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When I was in 6th grade, I was
very shy. In fact, I had exactly two friends. I wore big glasses that, to
this day, I can't figure out why I thought they looked good on me at the time.
I had braces that had (*shudder*) black bands on them. My choice. I was into
4-H, more specifically in the dog competitions. To show my love for dogs, I
wore this Rottweiler T-shirt every week to school. I was a good student so
naturally I was labeled as stuck up, a nerd, a loser. Funny enough, there are
probably people reading this that remember how I was in middle school.
Unfortunately, with all this awkwardness, I
had to take it one step further and develop the biggest crush on one of the
most popular boys in school. And here is the thing: I actually thought that with enough
perseverance, I would eventually go out with him. (Spoiler alert: I never came
I remember reading a teen magazine one day
and finding an ad for this book called "The Get Him System." (Apparently you
can still buy it for around four dollars.) The book promises that you will nab
that guy you really want. "Use our system! Tips and tricks for getting the guy
you've always wanted!"
So obviously, I knew I needed that book. My
best friend (one of my two friends) wanted in on it too. We split the cost and
shipping fees and I impatiently waited the four to six weeks for the book to
come in the mail.
The day I got it, I raced home, opened its
discreet paper covering and relished it. It was a bit thinner than I imagined,
but I was sure it was filled it with the secret that would get me this boy.
Infertility is maddening because you start to feel like you are doing the same thing over and over, all the while thinking the next time will be different.
I sat on my bedroom floor and started
paging through it, my smile slowly starting to melt into a confused grimace. "You are special and one of a kind!" it read. "Just be yourself! Guys love it when
they find a girl who is real and true to herself. There is really no secret to
getting that boy to notice you. Be yourself!"
"Be yourself?" My forehead wrinkled. That was
it? That was what this book was telling me to do? Be myself?
"What kind of bullshit is this?" I said
hotly, "Screw being yourself!" With that, I launched the book across the room
and it landed with a loud thump in my trash bin.
It's been eighteen years since that fiasco.
The glasses were replaced with contacts and eventually surgical correction. The
braces are gone and I've moved on from that boy to my husband of seven years.
But that's about all that's changed.
In the throes of infertility, I desperately
wanted an easy fix. Maybe a book called "Get Pregnant Fast—Use our system!" I
got more angry and impatient as the years went on. Some women learn humbling
peace during this time; me, I got more pissy. It's probably the reason that in
a span of three years, we went through three IUIs, three IVFs and two donor
transfers. Boom, boom, boom. One after the other. Just like the 12-year-old
wanting the secret to get the popular boy, 29-year-old me just wanted to
get pregnant already! It obviously wasn't that hard, being that every other girl
seemed to have a baby. Back then, I misconstrued the book as one that would have
some magic secret of dating someone very unattainable. I was so disappointed to
learn there was no secret.
Like infertility, I had to be taught the
hard lesson: You can't always get what you want. Sometimes you will go broke
doing treatment after treatment. You will be faced with the thought of: What if
it doesn't work? You can tax yourself physically, emotionally, spiritually.
am eight weeks pregnant today. I, in no way, feel like my journey is over. I
try to not be the downer, but I know realistically how many women have
miscarriages. I hope I go on to deliver this baby. But I might not. I have
people telling me to think positive, to enjoy this time. They haven't had the
experience I've had. They haven't had to face a possible child-free-not-by-choice
life. They haven't had to drain their accounts for treatments.
Infertility is maddening because you start
to feel like you are doing the same thing over and over, all the while thinking
the next time will be different. Treatments can work the first time for a lot
of women. But not for some. There are those, like myself, that fall into the
tiny percentage that either treatments don't work at all, or it takes so many
cycles that people start wondering if you are ever going to face facts.
people like me, not finding the right treatment protocol or diagnosis can make
you want to hurl the infertility guide book across the room. You feel cheated.
You paid the money, you waited an allotted time, and all you've end up with is
disappointment. I speak for myself tentatively, because I am cautiously holding
onto my first pregnancy. But I also speak for others. The ones who aren't
"doing OK" with their infertility. I hear you.
I once saw an anonymous quote someone used to describe how
infertility feels. When I read it, I broke down crying.
"The best way I can describe infertility is to ask a parent to imagine
a world where their child did not exist. I live that reality every day."