Infertility: Dealing with an Empty Womb
Tonight, I sit at my computer tonight like I do many nights, getting things together for tomorrow, tying up loose ends, doing some last minute social media promotion – you know, the whole end of the night routine. As I perused Pinterest, I decided I’d like to make a board dedicated to infertility. I went to the top of the page and simply searched for the keyword. To my surprise, my search brought up lots of memes and scriptures made by well meaning people, but no pins involving actual infertility experiences. I wanted to see some posts with actual feeling, real people’s stories to share with the rest of the world. Instead, all I saw were vague acknowledgments of how painful the experience can be with very little sincerity to go around. In response, I decided it was time to share my story in the hopes that you will know that you aren’t alone.
A Little Personal Background
Most of grow up having some general idea of what we want to get out of life. For me, that meant children. It was something innately inside of me that I knew to be absolute – I needed a baby in my life at some point. My husband and I married young and agreed that we would want children once school was out of the way and life looked like it was going along the right track. Of course, as always, life decided to throw us a few curve balls.
Right before I graduated from college I was diagnosed with multiple hepatic adenomas. For those of you that don’t speak doctor, I had multiple tumors on my liver, two of which were very large. Thankfully, they weren’t cancer and they could be removed. Now, how does this relate to pregnancy? Well, these lovely tumors are fed by hormones – the same hormones that feed babies. I was told by my very intelligent liver doctor that while he wasn’t going to say I absolutely could not have children, that I needed to be aware they would not be removing all of the tumor and that I was greatly increasing the risk of developing another large tumor if I decided to become pregnant in the future. That’s a lot for a girl to take in – especially at twenty one years old – but I took it in stride and went on with my life.
The Infertility Part of the Story
After getting off of my birth control pills (because BC + me = liver tumors), I slowly realized that I was no longer having periods. None, zilch, nada. For some people, this would be awesome, and believe me it was for a while, but then I realized the larger implications. If I wasn’t having a period, could I have a baby?! I went to my OB/GYN and was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS. (For more on that, click here.) I found out that I in fact was not ovulating, so we started a treatment plan to help get things going. I was put on a pill for insulin resistance, a pill for anxiety, and a pill for my thyroid. We hoped this concoction would help level out my hormones and give me some magic baby making powers.
Despite our best efforts, after various blood tests, I was told that I would not be able to get pregnant without further medical intervention, such as Clomid. For most women the news would be a shock, but would be tolerable. But remember, my body doesn’t tolerate hormones well. And guess what Clomid is? So, I was stuck. My husband and I decided we would continue to try naturally and just take it day by day. If we got to a point where we wanted to proceed with other courses of treatment, we would cross that bridge when we got there. Luckily, by some miracle straight from the Lord above, I did get pregnant without extra help. I’m still not sure what did it, but we conceived in July 2016 and had our miracle baby in April of 2017.
While I realize that there are many women that are not nearly as fortunate as I am, I also know just how difficult it is to wonder if you will ever be able to have a child of your own.
A Whole New Meaning to Empty
So, how did I feel while all was this was going on, you may ask? I felt helpless. Thank goodness for my husband who was a shining light through it all, because I had lost all hope. I was miserable. I couldn’t stand to look at babies or even hear them cry. I felt so incredibly empty inside and unsure of where to turn to next. Having a child of my own had always been such a cornerstone in how I saw my future that I just really wasn’t able to process what life might be like without it.
I cannot tell you how many nights I laid and wondered if I would ever get to have a little one. I yearned for the feeling of kicks in my belly. I wished myself to have morning sickness and every other side effect women dreaded because even if I was miserable, it meant I could have a baby. I looked at my best friend’s child and wondered if I would ever hear someone call me “mama”.
So, What’s the Take Away?
This was undoubtedly one of the hardest times in my life. Luckily for me, there was an end to the grief, but I realize not everyone reading this is going to be that lucky. So what I have to say is this – I know how you feel, I can relate to your pain, you are enough. I know how hard it is to mourn something that no one else can see, to question your existence, your identity, your womanhood. It hurts like nothing I’ve ever dealt with before, but know that there is more to you than your fertility. You are amazing and you are enough just the way you are.