As you have likely figured out, once I settle upon a decision, it's not an easy task to change my mind. I tend to be stubborn like a mule, digging my hooves into the dirt to avoid doing something I don't want to do. Thus, my stance on motherhood. I truly had no desire to be a mom. My husband was quite happy with the freedom that being childless allowed. I'm not entirely certain why I didn't want children. Maybe it was fear. Maybe I was trying to prove that I didn't have to follow social norms. Whatever it was, the more people tried to make me see that I just had to have kids, I became more and more certain that I would never would.
It's an interesting realm of reactions that I would get when I would tell people that we weren't planning on having children. Most often people would treat me as if I were some sort of leper that was trying to ruin modern society as we know it. Many times people would tell me that eventually I would change my mind. Lots of people tried to talk some sense into me (annoying). Rarely (and by rarely, I mean once), I heard that it was good that we were making decisions based on what we wanted, not by what other people wanted for us. I think once women become mommies, they learn to love so deeply and fully that they can't imagine any woman choosing not to create that in her life. But with all of the Beta fish we couldn't keep alive and the plants that seemingly committed suicide under our care, we just couldn't imagine that parenting would be good for us, or a child.
I'm not exactly certain what changed our minds, maybe it was the birth of our nephew, but slowly, gradually, we decided that we might, just maybe, want to have a baby. We chose the c'est la vie approach to conception. No ovulation predictor kits, no rhythm method, no tracking, no basal thermometers. I just threw away my birth control pills and we waited. And waited. And waited. Each month we just we just knew that this month was the month for it to happen, but it never did. I had a sneaking suspicion that something might have been wrong, but I just let myself believe that the stress of a bad job and then changing careers completely might have been to blame. I started doing some research, joined Baby Center and began tracking. I had not realized how not in sync my body was. I quickly made an appointment with my family practitioner who diagnosed me with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and told me I may not ever be able to get pregnant, and would need to lose 50 pounds in order to have so much as a fighting chance. Anyone with PCOS knows that it's nearly impossible to lose 1 pound, let alone 50.
I quickly joined a new club. Not a club where you sign a roster, pay your dues, and meet monthly. No this was a different kind of club. This was the infertility club. Women in this particular club silently suffer, cry alone at night, and are directly mocked and offended by the growing belly of a pregnant friend. It's not that I was ever angry with my expecting friends, I truly was happy for their being blessed. I was just angry that I wasn't being blessed as well. I was angry with my body. I was angry with myself for the amount of abuse I bestowed upon my body for years on end. I felt like my body was betraying me, like it was refusing to do the one thing that it was put on this earth to do. Like it was laughing at me and earning revenge for the hell I had previously put it through. I felt like the heavens were mocking me and making me pay for all the times I said I would never be a mommy. The irony was a stabbing pain. Every corner I turned, women were unexpectedly pregnant, unhappy, even, about their little surprise. People treated me different. Their pregnancy announcements were sorrowful, tearful, apologetic. I felt brittle, fragile, worthless. I felt like a disappointment to my husband, to his parents and to my own for my new found insufficiency. I began to wish we had never changed our minds on the subject, it was much easier to think that being childless was by our own choice. Even though I was now a member of this club I didn't ask to join, I felt alone.
I referred myself to a specialist in a nearby city, just a quick 30 minute drive on the Interstate. My husband, who is my rock, went with me for support and for an extra set of ears. I highly recommend taking someone with when you see a specialist. In overwhelming situations, it is so easy to misunderstand or forget what you have been told. After $1,000 worth of medical testing, the specialist confirmed the PCOS diagnosis and that I was not ovulating. I jokingly told him I would be an awful hen. He was angry with the suggestion of a 50 pound weight loss from my previous doctor and did away with unnecessary prescriptions (this is why you should see a specialist). We left with two prescriptions for fertility medicines. I was terrified. I felt like I had just gotten off the world's fastest, highest, loopiest roller coaster, only to find myself in line for a newer, higher, loopier, more terrifying one. We had quickly gone from not wanting children, to maybe wanting children, to trying-but-not-trying to have children, to not being certain we would ever have children, to holding a prescription to hopefully ensure pregnancy.
We were hopeful, but not too hopeful, excited, yet scared. The season of fertility medication was a strange one. The hormonal rage (provided by a pharmacy near you) made us both crazy, the hot flashes made me miserable, I was mad at the entire world and we were supposed to be doing WHAT? Rounds of treatment were separated by extensive lab work. I would call to hear the news that no I had not in fact ovulated, yes they were going to call in another round of treatment. We were drowning in research, books about infertility, counting days, charting, and retrieving lab results. Then one day I received good news. I had ovulated! And my levels were high! I could be a hen, after all! We waited and waited for what seemed like months, but was actually days, until I took a pregnancy test (probably my 100th in a year's time). It was..... negative. There is just nothing quite like that feeling. I absolutely knew that it had worked this time. But the test clearly said NOT PREGNANT -- which, by the way, seemed much more cruel than just the absence of a pink line.
We began discussing the possibility of adoption, although we were not sure that we had enough energy left to go down that road. We decided that maybe, if we weren't meant to be parents, we would just get another puppy and spoil our nephew. I was silently mourning what would never be, while continuing my fervent prayers of what I hoped could be. We were mentally preparing ourselves for another round of hell, I mean fertility medication, when I felt the flu coming on. I was exhausted. I couldn't get enough sleep. Something was very wrong with the coffee at work, because it suddenly started to taste like burned hair. I knew I wasn't pregnant, so it must have been a bug. During a trip to grocery store, I caught a whiff of the tortillas. Oh my stars, I wanted to throw up. I had never been so excited about the probability of vomit in my entire life. Could it be? We didn't want to get our hopes up, but I took another test as soon as we got home. Negative. This time I wasn't as disappointed. I knew I was pregnant. I had to be. There was no other explanation, right? We went away for a weekend to attend a dear friend's beautiful wedding, I bawled through the ceremony and couldn't stay awake for any other event. I just had to be pregnant.
Check back for Marriage and Motherhood: Part 3. And remember... you're In Good Company.