I don’t remember the year we decided to try, 2003 probably. It was a New Year’s Eve, near the same hour of the night when I proposed to Adrienne. I still remember the thrill of intentional unprotected sex. A mixture of excitement, apprehension, hope and orgasam. After that, the time between 2004 and 2010 was mostly pain and frustration.
It’s Infertility Awareness Week. Right now 7.3 million Americans are somewhere along the same path we took; many of them are as lost as we were. One of those people may be you. I can not know what you feel, but I know it is crushingly real.
Ours is not a typical infertility story that odds-be-damned ends with a cherished miracle. Adrienne and I held fast in the medical treatment crucible while the options frustratingly expired despite our efforts. We wanted children but have physical and financial limits, so leave that struggle behind us, heads bloody but unbowed.
That we are still together evinces the commitment we made for better or worse, in sickness and in health. We love each other for neither fecundity nor financial motives, but for the people we are; tempered by that crucible.
Although the strength of our relationship carried us, it took the help of an invaluable infertility therapist, kind family and trusted friends. Without them, mourning the miscarriages and internalizing our situation would have been impossibly arduous. Letting go of a lifetime of desires and expectations while trying to redefine and reorient yourself is not easy.
We are no longer the-couple-that-can’t-conceive. The desire will never leave, but I refuse to let it shape me into a bitter childfree person who congregates on forums proclaiming I want nothing to do with children while ranting about affronts of “breeders” and their rugrats. That is not who we are now. We moved on.
Instead we find ways to take joy in each other, our careers, hobbies and the people around us. It feels similar to that first night: excitement, apprehension, disappointment, and hope, but most of all it feels victorious.