I still remember the moment I decided I wanted to be a mom. I was 5 years old and my cousin had just given birth to her first son. When I held him for the first time, I fell in love and I remember thinking, “I want one of these.”
Fast-forward almost 24 years and I still “want one of these.” The problem is that I’ve yet to make my dream of motherhood a reality.
My husband and I have issues with infertility. It’s not something that people typically feel comfortable discussing, but in late April, during National Infertility Awareness Week, people just like me are speaking up about their fertility struggles to build support and hope for moms- and dads-to-be whose path is longer and rockier.
While I haven’t yet reached my ultimate goal of motherhood, I’ve learned so much over the last year and a half. Here are 10 things I’ve learned while trying to conceive.
- Scheduling sex is a thing. “Have sex every other day during your fertile window,” the doctor says. What if you’re not in the mood? It doesn’t matter. You have to do the deed if you want to make a baby.
- Sperm, when transferred in a vial, must stay body temperature. My husband and I have done three rounds of IUI (also known as intrauterine insemination). He leaves his “sample” at the fertility specialist’s office and I have to retrieve it to take it to my OB/GYN’s office. The first time I did this and the nurse told me to tuck it in my bra, I laughed. How can you not? Hey, during this process, you have to find things to laugh about.
- Lots of people see your vagina. More people have seen my lower half in one year than in my entire life. From vaginal ultrasounds to getting my fallopian tubes flushed to having IUI done, a parade of people’s faces have been between my legs – and no, it has not been enjoyable.
- I have a beautiful uterus. After one of these many ultrasounds, I’m proud to say the doctor told me I have a “beautiful uterus” – a healthy little womb that’s raring to go when the stars align. I’d bet it’s even prettier than the one in the picture above, which was a gift from Metro Parent’s lovely editor-in-chief, Julia Elliott.
- Mood swings to the max. I feel all sorts of feelings. The last week has probably been the most difficult for me. We hit that year-and-a-half mark and I’m starting to go crazy. In one day, I’m angry then sad then hopeful then sad again. It’s not uncommon for me to tear up when I think or talk about having a baby.
- Social media causes depression. We show our best moments on Facebook and Instagram – and almost daily I see a pregnancy announcement or a photo of a newborn. While I am incredibly excited for all of these people, I can’t help but feel a ping of sadness every time I scroll through my newsfeed. I’ve thought about deactivating my accounts, but there’s a piece of me that isn’t ready for that – so I continue the cycle of sadness.
- The sound of a child’s laughter makes me want to cry. It’s the sweetest sound on earth, but it cuts me to the core. I find myself wondering what my child’s laugh will sound like someday – and it makes me long for the moment I’ll get to hear him or her giggle.
- My heart breaks a bit more every month. Periods suck as it is, but when you think about the fact that one more egg has been wasted, periods suck even more. People tell me I’m one step closer to baby, but as each month passes, I feel like motherhood is slipping farther away from me. So, every month when I start, I cry alone in my bathroom – and then I spend a few days depressed until a good friend of mine helps me snap back out of it.
- I have the best support system. That friend I mentioned above is one of a few that has really helped me through this process. My family has been wonderful, too, but the people I see daily have been the ones who have dealt with a lot of my moods and drama, so if it weren’t for them, I don’t think I’d get through this process.
- My marriage is even stronger. After 10 years together and almost four years of marriage, we’ve had our share of ups and downs – and while we don’t always agree on things, this experience has made us a better team. I am grateful for the man I married – and I know when the day comes, he’s going to be an amazing father.
Every day lately has been a struggle – and I know I’m not alone. So, if you’re like me, take some time this week to “come out” about infertility to a friend or family member. It’s time to talk about this very real, very common struggle. It’s too hard to go through alone.
Learn more about National Infertility Awareness Week here.