What to Expect When You're Not Expecting
Deciding to have a baby is supposed to be the hard decision.
When to start trying. How much money to have saved up. Planning for a winter pregnancy to avoid heat, or a summer pregnancy to avoid having to wear shoes.
When we made the decision to try for our first child, neither of us had any idea the world we were about to enter.
We started off in a stage of bliss. Ignorance, really.
Little did I know all of the situations, events, and feelings that would come up when you're not expecting.
1. Trying to Conceive (TTC) should come with a dictionary: There are so much to lean about the vocabulary in the world of TTC. And after a few months when you haven't conceived using a bottle of wine and a date night, you will eventually Google things like "how to have a baby," "why aren't I pregnant yet?" and things along those lines. You will be instantly overwhelmed by letters. OPK, BFP, BFN, BD, DH, EOD, ED, AF and the dreaded TWW (more on that later). Don't be afraid to ask questions and figure out the lingo. Soon you'll be reading posts on message boards that will make sense, like "peed on a OPK, positive! BD tonight with DH!"
2. You will begin to live your life in two week increments. TWW stands for the "two week wait," which is the time between ovulation and the beginning of your next period. AKA the time when you will begin to imagine and hope for every pregnancy symptom under the sun. You will spend too much time examining your underwear, and asking yourself if you're tired or you're TIREDBECAUSEIAMPREGNANT. This is where a spark of hope lives, even after many negative cycles.
3. You will likely develop an addiction to peeing on things. Yeah. All I can say about this one, is there are bulk pregnancy and ovulation predictors on the internet. Also the dollar store. Don't knock dollar store pregnancy tests. And always try to get ones that produce pink lines (not blue).
4. At some point you will begin to learn that the infertility community has a twisted (and argued) hierarchy. There are people who will tell you that your pain isn't as bad as their pain. There are people who say secondary infertility (inability to get pregnant for a second/third, etc child) is not as bad as primary infertility. There are people who will tell those who has miscarried "at least you can get pregnant!" There are people who have been trying for 2 years like us, or 10 years like some I know. There are people who cannot afford treatment (like us) that are told they don't want it enough, and people that are undergoing constant physical treatments that are told "why don't you just adopt?" And then there are the misfits- the people who experienced infertility but have babies now. Where do they fit in? There are harrowing stories out there, but do not let any of them take away your own experience. I have thought to myself on more than one occasion - "wow, I don't have it so bad, she's had 2 miscarriages and I've only had one" or "they've been trying for 3 years." It doesn't do any good to downplay your own experience. We all have what we have. Being empathetic with people is a good thing, but don't feel bad for feeling bad. Infertility sucks. No matter what stage you are at with it. In my opinion it does no good to divide ourselves.
5. You will begin to feel like you are rapidly cycling through the grief process every month. Denial (there's probably nothing wrong with me! this is the month! yeehaw!) Anger (I don't know why I bother peeing on these things, it doesn't matter anyway. I can't believe I wasted all my money on birth control for all those years. I'm never going to get pregnant. I should just buy 20 cats and call it a day.) Bargaining (hey, universe! If you give us a baby I swear that I will never let it leave my sight, I'll be the best parent EVER!) Depression (Period is here again. This sucks. Pass the Ben & Jerry's). Acceptance (okay, I haven't gotten here yet - well sometimes I think I have but clearly I really haven't - I mean I just deleted my Facebook so I wouldn't have to see pregnant people).
6. Do not allow yourself to be ignored (but it's okay to ignore others). What I mean by this is - do not be afraid to tell people when they ask about when you're going to produce offspring that it isn't their business. That you don't want to talk about it. It is okay to be polite, but also honest. It is okay to draw boundaries around this for your own sanity. It is okay to acknowledge you feelings, don't ignore them. In startling contrast, I fully believe that it is okay sometimes to ignore others - specifically - the pregnant others. They are wonderful people. It's not their fault that you can't get pregnant. They deserve joy and happiness and a healthy baby. And for every single person who I've known that has become pregnant while we've been trying - I have silently wished it for all of them. A healthy baby. A healthy pregnancy. A short delivery. I have wished it all. But I have also given myself space away from them for a short time, often after finding out they were pregnant. To give my emotions time to settle. To scream "WHY THEM AND NOT ME?!" because those feelings are very, very real and they need to be acknowledged. They cannot be ignored. But once they are acknowledged, I've often found peace and been able to come back around with me friends. Ask questions about their pregnancy, send cards and gifts. You'll get there - but give yourself time.
This week is National Infertility Awareness Week and the theme is "Don't Ignore." I encourage you, whether you have experienced infertility or you have not - to spread the word. Don't ignore us because it feels awkward, or you don't know what to say. Don't ignore us because you don't understand it. You know us. Help take the shame away from infertility, and put awareness in its place. It is closer than you might think. It is your family member, you neighbor, your teachers... it is us.
We are the faces of infertility. Don't ignore us.
Resources for Infertility
Resolve - www.resolve.org
Two Week Wait - http://twoweekwait.com/
Male Infertility 101 - http://www.inviafertility.com/blog/uncategorized/drbrannigan/male-infert...
Stirrup Queens (Support and Information) - http://www.stirrup-queens.com/