Conceiving and giving birth to children are precious gifts that women are endowed with. And while it seems as natural to bear a child as it is to any other bodily function, it is not always so simple for all women. In reality, and for many, becoming and maintaining a pregnancy can be a huge challenge.
There are countless reasons why a woman may not be able to conceive a child naturally, such as illness, age, or egg health. But no matter what the reason may be, it doesn’t take away from the excruciating emotional pain that comes with the realization that a woman who yearns for pregnancy will never achieve it on her own. Not to mention, the physical and financial strain a woman goes through to find this out through various doctors and the use of expensive fertility treatments.
I myself, a 41-year-old marketing consultant, know firsthand exactly how frustrating and heart breaking the road to pregnancy can be.
My husband David and I got married at the age of 35. We were not spring chickens and I knew my clock was ticking, so we immediately felt ready and emotionally stable to try and conceive. I was elated at the thought of having my first-born and was never concerned with whether the baby would be a girl or a boy. I simply wished for the newborn to be healthy.
Within two years of trying to conceive, we were at a complete loss with two gut wrenching miscarriages that took place one after the other. The year before we got married, I learned that I suffered from endometriosis, so I had laparoscopic surgery to clear any tissue that might interfere with pregnancy. I thought I was good to go, but it wasn’t so simple. With a heart full of hurt, we scheduled an appointment with my gynecologist to discuss our options with trying to conceive. I was then sent to a reproductive endocrinologist who specializes in treating infertility.
Under his guidance and care, we tried both intrauterine insemination and in vitro fertilization – also known as IVF. I was just beginning to emotionally heal from the two previous miscarriages, when the procedure of IVF brought me the welcomed news of pregnancy. There was light at the end of the tunnel for both my husband and I, and we quietly celebrated with a meal at our favorite restaurant. It seemed that our dreams of giving birth to a newborn, were again, a possibility.
But shortly after celebrating and 9 weeks into our pregnancy, my husband and I suffered an incredibly large devastation – I had another miscarriage with twins. It was very hard for me not to blame myself. After all, I assumed it was my body that couldn’t conceive. I felt alone, distraught, and a complete failure.
It was my husband who came home one day and confided in me that he was suffering from feelings of grief as well, but that he remained optimistic about our future and there being more options available. We talked it over, yet again, with our doctor. It was at this time that I found out that my eggs were not in a state that would allow for pregnancy and to keep trying could mean more heartache down the road. I wish I had known this before I started the fertility process. While my sadness deepened finding this out, there was a tiny glimmer of hope at the bottom of the pit of despair.
What was this hope based on? It was the option to receive and work with an egg donor. This was an option that I had heard of before, but one that I never felt comfortable pursuing. After all, it seemed so strange to use another woman’s egg to conceive a child.
Both my husband and I decided to go home and process all of the news. We sat together crying and wondering if I would feel as bonded to an embryo that wasn’t from my own egg. What if the baby was born and it didn’t feel like my child? What if the baby didn’t feel connected to me? What if the pregnancy felt unnatural? All of these doubts raced through my mind, but in the end, we chose to try the egg donor option anyways.
We decided to go through an IVF clinic in Sacramento, California to receive donor eggs and to start the IVF process once again. This time we were giving it everything we had, financially and emotionally. We flew to Sacramento and I completed my treatment and transfer as planned. My husband and I returned home with little to no thought if this process would work or not. We had been so hurt in the past, so we didn’t dare to wonder if this last ditch effort would be the one that takes.
But our perseverance paid off, and ten days post transfer, my husband and I received the most welcomed news. I was pregnant! As time went on and our first trimester passed, I was not only with child, our chances for a miscarriage lessened with each passing week. All of my thoughts and worries melted away, and mother nature took over. I could feel every movement, shift, and tiny little kick of the growing child. I sensed a connection to the baby as it formed and developed within my womb month after month. By the ninth month and with a belly full, I felt more in love with this little soul than I had ever felt.
My husband was no stranger to the growing child either. Every night he gently laid on my round belly and spoke to our developing baby. We had learned from studies that babies in the womb can hear, recognize, and bond with their mother’s voice, native language, and responded in a connective way. And when our baby was born, our little boy was a glowing, healthy, beautiful 8-pound miracle named Ethan. It seemed that studies were right – Ethan loved to be held by both my husband and I, but especially lit up with giggles when he was snuggled within my protective arms.
Struggling with infertility and not being able to conceive can leave a couple feeling tapped out (emotionally and financially). A woman may blame her body for not being able to produce a child, and this feeling of inadequacy can leave someone in the throes of depression.
It’s important to remember that other women have gone through this painful situation, too. You are not alone, and nor should you go through it alone. Along with this, remember that our bodies are extremely intricate works of art. If you are unable to conceive, it is not your fault. It is simply a difficult situation that is beyond most people’s control.
The one thing that can be controlled, though, is to look at all the options, such as the egg donor processes with an open mind. Every time I look down and see my son in my arms, I am filled with gratitude that my husband and I said ‘yes’ to this chance to conceive.