A memory popped up on Facebook yesterday: a picture of my friend Heather and I finishing the Wineglass Half Marathon in 2012.
I was pregnant in this picture.
It was early on, but my numbers were climbing the way they should have. I was doing intramuscular shots of progesterone in oil, and I was really, really hopeful.
I spent the entirety of my pregnancy with Owen terrified of something happening to him, so when I got the first positive on a home pregnancy test, I told myself I was going to remain positive and optimistic. This time would be different, I thought.
The race wasn’t my best. I had turned my ankle a week before the race, and somehow the day of I managed to badly sprain my ankle at the start – literally right after I ran over the start mat. Still, though, I managed to run with Heather the whole way, and I never bonked or ran hard enough that I felt like it was too much for me. And I cried running across the finish line, because I was so happy.
I miscarried a few weeks after this picture.
It was our last attempt at trying for a sibling for Owen. It was too much, all the uncertainty, the hoping and failing and shots and appointments and retrievals and transfers. We had spent 5 years altogether waging war against infertility, and we just had to shake our heads and admit defeat.
A couple weeks ago, I went to my primary care doctor for my annual physical. On the top of the list of questions I had for her, I mentioned to her that I had been having some symptoms of menopause – night sweats, insomnia, a few hot flashes. Isn’t it early for this? I asked her. I’m only 40.
She told me that she had patients who were in full on menopause at 45, and others who were in their 50s before they felt symptoms. We couldn’t know for sure, because my mom had a hysterectomy and never hit menopause herself, and it was a little early, she told me, but I’m over 40, and it’s possible what I’m feeling is menopause.
In one breath, relief. Every monthly cycle is a reminder of what I’ve lost. Once you know your body’s cycle, you can’t un-know it, and I can’t tell you how many cycles I’ve bitterly noted my body’s signs, knowing it was no use.
But then, too. The End. We might have walked away from treatments 4 years ago, but always, always, there’s this tiny chance. Maybe. SO unlikely, remote. But maybe. Even though I’m 40 and oh my god where would we put a baby and I can’t even imagine starting all over again. I really do not want a baby right now.
But there’s still a microscopic flame of hope. Always.
Just as ripples spread in water when a stone is tossed into a lake… our years of struggling with infertility have had a profound effect on me.
It’s taken me the better part of the past 4 years to stop punishing myself and my body for its failure, to let go of
the fact the idea that my body failed me in a basic, biological, fundamental way.
We are still dealing with the repercussions on our relationship, too. I’ve heard about infertility bringing couples closer as they fight for the family they dream of. That is not our story. Jeff and I have very different ways of coping with our grief, and it affects us to this day.
And despite being 99.99999% at peace with having an only child – I really don’t want a baby right now, there is a part of me that grieves and longs and screams, I want! when I hold a new baby.
This time of year is so hard. I so wish I had been able to have another baby.
Today, I sat on my therapist’s couch, and I cried – again – at how hard it is to “get over” infertility. Even though I have an 8 year old son, who I carried to term. I know how lucky I am – we got so damn lucky.
I’m aware of just how lucky I am, really.
But also, I grieve that it was so hard.
I grieve that I didn’t bring home the baby that was safely tucked inside me 4 years ago when I ran that half marathon. She’s gone.
It still hurts like hell.