Infertility. You can read about it in medical documents and social media posts, but if you want to know what it’s really like, talk to someone who has gone through it and get their honest feedback. Me, well, I am glad you asked.
When my husband and I were first going to an IVF clinic, I had no idea what In Vitro Fertilization is. I had to look it up online, to be perfectly honest. And even once we were told we were candidates for the process, as we had less than 1% chance of conceiving on our own, naturally, I still was unclear as to what was involved. The risk, the gamble, and the play on emotions that the pain of several needles and pills can bring. And for what? To take away the fun part of trying to have a baby with time-consuming, early morning, medically approved appointments and surgeries for months on end.
What I never anticipated was how I would react to the needles. As someone who still looks away when blood is drawn, I never expected my body to become numb to the pain of sticking 1 -1 ½ inch needles all over my body. To having to drink water to the point of your bladder feeling like it will explode, to going over 12 hours without so much as a sip of water. To see seven eggs pulled from my body, all successfully fertilized, to have only one work, and that being the last one we had to use. To be told this investment and risk might not work altogether, and wondering if God is trying to send you a message you just want to ignore.
It’s so much more than that.
Then there are the moments you are surrounded by people who easily conceive children. Those then that tell you, “I know what you are going through…” when that statement should never ever come out of their mouth. Those that are the total 180 and never experienced infertility and think you should just “give it more time” or try sex at this time and this position. Seriously, these things were said, and all the while, you cannot believe it’s actually happening to you.
Then after the shots, the shots, and more shots, there are pills and a few surgeries, and the idea that life is being taken out of one’s body to then be put back in. Will this time actually work? What did I do wrong before? How come this had to happen to me?
In return I would say to myself, what makes you exempt from this happening to you?
Perhaps there is a greater purpose as to why me vs. someone who could never handle it.
I guess the biggest thing that no one talks about in IVF would be the strength it will test in your relationship. For me, it was with my husband. I had no idea what tests we would be up against, the late night conversations about the what-if’s and how-comes. And that sometimes love is not enough. You need conversation. You need understanding. You need respect for the process of IVF. And you need internal strength because it is not fast, it is painful, and it is expensive and time consuming. It’s not enjoyable…unless you make it that way.
And that is where my husband shines.
He made IVF something we looked forward to by him coming to almost all of the appointments to be by my side. No matter how little or big the appointment entailed, he came to be with me. And when he couldn’t, he made sure someone else was there. That’s love, and that’s what makes my marriage a partnership in which we can lean on each other. No. Matter. What.
IVF is different for everyone. There is no single pamphlet for someone trying to conceive through IVF on how exactly it will be. But, I believe that it should be talked about and it should be celebrated. Because life was meant to be lived…and we are blessed to have this option as one way to make a life, alive.