As a child, I was overly attached to my dolls: I slept on the floor so that they could sleep comfortably in my bed, prepared real food for them, brought them everywhere. It never occured to me that I would grow up to be a woman who couldn’t have children – even when I learned ten years ago that I had stage IV endometriosis and that I may, at best, have one or two children with assistance, it still didn’t click. But once married and after 3 years of trying, it became very clear that motherhood just might not happen for me.
Our infertility treatment was a haze of tests, pills, injections, procedures, and frequent trips to clinics. The process, at first embarrassing, quickly became routine, almost commonplace. I remember during one round of artificial insemination thinking about an article I had just read in the waiting room about a panda bear that it had worked for – thinking that if it worked for zoo animals it could surely work for us. It didn’t.
Infertility affected many aspects of my life. Even going to church became hard. Too painful to look at the children there, I would stare at my clasped hands, noting how with the years they had aged: the skin more translucent, veins more prominent – even my own hands were a reminder of the terrible ticking inside of me. It became harder, too, to attend baby showers – muscles aching from my permanent, forced smile. Deflecting questions about whether we had children was also very difficult. I came up with a what I thought was an impermeable response, both laudable and one that prevented further discussion: “I’ve always wanted to adopt, though my husband is still undecided.”
We perservered, my husband and I. Finally, we were allowed to try in vitro, though the process did not look promising. Following a month of self-adminstered injections, we learned that only a few of the eggs had fertilized and that there would be no extra embryos to save for a second attempt. To boot, on the day of the planned procedure the clinic failed to call us as we sat anxiously by the phone. The final blow was being told as I sat in my scrubs pre-sedation (after having sped to the clinic), that the the quality of the embryos they would implant was poor.
Despite all of this, two weeks later we received the magical call: I was pregnant. With the help of others we finally achieved what comes so naturally to everyone else. We understand that there are others who have tried for far longer than we did and consider ourselves very fortunate. As such, I believe that our baby girl, due any day now, is a gift, a true miracle, and we, because of our journey, are all the more grateful for her.
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