Happy Infertility Advocacy Day!
As soon as I found out I was pregnant with Garrett, I realized that I’d probably been pregnant once before. One time, over the course of our trying to have a baby, had I felt the same aversion to food, the same cocktail of emotion and hormones pulsing through my veins, the same hopefulness. I will never know whether or not I was pregnant. We had done a round of clomid. I had known the precise day of ovulation. The two week wait had come and gone. Three weeks had come and gone. I was halfway around the world, in Israel. If I wasn’t pregnant, my body should have let me know on the first or second day of the trip. Each day that went by was cause for elation, hope, almost celebration. And then there was the scant bleeding that I explained away as implantation spotting. “Sure it should have been earlier but maybe the kid is a procrastinator.” Finally, with the end of the eleven day trip nearing, the bottom dropped out. At the time it didn’t cross my mind that I could be having a miscarriage. I simply thought that my body had played a very, very mean trick on me. I thought the food aversions were because I was eating a Mediterranean diet. (Although, that diet was the healthiest I have ever eaten). I thought the emotions were because of the hormones. I thought the hormones were normal, though I had never in my life been brimming with quite so much estrogen. Perhaps it really was all those things. Or perhaps, since I felt the exact same way early in my pregnancy with Garrett, I lost a very tiny, very young, baby. I don’t mourn the possibility of that child because it never crossed my mind that I was miscarrying. But whether or not I actually was pregnant, I thought I was. For one week. In that hotel room, when I knew for sure that I wasn’t, I hit my infertility rock bottom. It’s different now that I have I child, but the knowledge of that lowest of low is why I try not to get my hopes up each and every month. I can’t feel that depleted of energy and life again, not if there is anything I can do to help it.
The next morning I contemplated staying at the hotel that day instead of heading out with our tour group. Troy said it was my decision and eventually I decided not to be all alone in the middle of Jerusalem, while my group gallivanted around. I skipped breakfast and I tried to compose myself. I managed to get on the bus. I even appeared in pictures. When I look at our scrapbook, it is ridiculous. I’m beaming on so many days of that trip, believing that I was, just maybe, finally, pregnant. But on that day I am the embodiment of the statement, “You look like hell.” Maybe no one else from our trip can see it but I sure can. I have absolutely no color. Literally, my face is almost ashen. Every smile is so obviously counterfeit and I look like, in an instant, my face might crack and bleed tears and estrogen. I thought I was being weak and ridiculous. "So I thought I was pregnant and I’m not, what’s the big deal?" Although, in retrospect, I suppose if I’d had a miscarriage, the loss of HCG could have caused the completely unstable crazy woman. I had never wanted my mommy so badly as I did when, for really the first time in my life, I couldn’t have her. She was halfway around the world. I mumbled something about being on the verge of a meltdown—though, truthfully, I had already jumped off the edge into full emotional collapse. But no one within earshot really seemed overly concerned. And really, what was I going to do, ruin everyone else’s vacation with the news that lo and behold, the infertile woman is still infertile? I've never really mentioned this before because I am not defined by it. It was only after the conception of my son that it dawned on me that I was probably pregnant back then. It’s simply a moment in time, and there were many low moments during our first struggle with infertility, where I sat, for awhile, at rock bottom.
I mentioned at the beginning of the month that today is The National Infertility Association’s Advocacy Day. I’m mentioning it again because, while that day in Israel does not define me, the nightmare of infertility does. I have met so many wonderful couples who struggle with this demon. I sat in the specialist’s office and tried not to stare at the other women who were trying not to stare at me. We all kept our eyes fixed on the wall because, for some asinine reason they had Maternity magazines in there and if we accidentally saw one, well, the world might end. Some days I wonder why God blessed me with my miracle when so many others remain childless and some days I wonder why God hasn’t blessed me with another miracle when so many take for granted the miracles that they have. I have watched the ultrasound screen for any evidence of ovulation and been told, numerous times, that, “no, not this month.” And I have watched the ultrasound screen and seen my child’s heart beating furiously. I have been to the rock bottom and I have been sky high and I’ve been somewhere in between. I know the importance of the issue. I realize that society’s ignorance about the subject makes it worth fighting for. If ten percent of the population started flopping over dead, I think it would be a major concern. But when ten percent of the population walks around with the inability to conceive, it’s considered a superfluous desire. So please pray that the specialized issues we care about would be taken seriously. And, if you do not struggle with infertility, please don’t ever-EVER--take your own fertility for granted.