Sometimes I look through my life, and I can separate it by the darker times. When anxiety first took its firm hold in my late teens, it was a window into the dark days that lay ahead. The next was when I graduated college and was forced into the adult world. More recently and by far the longest stretch of dark days started with my inability to conceive. An acupuncturist once told me “A woman’s desire to want to be a mother is the strongest, fiercest desire that anyone can ever feel.” I wasn’t sure I believed her until I found myself pushing for answers and subjecting my body to many treatments for the next three years.
Let’s backtrack to 2009, after a year of trying, we still were not successful in getting pregnant, so we went down the path of a fertility doctor. It seemed that if the wind changed from East to West then yet again another one of my friends would get pregnant. One day a giggly friend showed up to a gathering with non-alcoholic wine. It was her subtle way of telling us she was pregnant. She flashed it around like a victory flag. During that same gathering, the mother of one of the girls asked me if I wanted children, I said yes and that we had been trying for almost two years now. She said, “Oh, well in my days we had to try NOT to get pregnant, it just happened so easily.” I have never wanted to punch a random old lady in the face before, but that night came close. The entire night was very symbolic of the depression that began to take hold.
After almost a full year with the fertility center, we were stunned to learn that the IVF cycle was successful. I was pregnant. My husband and I were suspended in bliss. We gripped each other’s hand, I laid back and stared up at the sonogram monitor. There it was, this little beating heart in a strange little body that didn’t yet look human. I was about 7 weeks along, very early to see a heartbeat, but there it was. We told a few friends and all of our family. I started to think of names, colors for the nursery, how I would tell co-workers, and my mind just continued to buzz with possibility.
The fertility office routinely does three sonograms five days apart. We were in our last session when I eagerly hopped up on the examining table, and they stared at the monitor. Only this time, the little heart was no longer beating. The precious little life we created had quit on us. Numbness and confusion took over. How could something have life and then suddenly not? What was wrong with me? What had I done? Why didn’t this baby want me to be its mom? I left the office in silence and crawled into my car alone, my cries were loud and ugly. I couldn’t talk to my mom, but there she was on the phone, just listening to my defeat and loss. This was almost 8 years ago, and I still can’t relive this story without tears running down my face (which is happening right now – and every time I read this over again for editing).
I shut down and stopped being social almost altogether. The bitterness I felt ran wild, I no longer attended baby showers and found I silently cursed pregnant woman and moms with babies. I hated myself and my body for not doing what it is supposed to do. Every menstrual cycle made me feel like a failure. The blood meant more death and depression. My husband was my rock, but I started to look at him wondering why he would stay with someone who was so broken.