I have been torn on whether or not to blog about this, but when has that ever stopped me before, right? Alright… here goes.
In the past week, I have seen 5 different couples announce that they are pregnant. Most of these couples I consider good friends. And let me start by saying that I am THRILLED for them! I am completely happy that they are starting or expanding their families and I wish them nothing but the best. Especially the couples who have been struggling to start the family of their dreams.
But, if I am being honest, and that is the cornerstone of everything that I write… I also hate them. [Insert noises of shock and awe]. Now, before you start casting things in my general direction, let me say that is isn’t any of them that I actually hate. I don’t hate their pregnancy and I certainly do not begrudge them one ounce of happiness (hence my mixed feelings approaching this subject). But every time I see one of these awesome announcements, my heart breaks a little. For myself. And that makes me feel like an asshole.
You see, I don’t have any kids of my own. And I want them desperately. It’s a heart-wrenching thing to learn that if you are unable to conceive easily that you will harbor some resentment against those who can.
Here’s my story. It’s not a pretty one. If you want to think me a bitter, middle-aged butthead for my feelings, maybe just read a little about what I have gone through.
One day when I was 15, I was walking home from school when I doubled over in pain in the neighbor’s yard. It was a stabbing, horrible pain, and it was unlike anything I had ever experienced. I managed to make it home and told my mom about it and she immediately took me to my pediatrician. Ugh. The pediatrician. Yes, my mom took me there until I turned 18 and basically refused to go see a kid’s doctor anymore. But that is where we went. And I had a terrible one, to boot. This was the kind of doctor who was fundamentally convinced that all kids were faking, so you usually had to amp up your symptoms just for her to take you seriously. But after meeting with her and explaining what had happened, she thought that I might have experienced a burst ovarian cyst and gave me a referral to go see a gynecologist.
I was terrified. I was 15 and a normal 15-year-old. I didn’t want some lady checking out my lady bits!! I told my mom that I wasn’t ready for all that. But moms being what they are, mine made me an appointment without telling me, and then pulled me out of my Sophomore Physical Science class during the middle of the school day. Straight from the school to the doctor. And I wanted to die. The doctor I met with was very kind and understanding. She explained that she needed to figure out if this was actually a cyst and that she would be as careful as possible since I had zero experience with any of it. I remember the exam (again, wanting to die of humiliation) and I remember being sent over to the hospital for an ultrasound exam. And lo and behold, I did have a cyst about the size of a quarter on my ovary. She explained that I would probably keep getting them, and that by putting me on birth control pills, they would be controlled. End of story.
So for the next 10 years, I took those stupid pills, slowly putting on weight. Ten years and roughly 100 lbs later, I had my last visit with that particular doctor. She became less sweet and understanding over the years, and during my last visit treated me so poorly that I swore I would never see her again. Like ever.
A friend recommended a brand new doctor that she had just started seeing, so I made an appointment, hoping for the best. When I went in for my visit, she invited me into her beautifully decorated office to talk before my exam. She was warm and open. I explained to her that I had problems with cysts (sometimes with burst cysts) and that I didn’t like the effects of the birth control pills. After talking to me for 5 minutes and taking a quick examination of my neck, of all places, she said, “Well, it’s clear to me that you have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.” My response was, “Huh?” I even made her write it down for me so that I could go home and obsess over what this meant. She explained that my hormones were out of whack, which caused a myriad of health concerns, including insulin resistance, which would lead to Diabetes. She also explained that all these cysts were most likely going to interfere with my ability to get pregnant easily. I left her office depressed and angry. Angry that I spent 10 years not focusing on simple things that could have made my symptoms more manageable. Angry that my previous doctor had dismissed such a serious condition with nothing but a pack of birth control pills.
But, I also had a little hope. The new doctor explained that when we decided it was time to get pregnant, there were things that we could do to help. But we weren’t ready. Well, let me be perfectly clear on this. I was ready. My husband at the time was not. He was eternally 12 years old and didn’t really want to have babies. At 25, I wasn’t completely sold, and I was pretty into him, so I figured it would all work out with time.
But it didn’t. As much as I wanted to have a baby, I was never willing to purposely have one with someone who was so vocal about not having them. I would have loved those children with a fiery passion, but the thought that their father might tell them one day that he never wanted them was more than I could handle. I could not allow that to happen. So, when I was young and had the best chance for success, I never actively tried to get pregnant.
Then all of that crumbled. I sent the frog packing. I didn’t want to stay in a relationship where we had fundamentally different values. I realized that we would either have children or we wouldn’t. And one of us would always be unhappy about that outcome. I wanted more. And I finally took that opportunity to let go of the years of misery in the hopes of finding my happily ever after.
So a few months after my divorce was final, I started dating again. Soon after that, I met Paul. He was one of the kindest people I had ever met in my life. The more I got to know him, I could read all over his soul that he would be the perfect man to spend my life with. He would also make an excellent father for any future children we might have. We both wanted the same things out of life – a happy life, a home, and a family. It seemed perfect.
And then I started to get sick. Again. It happened within the first few months of dating. In fact, the first time Paul ever met my parents was in a hospital. They liked him instantly, since they could already see how much he cared for me and was willing to be there for me, even in the hard times. Unlike the frog, who, on more than one occasion, made me drive myself to the doctor to later be transported by ambulance to the ER.
We battled through the first few months of our relationship while I got sicker and sicker. We got engaged, planning to start our family immediately after our wedding. And then I had a heart attack the week before we got married. That put the breaks on trying to conceive pretty quickly. The doctors recommended that we at least wait a year to allow my body to fully heal.
But, nothing happened. Every month we’d wait and see… but nothing. And biologically, I get it. I’m a mess. Having PCOS run rampant for so many years has been hell on my system. I am also now a Type 2 Diabetic, which doesn’t make things any easier. I know intellectually that adoption would be the perfect solution for us. Take all of the biology out of the equation. And this is definitely an option that we are exploring. But the whole process is gut-wrenching. There are so many children who have been abandoned, neglected, or abused out there and they need someone to love them. And we have a lot of love to give.
But my heart still wants to have my own biological child with Paul. I feel like a failure as a woman that I can’t seem to provide one for him. I have a major internal battle that I can’t manage to do something naturally that drunken whores do by accident every day (Sorry, drunken whores… I totally have a kinship with you from my youth). I think it is hilarious that the most effective fertility treatment out there seems to be drugs and alcohol. But, I do know that isn’t the answer, as my sister the NICU nurse sees those effects every day. It is maddening, really.
Also, to those who know those struggling with fertility issues, PLEASE stop saying, “It will happen for you!!” I know that you are trying to be supportive and keep our spirits up, but the fact is that it may never happen for me. Hearing that over and over is enough to put one in the nut house. I also know that most people don’t have a clue what to say when someone is unable to conceive, and even worse when someone loses a child. No one knows what to say. But sometimes the most supportive thing you can do is just say nothing and offer a hug. Because honestly there isn’t anything that you can say to make either situation right or better.
And the next person who tells me “Oh, you need to have a BABY! Why don’t you have a BABY??” will most likely get punched in the throat. If someone is 37 years old and a nurturing person, there might just be a reason that they don’t have one. You suggesting it will just bring up some serious feelings. This happened to me over the summer by an extended family member, who should have known better. She didn’t know me, nor my story, but she was a doctor for God’s sake. And to bring it up at a table full of strangers made me feel all Full Metal Jacket. Not good for my stomach condition, which is made worse by stress.
So, to reiterate to those whom are expecting: I am THRILLED for you!! I would never want to darken your moments of joy because I do feel them for you too! I want to know about all the great milestones and know when to come visit your little bundle of cute. I am the best aunt on the planet, and I pride myself at loving and spoiling all children around me, even if they aren’t really related to me. But sometimes…I just need a little time to digest. I recognize that this is my issue to bear. And I stay hopeful for what my future holds.
But today, I am a little sad. And that’s ok.