The Long and Winding Road- My Experience with Infertility

Posted by on Aug 26, 2012 in Pre/Post-natal Yoga | Comments Off on The Long and Winding Road- My Experience with Infertility

The Long and Winding Road- My Experience with Infertility

My husband and I had decided the year after we were married that we would start trying to have a baby.  At first, our unsuccessful months were understandable and as far as we could tell completely ordinary.  But after nearly a year, we started talking about seeing doctors.  Just as we were about to proceed with getting ourselves all checked out we found out we were pregnant.  We were both ecstatic and started sharing the news right away.  I felt healthy and surprisingly free from symptoms of any kind.  We went to the hospital and saw the little fluttering heartbeat up on the screen.  Relieved.  And then some spotting.  Another appointment showed that the baby had stopped growing.  We were devastated.

There was a despair that followed for both of us.  It was a hard sadness to talk about, to share, even though we both went through the same loss.  We waited nearly another year before starting to try again.  This time we went to see a specialist after we started to see the pattern of failure building again.  We both checked out fine, but instead of that providing relief, it left us feeling completely discouraged.  Why not us, then?  If everything is fine, why not us?  I had test after test, exploring every inch of my reproductive existence.  (After the guy checks out fine, it stands to reason that the issue lies somewhere in the mysterious complexity of the female body.)  They were painful, they were cold and calculating and, at times, dehumanizing.  I was put on Clomid, a drug with pretty heavy mood side effects, as a first line of action but of course there was nothing wrong with my ovulation, so it was simply a stab in the dark.  Eventually, multiple years into this exploration, we decided to look into IVF.

There was a new sense of hope as we moved right to the Big Guns.  I thought for sure that this would be the path to a baby.  I injected myself with hormones, went for blood work on a regular basis, and then had to take a short leave of absence from my job to go down south to a town that had a fertility clinic.  For two weeks I gave blood, gave myself injections, had ultrasounds, and rested.  Finally it was time to remove my 14 (!) eggs.  I was drugged into “twilight” and the surgery was painless, but the recovery was excruciating.  I still had to get blood taken so that the clinic could time my body’s ovulation with the implantation of two embryos.  This was relatively easy and pain-free.  I left the clinic carrying two possible babies-to-be and we were incredibly optimistic.  Then we got the call two weeks later that they didn’t “take”.

It was difficult to go ahead and try again yet I had 10 more frozen embryos taunting me with their possibility.  I waited the required 2 months and then returned back to the town for another go.  I had to take another leave from work for all of the monitoring that was required before the actual procedure.  This time we put in three embryos and found out shortly that they, too, refused to implant.

The period of time that followed this last phone call was the most depressing time in my life.  And probably my husband’s.  I remember this long drive, rain pelting down on the windshield and just staring ahead into the grey, suddenly so aware that I would never have any biological children.  I felt so weighed down by all of the stress and tension and pain that I had been hiding and holding behind the hope.  When the hope was lost I was forced to confront every feeling I’d evaded for so long.  I could hardly breathe from the sadness.  I’m not sure how much time passed between this drive and our first talk about adoption, but something had shifted.  It was as if my coping strategy pulled up its socks again and decided it would rebuild in whatever way it had to.  So we can’t have kids.  If we can’t then there’s no more sense in dwelling there.  Moving on, what can we do to get what we want?

I started reading about adoption around the same time I was also surfing around trying to find a suitable yoga teacher training program abroad.  This entire process, this 4 year journey filled with nothing but disappointment and delay, had cost me so much.  I had become a lab rat and was so hyper-focused on a body that wasn’t doing what it should have been doing.  A failure of a body under a microscope.  Signing up for the yoga training was never intended to make me a yoga teacher; it was supposed to make me whole again.

Two weeks into my yoga training in Costa Rica, I found out that I was pregnant.  And it wasn’t IVF.  The surfacing of the darkness and pain, the coping with the loss and then the moving on were all necessary in preparing my body and mind for pregnancy.  I was only casually aware of just how much stress I was under, how sad I was, how clinical my relationship with my husband had become.  But when the dam broke and everything toxic surged forward and then dissipated, what remained was a quiet acceptance.  Peace.  Finally, peace.  I called my husband with the news and assured him with every confident cell in my body that this one was different- this one was sticking around.  I had never felt happier, more peaceful and calm, more explicitly alive before in my life.  I was eating the healthiest food, was surrounded by a group of the most positive people.  I had a strong daily yoga practice, fresh blood and oxygen were pumping through my body, and even found some inner silence (finally!!!) during meditation.  I also had an electric, prophetic, dream that allowed me to believe that the heartbeat that fluttered just beneath my own was intended for this world, for our family.

I see now that I needed to go through all of that, that we needed to go through it, in order to find ourselves in the right place.  We are better parents because of it.  We learned what appreciation and gratitude really mean.  We are better partners because we had to go there together.

If you are trying to find your way from within a similar sadness, know that you aren’t alone, that so many of us know what it’s like.  Many don’t, of course (we do try very hard to be happy for you and your easy pregnancies- though please know that this is sometimes the hardest thing to do).  It’s a strange thing to have spent so long fighting on one side only to end up on the other.  But we all eventually find our way out, sometimes having to redefine ‘success’ as we build acceptance towards things as they are.  Sometimes the physical reproductive issues are so subtle, nothing will manifest until the chaos is gone.  Or sometimes our circumstances in life just don’t align to make pregnancy possible.  From my own experience, I recommend working on the one thing that is more within your control- emotional healing.  Make space for meditation.  Try to rectify situations that bring added stress into your life wherever possible.  Eat nutritious food in its most recognizable form, and avoid chemicals and additives.   And do yoga or any other activity that helps you move and chill out.  Increase blood flow, lower cortisol levels, deepen your breath, sweep away the cobwebs.  And be kind to yourself.  It’s hard when you’re deep in the experience to see yourself as anything but a failure, but I know first hand the strength that’s required to wade through and come out the other end.

Whenever I hear that someone is struggling with infertility, I still feel tightness in my chest.  Imprinted sensations, ones I had been living with for a long time, swell to the surface.  I still identify to a certain degree, despite the spicy little toddler who’s yelling “nooooooo!!!” beside me as I write this, as an infertile woman.  It was my scarlet letter.  But it was also my lesson in patience, perseverance, survival.  It turned out that no doctor could bring me a child; it took my own capacity to transform and leave my son a soft place to land.  A breath, some peace and quiet.


All content by Lisa Veronese. Please do not publish or copy my material without my consent.