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  • Writer's picturethefruitfulhollow

Through the eyes of infertility: a collection of insights, part 2

In part 1 of this series, we shared personal insights on the following topics:

  • the cycle (by Brittany Calavitta),

  • the appointment (by Lauren Allen),

  • the urologist (by Kristin D.),

  • the positive test (by Serenity Quesnelle).

Here in part 2, we’re moving on to the following topics:

  • The return to TTC (by Lauren Allen),

  • Surgery recovery (by Katie S.)

  • Acceptance after surgery (by Sonia-Maria Szymanski),

  • When infertility is invisible in the pew (by Mary W.).


The return to TTC

by Lauren Allen

“I’m going to be honest with you because someone needs to be. At your current weight, you have no business trying to conceive”. I steady my breath as I meet her compassionate yet no-nonsense gaze. “I’m not trying to be rude, but at your current weight, any pregnancy would be susceptible to… And your baby would be at risk for…” I feel my pulse rise and my stomach sink as she lists a plethora of dangerous situations. “I don’t want to lose you on the table.” It is hard to hear, but I know she is right.

It’s our first fertility appointment in over two years and I find myself taking deep breaths every couple of minutes. Even sitting in the waiting room, the heaviness was tangible. We are really back here again. We walked into this appointment wanting to get educated on our options for moving forward. We are leaving knowing that ignoring some of our health issues, like we have been doing for the past two years, is no longer a safe option. My husband and I both leave the hospital on edge, with a prescription for an injection we are going to have to do tonight: our first injection in over two years.

“I’m not ready for this. It was hard last time with you on hormones and now we are right back there again. I don’t want to be here again.” I listen to my husband’s fears from our past TTC traumas. I feel the same way. This isn’t a “me” or a “him” issue; infertility has deeply affected us both. I have to lose at least 20 lbs. and have two cycles of “normal length” before I can call to schedule surgery. He also has a list of things he needs to do. 

Although I have been dreading the distance, the long drive home is helpful. Initially we drive in silence as we both process what has just happened at the appointment and each try to picture what our future might look like. An hour or so later, we are ready to face reality hand in hand and talk it through. It’s going to be different from last time. It has to be.


Surgery recovery

by Katie S.

I ring the little bell on my nightstand to summon my husband from the next room, feeling guilty for repeatedly calling on him but immensely grateful that he serves me so gladly. We go through the very slow and painful process of maneuvering me up into a sitting position, onto the edge of the bed, onto the stool next to the bed and finally into a very hunched standing position. We then shuffle ever so slowly across the apartment to the bathroom, my husband walking backwards in front of me to support my weight and eventually lower me carefully onto the toilet. I wonder how many more days it will be until my mobility is sufficiently improved that I can get around independently; it feels a long way off.

Back in bed, I have days on end to reflect on my situation and process my two new diagnoses. I don’t regret the decision to have had surgery, and I hope the results will be life-changing like they have been for so many infertility sisters, but there’s no guarantee. Recovery is proving much harder than I expected. I have never felt so vulnerable and helpless. At times, the pain comes in a wave and I feel like a laboring mother, breathing through contractions. I am reminded of the common birth affirmation “each contraction brings me closer to meeting my baby” and it stings that I don’t know if this is the case for me.

I have heard so many women say that they fell in love with their husband all over again when they saw him become a father and I am experiencing something similar during this time of recovery. The way he selflessly takes care of me, keeps on top of my pain relief, wakes up multiple times throughout the night to take me to the bathroom, and sings to me in bed when I am crying in pain. I have no doubt in my mind that he would make an excellent father and I hope with all my might that he will get to be one someday. In the meantime, he fruitfully takes care of his little family in sickness and in health.


Acceptance after surgery

by Sonia-Maria Szymanski

Three months passed between my consultation with the surgeon and the day of my surgery. This seemed quick, but I had been living with infertility since 2012. It was time to close a chapter or begin a new one.

“Her surgery went well! You guys have six months to a year to become parents!” my surgeon said to my husband. It felt like this time would finally be my chance! Just like the many women I knew who went through this before me, I would get pregnant after the surgery. This was basically in the bag. I was excited. Yet, my heart was guarded. It fluttered. Was it warning me not to get my hopes up?

After the surgery, the next waiting game began. If there is one thing you learn to do very well with infertility, it’s waiting. It became clear, even before the six-month mark, that nothing was happening. My reproductive organs, although in better shape and health than before the surgery, were not able to perform. Endometriosis had lived far too long in my body – the damage was too extensive.

Acceptance was a bittersweet season of my infertility. I had to come to terms with the idea that becoming pregnant would never be my way into motherhood. And ugh – it sucked, a lot! When my window of possibility came to an end, I was sad. I was angry. And then, I had to allow that one last final moment of grief. I grieved all of the moments I had longed for: telling my husband we were pregnant; telling our family and friends we were expecting; having a gender reveal, a baby shower, bump pictures, bringing life into the world, and so many moments natural conception blesses us with. Although difficult, it was accepting the end of this journey that helped me move onto the next. I had done all I could to conceive naturally. I did all the bloodwork, took all the medications and bio-identical hormones, went through ultrasounds and finally surgery.

To be fair, the surgeon never promised me a baby. He promised me a return to health. I was ready to become a mom in a different way. Acceptance led to me letting go and allowing myself to be fruitful, even without becoming pregnant. It allowed me to find peace and calm in my heart. I felt joy! What a blessing this surgery was! Finally, I was accepting His plan because it was the one He was preparing me for.

To many, it may have felt like my surgery was a failure. All that and she still hasn’t conceived! But the truth is my surgery was a HUGE success! My surgery gave me back health. For years, I had been struggling with pain, thinking it was normal. After the surgery, I had no more painful periods or irregular bleeding and intimacy was no longer challenging. I was healthy!

As for the time span given by my surgeon to become a parent… Well, let me finish with a story. I had my surgery on Friday, February 3, 2017. After the surgery, we were given a window of six months to a year to become parents. My surgeon was right. A year later, on Friday, February 2, 2018 we became parents to our daughter via adoption. I know… How could I have ever planned such a thing? I couldn’t. God did!


When infertility is invisible in the pew

by Mary W.

It’s Sunday morning and my husband and I arrive at Mass after a frantic rush to get three children aged four and under fed breakfast and in their Sunday best. We slide into the pew as Mass begins. To anyone sitting near us, we appear like so many young Catholic families: open to life and blessed with the gift of children in quick succession.

What is hidden is the cross of infertility we have carried for the six and a half years of our marriage and the uniquely beautiful way our family came to be. In creating our family through the gift of adoption, God surpassed all our hopes or expectations, bringing new life when that seemed so far and impossible, and in a way we never could have imagined or conceived. The gratitude I feel every day for the little lives entrusted to us, and their birth families, is beyond measure. Our family life is full and joyful as for years I hoped and prayed it would be. But now as I put away the 12-18 month clothes and wonder what to do with the newborn baby stuff, I feel the ache and longing for another child. The desire for a baby reemerges and I am reminded that infertility is a cross that for me has not gone away.

It can be a hard and isolating place to be. Infertile but mother of three. Grateful for the children I have while feeling the pain of infertility and quietly bearing it. Marveling at the way our children grow and change and learn while aching to hold a newborn again and see our youngest as a big sister. Happy and appreciating the mundane joys and challenges of life with three little ones while wanting to add another into our family. As family members and friends announce pregnancies, I feel that familiar tension within my heart of pure happiness for them and yearning to know what God wants for us. I feel guilty and ungrateful for feeling this way again when God has blessed us with so much but it is a desire I cannot stifle or ignore.

So I press in. I don’t try to avoid the cross by ignoring or reducing the desire. I assent with my heart to God’s divine plan for our family, not only because I have seen first-hand what He can and will do, but because therein I can find peace in this season. I accept that now in God’s plan it is a time of quiet suffering, of taking up the cross of infertility again, of trusting in the Father who loves me. And as I offer these thoughts to Jesus, as I give him my fear that I am here again and question my ability and capacity to bear this pain and suffering again, Jesus quietly reminds me that we are here again, and I have nothing to fear.

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