Fertility

The Pain Of Infertility Doesn’t End Once You Have A Baby

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sad mom with baby shoesWhen I had trouble conceiving, I believed becoming a mom would mean the fertility nightmare was behind me and forgotten. I thought I would move on with my blissful, baby filled existence and never look back.

Thanks to modern science and luck from the powers that be, I got my wish, but having the title of “Mommy” doesn’t make the pain of infertility sting any less than the day I was first diagnosed.

I’m luckier than some woman who have fertility issues- I was diagnosed quickly and got pregnant with my twins on our first round of IVF. From my initial visit with my OB/GYN until the time I got pregnant was a span of only eight months. Many couples who get pregnant the old-fashioned way try for much longer than that. I’m fortunate that we quickly had answers and a course of treatment, but being the poster girl for a successful infertility treatment doesn’t mean I don’t still struggle with the fact that I am infertile.

Being diagnosed as infertile is like having asthma or food allergies- it’s a part of who you are. There are medicines you can take, or things you can do to cope with it, but it doesn’t change the fact that you have the condition. Even though I have kids, I’m still infertile. I can’t just hop in the sack with my husband and get knocked up. There are no surprise siblings in my boys’ future thanks to a wine-soaked weekend getaway, no reason for me to have a pregnancy test stashed in the back of my linen closet just in case my period is late.

In fact, since my boys were born almost twenty months ago, I haven’t gotten a period at all. Never having to worry about planning a beach vacation around getting my period is sweet, but each time a friend casually mentions she has cramps or PMS I get a little bitter, and not just because I miss having an excuse for binging on chocolate once a month. I would gladly volunteer to surf the crimson wave again if it meant I could have the option so many other woman have- to simply get pregnant when I want to without any outside assistance (besides my husband).

Sure, I could have more kids. If I’m willing to scrape up a fat wad of cash, undergo weeks of injections, find a babysitter while I go to appointments with multiple specialists and can brace myself for disappointment in light of the highly possible chance that the IVF doesn’t take, we can give it a go. Instead I’m working on being at peace with my sons and trying not to resent people who say their birth control method is “whatever happens, happens.”

When I read yet another headline about a child being abused at the hands of their mother, I can’t help but get mad that a monster like her can have a baby without any issues. When I see an article about young moms, I wonder if I could have gotten pregnant naturally had I only tried to have children earlier. I feel like a failure for being unable to do the one thing my gender has been doing since the dawn of time.

Of my close girlfriends who have children, so far I am the only one who has had any fertility issues. As of now, those of my friends who are moms only have one child, but a few are planning on working towards a second in the near future. Of course, I will be happy for them when they share their exciting news and I will be first in line to buy a fabulous shower gift, but I don’t know that I will be able to shut off that tiny voice in my head when it whispers, “Why not me?”

(Image: bikeriderlondon/Shutterstock)

 

36 Comments

  1. dy

    September 11, 2014 at 5:34 pm

    We have very similar stories. I got twin boys from my first round of IVF 3 years ago (we had a year and a half of failed treatments prior) and have attempted to transfer our remaining embryos since. Last year’s attempt didn’t take, this past (and final) attempt ended in miscarriage at 5 weeks. None of my friends have dealt with infertility and have all gotten pregnant within the first few months of trying. It pisses me off. This past winter a couple in my city was arrested for dealing drugs while their 4 children were zip tied into car seats in their car. In subzero temps. With no coats or shoes on. The youngest was 6 weeks old. It made me sick to watch that story unfold. The fact that horrible people continue to conceive children while those like us can’t makes me question that God even exists. And you are right, just because you have a successful pregnancy doesn’t mean the pain of the crap we’ve been through isn’t still there.

  2. Gangle

    September 11, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    I think I moved past that sort of resentment/anger/jealousy years ago. After so long trying, I have my beautiful daughter. I have two embryos on ice left, and my husband and I will try with both of them, but if neither take then we have decided that we will believe that one is all we were meant to have. I feel truly thankful for my child, and while I will be sad if I cannot have any more I will be accepting of it. I think it depends on where you are in your infertility journey as to how you deal with it. I had years to process all my feelings about infertility before I fell pregnant. The journey has changed me, I think there is a sort of loss of innocence when you go through infertility, but I won’t let it make me bitter. I can understand your feelings though, because while you did get very lucky to be diagnosed and have successful ivf the first time round, the diagnosis and treatment still suck. And you haven’t had time yet to accept the diagnosis. It is like any traumatic experience – it doesn’t just go away because you have a kid now. Those emotions don’t magically disappear, you still have to deal with them.

  3. LK

    September 11, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    I think once you get pregnant, you are kind of booted unceremoniously from the infertile crowd, as, understandably, for those who are still struggling to conceive it can be rough summoning the happiness for someone that has. But at the same time, you don’t identify with people who can get pregnant when they want. It’s a weird position that I did not anticipate. Obviously I am grateful for my kids, and of all the problems to have as an infertile person this is, of course, the best. But weird nonetheless. I absolutely, positively do not want any more children, but I don’t know if or when I will ever not be rolling my eyes when I hear about a ‘whoops’ pregnancy announcement or feel a little gut punched when someone says something to me about having another.

    • Gangle

      September 11, 2014 at 8:53 pm

      I have been really lucky with the support I have received in the infertile crowd. I was/am part of an online infertility support group that is three-pronged. All three are closed/private from the general public and are sister groups to each other: primary infertility, secondary infertility and another group where women who have been successful with treatments can discuss their pregnancies and children. In the case of primary infertility, all childless women are welcome to stay until the end of their pregnancies (as sadly, some pregnancies do end in miscarriage/still births.. women are welcome to stay provided they do not show-boat their pregnancies), and most choose to join the secondary infertility (for those trying for second/third etc babies) and baby-after-infertility groups soon after receiving their bfp. Once their baby is born, they are removed from the primary group permanently, but can still receive much needed support from the other two groups as well as stay in touch with other women who they have shared their experiences with. A small number of women from the primary group who are still waiting for their bfp also choose to join the baby after infertility group to stay in touch, although it is usually women who feel happy and comfortable hearing about pregnancy and baby related stuff. It seems to work well because there is recognition that primary and secondary infertility are very separate and sensitive issues, but nobody is booted out into the cold the moment they are successful with conceiving a child either, as the effects of infertility don’t go away the moment you have your child/ren.

    • LK

      September 11, 2014 at 9:01 pm

      Sounds like you found a good space, which is awesome. I had to stop going to online support spaces after I got pregnant with my first, and never was able to feel comfortable joining back in going through treatments for my 2nd. I encountered just too many other posters who were just downright hostile towards anyone who had become pregnant, let alone carried a pregnancy to term. It’s a tricky spot for both sides.

    • Gangle

      September 11, 2014 at 11:06 pm

      It certainly is, and it doesn’t help when things get bitchy. The woman who runs the fertility sister groups I am part of is a pretty incredible person, and perhaps having the three separate-but-together groups helps, but the nastiness is almost non-existent and most differences are sorted out on their own without intervention. I have been part of groups where primary and secondary girls absolutely rip into one another, which is really horrible, and nobody feels good. I think the other problem is that women are afraid to voice their feelings of sadness after having a baby because they feel that having a child should be enough to ‘fix’ everything and they feel guilty that there is still grief there. So there are many infertile women who feel like they are on their own because everybody is afraid to talk about it and they feel like they are the only ones. Like in group the other day one of the girls felt ashamed and guilty because she has this beautiful new little baby and she has PPD – when the reality is women who have been through infertility have a higher likelihood of developing PPD. We just think that because we waited so long and have been through so much to have our babies that nothing would get us down when the opposite is true. It lead to a big conversation about how pretty much all of us had or are going through PPD or some form of baby blues, and that she wasn’t weird. Or how there is still that twinge when someone falls pregnant at the drop of a hat. That is normal too.

  4. 0katykate0

    September 11, 2014 at 7:44 pm

    You took the thoughts right out of my head. It took us 2 years of trying before I got my PCOS diagnosis. I was incredibly lucky and got pregnant on my first dose of clomid. (Trust me I know how rare that is and It’s not something I take for granted)

    My son is about to turn one, and ever since the positive pregnancy test I’ve been in a state of shock that I over came infertility. I still can’t believe it and I’m watching my Son pulling wipes out of the container…

    Those 2 years changed me. That monthy roller coaster you ride will almost kill you and if you come out alive with or without a baby you will never be the same. I’m a much more cautious person, especially when it concerns my baby. I’m more fearful of losing him in some insane irrational way because he came to us almost out of nowhere when I was about to give up. Its like all of this is too good to be true. I still get jealous when someone pops up pregnant, and I’m not even ready to get pregnant again anytime soon…. Cause I’m kind of an asshole.

    • 0katykate0

      September 11, 2014 at 7:54 pm

      Wow I meant to say that “it’s something I DON’T take for granted…

    • 2Well

      September 11, 2014 at 8:11 pm

      My doctor recently diagnosed me with PCOS, but she was really vague about it and for some reason prescribed Metformin instead of the Pill. Is this normal for women not wanting to get pregnant?

    • Other PCOS gal

      September 11, 2014 at 9:18 pm

      You are infertile, not sterile. You need some form of birth control to ensure your body won’t accidentally actually do what it’s supposed to do for once and get you knocked up.

    • 2Well

      September 11, 2014 at 9:49 pm

      Right now I’m practicing the only 100 percent method of preventing pregnancy…spending so much time in the library I have no energy for sex.

    • Other PCOS gal

      September 12, 2014 at 1:40 am

      Haha! Well, if you ever do have enough energy, be safe and use some other preventative measures 😉

    • 0katykate0

      September 11, 2014 at 10:09 pm

      What other PCOS girl said. Metformin lowers insulin, which is good for most PCOSers who have insulin resistance. Not all “cysters” if you will are insulin resistant though. You might want to check which catigory you fall into because metformin can cause weightloss which is good for bigger cycters who want to get pregnant. I know a few women who got pregnant with metformin alone so you for sure need birthcontrol.

    • 2Well

      September 12, 2014 at 12:11 am

      My insulin was fine. It’s more something to keep an eye on when I was older. She was just “hormones bad!” Then again, I haven’t had traditional pregnancy causing sex, so she just might not think it is necessary.

      Like I said, I need a penis for pregnancy. Poor lonely me with my casebooks and the good looking, funny, nice, not single study partner friend. I really should date or something.

      Unless I get visited by the angel Gabriel, I think I’m safe, and I don’t think God is going that route again.

    • Other PCOS gal

      September 12, 2014 at 1:53 am

      When I was first put on metformin it triggered my first period in years. An everlasting period. After 12 days I talked to my doctor, who then put my on the pill to regulate it. A lot of PCOS women go on the pill for that, not preventing pregnancies(though some count that as a bonus. I, like you, don’t have to worry about that though!). But different things work for different people, I’m glad you (I assume) have a regimen that works for you.

    • Emee

      September 12, 2014 at 4:20 am

      There are studies which back up every claim under the sun, but as a PCOSer myself, I’ve read that the pill can increase insulin resistance and make PCOS worse (once you come off it) so, if you do want to get pregnant in the future then Metformin may be the way forward for you. I actually wanted to be put on Metformin instead of Clomid when I was trying to get pregnant because I wanted to treat the problem instead of one of the symptoms but that’s not the norm here (UK) so Clomid it was.

    • 2Well

      September 12, 2014 at 1:58 pm

      I don’t. I am extremely uncomfortable with ever being pregnant. When I first learned the word hysterectomy it sounded like the most amazing thing ever.

      Someone posted a video on my Facebook feed a week ago. In it, two parents looked a teenage girl in the eyes and told her they wanted her to be their daughter. If I could be assured I won’t suffer a mental breakdown at age 40 like my mom and grandma, I would love that to be me.

    • Emee

      September 13, 2014 at 12:42 pm

      Then yeah I totally agree that it’s weird that your Dr didn’t just put you on the pill – surely there are less side effects that way??
      I would love to be able to magic up a child and not have to deal with childbirth. That stuff sounds pretty horrific.

    • LotteryTicketRetirementPlan

      September 12, 2014 at 9:06 am

      You touched on something else that’s important about overcoming infertility: that it shapes the kind of parents we become. I feel SO grateful for my little baby, and SO guilty whenever I’m distracted from her or frustrated with parenting. I also have some serious anxiety issues about losing her. I’m never going to be that relaxed, this-all-comes-naturally kind of parent.

    • 0katykate0

      September 12, 2014 at 11:34 am

      Exactly! The “enjoy every moment” sentiment that some moms judge others for lays especially heavy on me.

      The fear of losing him is something off I didn’t expect either. I’m blessed enough to not have any losses, but I know too well from other mothers who have lost babies just how fragile life is.

  5. Valerie

    September 11, 2014 at 8:21 pm

    I love you and you are amazing. That is all.

  6. jane

    September 11, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    I feel very similar about my “secondary infertility.” I struggled to get pregnant with my daughter, but after a year of trying, I got knocked up the old fashioned way (right in between clomid and IUI). My son just under 2 years later was a “whoops.” Our plan had always been to wait about 4 years and then have another couple. But my husband get cancer and needed radiation treatment, and there went more kids. I would never ever complain about “infertility” to someone who was struggling to get pregnant with her first, but there is still a twinge whenever a friend gets pregnant with her third.

  7. Lt, Ft

    September 11, 2014 at 10:01 pm

    Thank you for sharing your story.

  8. Savannah61

    September 12, 2014 at 7:42 am

    My husband and I have been trying for a few months now. I feel guilty feeling upset about it because I know so many people have it worse than me. But it doesn’t stop me from crying all the way home from work because I got my period that day or feeling upset after I meet with some parent (I’m a teacher) who doesn’t give two shits about their child’s education or well-being, but has 3 kids & is pregnant again. It took my mom a year of trying before she had me, so I’m bracing myself for a long road & trying to find coping mechanisms beyond crying the whole drive home & binge eating chocolate & Chinese food.

    • Personal

      September 12, 2014 at 10:44 am

      Best of luck to you.

    • Savannah61

      September 12, 2014 at 11:13 am

      Thank you!

    • dy

      September 12, 2014 at 1:15 pm

      I struggled with those feelings too. I knew people who had done several rounds of IVF and got nothing. I felt like I wasn’t allowed to be upset because it only took me a year and a half of treatments. But its ok to be sad and pissed and upset. Your experience is just that: yours. Don’t feel like you have to compare and negate your own valid feelings because somewhere there is another couple who is struggling more. You are allowed to feel whatever you want.

  9. T.F.

    September 12, 2014 at 8:08 am

    This was a very interesting perspective to read because it’s so completely opposite of my experience. We struggled with infertility for six years, and now that I’m a mom, I feel like all of the pain of the infertility is behind me. Even when sharing my experiences with others, I always clarify that I have a child now, because I no longer feel like I can relate fully to their experiences. My infertility journey ended positively. I feel like every pain, every procedure, every negative test was completely worth it. I wonder if part of the difference in perspective is the length of time dealing with infertility. After six years, I’d been through therapy, researched and pursued so many options, and even gone through the process of accepting that it would never happen for me. Getting to be a mom after all of that, it is a complete and utter joy, and I was able to let go of all the previous pain.

  10. Personal

    September 12, 2014 at 8:29 am

    I’m sorry things are still hard for you.
    I’m infertile, too. I needed 9 years and numerous medicated cycles to have my first child, and just one more try for my second. By the time we became parents, I was in my 40s, which is not what we’d planned. (Our treatments included a handful of fresh donor egg cycles and journeys abroad, since DE is illegal where we live.) 🙁
    I am still ‘sensitive’ when I hear of ‘older moms’ etc or DE being criticized, but otherwise I think I’m whole now. I hope you will be too someday. I know it’s not easy.

  11. Ursi

    September 12, 2014 at 8:44 am

    Thank you for sharing this. This is a perspective that I never considered before.

  12. LotteryTicketRetirementPlan

    September 12, 2014 at 9:14 am

    Thank you Mommyish for posting columns like this! I started reading this blog when we began trying for a baby, continued reading after we were diagnosed a year later with infertility, read it throughout my pregnancy after a successful treatment, and continue to read it today. I think there is an audience among your readership for this topic, and hope you continue post more columns about infertility in the future. It brings so much relief and a bit of peace to know that there are others experiencing the same thing.

    • Surly Canuck

      September 12, 2014 at 10:36 am

      Same here. Most of my friends are preventing so they don’t have any experience with “trying” and how soul crushing it can be. After our infertility was diagnosed, it was wonderful to find articles like this. I finally had something that reflected my experience, and thanks to other commenters, I felt less alone. Now baby is due in 6 weeks, and I am still so grateful to have found this community.

  13. Alicia

    September 12, 2014 at 9:39 am

    Whether it’s a choice you made, or a choice made for you by your body, sometimes the emotions behind having no more children, or none at all, come up and bite us in the butt. Sometimes we’re okay with it, others we’re not. Sometimes, we wish for just one more, others, we thank God for the ones we have, and no more. Now that I am at home, I sometimes wish that we could have another, but that’s just not possible anymore. One thing my husband and I have always talked about is fostering when our kids are older. As you said, there are so many kids out there with crappy parents, and they deserve good homes too. Maybe you want to look that direction, maybe you don’t. Maybe the doctors will get it wrong, and you’ll get a surprise. We never know what the future holds.

    Go and give your boys a hug. They love you! You are their only mom.

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  15. Alison

    September 12, 2014 at 11:57 am

    I had a hard time getting pregnant but got pregnant during my first round of IVF, after 15 months of trying. I got pregnant naturally 21 months later. I actually felt like I overcame infertility, and I felt like that “status” of being infertile was not me anymore, since I had two kids. It kinda sorta feels like you are borrowing pain that doesn’t need to be there. If you are looking to have a third baby, and can’t get pregnant, that is one thing. But, just to be upset for being infertile, seems kind of odd to me.

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