Infertility. It's not something that we talk about. Especially not in the black community. It's not something that you're proud of, the fact that your body doesn't do what it was designed to do. It's not easy to voice the fears, concerns, stress, drama, and shame that what other people are able to achieve accidentally, you can't even with charts and a plan. Therefore, I've decided to tell my story. My guess is it'll take three parts.
Jethro (I still can't believe he wants to be called that) and I got married in 2005. We bought our first home in October 2007, a 3 bedroom house, with a huge backyard. I was 28 and ready to start a family. In my mind, I'd done everything the right way. I had a Masters, a good job and was married. It was the perfect time for us to have a baby. I stopped taking the pill on January 1, 2008, and I was sure that we'd be pregnant in no time. I bought a new truck at the end of that month because my baby wasn't going to be riding around in my old one. That first cycle, my period didn't show for seven weeks. I must've taken 10 pregnancy tests that month. And I was buying the good ones. Probably 80% of my FSA money for 2008 was spent on pregnancy tests. I chalked up the first wonky cycle to my body working the pill out of my system. Then I had another, and another, and another.
I found myself in Target a lot, cruising the baby aisles. When gender neural items would go on clearance, I'd buy them and add them to my bin in the basement. I bought bottles, t-shirts and washcloths. I kept putting more and more miles on my brand new truck that was "for the baby." I went to the doctor and was told the standard "try for a year..." Wonky cycles or no, the advice is always, try for a year first, and then we'll investigate. I knew something wasn't quite right. Even though my cycles were getting shorter, things weren't right. I took the first step, buying ovulation testers and a basal body thermometer to try and track my ovulation. I charted everything, and it made no difference.
When I went back to the doctor after he first year, she offered Clomid, the gateway infertility drug at the smallest possible dosage for three months. It was supposed to also normalize my cycle, which it did, but still nothing.
That's not completely true. It turns out, "I need your swimmers, I'm totally fertile right now" is not a turn on. Jethro would say ok I'll be up after this show and then conveniently wait until I was asleep. I tearfully accused him more than once of sabotaging me. I didn't give any thought to what he was feeling. He was frustrated as well, and my request that he have his sperm count tested was not met with rainbows and butterflies. I'd learn later that he was already blaming himself and was worried that I'd leave if he couldn't give me a baby. In a lot of ways , I felt like I was trying on my own. He had adult children from a previous relationship so what did he care? I kept it to myself, refusing to become the crazy can't have kids lady that everyone walks on eggshells around, including my husband.
Jethro and I started to discuss the issue. What if I couldn't have kids? Would we be open to adoption? Could we afford adoption? Were fertility treatments an option?
I didn't go back to the doctor after those three rounds of Clomid. In hindsight, I didn't really have a good reason why, except the fact that going back to the doctor was kind of like admitting that I was a failure. Friends and family would ask when were were going to fill the house up with babies. I had a standard line of defense "We're working on it, but there's no rush". My mother-in-law once quipped "you always say that". But I wasn't up for telling the truth. Because with the truth comes the advice that no one wants to hear "Just relax and enjoy yourselves", "it'll happen", "it's probably nothing".
I kept things to myself, but admittedly got discouraged. People were getting pregnant all over the place, and all I had was a bunch of negative pregnancy tests. My step-daughter had a baby, and all of my items in the bin went to her.
After nearly two years of trying, and failing, fate intervened. One of my coworkers and I were chatting and she asked if I had kids. I gave her my standard response and she said "don't wait too long" and told me about her journey with infertility. After trying IUI and IVF, she and her husband were adopting. She heard my go-to line and heard what I wasn't saying. She became my confidant, and a few months later, back to the doctor I went.
(Link to Part II)
(Link to Part III)
(Link to Part IV)