**Warning: sensitive content for those struggling with infertility and loss**
I was teaching when I first realized it. I had missed my period. It was an out of body experience. I was on birth control pills and I took them regularly (at the time I forgot I had been on antibiotics for an extended period of time that month), so this must just be stress. Even so I grabbed a test on the way home and took it to be sure. That three minutes is killer, man. There it was: two pink lines. One of them was very faint but definitely there. I called my friend and asked her if a faint line counted (oh how I would learn to long for a faint pink line - and even take apart tests looking for one under the bathroom light - but for now I was blissfully naive). She said it did and not to panic. I panicked. We weren’t ready. I needed to sign a contract for next year. I wanted to stay home with my kids. My head was swirling. I told my husband and he was so happy but I was still trying to come to terms with it. After about a week, I became so excited! I started thinking about names, doing all of the mama stuff… and then I saw the blood. At first I thought it was just that early spotting I had read about, but then the cramps started and I knew. I went to the doctor and they confirmed miscarriage and, just like that, this baby I hadn’t even wanted became the greatest loss I had known to date. That baby gave me a great gift though; I hadn’t realized I was ready to start our family, but now it was all we wanted. We began to try again, thinking it would be no problem since we got pregnant while preventing it - surely it would be super easy if we were actually trying.
Almost two years. Thats how long it we tried. So many months of hope turned into disappointment. We did all the things. If you have ever struggled with infertility you know what I’m talking about. I joined all the online support forums, researched every herb or new thing to try, tracked my basal body temperature on the computer, since phone apps weren’t a thing yet. And still, month after month, I spent a fortune on tests and every one of them said no. I was so confused. How did I get pregnant so easily and then not be able to? It made no sense. And then there were the people around me getting pregnant. Especially at church. They all knew we were trying and they were praying for us, but in the mean time their families continued to grow. I kept saying that I was happy for them and sad for me - and it was true. I was glad my friends weren’t enduring the same sadness I was, but it was more than that. I was heartbroken for me, and confused. I saw all of the awkward looks that people gave me at baby showers and how late they waited to tell me they were pregnant, hoping I would be too before they said something. I appreciated their concern and care but none of it made it any better. The only thing that would was a baby.
Finally another teacher at work asked me if I had ever seen an endocrinologist. I hadn’t. She said he was a miracle worker and that I should go see him. It’s how she got pregnant with her daughter. So I went. At this point I would try anything. I went in, had about a gallon of blood drawn, and waited a week. When I went back, my life changed forever. He handed me about 8 pages worth of testing results and proceeded to explain them to me. I had PCOS, insulin resistance, and luteal phase defect. The birth control pills had regulated my hormones enough that I could get pregnant but when I stopped taking them, my hormones were too low to keep the baby. He put me on Metformin and told me to call if I got pregnant. Then he would prescribe progesterone.
18 days. That's how long it was from the first time I took one of those pills until I got pregnant. It was under 30 days from when I was sitting in his office until I was running screaming into our bedroom yelling that I was pregnant. By the way, I had always thought I would tell him in some cute way, but when you have cried and struggled that long there was no self control. We laughed and cried and I floated through that day. The husband came to have lunch with me at school, and I brought the test with me. We just looked at it in disbelief while we ate. Weird, I know, but that is how crazy bad we wanted this. Our sweet daughter was born 9 months later, and we are so blessed. We named her after Hannah in the Bible because we had prayed and asked God for her so much, just like Hannah did for Samuel.
I wish I could tell you that was the end of our infertility journey, but when we began to try again we struggled again. I had two more miscarriages and 2 adjustments in my medication dosage before we brought home our next baby. The losses never get easier, and I wish I could tell everyone that I have seven kids - 3 in heaven and 4 here - but that gets awkward for people so I just remember them in my heart. I can’t wait to hold them one day.
Loss and infertility is an invisible pain. We walk through life knowing we are moms without babies to hold, and it affects everything. But it is unexplainable to people who have never experienced it. Before I had a miscarriage I hadn’t known that I knew other people who had had them. But they came out in droves to support me. It feels so lonely, but it is so important to remember that we are not alone and that other moms are hurting too. And not just moms. My husband told me later that it was one of the loneliest times of his life because he felt the responsibility to support me but had no place for his own grief. Daddies love the babies too. I was so grateful for the men who supported him in our later losses and how he has since done that for others in our life. So, look around you for the women who long to be mothers or are mothers without babies to hold, and love them well. Their pain is immense and silent and even though you can’t fix it, knowing they aren’t alone will mean everything.