Infertility has a way of dehumanizing even the best of us. Even when treatment “works” each step along the way to what may or may not be a take-home baby is medicalized – beta blood draws, viability scans, etc… Most women pee on a stick, announce their pregnancy, have an ultrasound at 20 weeks, and at the end of 9 months have a baby. At least, to the infertile, that’s how it feels. You feel broken. Unable to do what your body is supposed to do on its own.
When you are going through infertility, everyone around you is pregnant. You can’t go to the grocery store without being face to face with the pregnant cashier or the new baby in line. And you know in your heart of hearts that you never would wish infertility or the treatment on your worst enemy, it doesn’t make it any easier. Someone makes a pregnancy announcement on face.book and your good day is immediately turned into one that sees you a sobbing mess on your bed.
When you are going through infertility you will place your faith in fertility dolls, random signs from the universe, and superstitions you never realized you had.
The list of things they give you that you aren’t allowed to do after transfer reads like someone who hates fun puts together. No baths, no swimming, no orgasms, no exercise, don’t raise your temperature or your heart rate (hello? I live in the hottest area of the state and have two 4 year olds. I guarantee you my temperature is going up and SO is my heart rate.) Bed rest for 3 days post transfer. Nothing in this process makes you feel like a normal human being. Every time you turn around it’s a reminder of how broken you are.
Nothing prepares you for the sheer panic you will feel if you see a positive pregnancy test as a result of treatment. Not even PRIOR successful treatments. Every answer begs 10 more questions. Are my betas rising? Are they rising fast enough? High enough? What does that cramping mean? Spotting? Symptoms? Lack of symptoms? How long until the ultrasound? What if the ultrasound is bad? What if the NEXT ultrasound is bad? Hours are spent combing the internet and message boards for stories similar to yours and outcomes. Your partner begins to wonder if you are crazy, and hell, so do you.
The infertility community is large. And influential. And erudite. And active. And yet infertile women still feel broken. We still feel less than. Every time a celebrity past 40 announces a pregnancy we wonder – “did they?” When a celebrity admits to using fertility treatments it’s seen as an anomaly.
Infertility isn’t the only thing that breaks us. It’s not the only thing that makes me feel broken. But if you walk the beach and find broken seashells along the way, they can be just as beautiful as the whole ones, and sometimes more so. The broken ones have a story. They’ve been somewhere. Things happened to them. Sometimes it just takes someone special to see the beauty in the broken ones.