Pregnancy: The Good, The Bad, The Not (Now, Yet, or Ever)

Many of you have seen and even complimented me on this awesome decoupaged book purse… made by hand from a real book.

It's a book-- turned into an actual, functional, and beautiful purse! Genius!
It’s a book– turned into an actual, functional, and beautiful purse! Genius!

All compliments belong to my friend Marie. She conceived of and made it for me as a wedding gift. I’m in love with it! It’s so clever, so thoughtful, so beautiful. Even the lining is gorgeous, but you’ll have to take my word for it.

Fewer of you are likely to have seen the cover of the journal Marie made me, though. That’s personal, after all. But it’s just as beautiful. (Marie is seriously talented.)

Let the word of my mouth and the thought of my heart find favor before you O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
Let the word of my mouth and the thought of my heart find favor before you
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

The quotations on the front are where I’m going with this. They constantly remind me of the importance of telling your story, even when you feel like you may not have the most important story to tell. Even if you are worried that you may not be the most eloquent at telling it. Regardless, story is powerful and I really believe that it’s important to put what’s in your heart out there if you feel you might benefit from sharing it or someone else might benefit from hearing it.

Trista and I talked a lot about honest story telling and shared experience last week. And this weekend I saw this great little image while scrolling through Pinterest:

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Tell your stories! Yes! Your experience is your story… and it is meaningful.

You know how important story telling is to me; honesty is right up there. The thing that I want to talk about now, though, the stories I want to share, are taboo. (Like that’s ever stopped me before? Except, I would venture to say that this is even more taboo than poo. Dang, right?) They’re things we don’t regularly say and I find that unfortunate. I think that makes this topic all the more important.

The thing I want to talk about is pregnancy. If you’re between the ages of 20 and 45 you’re probably groaning right now at the thought of more of the ultrasounds and ultra-posed newborn pictures that have been gracing your Facebook news feed for years now. But it’s not that. Not for me, anyway.

My husband and I have been trying to have children since August of 2012. Unfortunately, it hasn’t happened for us. In October of 2013, having finally met the “year of trying” requirement, we saw a doctor about it. Good news: it’s not Seth! Bad news: it’s totally me. Got to admit, that feels pretty crappy.

So, since October, I’ve gone through a series of unpleasant measures to try for the thing I want most– both psychologically, and clearly, biologically. A baby.

Intravaginal ultrasounds are invasive and embarrassing. The drug clomid causes hot flashes (mom! I’m so sorry for not being more sympathetic before– now I’m empathetic, and dang!) and a slew of other unpleasant side effects including literal pitting edema in my ankles. Also, it has lengthened my cycle time so that each passing cycle starts later and later… giving me more and more hope that maybe this month will be different. Maybe this month, the stick will be positive! And it’s not. At least it never has been for me.

Having reached the halfway point for ovulation stimulating drugs (they start to lose their efficacy after about 6 cycles) I had to go in for a sit down and re-evaluation with the infertility doctor again on Friday. What I didn’t mention yesterday was that in the midst of the intestinal virus and the eczema flare, I was 5 days late for my period. I was so hopeful. Until I wasn’t. I tried to be cool about it. I tried really hard. But I couldn’t keep it together during the appointment ( why, why, why did I say yes to a resident being in the room?! dumb girl!) and I spent pretty much the whole thing stifling sobs and wiping away my rapidly melting mascara. I wasn’t as ok as I had hoped. I mean 5 days late? Nausea? Really, body? This is how we’re gonna roll???

Fortunately for me, I really do have a good support system. My sister, my sisters-in-law, my friends from work, my friends from elsewhere, my husband, my parents an in-laws… I’m incredibly fortunate in the number of people I can force to listen to my sobbing, my ranting, my raving. Some seriously supportive, seriously patient people.

Trista and I talked a lot about all of that while we were in Phoenix and as we talked around and around and around the issue, we kept coming back to the notion that the bad parts (the miscarriages, the stillbirths) and the not parts (the struggle to get pregnant, the label of infertility) of pregnancy are too rarely talked about openly and with compassion. They may be whispered about, shared when we’re certain we are in a situation in which we’ll remain free from judgement either as a result of shared experience or familiarity and intimacy.

As a society, we have many deeply ingrained ideas about what pregnancy, and lack thereof, means. Pregnancy is good, it’s beautiful. If you can’t get pregnant, if you do but you miscarry, or, heaven forbid, you don’t want kids… suddenly it’s grounds for moral judgement. Every step you take will be selfish, foolish, whatever. Miscarriage? Told people too soon. Can’t get pregnant? Oh, there’s lots of suggestions for that– it’s your diet, your weight, your stress level, your sex position. Don’t want kids? Well, how sad for you, how selfish of you.

According to public opinion, the only way to win appears to be get pregnant (without talking about any trial or tribulation on the way there), to have a perfect pregnancy (and unless you’re the Duchess of Wales, try not to mention hospitalization for hyperemesis or any other unpleasant complication, if you don’t mind), to post 3D ultrasounds and pictures of your bump tied with a bow, followed by a perfect delivery and a blissful home. A little bit of motherhood difficulty is considered acceptable– so long as it deals with the delivery and/or raising of an actual human child.

So what about the people who don’t experience it that way? What are they to do? Personally, I think they should talk about it. Share their experience far and wide. Remind others that everyone’s experience is different and that judgement, no matter the case, is not warranted. Not fair. Not ok. Not necessary.

My personal experience is from within the trenches of infertility, with no success yet to speak of. But this experience has opened my eyes to a world full of infertility, miscarriage, still birth, extreme morning sickness and other crazy pregnancy complications, and other stories whispered, messaged, emailed, sobbed to me… always in private… always out of ear shot of anyone else. And all because I try, for the most part, to be honest about my own experience. Including here now.

I have a lot more to say, as always, and plan to tackle several issues in several posts. This is merely an introduction. But my big hope is this: will you share your story too? How do you feel about a little bit of catharsis? Writing is that for me, perhaps you too? Maybe just reading something honest… something real. A story from my heart to yours.

I’m a-o-k with anonymity if you’d like to share, just let me know and we’ll do this thing. It’s time to talk about what it means to not be pregnant, for any reason. And I’d really like to do that here.

Now, if you’ll excuse me please, I’m off to a hysterosalpingogram to check on my fallopian tubes. No better way to start the day!

(That’s sarcasm for any Sheldons out there.)

12 thoughts on “Pregnancy: The Good, The Bad, The Not (Now, Yet, or Ever)

  1. (((HUGS))) My fiance and I want to start trying soon after the wedding. We’ve discussed that things might not work out as planned, due to several factors (my age, his age, etc.). Thank you for being brave and sharing your story with us here.

    1. Thanks, Lara! Best of luck to you and your fiance! I would never wish infertility or struggle on anyone, but hope that when it’s an easy peasy piece of cake for you you’ll spare a little sympathy 😉

  2. My wife and I are trying right now (totally secret, actually – so don’t tell anyone :o) ). Anyway, because I can’t fertilize her, we are going through with a lot of the same infertility measures you mentioned above. We are on Clomid, and she is experiencing the delayed cycles, the pregnancy-induced phantom symptoms, and even the uncomfortable intravaginal ultrasounds. Only, we are having anxieties about different things. Our ovulation predictor kits are showing up positive, just later and later every month. Which is scary, because, unlike most couples, we have to purchase our sperm. Which is not cheap (as in once a month, we are spending a little over $1000 just for the baby makers – and they recommend two injections a month! We just can’t afford that …. and we are hoping (and praying) that we will need very few tries.

    Thank you for sharing your story and your hurt and your frustration. You are not alone. And you are right, more people should speak up about this, so other know they are not alone as well. You are the bravest person I know.

    1. Dang, Nicole! Such a nice comment! I really wish all the best for you guys– I hope you don’t have to try for long! The price tag adds up quickly, doesn’t it?! Even just those stupid ovulation test kits, my goodness. We’re about to be in the same boat as you with the baby makers once we go the intrauterine insemination route on my next cycle. Turns out it costs just about as much to use it even if you provide it yourself– lame!

      Thanks so much for sharing your story– I really, really love being able to connect with people about this!!

  3. Rachel, thank you for sharing your story. I can totally relate to your experience and others that are struggling with infertility. I agree that Infertility drugs are horrible but can be worth the effort. I had a baby at age 39 and after trying again unsuccessfully, my husband and I adopted a baby when I was 42. Both girls are miracles. This summer we are traveling to California to get together with our youngest daughter’s birth family. Life doesn’t always work out the way we planned it, but sometimes it creates amazing experiences we never dreamed possible.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your story, Allison! Stories like yours give me so much hope. You can’t plan for life, but rolling with it is worth it, hey?

  4. You are spot on that pregnancy seems to be grounds for moral judgment. Why do so many people have an opinion (that they feel compelled to share…) even when it is none of their business? I have a close friend who has been married for several years and has not had children. That is a choice that she and her husband have made (and continue to make), and yet multiple people criticize her for it. I am on the other end of the spectrum. A few people (distant relatives, random acquaintances) have commented to me how ridiculous I am for getting pregnant after being married less than a year. Some people think that they are funny and original saying things like, “you sure didn’t waste any time” or my favorite (not) “Whoa, curb your enthusiasm.” I am happy, in love, and (finally) my body did something really predictable by getting pregnant. Everyday I am thankful for what I have and pray that those who struggle eventually get to enjoy that same feeling.

    1. Oy! You just can’t win! Whether you get pregnant or not, the judgement is there. And, for the record, anyone who actually knows your heart (and I count myself among such people) knows that family is your calling… your vocation… and you and Dan are completely MFEO and going to be amazing parents and who the heck’s business is it how fast or slow or otherwise it took?! Nobody’s! The fact that you ever feel like you have to justify yourself is unreal. You’re living your life and doing it just right!

  5. Rachel,
    Although I can’t empathize completely, you know I share your emotional pain. If there was anything I could do to share it physically (or to give you what had supposedly been my “super fertility”) I would…in an instant. Women do talk about some of this, but always in private and often with shame…as with so many other things related to babies. You’ve inspired me to share my own story…but I’ll do it on my own blog. (Yes, dear girl…I’m finally going to release it.)

    1. You’re such a saving grace every day, Marie! For nearly three years I’ve been able to talk to you about all sorts of this kind of stuff and it’s crazy meaningful to me to have you in my life! I appreciate it more than you know and am truly dying to read your blog! I absolutely adore your story, always! The good and the bad, all of it is amazing.

  6. I notice you hinting here and there about infertility in your blog, but I didn’t know the whole story. I am sorry that you are going through all of this. When you are blessed with a child (in whatever manner it happens), you are going to be a wonderful mother!

    I, myself, have not experienced infertility, but know a lot of people who have and see a lot of it at work, so I have an idea of how heartbreaking it can be. I had an ectopic pregnancy last year (before Miles), and I had a lot of self-depricating thoughts at the time. Being in the medical field, I always think of people with ectopic pregnancies as those people with h/o tubal ligations or PID, none of which I have. Although it was not entirely planned, Alex and I had had time to get excited about being pregnant when we found out. It was heart-breaking to terminate the pregnancy and very anxiety-provoking while I waited to make sure it didn’t rupture. We were lucky, in that, I didn’t have to have surgery and we were able to get pregnant shortly after. I wish a happy ending for you as well.

    I don’t understand why people don’t talk about difficulty getting pregnant, being pregnant, and having children. I felt a little blind-sided when Miles was born about just how hard taking care of an infant was. I was a little in shock that so many people I know have kids and yet I have never heard anyone talk about how hard the whole process really is.

    I would love to talk to you more, anytime.

    1. Oh, Kelly! My gut reaction is to pick up a landline, dial 483-9659, and see if you want to go on a walk! But I’m approximately 13 or so years past that, so….

      I’m so sorry about your experience and so glad for your sweet Miles (who is such a mini-you it’s unreal) and hope I get to meet him soon! We need to do lots of catching up! <3

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