On this last day of National Infertility Awareness Week, 2007, I am very contemplative about where I fit in. The other 'pregnant after IF' women will understand this, I am sure. Being pregnant doesn't necessarily mean that my infertility has been cured. It has been temporarily overcome, thanks to a shitload of medical intervention; but my infertility is by no means gone for good. If we are ever lucky (and I use this term very loosely, since I do not believe that it has anything to do with luck) enough to have another child, it will most likely be via IVF. I am reminded of my friend Kate's signature from a forum I used to frequent. After she got pregnant using ARTs after several years of TTC, she wrote, "I am not a fertile, I am not a fertile, I am not a fertile". This speaks very strongly to me, because even though I have made it 'to the other side', I identify most with my friends who are still struggling to conceive.
Ever since I learned that I was pregnant, I have been struggling with the concept of being 'one of them'. A good friend of mine, who had gone through two rounds of IVF (and successfully conceived her daughter during the second round) told me that the first IVF is usually a learning cycle. That is, our bodies may not react to the medication the way they are supposed to, and even though the cycle may not be successful, the doctors will apply this information and adjust our protocol accordingly, for the next attempt. Many times, what is considered to be a standard IVF protocol just doesn't work. However, ours did. Despite being a 37-year-old woman, I responded well to the medication and they were able to retrieve 24 eggs. Lots of women my age have difficulty producing 1/4 of that number. Out of those 24 eggs, 18 fertilized, but only one of those 18 made it to blastocyst by day 5. And yet, despite losing 17 out of 18 embryos, there was something about that one little embryo that made it hang on. It is The Little Embryo that Could.
So what was it about me that allowed me to become pregnant when the majority of women I know, who are going through IVF, could not? I have been wracking my brain trying to figure this one out since I got my BFP. Am I luckier than the other women? I don't think so. I've always considered myself to be very lucky in other aspects of my life, but it's not like I believe that my IF friends are walking around with a dark cloud looming. It's not like I believe that I deserve it more than anyone else. It's not like I believe that I am in better physical condition than anyone else (and if you saw me, you'd vouch for me on that one!). And it's not like I believe that my IVF protocol was the only one that works. I really don't know the answer. Something just clicked, I guess. The right combination of meds and the right physiological conditions and the right timing equaled a recipe that worked for us.
And I know that had something about our protocol been just slightly off, I could be sitting here writing in my TTC journal, trying to figure out how the hell I'm going to find the strength to go through another IVF cycle and possibly another devastating failure.
I am on a message board forum that consists mostly of women who already have kids. Many of those women are pregnant with their second child and some of them are preparing to start trying for additional children. It seems like every time I look, someone else gets a surprise BFP. 'Oops' pregnancies are such a foreign concept to me, and I have so much difficulty relating. Imagine having sex with your husband a couple of times, and BAM- you find out two weeks later that you're pregnant. I am struggling to identify with and understand these fertile women, but I am having such difficulty making sense of it. After all of the medical intervention I have been through, it just boggles the mind that for some, conception can be so easy.
Which is why, as a pregnant woman, I will never lose sight of how much it took to get me where I am. I will never complain about pregnancy symptoms to anyone who would give her left arm to be experiencing those symptoms. I will never say to one of my IF friends, 'If it can happen for me, I just know that it will happen for you'. I will never pretend to see two pink lines just to make a hopeful woman feel better. I will always remember what it feels like to truly believe that I won't ever be able to be a mother to my own biological child. I will always remember the hopelessness that overcame me every single day. I will always remember what it feels like to feel broken. I will always remember what it feels like to hurt after hearing one of those insensitive comments. I will always remember what it feels like to believe that I am a disappointment to my husband and to my family. I will always remember just how much it hurts to see yet another BFN, staring me in the face. I will always remember what it feels like to be the only couple at a social event who doesn't have kids. I will always remember how bad it feels to not feel strong enough to hold my friend's new baby. I will always remember what it's like to be lapped.... yet again. I will always remain sensitive to my IF sisters who are still struggling. I will always be supportive of my dear friends who are still fighting the good fight, and I will always remain in their corners. And I will always remember that I AM NOT A FERTILE, I AM NOT A FERTILE, I AM NOT A FERTILE!