Were we being punished?

It wasn’t fair.

Why THEM and not ME? Why was it so EASY for other people?

Were we being punished?

These were my primary thoughts for the four years that my husband and I struggled with infertility. I’d known since being diagnosed in 2009 with PCOS, a hormonal disorder, that conception could be a long journey for us. I went off my birth control in 2010, and then we stopped using condoms and started tracking Jan 2011. 6 months later, and no positive. I asked my GYN about it at my yearly, and she recommended a hormone panel, given my known issues of PCOS, and endometriosis that was removed in my early 20’s.

The panel came back clear; accept for one vial that didn’t have enough blood to test, so I had to return to be redrawn. They also recommended my husband submit a sample for testing. On the day of my re-draw, everything went fine, aside from the front of my chart which displayed a large orange sticky note with “SEE ME” on it one of the nurse’s handwriting.

So after having my turn as the human pin cushion, I went back and had a seat across from the nurse. She laid out a piece of paper in front of me with the results of my husband’s semen sample. I scanned it, quickly seeing that something was very, very wrong.

You know in Charlie Brown, when the teacher talks, it’s always this weird noise that no one can understand? Well, that’s kind of what hearing you’ll never have a child with your spouse is like. Everything got very far away and very fuzzy. I remember the nurse putting her hand on my shoulder and I thanked her, checked out, and walked back outside. I made it to my car, where I very promptly lost it.

I kicked my tires a few times, got in the car, bashed the steering wheel, turned up the radio, and screamed. Long, and loud, and full of a pain that I have no words for. It felt very much what I imagine drowning to be like. I was caught in a sea of something, and I could not find the shore.

What followed was a year of deep mourning, and even deeper bitterness. I wish I could say that I handled it like a champ, but that would be a very big lie. I made my bitterness into a blanket, and burrito’ed myself in it. I was not a happy person. I put on a hell of a good show, but there were more tears that year then I care think about. Every joyful friend that got pregnant was like a slap in the face. I hated myself for it. I was happy for them…I was.

But I was also, deeply and profoundly, jealous.

I gave me on God in that year, and have yet to fully find a way back to Him. Was I being punished? What had I done wrong? I was a good person. I didn’t deserve this. My husband didn’t deserve this. He didn’t speak of our loss often, the child we would never have. We both struggled hugely with mourning the IDEA of a child. How do you grieve for something that never was? We’d never have a child that had his eyes, or nose, or laugh, or my hair, or chin, or toes.

What I did know was that someday, we would be parents.

Adoption was our first hope, but that was quickly sidetracked by the frankly massive price tag: on the low end, $15,000. On the high, $35,000. Top it off with the fact that no adoption is guaranteed. The biological mother has the right to change her mind. So we decided to look more into our options for me to carry a child.

In November 2012, we saw a reproductive endocrinologist. He gave me a list of procedures I would need to have done to see if I was even able to carry a pregnancy. He also wanted to send us for a second opinion to see an urologist who specialized in male infertility. We did all this, and found I was going to be able to at least attempt to carry a pregnancy, but my husband could not father a child without extreme medical intervention, including a genome workup, itself running in the tens of thousands of dollars.

So, in May 2013, we decided to try three rounds of inner uterine insemination (IUI) with donor sperm. We carefully selected a donor who matched physical and personality traits of my husband. I clearly remember asking Adam, “Are you sure you’d be ok with me carrying someone else’s child?” His answer: “But it wouldn’t be. It’s my child. Biology is just a set of DNA.”

We purchased three vials in June 2013, waited for my July cycle, and then began to test for the hormone surge that would signal ovulation, and the start of our first of three attempts. Together with my husband holding my hand, I went through the first cycle of IUI in early August, 2013.

We had to wait 14 days from the procedure to take a test. On that Saturday morning, I lay awake, trying to not throw up, a ball of nervous energy. At 5 am, I woke Adam up. It was time. I took the test, placed it on the bathroom counter, set the timer to 3 mins, and returned to bed.

Longest. Three. Minutes. Ever.

The whole time, I was babbling about how it was going to be negative, I didn’t feel any different, we were used to disappointment, so we should this be different? When the buzzer went off, I balked. I didn’t want to go look at the test. I didn’t want to not be pregnant again.

We went into the bathroom and together looked at the test. I’d bought a digital test, wanting no uncertainty. There, bright on the screen, no two words, but one:

PREGNANT.

I wish I could say I had a dream pregnancy and post partum recovery, but I didn’t. What I can tell you, is that after four years of grief, and pain, and loss, a complicated pregnancy, preterm labor scare, a month long hospital stay due to severe preeclampsia, and a c-section…

We became parents at 12:20 pm on March 28, 2014 to a stunning baby girl. Lily is perfection, and very worth the long wait.

–Emily

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