Before I was married, I did not have an emotional concept of what infertility meant. Being the son of an adopted mother, I was familiar with the deep rooted compulsion one feels to connect with their own bloodline. As a child I watched my mother search for her “real parents”, eventually finding her birth mother. However, I never really stopped to think about what her adopted parents must have gone through on their journey to adopting my mother. I imagine there was pain and disappointment not being able to have their own offspring, but I never really understood the depth of form it took.
Before trying to get pregnant, it was very hard to create a mental picture of what my life would actually be like with children. On one or more occasions I remember my wife expressing a passing thought, “What if we have trouble getting pregnant?”. Of course this would not be the case, I knew, but it somehow stirred a hesitancy in me as well. The first month of actually trying and failing was a reality check, and the sinking feeling that I felt inside somehow told me this would not be an easy journey. But soon we were able to console each other back to a hopeful outlook and see a bright future ahead. Another month passed, then another, then another. Now I have to really concentrate to keep track of the attempts we have made at this feat that many of my friends achieve by accident.
When the basic birds and bees that work for most people are not enough, the ratchet is pulled back, tighter. Ovulation kits, books, temperature charting, planned sex. Another few months and it is pulled tighter. Dr. Visits, lab tests, abstaining from alcohol, cleaning supplies, anything that could be potentially toxic. Tighter. Acupuncture visits, more scheduled sex, more labs. The toll increases as the ratchet is tightened. The demands not only reach deep into the pocketbook, but require missed work for IUI procedures, isolation from pregnant friends, and loss of intimacy in the relationship which can cut deep into the emotional well-being of the man. And I thought infertility only steals your ability to get pregnant.
This morning I found out that one of my best friends’ wife was pregnant. He confessed it to me after I had been sharing an update of our struggle with infertility. I now can think of no close married friends of ours that are not pregnant or have had children. It was actually an accident, one slip up last month where they forgot to wear a condom. I was happy for him and congratulated him, but of course my heart sank inside. He had no reason to feel guilty, and I demanded that he didn’t, but the despair I felt was inevitable. It’s a feeling we have been having a lot lately. Over the last year 7 of our very close friends have become pregnant. Tomorrow my little sister is hosting her baby’s first birthday party. I feel like all the trains are leaving and we are left sitting at the station, alone.
But we have no choice but to keep hope alive. Neither of us are the quitting type, and regardless of whatever comes our way we will continue to persevere. A day may be drawing near when all of our options are exhausted and we are forced to raise a white flag. If that day comes God will be waiting for us there, and that is one hope I can take to the bank. I know that this experience is here to make us stronger, to broaden our perspective and sharpen us for his work. Gods plan is immensely bigger than ours, and I know that his Glory will be revealed regardless of what transpires.