Infertility: Marking Time

On Tuesday morning, I had a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) to check out the state of my fallopian tubes. It hurt like a son-of-a-b. Holy crap. They told me it would, but dang. I thought I had a high pain tolerance until my eyes went black as I was laying on the table. Fortunately, there was a woman at my head telling me to breath– nice touch, radiology.

Basically, the procedure is a way to check the fallopian tubes for blockage. They inject dye into the uterus and use fluoroscopy to see if it spills all the way through the fallopian tubes. It dd. But it hurt. At least now I know that’s not the problem. Good thing, yes? Except… then what is the problem? Still no idea.

I think that for me, the worst part of infertility has to be the sense of punishment. The constant nagging in the back of my mind that says, “what did you do to deserve this?” Because, obviously, it must have been something.

Is it because of all the mice? Is it because of my curiosity about infertility and the passion I felt for it in my graduate studies? (I was so proud of the oviducts I extracted– is this punishment for my hubris?)

Is it because I didn’t think I wanted kids when I was younger? (Is the the universe’s way of laughing in my face about changing my mind? For showing me how stupid I was to think my one time passion for power and pumps could have overpowered the call of my biology?)

Is it because I was mean to people? Because I have spent major periods of my life mired in selfishness? (You know, up until the age of like 27…)

Why?

Maybe it’s because I’m fat. Because I don’t eat enough vegetables. Because I’m not wild enough in bed. Because, because, because.

Why?

The truth is, though, none of those things. Infertility is a particularly dark and course thread in my tapestry. I do not understand its purpose, but I’m certain it has one.

And the guilt and the responsibility that I feel about it is not altogether uncommon. In fact, I don’t even think it’s out of the ordinary at all. For me, the tendency to look for an answer always leads back to myself. No matter how irrational that may be. Conversations I’ve had with women who’ve experienced miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy are eerily similar.

Perversely, I find myself jealous of those women thinking, “at least you know you can get pregnant– that you’re not completely broken.” And I have to stop myself, because that’s not fair. What we’re all experiencing is a loss… whether it’s the loss of a cycle that could have produced an egg, an egg that could have been a embryo, or an embryo that could have been a baby. It’s a loss, it’s worth grieving, and it is not our fault. It’s an experience to be felt. It’s an opportunity to move forward in life without looking back to wonder what if… but why… how come…

We cannot change the life we have lived, and we cannot know the life that will come. While in some cases we can predict how the past will affect our future (forgetting deodorant in the morning is likely to lead to stink by night), more often than not we can’t (being excited about an oviduct is unlikely to be related to faulty fertility), so in most instances, it’s really not worth the over-analysis and the guilt.

I have spent the last year and a half living my life as though everything were going to change in the next 2 – 4 weeks. I avoided decorating my spare bedroom since I was just going to turn it into a nursery. I avoided buying new clothes since I’d be needing maternity gear shortly. I postponed re-reading the Harry Potter series because I wanted to read it over 9 months to my growing belly. I gave blood less often, I was hesitant to commit to trips, I stopped eating deli meat and drinking wine, I had wild fantasies about announcing my impending pregnancy, and I imagined what it would be like for Curly to meet the baby. I put everything about my life now on hold because I wanted to badly for my life to change, to include a new addition to our family.

As I marked time through this pause of infertility, I forgot to continue to actually live my life.

Now I’m carrying guilt about that. But I’ve told you, and I can change, Scrooge-style. I can say, as my favorite of all of my Aunt’s handmade cards say, “In this moment I shall…”

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6 thoughts on “Infertility: Marking Time

  1. You are such an amazing writer. You articulate thoughts we all have had about different events in our lives. While the thoughts may not be infertility the thread of feelings are the same. Thank you. In this season of renewal may the gifts you seek be yours. Linda Bodzin

    1. Pardon me for a moment, Mrs. Bodzin… I’m feeling a little star struck and googly eyed over your incredibly kind words! It means the world to me that someone I’ve respected so much for so many years would say such nice things to me… you made my day!

  2. Rachel- you already know how I feel about this and you and your writing and this subject. The same. I am so PROUD to be your friend and “watch” you write courageously about this subject. I love that you are writing about it so “normally” and as if it’s just a part of your life…oh wait- it IS just a part of your life. A part of your story. There’s no shame in your writing- I love that. One of my favorite things about writing about things that are usuallly “hidden” or in the “dark” is that it lets the light in. I always love it when I open my feedly and see a “Rachel” post there 🙂

  3. Thanks for writing this stuff, Rachel! I have talked to so many of my friends (and family!) over the past few years about these things we don’t talk about. The side effect of keeping it quiet is that you miss out on having the support of others. So thanks for putting yourself out there– I know there are tons of similar stories we never hear about.

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