Every few weeks, I receive an e-mail from a reader telling a hopeful story of waiting for a baby. Many of you who read here are mothers, but there is also a great number of women who come and read and take part in this community who are not. Maybe some choose not to have children--and that's quite alright--but the ones who wait and hope and try and wait some more--well, it's an emotional journey, one that needs a lot of love and support.
In my own circle of friends and family, I know many that faced years of infertility struggles. Many of these women became moms in different ways, and some chose to pursue other dreams without children. Either way, this challenging journey so many women face is made a little easier when there is a community of support. When we are well-informed and understanding and stand together.
According to Resolve, the National Infertility Association, currently 1 in 8 American couples of childbearing age suffer infertility issues. Each has a story to tell. Among these stories is that of Lindsay Riddell, our guest blogger today.
Lindsay, thank you for bringing your vulnerability, your beautiful words and your strong voice to this space. I'm so honored to have your story here. You can follow Lindsay on Twitter @LoisLaneSF or on her new Tumblr: Gross Stuff No One Likes.
Photo Credit: Paige Green Photography
You Must be This Pregnant to Ride:
Our Journey Aboard the Infertility Roller Coaster
by Lindsay Riddell
My husband asked me if I wanted kids a month after we started dating.
I was all: "Hey buddy, slow down, what's with the baby questions?"
He was all: "I'm 39. I want kids, and I don't want to waste my time."
I've joked with him about his bold approach, but fact is, I liked that he was upfront about it. Not only did I know he wanted kids, but I also knew he was already considering having them with me. We picked the names right then and there, Friday June, after "Girl Friday", the name given to the first female reporters, and June, after his mother. Jack Danger was an easy choice, because, 'No. Danger is my middle name' will always be funny. Our relationship, from then on, was serious.
There were other important things that influenced our courtship: Though he's eight years older than me, we love to do the same activities; biking, running, generally being outside; We prefer the same beers and the same movies and the same TV shows at least 80 percent of the time. And because he's color blind, he can't criticize my decorating decisions.
When I hold up my iPhone and say "pretend we're on a roller coaster," he always does it, no matter where we are. We have a series of these roller coaster photos: On the beach in Hawaii; at a super nice restaurant in Austin, Texas; on an airplane -- arms raised, eyes wide, terror-stricken. This might be my favorite thing.
When he travels for work (which is often), we'll FaceTime before we go to bed. If I've had a bad day, he'll pretend he's in a canoe, rowing back and forth across my screen until I start laughing. He totally looks like he's in a canoe! It works every time.
While he's logical and I'm creative, we're a good balance, the right amount of yin to yang; color-seeing to non-color-seeing.
He proposed on our two-year anniversary when he was 40 years old and I was 32. After a July wedding at City Hall in San Francisco, we started trying to make some babies in February of 2011.
It did not work.
For months we were really chill about the entire thing. We relished our 'Whatever happens happens' attitude. But one by one our friends started to announce their pregnancies and I started to get frustrated.
First, my best friend and her husband got pregnant literally the first time they tried. Blammo. Just like that. This is so easy!
Then a member of my book club who is a local farmer, got pregnant the first month she started trying - you know, to time the delivery for Winter when things would be slow on the farm. How convenient!
Next up was my neighbor, who had been on birth control for 18 years, and who got pregnant.. wait for it... on her first shot. First shot! These stories were all so hilarious!
My husband was convinced we just needed to be patient. That eventually it would all work the way it was supposed to.
After we'd been trying for more than a year, I went to a baby shower where, I swear, I was the only non-parent, not-pregnant person in attendance. A friend I didn't even know was pregnant waddled up to me rubbing her adorable pregnant belly with some encouraging words: "It took us five months," she said. "It's your turn next."
But it wasn't my turn. Two of my cousins got pregnant, one with her third kid, a girl, just like she planned. The other cousin got pregnant with her third - "an accident" (Whoops! Right?).
A longtime friend who bought us our first ovulation kit and had it sent to my house after a year of fruitless, non-strategic trying, flew to town, and held my hands across a dinner table. She was pregnant again. We both cried. But her empathy to my situation was real and touching. We could be happy for her together and sad for me together. And we were.
In October of 2012, my husband and I visited the infertility specialist and I got my eggs tested. I have plenty. I'm a spring chicken, eggs-wise. This is not that helpful as it turns out. My husband got his junk tested and guess what? Levels are normal. Despite the fact that he's an ironman who spends lots of hours on his bike crushing his sensitive parts to numbness, he has lots of swimmers and they swim.
The doctor explained our options: Clomid - a drug that stimulates eggs to drop; artificial insemination; and In vitro fertilization. We had already ruled out IVF - which can be a really great choice for some people, including a friend of ours who just this week delivered a perfect little baby after just one cycle of IVF. It doesn't feel good to me, however, and it isn't how I wanted to produce a baby. I knew that before the appointment and my husband supported that.
And even though the infertility doctor drew us a stark graph that gave us a 2 percent chance of getting pregnant on our own given how long we've been trying, we were not quite convinced. We thought "We can do this."
In November, a bunch of my cousins came to visit. One of my cousins, one of my best friends in the world, had some news. Telling me was hard. For her. For me. For everyone visiting.
My response: "God dammit." I said it out loud. And I cried. Not because I wasn't happy for her. She knows I am. Only because it sucked for her to have to tell me. It sucked, and it's the kind of news that shouldn't suck. When I woke up the next morning with all of my cousins at a fancy San Francisco hotel, I discovered I had started my period a week early. Insult. To. Injury.
In December I felt weird. Bloated. Ornery. I had sore boobs for two weeks. My back hurt. I looked at WebMD every day analyzing my symptoms, waiting to get within the window that I could take a pregnancy test and finally show my husband those two freaking lines. I tried to tamp down any hope, swallow it before it escalated and took over. But hope is a powerful thing. It is highly resistant to being swallowed or tamped. And it crept up anyway, bursting through that two year build up of dark infertile clouds casting a shadow over my future.
I started my period 8 days early, three days after Christmas.
In January we took a sexcation to Hawaii, to recover and to relax and to... you know. It was not fruitful despite our valiant efforts.
I turned 35 at the end of January and when I woke up on my birthday, I told my husband that this was the year we would have a baby - or at least confirmation that a baby was on its way. We were going to have to accept the fact that despite how much we wanted it, and despite how hard we tried, and despite how many trips we took on the proverbial roller coaster, we might not be able to make a baby.
Yesterday we took matters into our own hands. We made an appointment for our first adoption orientation. We are nervous and excited and so anxious. We don't know if we'll get pregnant, but we've decided to adopt even if we do.
My husband asked me if I wanted kids one month after we started dating. And today, six years later, and for the first time in a long time, our arms are raised, our eyes are wide, we are terror-stricken. But we are hopeful.
— Lindsay is a San Francisco-based writer. You can follow her on Twitter @LoisLaneSF or on her new Tumblr: Gross Stuff No One Likes.