I’ve said that I am giving up on fertility treatments and moving on to foster adopt. This is the story behind that decision. If you know me in real life, please understand that these are things I don’t talk about, not even with my husband or therapist. Please don’t discuss anything you see here with anyone, not even me. If I want to talk about it, I will bring it up.
I’ve never gotten around to posting the details of my experience with IF and how my life has gone so far. I want to do that now because I feel like I have to justify my decision to stop fertility treatments after what seems like very little effort. I realize this is probably all in my head, but I still thought it would be helpful to have my readers understand where I am coming from. It also helps me to have all my thoughts and reasons laid out.
The journey so far stuff will take a long time to write so here are the cliff notes:
15/16 years old: diagnosed with severe hypothyroidism (hashimoto’s), goiter, and delayed onset of puberty. Finally began menstruating 3 months before turning 16, five years after developing breasts.
19 years old: put on birth control after a 3 month period, never having had a “normal” period. Periods became regular but debilitating.
21 years old: diagnosed with recurrent PID, no known cause. Several months of antibiotics cleared it up but abdominal pain continued. Endometriosis diagnosed after lap.
22-27 years old: no insurance, no boyfriend. Learn to live with horrible, unpredictable periods.
2001: rear-ended at 40 miles an hour, resulting in severe soft-tissue injury in back and neck. I’ve been in chronic pain since then, sometimes controllable with OTC meds.
28 years old (2004): married and ttc. Tried for over a year with no success. Started charting and using OPKs, conceived after 6 months of timed sex. Carried to term after a hard pregnancy and delivered a beautiful baby girl in 2006!
2008: dropped out of grad school, stopped bcp, got laid off, and moved in with MIL across the country.
2009: hubby and I find good jobs, finally have insurance, and move out of MIL’s. Start trying to get pregnant in earnest. Periods became even more erratic – luteal phase defect.
June - August 2009: tried metformin to regulate periods (suspected PCOS), it worked a little but the luteal phase was still too short. We tried 50 mg clomid and it worked!
December 2009: so much for that. Turns out I have MTHFR and we are REALLY lucky to have a healthy, living child. Our son Aiden had every neural tube defect there is and we chose to end the pregnancy with heavy, broken hearts.
April 2010: we decided to try again. I am on Neevo prenatal for the MTHFR. Further testing revealed no indications of PCOS so we went straight for the clomid when it became apparent that the luteal phase defect was still around. Two failed cycles later I have decided enough is enough.
Now, to the average infertile with multiple IUIs and IVFs under their belt, one unassisted and successful pregnancy and two failed clomid cycles may not seem like much. But here is where I think I am a little different. I had a bad childhood with abusive parents and lots of bad experiences. Having been a victim of childhood sexual abuse, it is very dangerous for me to have sex if I don’t feel like it. I didn’t even like sex until I met my husband. This makes timed sex extremely difficult to accomplish, especially after my existing sex drive took a nose dive after my daughter was born. So that is strike one.
My pregnancy with my daughter was awful. Due to the injury from the car accident I was in pain every day, often excruciating pain. I couldn’t take anything because I was pregnant so I tried to suck it up. Then I went into premature labor at 30 weeks. It was stopped with magnesium in the hospital but after that I had a very “irritable” uterus. I was unable to do much of anything for the rest of my pregnancy. After she was born I seriously didn’t want to ever be pregnant again. I did want more children. My husband and I are in careers that we love, but they don’t pay much and jobs are often not permanent and don’t usually come with benefits. This means that any kind of private adoption was completely out of the question. After much debate and weighing the options we decided that we would try for another baby of our own making. My fertility became even worse and we were so grateful to get pregnant with Aiden. We thought we were done. I was nervous that I would have another horrible pregnancy but willing to suffer for the chance of another baby. Of course we all know how that turned out. That was strike two.
So now I am left with a hole that I desperately want to fill, but I don’t know how I should go about doing it. I wanted to give pregnancy another try, mostly because I just didn’t want it to end this way. But I find I can’t keep doing this.
I have struggled with self-hatred my entire life. I was always told that I wasn’t good enough, and for many, many years I believed that. Now I have a little more self confidence and self worth, but it doesn’t take much to knock my feet out from under me. Trying to have sex when I am not in the mood feels like rape, even if my husband is not “making” me. It makes me feel dirty and angry and worthless. Maybe with many more years of therapy I could get over that, but it is my reality now. Charting feeds my self-hatred. Every day that my body doesn’t do what it is supposed to, I hate myself a little more. I can’t seem to separate the failure of my endocrine system from my self image and sense of self worth. I know this is a common problem in IF, but it is magnified by my existing insecurity and the remnants of my childhood. I think I am causing irreparable harm to my emotional well being by trying to force my body to do something it is clearly not good at. And I have been dealing with my endocrine and reproductive system far longer than I have been trying to get pregnant. I’m sick of it.
So I think this is strike three. Part of me is keeping hope alive for another baby of our making sometime in the future. Maybe I just have more healing to do. But the larger part doesn’t want to hear about hope, it wants to move on. I want to move on. I want to stop hating myself and this useless, broken body, this murderer of my only son.
Adoption was always what I planned to do, long before the IF and baby loss crap. So why does it feel like giving up?
I do wish I could have a chance at raising another baby, I so love infants. But mainly I just want a bigger family and I will be very happy to be able to give a lost child a home.
The plan for now is to ignore my cycles, have sex when I feel like it, and take the MAPP classes starting August 2nd. If by some miracle I get pregnant* before we get a placement that will be fantastic. If not, I will be working toward something equally worthwhile and not just obsessing over my failures.
I would love to hear from anyone that is considering foster-adopt or has already started the process.
*After all this angst and hand wringing I’m going to feel awfully stupid if I get pregnant without the clomid and charting (see, hope sneaks in no matter what I do).