Fertility. A single word embodying a somewhat uncomfortable and semi-taboo topic. A word that is mostly associated with women and goddesses alike. Its virtuous, it’s organic, and it’s expected to resonate in every woman…
…. Until it doesn’t.
This is a very unusual and typically sheltered topic that, fortunately, has gained some traction in today’s society. Celebrities like Brook Shields, Angela Basset, and Courtney Cox have been brave enough to use their platform to address the struggles that come with trying and failing to get pregnant. Luckily, this has helped others openly discuss the topic and is shedding some light onto the age old, and sometimes hurtful, question- “So….Why don’t you have kids?”
I honestly never thought of fertility as a challenge that I would ever have to personally encounter. For some bizarre reason, whether I was influenced by media or stories shared by others, I always assumed that infertility was something only older women struggled with. Women that “waited too long” to try to have a baby, and now it’s too late to play “catch up”. Or perhaps it was something beyond their control as a result of ovarian cancer or other illness. NOT something that an almost-28-year-young, never had more than a common cold, relatively physically fit, woman would have to try and tackle.
I had heard rumors that a certain birth control shot that I was on for quite a few years had been accused of allegedly causing long term infertility, but I have also known many women who have gotten pregnant while on the shot or not long after. After a year or so of trying, I decided to discuss my struggles with my gynecologist and see what she had to say.
First let me address that it should go without saying that you absolutely must have a doctor that you feel comfortable enough to open up to, because this is a very sensitive subject for you and can go absolutely nowhere if you don’t feel secure with your physician enough to discuss every detail. My doctor, Michelle Valentine of Allina Bloomington Clinic, is that doctor for me. She has always been so very understanding and has answered every single tedious question I asked her. I absolutely love her and would recommend her to anyone – whether or not you’re struggling with fertility or just need a new OB/GYN.
Anyways, according to my wonderful doctor, she has told me that my “baby making components” are in great shape, which is exactly what you want to hear. My partner also had a child from a previous relationship so it would seem as though his “unit” was fully equipped as well. How do you make sense of this when you’re being told that your body is doing everything it should be doing, and your partner has already proven their ability to reproduce…and you’re still not pregnant?
After years of trying fertility medication (Clomid) and having invasive tests done that I can only describe as a sort of fallopian tube transmission-flush-esque procedure, and countless ovulation predictor kits (OPK’s) later… still no baby. Not even a pregnancy that didn’t last. Aside from the (incredibly) expensive procedure In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) or the more reasonably priced Intrauterine-Insemination (IUI), I feel like we’ve exhausted countless alternative methods as well. I saw an herbalist that prescribed us different herbs to brew in teas, my partner even had a varicocele surgery to fix a partially blocked vein in hopes that more blood flow to his nether-regions would assist in more powerful swimmers. We followed the SME Plan (sperm meets egg plan), tried countless positions to “cross the finish line” in, and did everything imaginably possible to assist gravity afterwards to get all parties to congregate in the same womb (room – bad joke, I know) including a 5 minute hand stand. I also tried this “Damiana Tequila Liqueur” which is infused with damiana herb that is said to be an aphrodisiac and stimulate fertility. It comes in a bottle that is shaped like a pregnant woman and modeled after the Incan deity of fertility. All because I had heard many people swear by it and except for a few nights of tipsy fun…. Nada!
Then there are those who swear that “when you stop trying, that’s when it’ll happen”… to which I always retort back with “How do you stop trying when you want it so bad?” Yes, there are those who stopped thinking about it, and BAM! Like a bad catchphrase for a fiction novel, “It happened on a dark and stormy night out of nowhere”. But I can guarantee you, that even when I’m not “trying” like using OPK’s to narrow down the most likely time of conceiving, it was never far from my mind whenever my partner and I were intimate and it was just a devastating to see Aunt Flow that month as it was any and every month before.
There are also the people that say “ use a surrogate” or “Adoption is just as great, it worked out for your (adoptive) parents!” and I don’t discredit surrogacy or adoption at all. I, as I mentioned, am adopted and it worked out wonderfully. BUT, I do believe that is also why I personally feel it’s so important for me to conceive because I’m adopted. I fully understand that blood doesn’t make family, family… but that’s also a lot easier to say when you have a bloodline of your own to compare it to. The lack of a “blood connection” in my life is one of the reasons why I desperately want a child of my own. The more in-depth logical explanation of my thoughts on this are going to be reserved for a separate blog because that doesn’t fully relate to the topic at hand here. Needless to say, yes I do think alternative methods are an “if all else fails” option, but I am not over my strong desire to grow my own child within my very womb.
The fight to defeat in-fertility isn’t over. I will exhaust every humanly possible option before I succumb and opt for alternative methods. Obviously my story isn’t a happy success story yet (keyword: YET), and I’m definitely not giving up but I just wanted to put my story and struggles out there so that if anyone who might read this feels alone… YOU. ARE. NOT. So to answer any possible further questions as to “why I don’t have children” …. It’s not for lack of trying.