It can be relatively taboo to talk about fertility. I know for me at first, knowing we were having trouble getting pregnant felt like a personal failure, like I’d done something wrong or was somehow defective. Then I started thinking about it as any other health issue that you can’t control – acne, crooked teeth, nearsightedness, being left-handed (just kidding), and suddenly it didn’t seem like such a big deal. No one can control those things, and people use medicine and technology to fix them all the time. The truth is, more people probably struggle with fertility issues than want to say and it’s heartbreaking enough on its own, there’s no need to make it shameful as well.
So in an effort to be transparent, encouraging, accepting, and forthcoming, and with Matt’s support of course, I’ve decided to document our fertility journey and our effort to build the family we’ve dreamt of having.
I’ve always pictured myself as young mother and having a big family. I just always knew it was something I wanted, and Matt and I discussed it early on in our relationship. We were both certain that we wanted kids, and certain that we wanted them sooner rather than “some day”. I always assumed that the process would be easy for us. There was no reason to suspect that anything was awry since I’d always been regular, and when you’re constantly hearing that you need to be super extra careful because “all it takes is one time” for 10+ years, you figure things are gonna work out the way you want them to. That was not the case for us.
We started “trying” around the time we got married, maybe a few weeks before to be honest, since that’s how the calendar worked out. When nothing happened right away, it was disappointing but not too discouraging. I was tracking literally everything on the calendar, taking my temperature every morning, trying to pinpoint the right time for everything. It was not very romantic! And I got a bit obsessed to be honest. I’d Google anything I thought could be a symptom, read post after post on message boards, compare my charts to those of strangers, like I was trying to find information that would help my case, as if I could convince my body that it was pregnant because of x, y, and z. We had also just up and moved to Boston and started new jobs, so we partially chalked our continued unsuccessful efforts up to stress and changing environments. But then things settled down and still nothing. Since it hadn’t been quite a full year, and we’re young and otherwise healthy, my primary care doctor told me it was too early to try any intervention, but Matt went in for his first analysis. It wasn’t good news, but it wasn’t hopeless. Maybe if we just kept on keeping on, and things were okay on my side, we’d get lucky. Spoiler: we didn’t.
That was a bit of a shift in the mentality of it all. I went from feeling heartbroken and devastated every month to thinking “well, here we are again.” I started appreciating the extra time we had to save money, get settled, enjoy an unencumbered lifestyle. We bought a home, traveled spontaneously, ate extravagant dinners, stayed out late into the night drinking and dancing with friends, but there’s always that nagging feeling — what’s wrong with me? Is this going to be our month? What have I been doing wrong? We also started opening up and sharing with our friends and families about how we’d been struggling, which felt scary to talk about at first, and we definitely got our share of unsolicited and unhelpful advice, but sharing the burden and talking about the process has been oddly freeing. And as much as I want to think that I’m not a slave to social media, seeing old friends and acquaintances get pregnant and have babies, either intentionally or by accident (the accidents are the hardest for me — you mean you weren’t even trying?!?!) still feels like a pang in the gut. Luckily none of our closest friends are quite as ready as we are to start a family, so the immediacy of my jealousy hasn’t peaked, but I do have to remind myself that it’s possible and normal to feel both happy for and jealous of someone else, and sorry for myself all at once.
I should also mention that I do feel somewhat lucky that throughout this entire time, I’ve never had a positive pregnancy test, meaning I’ve never had a miscarriage. I understand that with a lot of couples, the getting pregnant part is simple, and the staying pregnant part is hard. I feel lucky that I haven’t experienced that kind of loss and disappointment so far, but still apprehensive since all of that is still ahead of us, if we ever get there. I’m also thankful that we did want to start our family early, since age is definitely a factor. If things are going to be difficult, at least we have time to sort them out.
So this summer, just ahead of Matt’s 30th birthday, we decided that 2+ years of fruitless efforts is enough. We had our first appointment with a Reproductive Endocrinologist this week and asked all of our burning questions, discussed what the possible options are, and scheduled a comprehensive fertility assessment for us as individuals and as a couple. Soon we’ll perhaps have an answer to why nothing’s worked for us yet or what’s holding us back, and we’ll definitely have a plan as for what do we do next.