When you are infertile time really is the enemy. And time has been hitting me hard lately.
One year ago this month I got pregnant with Luca. I can’t believe it’s already been that long. I can’t believe I still don’t have a living child to show for it. I can’t believe I’m still not pregnant with our rainbow. In a few months it will be his first “birthday” and another birthday for me. More candles to wish the same wish on, endlessly. Another complete rotation around the sun without anyone calling me “mama”. Yesterday I found out one of my only remaining childless friends is pregnant. Another recruit for the huge, inescapable Mom Team; one less stuck here on the benches with me. And I don’t even think she was trying.
You see, by most accounts, I am still a young woman. But in Infertilityville I am middle-aged. I want two children. At this point, even if I get pregnant immediately, my third pregnancy will almost certainly be considered geriatric. And that’s if I can even achieve two more pregnancies – and carry both to term. That means even higher risks, after my already-increased risk of miscarriage and pre-term labor. That means less eggs, lower quality, even less likelihood of conceiving. And when you’ve already been trying for almost three years that thought is terrifying.
When you are struggling with infertility every month is a beast, staring you down with teeth bared. Every page I turn on the calendar, every birthday, every period, every holiday – every day is a reminder that I am not where I want to be. Or rather, who I want to be – a mother. I don’t think anyone who hasn’t experienced it can understand how deeply infertility affects every facet of one’s life. When I choose my health insurance plan for the year, when I consider vacations, when I buy clothing it is always there. Will I be pregnant by then? Should I choose the lower deductible plan because maybe I’ll actually be delivering a baby next year? Or will that just be a slap in my face when I get all the bills for infertility treatments and testing that aren’t covered? And it reaches so far. I think about how old I will be when I have grandchildren. What if my children have infertility issues? I could be seventy before I have a grandchild. It is a constant spiral of thoughts that others would probably consider irrational, but it’s my reality. It’s where my mind goes when I don’t have the energy to reel it in. It’s worst case scenario over and over because I’ve been there. I’ve done that. And it didn’t turn out okay.
The very next month could be the month. But it probably won’t be. Infertility is living in a perpetual cycle of hope and disappointment, of inability to move forward, of hurry up and wait, of try and fail. It’s trying to keep the faith, to believe in the future even as it seems to slide further and further from your reach. It’s trying not to get your hopes up but also trying not to let depression get the best of you. It’s living like you’re pregnant for half of every month just in case but knowing you probably aren’t. Time, for the infertile, is a thief. A thief of joy, of carefree moments, of a simple sex life, of spontaneity, and most of all, of control.