36 Months

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It took me 36 months to get pregnant.

36 months of disappointment.

36 months of feeling like a failure.

36 months of hating my body.

36 months of questioning my femininity.

36 months of charting my fertile period.

36 months of failed pregnancy tests.

36 months of turning sex into a chore.

36 months of not being able to attend baby showers.

You get the picture.

Up until seven weeks ago, I thought infertility would be the worst of my problems. I thought getting pregnant would be the hard part. I thought that getting pregnant would be our happily ever after.

It finally happened for me in September of 2012. The positive pregnancy test. Little did I know that my child had already developed a serious neural tube defect (NTD) that would ultimately force me to make the most horrible decision that any parent should be forced to make.

I spend the first sixteen weeks of my pregnancy blissfully naive and unaware. I thought life had a pain threshold – that there was a limit to just how much suffering a person has to endure in a lifetime, and I stupidly thought that infertility met my quota.

It starts out innocently enough. You fall in love, get married, and decided to have children. People ask the obvious – do you want children? And you say smile and say yes. What else are you supposed to say? I had no idea that answering that simple little question would mean that for the next three years, people would know that with each passing month, my body had once again failed me.

After a few months of asking how it was going, they finally stopped. I guess they got tired of hearing a negative answer. Or maybe they just started feeling guilty when their questions were answered not by my words, but the welling of tears in my eyes.

And those are just the friends. That I wasn’t able to give my parents a grandchild was demeaning enough, but for some reason, not being able to give my in-laws a grandchild was worse. Feeling that their love and acceptance depended on my ability to procreate was nauseating. Spending time with them made me sick with guilt.

That’s how I felt with supportive and loving family members, so imagine how I reacted to the following statements:

If you’re gonna make an omelet, you need fresh eggs.

Aren’t you too old to have a baby?

I get pregnant at the drop of a hat!

If you just quit trying, you’d get pregnant.

Don’t ever give up. Do whatever it takes to get your baby.

There is a genetic reason that you can’t get pregnant, so stop trying.

I never expected a perfect baby – I know that no such thing exists. I just wanted my baby to be healthy, to have a chance at a life worth living. I know there are those out there who are disgusted with my audacity to judge my unborn child’s quality of life, but forcing my daughter to live even with the best case scenario diagnosis felt like a condemnation to a lifetime of suffering, for however long she would live. I just don’t think that making the choice to carry to term with such a severe non-fatal diagnosis is ethical or compassionate.

I’ve heard people say that THEY love their baby, no matter what, which insinuates that I don’t love my baby. Nothing could be further from the truth. After three years of battling infertility, of desperately wanting this child, we made the most difficult decision possible out of love.

Even when talking to others who have had to terminate for medical reasons, I don’t feel they truly understand the desperation and despair that my husband and I felt. I’m not trying to compare or one up anyone else’s suffering, but I want it to be fully understood that this was a very much wanted pregnancy.

I suffer from infertility, and five weeks ago, I ended my pregnancy to save my child from suffering.

36 months has turned into the unthinkable: 37 months.

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8 thoughts on “36 Months

  1. I don’t want to say “I’m sorry” – not because I’m NOT sorry, but because I’m sure you’ve heard it plenty of times already and it probably has not made you feel any better.

    I’m not going to say “I understand”, because that would be a lie. And no one knows what you’re going through! I can, however, empathize with you. I’ve been trying to conceive for about the same amount of time and have experienced what it’s like to hate yourself/body, be frustrated with everything pregnancy related, and to feel so completely defeated.

    I believe that what you did was selfless and completely for the love you have for your child.

    I hope and wish good things for you.

  2. That is such a painful story to share ❤ It was very brave to put it out there. My partner always dreamed of having children but he suffers with severe genetic illnesses so he feels that having a child would be like playing Russian roulette, and so it makes me angry to hear people say that it is selfish of him to make that decision and selfish of us to decide to terminate if I ever did become pregnant, which we decided because he has admitted numerous times that every day is hell for him. I hope your dream of carrying a healthy baby to term comes to fruition.

    • Russian Roulette is the best description for this. I am not a gambler. Our chances were 1:1000. I have a higher risk (3%) of having a baby with a neural tube defect now, but supposedly since I am taking extra folic acid, my chances are down to 1%.

      Hearing your husband’s comments, as horrible as it sounds, is oddly comforting to me. I kept trying to find realistic outlooks for her future, but all I could find were happy, smiling people who “beat the odds.” I couldn’t take that risk.

      Thanks for the comment.

  3. I got pregnant when I was 15 and my son who is now 10 years old, was born with a rare brain disorder called lissencephaly. Being his mother has been the second hardest thing I have ever had to do…. The first hardest thing I have ever had to deal with: that I am now 7 years into my infertility battle. It’s absolutely crushing. When you are pregnant you dream of first steps, first words, t-ball and hearing I love you mommy…. But for me it’s been medicines, insurance hassles, diapers, doctors, and hospitals.
    I have dealt with people making many so liar comments as yours, along with: What will you do if it happens again? Or Aren’t you scared?
    Yes, it’s terrifying but I just never thought that this would be the only chance I had to be a mom. I love my son dearly, he is the light of my life. But I would love to have a normal parenting experience.
    I have to have IVF to ever get pregnant again but financially, I don’t know if that will ever be an option.
    I know my story isn’t exactly like yours but I just wanted to say that I can’t relate to your emotions. I understand you.

  4. Thank you. After almost 3 years of trying including infertility treatments, we spontaneously conceived. We were devastated to be diagnosed with an omphalocele at 12 weeks and terminated as well. The pain is terrible but I’m thankful to have voices like yours out there for some feeling of solidarity. Good luck to you.

    • I’m so sorry that this has the the common bond that we share. I thing the biggest help for me (other than writing on my blog) was the BabyCenter TFMR board for that very reason: solidarity. It’s been a really rough year in our household – here’s hoping that 2014 bring better news for us all!

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