Infertility is a medical condition: failure to get pregnant within one year while having frequent, unprotected intercourse (upwards of 90% of women will conceive within that year). This doesn't mean that women diagnosed with it will never get pregnant; most women who want to get pregnant will eventually go on to conceive, though usually with a doctor's help. Others will of course go on to adopt or take a break from trying to recoup their energy. Infertility can happen at any point in a woman's life after she starts ovulating, even though statistics often include only ages 25-44. It doesn't just affect women who are 35 and older, or women who have other health problems, or women who have been on birth control. It doesn't even affect only women without children. Infertility looks different for everyone.
While I do have "Female Infertility" on my doctor's chart, and I do require treatment due to polycystic ovarian syndrome, my journey hasn't been as long or arduous as some. I don't claim to know the heartbreak of miscarriages or failed in vitro attempts. I haven't been actively trying for two or more years. I haven't had an adoption fall through. I haven't had ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome or needed an operation to fix or remove an organ. To all of you who have: you are stronger than anyone could imagine. It has, of course, still been a frustrating experience. I've done unsuccessful rounds of Clomid and Femara and Follistim. I've been disappointed by who knows how many negative pregnancy tests, even when I knew I probably hadn't even ovulated. I finally found a medication and dosage that gives me a chance, and I do have hope. I also believe that I've been going through this for a reason. Even if I get pregnant this cycle or next, I think it's important to normalize the emotions that women feel and the choices they make when they don't get pregnant within that one year window of time.
In the back of my mind, I anticipated having some trouble conceiving; I went on the pill in my teens, because slightly elevated androgen levels pointed to PCOS, though I wasn't "officially" diagnosed until I came off it to try to conceive. I nonetheless held out hope that perhaps I was wrong and would come off the pill and bam!, pregnant. One day after the first six months, when I hadn't yet even ovulated, I went to the bank to deposit a holiday present that was about to go straight into our fertility treatment fund. I pulled into the parking lot, and suddenly the flood gates opened. (PS, I apologize to anyone who witnessed me breaking down and seemingly yelling at my windshield and thought they might need to fear for their safety.)
Is this even going to work? Because I've been waiting for the opportunity to be a mother for a long time now. I can't reconcile a God who would instill such a desire in me with one who would then keep it from me. There are people who get pregnant without trying at all. What's wrong with me that I can't do that? Am I not meant to have children? Am I supposed to adopt? Can I at least get an "Amen" somewhere? Is the fact that I'm not even ovulating my dry wool on the ground, as it were? Can there be words in the sky? A sign at the side of the road? A text? Can't you just tell me if this is what I'm supposed to be doing? I need some confirmation, because I don't understand, and I'm floundering here. Why must I make these decisions?
I was upset, crying, angry. I didn't think I'd get an answer, because at that moment God felt cold and distant to me. In fact, I doubted that even if He existed, He actually listened. Then unexpected words rang clearly in my mind.
Who ever said that this was your struggle? This is our struggle.
And as suddenly as I had started railing against God's silence, my body, and the injustices of life, my perspective changed. This wasn't going to be God's punishment, or the universe's way of telling me that I shouldn't be a mom, or a sign that I wasn't as prepared for parenthood as the people who so easily got pregnant. This was just the trailhead of a meandering, more challenging hike up the mountain to the breathtaking view from the top. It might be hard, and I might grumble when I faltered along the way; I might slide backward occasionally. But the blessing at the end was worth striving for, and I realized something important about myself; I was willing to fight for it, to endure for it. And God had said He would be there with me, my guide, picking me back up and dusting me off and giving me water whenever I sat down and thought about giving up. Rejoicing in my progress. Crying with me when I stumbled and bruised myself, even as He healed those wounds and made me even stronger.
Yes, I might get to the top and find a different landscape than I expected-- God could say, "Now that I've led you here, you can better see that child over there who needs a home"; He's God, and He does that sometimes-- but I knew that outcome would be equally as beautiful, and whatever journey preceded it would still be worth it. Because while faith, hope, and love always remain, the greatest of these isn't hope.
And day by day, God is just building up the love I have to offer when our child arrives.