The pre-emptive strike of infertility

Perhaps not the most mature response last Thursday’s sudden, unexpected shock of infertility (3 months prior to schedule, non-medicine-related (as anticipated)) – Husby’s body has performed an inconvenient and highly upsetting pre-emptive strike and we’re infertile); I hid. For several days. From almost everything. I was also very grumpy, apt to burst into tears at the slightest thing and a moody, grumpy bint to anyone who tried to speak to me.

In fact, we’ve probably been infertile for a while, without knowing it (lends credence to the ‘why worry’ approach – all that energy wasted on the ‘what if’ and it was happening all along) but perhaps ignorance is bliss, who knows? It’s rather bittersweet that we managed two miscarriages (the irony’s not lost on me) but in a way, a relief that we are unlikely to have another naturally. That was something I’d been really struggling with – the pressure to get pregnant before August whilst still trying to heal from two losses.

In the midst of being utterly heartbroken about never having children (fatalistic of me – we still have one shot, courtesy of the NHS, but I don’t dare to get my hopes up) I’ve also been trying to cope with the idea that not only is Husby still really ill, but that there’s more undiagnosed ‘stuff’ going on than we previously thought. And he’s upset about it (naturally) and I need to try to retain some portion of energy to offer sympathy, motivation and support to him when really all I want to do much of the time is go to bed and never come out again.

Poor man.

I can’t work out who I feel worse for, but neither of us signed up for this. We’ve been struggling (well, I have – Husby didn’t think there was a problem until I confronted him with the idea that perhaps because I’m having a HUGE problem, there might be one) and I’ve particularly struggled with anger, related to this and a bunch of other things. Wise Woman Lynn, when I last saw her, recommended that we go to couple counseling and get that fixed before I continue the miscarriage work with her. Husby’s agreed, ostensibly to support me. It can only help; now to make the next step and get an appointment!

Marriage is EFFORT! People tell you this but I don’t think until you do it, you really understand. Unless this is another (quite typical) case of me not taking on board anyone else’s experience and leaping in feet-first with no lifejacket…

Apart from my family and friends, the thing which has really helped has been finding a closed book on facebook called Why NO kids?, which is run for people who are struggling with infertility. It’s been a great place to vent and hear the comments, sympathies, understandings and explanations of people going through the same thing. The ladies there are so friendly and helpful – everyone’s really ‘for’ one another.

Another source of help and encouragement has been the very gracious April, of the Peacefulwife Blog, who’s taken time to provide useful spiritual guidance and some common-sense  input via email. Whilst I don’t blame God for the infertility, I’m sure struggling with the knowledge that He could so easily fix it if He wanted to…

The long and the short of it is, though, that like it or not, in the space of 8 months we’ve gone from a hopeful, excited couple hoping to begin a family to a tired, emotionally wrung-out pair of has-beens with very few hopes of having a biological family. Which, ok, bigger picture, doesn’t matter too much (provided we’re approved to adopt – my next panic-inducing thought; what if we’re not approved? What the hell then?) but I was (quite selfishly) really looking forward to being pregnant.

When I was quite young (14?) I had a dream that I was pregnant and could feel the baby moving inside me. It was sublime. And now, just plain painful. Painful like when I see a pregnant lady. Or a baby in a pram. Or an advert on TV for baby stuff (they all seem to be). Or when I get asked (by a well-meaning but ill-timed stranger) whether or not I have kids. Or when anyone sympathises with me.

I had so hoped that the dream was somewhat prophetic and I was hugely looking forward to Husby and I traversing that route and enjoying growing our own child and then being able to look after them and help them grow.

Last Tuesday I had a more traumatic dream (skip ahead if you’re squeamish or don’t want to know the depths my subconscious feels free to plumb), which, perhaps, was prophetic. I had both miscarriages at once, into a toilet, and along with the copious amounts of blood, I saw my two tiny babies there. I had no idea what to do, so I scooped them out with my fingertips and then left them on the windowsill because there was nothing I could do for them. I woke up very shaken and proceeded to have a bad day. On Wednesday I stayed home from life and hid. Thursday required that I engage with Niece and Neff duties, and in the midst of that, Husby got the phonecall from the clinic – they’d spun down his latest ‘contribution’ and (bearing in mind that a count of less than 6 million swimmers per ml is a cause for concern where couples wish to conceive), to their incredulity, had found 1. Not 1 million. Just 1.

1.

1?

In other (slightly less horrendous) news, we now have a name for our second Neverborn – Sam. One day I hope that Husby and I will meet Sam and Jesse and know that they were worth the heartache in this life.

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10 thoughts on “The pre-emptive strike of infertility

  1. Yes, that always bothered me about the footprints poem, if He was carrying me then why was it so bloody awful! Dragged, resisting every step, out of the darkness, seems more accurate!

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  2. Thanks for being brave and generous enough to write about this. I am so very sorry about this news. Your prophetic dream was fascinating- it is incredible what our subconscious minds can show us. It is not selfish of you to have been looking forward to being pregnant- you are allowed to grieve that loss, should it come to that. I know what a toll this can take on a marriage, and I think you are being really conscious and deliberate about it, which is half the battle. I am crossing my fingers about your one last chance, which I know is small comfort.

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  3. Thanks Gem, that really helps.

    I'm coming to a place of numbness about it at this end of the week (maybe). It's just all so confusing. And yeah, pregnant women smoking make me want to break things. Not to mention people who scream at their kids in the street and wallop them.

    I don't think I could consider living child-free – that would be so hard. We'd already planned to adopt, just thought it was an 'as well as' rather than an 'instead' but I'm pretty confident that I can bond with a child who's not biologically mine (background in childcare, and I can tellya, the ones I wanted to take home with me…)

    Thank you so much for sharing your insights; it's useful to know that things get better, and I shall be happy to cite you as 'someone told me it was OK to scream and throw things' 🙂

    I really hope infertility is the worst that does happen to me (and you as well – I can't imagine how hard something worse would be).

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  4. Lizzi – there are no words. I know that better than most as I've been there, in your boat. There are no sensible words because there is no sense to it. I questioned everything when we went through the darkness that infertility can lead to. I questioned my reason for being here. I questioned why this had happened to me/us (I decided “Why Not?” in the end).

    Who knows why these things happen. A friend likened it to not being able to buy a newspaper when everyone else could pop out to the shops and simply get one. I felt like I had to try and make sense of my world and why I was here. I'm not sure I ever really worked that out as it's all still a work in progress but one thing I did know I could do was survive. Sometimes life throws us a curve ball and it throws everything up in the air. It makes you reassess everything. It's painful and it's so difficult and I just wanted to say that if you need to chat about it then I'm around. We chose adoption in the end but living child free was a choice that we considered as well. There are merits to both but it takes time to get your head around it all. It sounds like you have the NHS option and it's amazing what they can do with just one sperm. It only takes one as they say. Whatever you decide to do next (if anything at all) then I wish you well.

    It's ok to feel sorry for yourself, I know I did. I still can't stand seeing heavily pregnant women stroking their bumps and don't even get me started on women who smoke when pregnant. It's hard to avoid it all as well which makes it worse. The pain has lessened over the years and has become an acceptance of it all. For me, it all made sense when I adopted my daughter. I think there is something there for all of us and it's just waiting to be found. In the meantime throw things and scream (it can help) at the unfairness of it all. Life really can be rather shite at times. I did always say though that infertility wasn't the worst thing that could happen to me (although it felt like it at various points) xxx

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  5. No, it's not, Mhari – it's real. Real is good. I'm sure I saw a version of the Footprints poem where there was an additional bit with huge long scars in the sand and the man asks God about it and God tells him “That's where I dragged you.” I reckon that's me right now. I'm glad you're getting a clearer picture though – nice to know someone, anyone is 🙂

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  6. 1. Quite.

    Hopefully I'll be resuming normal service as of now. A week's long enough to sulk. Time to re-engage and get distracted by the shiny blogosphere.

    And yes, effort but worthwhile. In the end. Promise.

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  7. I'm so sorry Lizzi, I hope this isn't insensitive, but you make me realise how blessed I am, even when it seems like things haven't worked out as I'd hoped. I can imagine how heart breaking coming to terms with not carrying a child must be, even if adoption is an option. You know God can make something more wonderful come from this, even if we can't see what it is now, I hope that's a helpful thing to say rather than a cliche. You know from experience I guess, that looking back God's hand is always evident, even in the darkest times. That's helped me over the past year, and his wisdom is starting to come clear to me now. Sometimes I know it takes a lot longer though. Sorry this is a bit disjointed, I can't go back and edit for some reason.

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  8. I am glad you stopped in to let us know how you are doing. I was getting quite worried about you.

    1 ?!?!?!?

    I am glad you are finding encouragement and support from some wise women.

    Yes, marriage is serious work sometimes. Worth it, but work nonetheless.

    Still praying…

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