I had brunch with a soul sister last week who has also braved the pain and frustration of pregnancy loss after infertility. We spent a lot of time discussing unsolicited comments from friends, family, and even strangers regarding our journeys.
Some innocently ask her, “So when are you going to start having kids?” While others, particularly those who see me with my (Ethiopian) son, make assumptions like, “My sister couldn’t have kids either, so she adopted.” Or ignorantly state, “Are you still going to try to have your own kids?” Or my new favorite, “Are you the babysitter?”
Questions seem to come from every angle and the deeper we are into our fertility journey, the more painful they become.
I know that so many people are curious and their innocent questions are not meant to elicit pain. But even seven years after my fertility struggles ended with a late-term pregnancy loss, certain questions still give me pause. Perhaps the strength that we muster to move on from pregnancy loss is exactly what we must use to tolerate a life full of curious onlookers.
This I do know. Everything that I’ve been through to become a parent has made me a very grateful mama and a more patient recipient of “those questions.”
My husband and I were married in 2003. We started trying to conceive immediately because I knew my PCOS would stand in the way of an easy conception.
We tried for a couple of years, sought help from an infertility specialist, used a variety of pharmaceuticals to get my ovaries in shape, and eventually stopped trying after none of the interventions resulted in a pregnancy.
Our next step was IVF, but I wasn’t quite ready to take that plunge. So I sought the help of a naturopath. She changed my diet and within five weeks I was pregnant for the first time. Unfortunately, this pregnancy ended in a miscarriage at 10 weeks in September of 2005.
We stuck to our fertility nutrition plan and started trying again a few months later. By May of 2006 I was pregnant again. Once I passed my first trimester I decided to share our news with family and friends.
The pregnancy was going along smoothly until one cool October morning when, to my surprise, my water broke completely all over the bathroom floor.
My husband rushed me to the hospital, where I was hoping to stay for a few months on bed rest. I had experienced a Premature Preterm Rupture of the Membranes (PPROM) and I had very little amniotic fluid left for the baby. Within a few days I was given an emergency c-section and my son was born at 26 weeks. He lived for four hours and died in my arms.
On January 1, 2007 I had an MRI of my uterus to determine potential causes for our loss. Although I knew that my uterus was small, heart-shaped, and tilted, I didn’t know that I had a partial septum running through the center. This was most likely the reason for my PPROM.
I thought we would try again. But after months of healing physically and emotionally from our loss, we decided that we couldn’t endure a similar outcome if we were to get pregnant again. Our doctor told us that we had a sixty percent chance of another late-term loss. No thank you.
The next steps
We decided to form our family through adoption. In 2009 we traveled to Ethiopia to meet and bring home our son, who is now a bright energetic five year old. We hope to bring our second child home in the Spring of 2014.
For all of the questions that I get about my fertility and my family, I have learned that the best answers are delivered with either the intent to educate or with straight-up humor. I have learned to model appropriate answers when my son is present. And I have also learned to allow myself to ignore or walk away from strangers whose curiosity crosses over my threshold of appropriateness.
I will always be questioned about my status as a Mother. People will assume that I was never able to conceive. But I can’t take that personally.
Life throws us curve balls. It often delivers shots below the belt. It’s not always easy. But someone up above knew that I could handle everything that has come my way. Someone knew that I had the strength and sense of humor to deal with it all. Someone knew that I was meant to be the Mother to two amazing little boys from across the world. And I know that my journey had meaning and purpose.
If you’re struggling with infertility or you have experienced a loss of any kind – please know that time will heal your wounds. The scars that are left on your heart and your body will remain. But you will come out on the other side with a strength and resilience that will serve you well throughout the rest of your life. No matter what challenges comes your way or what questions are asked, you will be able to handle it. Trust me.