The story is the same for most people: meet, fall in love, get married, and have a baby. Steffan and I did the first three without batting an eye lash. It was like something out of a fairy tale. We met walking our dogs, we were married exactly two years and two days from our first date. Our three dogs were in the wedding as our flower girl and ring bearers (his, her, theirs). It was almost too perfect for us to believe.
Then came to honeymoon. It was picture perfect. We lounged in the Dominican sun in June where we ate, swam and had the time of our lives.
When we got home, reality set it. Our first fertility appointment was four days after we landed back in the states…talk about taking the bull by the horns. My husband has always claimed a sense of intuition about people, life situations, locations, you name it. He had a gut feeling we needed to start our process right away and I’m glad we did. If you’ve been keeping up with our blog, you know a natural pregnancy or birth is not in the cards for us, and both of us carry a little bit of weight in that “problem”.
We’re at that stage in our lives where all of our friends and family are getting married and/or having babies. We weren’t ready for everyone to know…we gave that tongue-and-cheek answer to the question, “When are you going to have a child?” with, “Oh you know…whenever it’s meant to be, it’ll happen…” and hope the conversation would just fade away.
Facebook feeds would make me want to cry some days. All I saw were babies. Pregnancy announcements that went all the way from cake with pink or blue inside to “reveals” that were more elaborate than my proposal. Newborn photo shoots that were adorable but also made me ache with a sense of loss. On a rare occasion it filled me with a sense of such debilitating sadness that I would just cry on Steffan’s chest until he was covered with tears and sometimes snot. I couldn’t breathe enough to tell him even why I was sad. He would just come home from work and BOOM, blindsided by a hysterical wife! (Welcome home, honey!) Being the ever-so-supportive man that he is, he always talked me off my ledge and we got through it those small trials together; whatever doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger, right?
Then there are the actual phone calls we would get from friends or family. Let me just preface this with a disclaimer: a phone call about being pregnant to a couple who cannot get pregnant can be WILDLY uncomfortable if you aren’t careful. I’ll give you an example. We got a text from our friends saying they had some news they wanted to share with us; already we were suspicious…we kind of had an idea, that text was the equivalent of the “We need to talk” text between a couple. They called us on speaker and actually asked if we were sitting down. We were. From our friend, E, we heard, “We wanted to tell you something important, but we really aren’t sure how to tell you.” From our friend, R, we heard, “We love you and we want you to be happy for us, but we understand if this is difficult to hear.” At that point, Steffan jumped in and said, “You’re pregnant!” They both responded yes, but said, “There’s more…” and a sonogram picture comes through on text message…we see two fetuses. TWINS! Oh my goodness, we about lost it, we were so excited for them, I think we were all crying. They said they were nervous to tell us because they didn’t know how we would react. To anyone who reads this, I will say this: be honest, but be thoughtful. Any infertile couple (well, most — I won’t generalize too much), wants desperately to be happy for you, but it’s hard. You can do something we can’t. You can experience something we can’t. Especially you women. So if the least you can do is be gentle when you tell us, you will have no idea how much pain you will save us in the long run, because when it comes down to it, for a moment in time, you hold our happiness for the day, week, possibly even month in your hand. I cannot tell you how thankful I am to this couple for how they handled telling us. We will be forever grateful, because you acknowledged our situation delicately and we could not have been more happy for you.
Steffan and I have also ended up on the other side of the phone, one that doesn’t end with joy but with sadness, and not by the person’s choice. She was just so excited that she couldn’t help but blurt out about her pregnancy, “We’re pregnant and we weren’t even trying!” We were in the car and I started to silently sob. No harm was intended by this slip; it was just pure excitement and joy; why wouldn’t it be? She was pregnant and wanted to share the good news, but I think she forgot who she was talking to, a couple who doesn’t have it easy and no matter how much trying we do, and will never have the same result she does. And we’re reminded of this fact every month with a “gift” of disappointment. It took a while to recover from that call.
One of the hardest things are actual baby showers. Knowing that checking the mail and getting an invitation any day brings about a sense of anxiety. In the past three years, I have only been able to go to one and it is honestly because I can’t sit there without feeling the tears well up in my eyes. A pregnant woman has a glow about her; that is something I will never experience. The one I went to was for a dear friend of my husband and if I’m being candid I cried the entire way home and spent the rest of the day in bed.
I write this post, not as a “woe me” or feel bad for me post. It’s meant to help people understand the reality of so many people in this situation. If we don’t seem happy for you, or we can’t make it to your shower, it’s not that we don’t care or are being selfish and childish. It’s simply our way of protecting ourselves and our emotional states. We still love you, we still want to see you, your child and your family happy, healthy and thriving! We’re just grieving some things we will never have in a traditional sense. It doesn’t negate the fact that we’re excited for you, it’s just difficult to show it.