Monday, May 31, 2010

Patience Is Not My Strong Suit

I'm not really sure when the progression from playing house became full-blown adulthood. Living in our apartment Matt said being an adult is paying a mortgage, but three years ago when we acquired that monthly vestige of adulthood, he said no, no, it's definitely when you have kids. He had no answer for people who chose to rent, or chose not to have children.

But sitting in an office on Friday night, listening to a fertility doctor dictate a letter into his recorder about our case, I sat back, with my husband next to me, and thought, "So this is it; this is being an adult." At some point we crossed over: maybe it was then, or maybe it twelve months ago when we decided on having children.

I never, ever thought I'd be here. When I'd hear stories about failed IVF attempts, or women trying for years, I'd sympathize and think how lucky I was that woman trying wasn't me. But here we were, a year later, being told my ovaries were peculiarly small and Matt's situation wasn't looking too much better.

New words are entering my lexicon: progesterone supplements, FSH levels. IUI. I've been told so many times that "you'll be blessed with a child when the time is right" or "take a long weekend somewhere". These people invariably have children, and now, almost in a perverse way, I feel validated. No, it won't happen "when the time is right" or if we go away, and no, Godly intervention won't help either. Matt and I are pragmatists. We are not religious (although I've thought about praying but decided against it because if there is a God, he/she will surely realize what a selfish twit I am that I haven't prayed in 12 odd years, and all of the sudden decided only to smack my hands together for my own, baby-makin' good).

Above all, this is a medical matter. Ninety-three percent of couples our age conceive by the six month mark. Of those who don't, only 15% of those couples conceive in the next six months. Obviously, something is not right.

Our fertility visit was thorough. That really is the best way to describe it. We were there from 6:30 until 9:30 pm. Matt had his semen and urine tested, and I had an ultrasound, blood test, and an examination. We met with the doctor twice: before the tests, and after. I came with copies of my medical chart: details of when they first found the abscess deep in my gut, notes on my three months on Clomid, a write-up from my HSG. I told him about my Crohn's, about the scar tissue, about the surgery. When he said my ovaries were quite small for my age, and ruminated that perhaps scar tissue at one point had restricted their blood flow, I envisioned dried-up and hollow pea pods - a fertility wasteland.

We have many tests to do before determining next steps, and much medication to take. Writing about this now, I'm upset, but recounting it to a friend Friday night I laughed it off - of course we're sub-fertile, I mean, did I expect this to be easy?!

And sometimes I'm fine, it's all fine, and we'll make a go of it and trust ourselves to the shots, the blood tests, and all modern-day medicine has to offer. And other times I catch myself crying. A women I barely know had been struggling with having a second child for quite some time, and I saw her last week, but now with a swollen belly. It was at the gym, and my legs stopped swinging on my elliptical machine and I just watched her as she made her way to the locker room. And I felt betrayed.

I closed my eyes and told myself to just concentrate on Diane Sawyer on the television in front of me. To just watch her as she spoke about top kill, and the sheets of oil in the Gulf. I know that's a real tragedy, and not this.

But I couldn't help it, because infertility is a club swaddled in embarrassing emotion (jealousy, contempt, pity), and I was envious she was leaving, just as I was getting my bearings.


  1. Oh, Kathryn, I'm so sorry you didn't get better news. Please know that your friends and family are all here to support you in whatever you decide to do next. I'm sure you have a lot to think about and I know you and Matt will get through this together.


  2. kathryn, i love your existence, and i love that you write about it.

  3. Okay, I'm totally bandwagoning the previous 2 comments and adding that I absolutely cherish your candor - it's endlessly affirming and refreshing.

    I'm also glad you have chosen writing as a release, and I hope it serves you well in clearing your heart and mind to make room for what I sincerely hope and trust will be a blessing to you and Matt. Patience may not be your strong suit right now, but I have a feeling it may inevitably become your power suit.

    Stay positive. If you need to laugh, you know where to find me. I'm always ready to make fun of anyone. We also always have food over which to bitch and bond.

  4. I haven't really got much to say that I'm sure your friends and family haven't already told you, except that I really hope everything just suddenly falls into place for you. Seriously, just like magic, overnight, abra-ca-dabra, poof! :) Really hope that things pick up for you, and doing my best to send real hugs through virtual wires.

  5. Thanks for writing about this, so that I can have some sense of what you are going through, and how deep and difficult it is. I know it's not for you, but David and I will be sending up prayers. Love you! Nancy

  6. Kathryn,
    I can totally understand everything you are feeling because I went through it too. We didn't have the means to do any of the advanced treatments past the Clomid. I am so glad you and Matt do!! As you know, I ended up having a hysterectomy and we adopted our little girl when she was six years old. I understand the feelings of inadequacy, jealousy, bitterness, selfishness, etc. I used to refer to my womb as a barren waste land and my ovaries as tumble weed. Both of my sisters, my best friend, and several other women I knew got pregnant when I was trying. I'm not trying to make you feel worse, I just want you to know that I get it. You aren't alone. I still long for the feeling of a baby kicking inside of me. I can't ever have it but I haven't lost hope for you. You CAN do this! I have enough faith in God for the both of us....and Matt too. :) Don't give up. I know it's hard....e mail me ANY time. I am always here for you.

  7. Thank you all so much for your comments. I'm sitting here at a work conference in Orlando, FL (thus my delay in responding) balling my eyes out at all the wonderful sentiments sent my way. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

    I often gloss over the emotional side of this when speaking to family/friends in person, or make light of it, so it's been so theraputic to just "put it out there".

    And I know I don't know many of you personally outside of this little blogging community, but please know your thoughts/prayers/comments mean the world to me. (And the world to Matt.)

    (And Jenni - You'll definitely be getting an email from me soon enough; thank you.)

  8. Dear Kathryn,

    When I read your entry I cried with tears of recognition -- you captured the emotions of infertility so vividly. Please know how much we love you both.


  9. I recently had my 30th birthday. I find myself in a funk over all the milestones I haven't reached. Not yet married, don't have a house yet, no kids, etc. It can be hard to focus on the good things when one of the 'big goals' seem far out of reach. I guess we have to try not to let these specific things become the _only_ things we want. Nor let our happiness depend on them. Easier said than done. I know. :(

    *big hug* Email me if you feel like it.

    ~Bright Side

  10. Oh Kathryn, I'm so sorry this is turning out to be so hard for you and Matt! I wish we lived around the corner (like we are so very far away :-P) so we could talk and Matt and Jesse could build or destroy something or whatever. I can only guess that being around people with kids isn't the most fun thing right now, but if you feel like getting together, please let me know! We can leave the kids with the grandparents or something.


  11. Thank you all for your very kind comments. I wrote this on a bad day, but it's not all terrible, and there's definitely some humor to the situation (thus my latest entry...). I really (REALLY) appreciate your support.

    Bright Side,
    Yes, you're quite right, I'm been working very hard on focusing on what I do have, and I have a lot of good in my life (husband, home, employment).

    Haha - no worries, I may be jealous (okay, definitely a bit jealous), but I don't dislike other folks' kids!! (Well....yet!!) ;-)

    I'm sure we'll be talking. :-)