It would have been simpler if you had just hit me with your fist.
It would have hurt less had curled your fingers up and slammed your fist into my gut.
No. Oh no, you would never hit me. You claimed you would never give in to the urge to physically hurt me. You denied that the urge was there, but I could see it. Please. After nine years I can read you like a book.
On the good days we inspired each other, brought out the best in each other. On the bad days we would stand, six inches apart, applying the verbal lash over and over. Flaying one another to the bone, stripping defenses down until nerves were raw and exposed.
Even after all those years, all those fights, all the pain, I never threw that kind of insult at you. I never said anything that literally took your breath away, never dealt you a verbal sucker punch. Don't get me wrong, I'm certain that I hurt you. Intentionally or not, I know that it's true. I know we both bear scars on our hearts. But I never spoke to you the way you spoke to me. I never poured salt on the wounds.
You took every single self-doubt that I had, every aspect of myself that I hated, and threw them all at me. I sat there, wounded, in shock, seeing the rage and pain blaze in your eyes like wildfire.
If you had just made a fist, punched me in the gut, maybe we'd still be together.
No. You had to wound me and then grab the salt and just rub it in there, didn't you?
Fat. Lazy. Selfish. Mean. Bitch.
Those words hurt. Can't deny that. But I've heard them before.
Do you want to know what the last straw was? The word that hit me like a fist to the gut?
How dare you?
How DARE you throw that in my face?
You. You of all people. You who knew how I struggled with that diagnosis, who saw me weep every month, watched me grieve for another lost chance every time I bled.
Four years of a thousand tiny deaths. Every birth announcement, every baby shower, every happy family in a grocery store: they all left a scar.
Countless appointments, driving back and forth to clinics to undergo tests and invasive medical procedures. Always alone because your work schedule wouldn't allow you to join me. Trying to reign in my crazy mood swings from the drugs so that I didn't take everything out on you. Slogging through life on a second-string antidepressant because it would be safer during pregnancy. Drawing fluid into a needle and shooting myself up with hormones in the bathroom, alone, because you're afraid of needles.
If those scars were physical instead of emotional I don't think I'd have an inch of pristine skin left at this point.
You condensed all of that pain and anguish into one little word.
It took my breath away. I felt a chill ripple from the tip of my skull down to my toes.
And it was over. Over. In that moment, we were over. No going back. No patching it up this time.
It would have been simpler if you had just hit me with your fist.
One in six couples is infertile. About 40% of the cases are caused by problems involving the male partner.
This is his story.
I will try and avoid upsetting anyone with strong religious beliefs, but I want to create an argument for my scrotum being more miraculous than the so-called miracle of birth.
The way our IVF doctor was carrying on, I started to wonder how anyone became pregnant. I am not sure if she wanted to stifle our hope, or just create a negative atmosphere, but she talked to us about all the chemical reactions and minute factors that have to be just perfect for a woman to become pregnant.
For someone selling the hope of getting pregnant, she was doing a lousy job with us. Perhaps she had seen my 96% abnormality rated goods and was trying to let us down gently; if a divine power had given me this empty sack, it could well be for good reason.
I did not harbour the same outlook on this though.
In the recent past our world’s population is said to have reached 7 billion people. In the history of time, over 105 billion people have been born. That is one big recurring miracle.
On the other hand, when I did the IVF dummy test, the doctor - who I don’t think could believe it herself - advised that in my entire sample, she could only find one sperm that was suitable for IVF treatment. Not 100, not 1 in ten thousand…one. Singular.
Taking into account that the average ejaculate consists of between 50 and 500 million sperm, surely my sperm is the miracle. My body is so efficient that it will only ejaculate one working sperm each time I…you know.
Once again, the inadequacy of my baby making facilities surpassed all expectation and failed on a spectacular level. I had to admit it though; for all their shortcomings, my balls sure as hell made me laugh.
Perhaps I should donate them to science.
Secondary infertility can occur as a result of illness, certain types of lifestyle choices, or by damage to the reproductive system.
This is her story.
I know, you read that title and are all “whaaa??” Unfortunately that is what happened to me after my fourth and final pregnancy. I’ve been pregnant four times and have one living child.
My first pregnancy was completely uneventful and totally successful. I gave birth to a wonderful baby girl in May of 2006. She is the light of my life and it goes without saying that I love her more fiercely than I’ve ever loved anyone.
My second pregnancy, in June of 2007, ended in a “planned” termination. I chose the word planned because it was a decision that my husband and I made together. It was undoubtedly the hardest decision of my life. I had to do what was right for me and my family at that time in our lives.
My third pregnancy in December of 2010 was my first ectopic pregnancy.
I started spotting four days after I got a positive home pregnancy test. I called the doctor’s office and for the two weeks following that positive pregnancy test I went every other day to the doctor’s office for a blood draw to check for increasing hormone levels and for intermittent ultrasounds to try and find the pregnancy. My levels increased, not at the normal rate but they were increasing. However, in all the ultrasounds that I had done the pregnancy was never found.
Late one Saturday night I began to have severe cramping and went to the ER right away. After thorough exams and an extremely painful ultrasound it was determined that I was going to need emergency surgery. Right then. At 3:30 in the morning.
I was alone and scared. A few hours after the operation, when I was in a not so drugged state, I was told that my body was trying to expel the pregnancy and I was beginning to bleed internally from the damage. The result of the surgery was not only the loss of my third pregnancy but the loss of my right ovary and fallopian tube.
My fourth pregnancy in August of 2011 was my second ectopic and final pregnancy. Again like the first ectopic I starting having severe cramping a couple of weeks after my positive home test and headed to the ER. Unfortunately the timing of this couldn't have been worse; the day I went to the ER and found out that I was again having an ectopic pregnancy was the due date of the baby I lost from the first ectopic in December.
Fortunately this ectopic was found right away on the ultrasound that was done in the ER. Since this pregnancy was found and could be clearly diagnosed as an ectopic I did have the option of receiving an injection to terminate the unsuccessful pregnancy. The doctor and I chose the shot because of the fact that another surgery could be risky and I stood a chance of losing my remaining tube.
In hindsight opting for the shot was by far, for me, the worst decision. After receiving the shot I had to have weekly blood draw appointments at my doctor’s office to make sure the hormone levels came down to zero. I went to these appointments for seven weeks after the shot was given. Each week was a reminder of the failure of my reproductive system. The failure of myself as a woman.
A few months after my second ectopic pregnancy I elected to have an IUD placed. After the placement a routine ultrasound was performed and my doctor found something “odd” near my remaining ovary.
After an additional ultrasound was performed four weeks later it was determined that I had a couple ovarian cysts, that we would keep an eye on them and that they would probably go away. They didn’t go away. Seven months later I found myself faced with the decision of having surgery to go in and clean out the cysts. My doctor and I were hesitant to go the surgery route because of the risks. I ultimately chose to move forward with the surgery as I just wanted this nightmare to be over.
As a result of the operation in May of 2012 a damaged - damage sustained from the previous ectopic pregnancy - portion of my remaining left fallopian tube was removed. The portion of the remaining tube was “clipped” off as they would do in a tubal ligation. My doctor knew my wishes going into surgery and she did discuss this with my husband prior to completing the ligation and I am glad that she made that final determination.
I ended up not having ovarian cysts but rather small pockets of damaged tubal tissue that had filled with fluid. Those were also removed.
It took a total of five years to get here but I am now at a point in my life where I will no longer be able to have any more biological children. I never thought this day would come. Even as a child I dreamed of being a mom to many children. Adoption is not totally out of the question but for now I need time for my soul to heal.
What I do have now are answers and closure. This door has closed but perhaps another one will open. I can take this information and move forward with my life and be the best possible mom to the one child I do have.
Infertility can be heartbreaking for men as well as women, and it can be hard to know what to say to a couple trying to conceive.
Here are his feelings on the subject.
So you have just put your foot in your mouth then?
Don’t worry about it. It is difficult to know what to say to the infertile, and we understand that you are being supportive and trying to help. Sometimes, it is better to say nothing though.
Everyone is different, and people handle infertility in different ways, but if you know of someone who is going through infertility, my advice to you is this: Show your support by showing an interest, but don’t offer a solution – infertility is a form of loss, there is often no solution. Empathize, but don’t sympathize, and try to avoid saying any of these:
10. Children are awfully hard work. Oh are they, I hadn’t realized. Thank you for the heads up, it is lucky you are around, care to share some other pearls of wisdom?
9. It’s not a good time to bring a child into the world anyway. In the UK we are currently in a recession, the global economy is falling down the toilet, and don’t get me started on Europe. The world’s monetary situation aside, we still have a beautiful place to bring up a child and when your heart is set on something like having children, quite frankly the sky would be falling in and I wouldn’t give a monkey's paw.
8. Well, he might have turned out to be like Hitler anyway. Yep. Someone actually said this to me, and I can’t think of a sensible enough retort.
7. Why don’t you learn more about the causes of infertility? Okay, I will. How about I get a PhD. in sexual science…oh… no… still infertile, sorry.
6. Think of the money you will save. Somewhat of a pragmatic view, but it doesn’t solve the problem of the huge hole in my heart.
5. You can always adopt. My wife and I have made the decision to adopt, and we are boyishly excited (with a hint of trepidation) about it. But our decision was not made lightly. You simply cannot come to that decision without reconciling the loss that is infertility. It is not wise to bring this one out in the early stages, trust me.
4. You will have lots of time to do what you want to do, like go on holiday. Right. What I want to do is be a parent, I have been on holiday.
3. Don’t worry, it will happen eventually. I wish I could share your optimism, but unless you have some divine power that will magically make my balls work, you will forgive me if I make other plans.
2. Well, pregnancies are painful. Not only have you delivered a statement of the obvious, it is also a back-handed insult. Try and avoid complaining about any aspect of your pregnancy to a person you know to have fertility problems. You are more than entitled to moan to other mothers and mothers-to-be, just exercise a bit of tact.
1. I heard about this couple who 'did IVF a second time and it worked' OR 'adopted and then got pregnant.' You can pretty much fill this one in yourself, but this is my wife’s particular bugbear. If you hear of someone who did conceive after adopting, believe me this is the exception, not the rule. You have heard about it - because it is news, you don’t hear about the thousands of other couples who don’t achieve this because it is too common to talk about. Oh by the way, I heard about this fella who won the lottery, so if you buy a ticket you will get lots of money.
Maybe I sound like I am being ungrateful, and if it wasn’t for the massive support that both my wife and I have received, we would have struggled a lot more than we did.
I hope this post can be taken in the manner it is meant; not a cry for sympathy or a jealous rant, nor is it a thankless poke at people who offer their genuine support. I am trying to help people understand what feelings arise when infertility is experienced.
Secondary Infertility is a grief that knows no bounds.
This is her story:
We started trying to get pregnant after a pregnancy scare.
My now-husband and I were newly engaged, my period was late, we were both convinced I was pregnant. Finally, I took a pregnancy test and discovered I wasn't pregnant. We were both disappointed, and decided to start actively trying to get pregnant. Our wedding was a year away, so we figured if we got pregnant within the next two months, the dates would work out.
It didn't happen
Three months before our wedding, we started trying to get pregnant again. A year later (ironically the month we'd stopped trying as I'd just started a new job), I finally got a positive pregnancy test.
I spent the first half of my pregnancy nauseous and vomiting. By the time I'd started to feel better, I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia and spent the remainder of my pregnancy on bedrest. It didn't help that my OB was an idiot, however, my daughter was born at 38 weeks via c-section - we are both very lucky to be alive.
When she was four months old, I started to develop extremely familiar symptoms. I took a dozen pregnancy tests, all of which said I was pregnant. I hadn't even had my period yet - I was breastfeeding. My husband and I were absolutely shocked as it'd taken so long to get pregnant with our first.
My second pregnancy was much easier until week 30 when I, once again, developed pre-eclampsia Thankfully, I had an amazing doctor and while we were preparing for a very premature baby, I was placed on hospital bedrest and given medications to manage the preeclampsia. I was then able to go home (no bedrest).
My second daughter was born at 37 weeks via repeat C-section.
That was five years ago next month.
We've been trying to get pregnant for the last four years. I'd taken two rounds of the birth control shot after my second daughter was born. When I stopped the shot, my always normal and dependable cycle went crazy.
Sometimes it would be 28 days long, others 32 days. Once, I had a 40-day cycle. Every once in awhile, I'd miss a period altogether. My periods themselves have been fairly normal but that's the only normal thing about my cycle now.
Two months ago, after more negative pregnancy tests than I care to count - that's what happens when you never know when to expect your period - my husband and I decided to go see my gynecologist.
She sent him for a sperm analysis while I underwent blood tests and an ultrasound.
We'll be seeing her soon to find out the result of the tests, and likely begin to take Clomid to help induce ovulation. We can try two or three cycles with Clomid before she sends us into the city to a fertility specialist.
Today is day 34 of my cycle; two days past my longest average cycle. As usual, I was certain I was pregnant.
I tested today.
It was negative.
I don't know how much more heartbreak I can take.
We badly want another baby, it just doesn't seem like it's going to happen. I know that with treatment, we'll have a better shot at getting pregnant, that next month I could become pregnant, but today, I'm scared I won't have another baby.
My husband's work benefits will cover up to $15,000 in fertility drugs but no procedures, so if we want to get really aggressive, we foot the bill. We're not willing to spend thousands of dollars to maybe get pregnant. We have two kids to support, our futures to plan, so that isn't going to happen.
Nobody knows we've been trying to conceive.
We keep hearing "When are you going to have another?" or "Are you going to try for a boy?" It's knife to the heart every. single. time. We usually shrug it off and say "We'll see."
My mom has made it clear that due to my pregnancy complications, she doesn't think we should have another baby (even though it was only poor medical management of my first pregnancy that put us in danger). Knowing she's against this adds more stress - we don't want to hear her say that we shouldn't be trying, or that it's a sign I shouldn't get pregnant.
I know we already have two kids and I am so thankful, so blessed to have them, but that doesn't mean it doesn't hurt that we can't seem to add another child into our family. I want a big family; I want my kids to have lots of siblings to lean on, to grow up with, to support each other when my husband and I are gone.
This all feels so unfair.
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