thought that our chances of conceiving diminished with each passing day, while time continued to progress, agonizingly slow and incredibly fast at the same time.
I still remember the confusion from the multitude of pills, creams, needles, bottles and graphs that we were expected to keep track of.
I still remember the nights when Mark was working late and I had to give myself an injection, fighting through the angst, rising to the challenge, hoping for a positive outcome.
I still remember setting my alarm for 2:00 am, just so I could wake up and give myself yet another injection, that had to occur exactly 36 hours before a procedure, worrying that I would not hear the alarm and sleep through “my window” of opportunity, rendering the entire IVF process another failure.
I still remember the humiliation of explaining our infertility to other people, only to be told that we should just adopt or accept our fate as childless adults, and wanting desperately to slap those people across the face, choosing instead to swallow my rage and keep my thoughts to myself.
I still remember the isolation of infertility, the mostly unconscious cruel seclusion of the infertile from the fertile.
I still remember the anger I would feel when someone would inadvertently ask an insensitive question about why we did not have children, reminding us that we were not getting any younger.
I still remember how unfair it felt to spend so much money on a dream, and wanting so desperately for this dream to come to fruition, only to find out that we were once again unsuccessful.
I still remember feeling as though I were being punished, admonished of the inalienable human right to carry one’s own child and give birth.
I still remember the panic and excitement at being told we were having twins at the 7 week ultrasound, only to be plummeted into sorrow at 12 weeks, when we saw one healthy baby on the screen, and a second empty sac, completely devoid of the fetus that had been there only a few weeks before. It is so hard to describe what it feels like to be pulled between two very different emotions all at once, sheer joy for a healthy baby and grief for the loss of another baby.
I still remember the pictures of my future children as embryos, those tiny beautiful symmetrical circles, cells dividing and growing with each passing day, longing for them to survive and grow into the beautiful creatures they are today.
It’s been 12 years since we started the journey of becoming parents. Not a day goes by that I don’t thank god for the gift of Thomas and Leah. I am also so grateful for the opportunities that infertility has brought to my life, the opportunity to grow, evolve and appreciate what is most important in my life.
So Bobbie Thomas, it is okay to enjoy this time in your pregnancy. Go ahead and celebrate because you have earned it. Those of us on this end of the struggle understand why you feel grateful, cautious and a little bit guilty and that is okay because we know that you will NEVER forget.
This is a picture of a 3 day old Embryo, incredible to think that this is how we all start out.
Here is a link to the article if you are interested.