Any doctor, or book, or medical website can tell you that the official definition of infertility is when a couple does not conceive after a year of unprotected sex. When the already ominous 2013 marks my third year, I start to wonder: are there degrees of infertility? Is one year bad, but “yeah, you got it done”? Is two years when everyone starts to look at you funny, like, “hey, this really shouldn’t take that long, but at least you got it in under the wire”? What is three years? Is three the “face the facts year”, the “shit is really wrong with you year”, the “sell your house to pay for IVF year”? Is there a year after three? Am I doomed to find out?
Numbers are suddenly taking over my brain. My philosophy majoring liberal arts can’t do basic math without a calculator brain. It is three years. I just turned thirty-five. It is day twelve of my cycle. My morning basal temperature was 94.6. I have an AMH of .3. I have 0 children.
This is the year. This is the year where I will either lose myself and my life to the abyss of sadness I feel from not being able to get pregnant, or I will keep this journal and I will write it out of me, and I will process and learn to cope, and I will finally create something. Because, if I am being honest, I only barely got through years one and two, and there is not an end in sight. Hello, year three.
I should say from the beginning, that this is not one of those infertility stories where you will read about how I quit my job to devote myself to tracking my cycle and doctor appointments. This is not the story that will have me buying high end fertility trackers and sneaking into my husband’s work office for some elicit baby-making because the tracker shows a surge. You are not going to read about all my trips to Fertility Clinics and the comical carrying of sperm specimens for tests or implantation. You are not going to follow me through multiple IVF cycles. I’ve read those stories. They were good, but there always left me with a nagging question: where did they get the money for all this?
This is the story where I carve out a morning here or afternoon there to get to a doctor’s appointment with my regular OBGYN (who does happen to be a fertility expert in all fairness), and using all my precious vacation and sick time to do so. This is the story where I work through lunches and arrive early to hold onto my very necessary job without which I would not have insurance and not be able to afford our house, pay my school loans, or eat. I will not be running off to my husband’s work for sex because for one, we’re not married and for another, we work in the same office. This is the story of a State employee whose health insurance will not cover anything that remotely looks like it might be related to issues of infertility, who both likes and needs her job, and who will meticulously pick and choose what options we can actually afford, of which IVF will never be one. This is my reality. I’m pretty sure it’s reality for a lot of other people too.
I should also say, to be clear, that this is not one of those infertility stories where I coo and fawn over other people’s babies, where I cheerily attend the many baby showers of friends, co-workers and family and just generally bask in the glow of babies – cute, wonderful babies. I should let you know up front that even if I lovingly hold your baby and wish you the best and buy you an awesome shower gift, there is a tiny, angry, petty person who lives inside me, in a small dark part of my stomach, like a hobbit hole in my gut. And she doesn’t leave the hole often, and she will not ruin your day or mean you harm, but she is there arms folded, shaking her head in disbelief, mumbling about the unfairness of life. She’s not a particularly pleasant hobbit. She would totally have succumbed to the one ring.
2013 does not have the air of being a promising year. It has a bad ring to it, too much emphasis on the “13.” It does not flow as easily as 2012, with its book ending 2’s which were so pleasant to write, and delightfully symmetric to look at. By mid year I will probably not mind, it will feel old hat and comfortable after so much use. But then maybe not. I already know that there are some things you never get used to, and there are many things that do not get better with the passage of time.
A year can be long, so much longer than twelve months or three hundred and sixty-five days. A year can slow down, drag out, overstay its welcome. A year can be held back, held onto by you when you can’t accept its passing, or when you don’t want to acknowledge a new one. Infertility makes the years long. And this is year three. I can already tell it will be the longest. And this will be its story.