My first child was conceived so easily. One night I whispered to my husband “I want a baby …” and that night a miracle occurred. It was actually my second conception – the first, a couple of months prior, had ended in an early miscarriage. But since I hadn’t at that time been actively planning to conceive – we had just stopped birth control and were looking for a few “practice” months ahead as didn’t think it would be so easy as that – it didn’t have any real emotional impact on me. I read, or heard, later that the reason why women react differently to miscarriages is based on their emotional tie to the pregnancy. A lesson I was to later learn all to well. But at that time in my life, I was happy to just know that my body was working in the sense that I could conceive at all, so was quite easily able to move on. This was followed quickly by a viable pregnancy with my aforementioned first child, and that was that. But throughout my easy conception (followed by easy pregnancy, easy labour and delivery, and easy baby/toddler/child) there was always a bit of a lingering doubt.
You see, my periods had always been irregular. So before my husband and I had even married, I had “the talk” with him. With my “talk” being – are you OK to marry to me if I am unable to bare children? I had not at that time been officially diagnosed with anything, but the underlying thread of worry was there, was always there. We both talked and he said he was fine. He loved me, he wanted me, and we did touch briefly on adoption. Nothing overly indepth – we were still quite young, and had a few years of newlywed bliss ahead of us before we were even thinking of starting a family. But I have always been grateful that I had the presence of mind to share, and he had the maturity to really listen to what I was saying and respond with honesty, as it saved me months (well, really years) of guilt down the road. Knowing that he knew ahead of time the journey we may face, and that he had chosen it for himself.
Of course it took a few years to get to the challenge. As mentioned above we were incredibly lucky with our first pregnancy, and for a few years after we had no desire to expand our family. But then – as tends to happen in (not all, but most) families, we decided it was time to try for number two. Our first child was not quite three at the time. And so it began.
Naturally trying. Then tracking my cycle. Then temperature tracking. Then the charts. The joy of the frequency of sex. Eventually followed by the boredom of the need for sex (on particular days, at particular times, month after month after month). (not to knock on the frequency of sex – it is the loss of spontaneity because when one is having conception issues, eventually nothing can be left to chance, and no month or week or day when I am “on” can be missed). The visit to the doctor – followed by “doctors”. The starting of medications. The hormonal up and downs. The despair of each period followed by the emotional high of thinking this could then be “the month”.
I could go on and on … but this post is not supposed to be about “never succeeding at even conception” issues yet … it is, it really is, all related. As it is all about how life isn’t going as planned or as desired, about the impact of the hormonal up and downs on my own and my family’s well-being; about the constant wondering and calculating, and monthly upset. About the frustration, and tears, and bargains with God.
And there is one very, oh SO very bargain that I did make. At one point, in the midst of what I was going through, trying to have baby number 2, I did have the clarity to see that life could be so much worse. And at that point I did make a bargain with God – the prayer to never conceive at all, rather than be faced with becoming pregnant then losing the baby. And that was one thing I did cling to, that (for me) did cause me peace as each month went by with negative tests and/or my period arriving – I would say thanks for not getting pregnant at all rather than getting my wish only to have it ripped away.
Months went by. Years went by. I resisted going to fertility treatments though I now had my diagnosis, as it wasn’t insurmountable to trying while on (relatively) minor medications. My reasoning was that I couldn’t start going to a clinic until I was OK if it didn’t work – as I was not ready to hear “I’m sorry, but you will never be pregnant”. Maybe I was naive, or living off false hope, or stubborn. But what I believe is that I knew my body, I had an instinct about my journey and it just wasn’t the right time for that for me.
And then – miracle of miracles! I conceived!! I will never forget the joy of seeing that positive test – the excitement of sharing our wonderful news! As of course I felt I could immediately share rather than wait the typical, prudent, 12 weeks – as MY issue had been not being able to conceive, there was no way now that I had that anything could possibly go wrong! So I reveled in the way my body felt and seemed to change overnight. The awe of knowing I was going to have a Christmas miracle (our due date).
Which was then in an all too short timeline followed by the pain, the physical and emotional brick-wall-slam of starting to bleed and knowing that our miracle was no longer.
Remember the first pregnancy I lost? I still refer to that as my first pregnancy. Not my baby, not even a baby. Just pregnancy. This miscarriage, my second miscarriage – this one ripped me to the core. This one I do (if only to myself) refer to as my second baby. This was the moment I had instinctively been dreading. This was what I did not think I was strong enough to handle.
And yet – I did. I went through the full gamut of negative emotions. I almost lost a very dear friend as had an explosion of misguided temper related to my grief. But I held tight to my heart my instinct that my journey was not over, that my family was not complete. The one good straw I was able to grasp was that just prior to that conception, my husband and I had decided that was should start actively looking at adoption as the option for expanding our family. Shortly thereafter – I had become pregnant. And afterwards I was able to say with utmost honesty that while I was not (never was, and am still not) opposed to the idea of adoption, what I REALLY wanted was to be pregnant. And I was just not ready to give up on that dream. Though I should not say the “one” good straw – as I drew a lot, a LOT of strength from my firstborn. She was (and is) a wonderful, amazing, incredible child, and I always made sure I kept more love in my heart for my current gift than grief for what had yet to occur.
I also drew strength from a rather unexpected avenue. It was a sign, (a literal sign!), a church sign, I happened to see one day on a drive to work. This is not a religious forum so I have no need to expand on my belief system, but the sign struck an immediate chord that I will never forget. It read “Patience is Trust in God’s timing” And with that – the lesson of Patience began. With every disappointment I would remind myself of that sign, and I would feel a sense of serenity.
And with that – my journey continued. With two prayers, which were somewhat conflicting. The first was to be content with the life I had noe rather than envious of the one I did not. The second was, if I was to be blessed with another child – to please, please, please have me conceive by Christmas … the due date of my second baby.
And with those prayers we were able to move on. To have a pleasant summer. To make plans to attend a fertility clinic – as I knew now I did want to be pregnant rather than adopt, but also knew that time was ticking away with regards to my biological clock. My oldest was inching up towards being in school full-time, and it was getting to “now or never” time. But also I was OK with the clinic, because now I knew even if it didn’t work out, I was totally fine with my current nuclear family. This is not to be in complete contrast to what I just stated – of course we wanted another baby, otherwise we would not have gone to a clinic! But if it didn’t happen – as it easily could not – we were OK with that.
We had our appointment in November – not in time to be pregnant for Christmas, but in time to know we had a plan. And as it ended up – in time to find out at our first appointment in November that against all odds, I had walked in 14 days pregnant; in time to see our baby on ultrasound just prior to Christmas holidays; in time to share a Christmas miracle with our family and friends after all.
And for everyone reading this who needs solance, I just wanted to end this by sharing again that sign “Patience is Trust in God’s Timing”. As my second baby was conceived in time for me to share the news with my parents that they were expecting their second grandchild – right before my Dad fell and ended up in the ICU, where he survived in part due to my mom telling him daily how he needed to meet my baby when she arrived. The sign got my through my second labour, which ended up with the baby in fetal distress and an emergency c-section, but my emotions remained calm because I knew, I KNEW that I hadn’t reached that point just to have something bad happen. My baby arrived in style – but healthy! – and I went on MLA and missed probably the most stressful year at my work, ever. She arrived and my Dad was able to meet and enjoy her prior to finding out that despite surviving his fall, he now had stage 4 cancer and within a few months passed away. But not before meeting her. Not before loving her.
And for that – I will always be grateful for my journey. Mountains and valleys and all.