Patient Odyssey - Overcoming the Odds

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Patient Odyssey - Overcoming the Odds

March 21, 2006

So often I hear or read about what a mistake it is to postpone having children. As if for all of us this is a conscious choice. I wasn't waiting until the perfect career moment, or until I achieved some lofty goal. I was waiting for a committed mate with whom to start a family. So at 39, my husband and I began what would become, in total, a six-year infertility odyssey.

I was not naïve going into this. I was, in fact, planning for a difficult time. I expected to chart my cycles, which would of course be unsuccessful, for six months, and, armed with all this useful data, insist on a referral to a fertility specialist. Imagine our surprise when I became pregnant on our first try. The pregnancy ended at around 10 weeks, when we went for our first ultrasound and was told there was no heartbeat. In a testament to denial and hope, and despite my initial pessimism and the dismal statistics for my age group, I never truly believed I would miscarry.

My emotional recovery from my first loss was complicated by a difficult physical recovery. Nonetheless, a few months later I was pregnant again, only to miscarry at six weeks. I was distressed and angry, resentful of every pregnant belly I'd pass on the street, feeling sabotaged by my own body. The wait just to get an appointment with the fertility specialist within my health plan was six months, so we anxiously turned to PFC, knowing that every cycle was a precious commodity.

We launched in with Dr. Ryan, taking every reasonable test, only to find that things looked pretty good and this was simply going to be luck of the draw. After several trying months of unexpected delays and barriers, we upped our odds with injectables and conceived our amazing daughter, Hannah. I remember that my first thought, after the nine days of shots, the trips to the City for ultrasounds, the anxious OPK readings, and the agonizing two-week wait, was that it had been ridiculously easy. That was five years ago. We have a son on the way now. I can feel him squirming around in there, poking at my bladder as I write this. We suffered many losses and deep disappointments to get to this point, and I have three sharps containers full of needles to prove it.

I can't imagine what it must be like for women who breeze through conception and pregnancy, but I know I have benefited from the difficulty of my experience. I have gained a profound sense of wonderment about the entire miracle of pregnancy. I have an appreciation for the life I've brought into this world, and the one on its way, that I could never have found with any other path. I have developed a depth of sensitivity for those struggling to do what comes so easily to others that has enabled me to support them in a way I could never otherwise have done.

Maybe this isn't the course I would have chosen, given the option, and there are some wounds that never heal, but after six long years, we are finally at a point where we can breathe. We can put the exhausting cycle of hope and grief behind us. Like us, anyone who has come out the other side of infertility gains a sense of their strength, endurance and resolve. And anyone who has found their way through infertility, whatever their path, knows the almost overwhelming sense of relief we feel down to our bones, every single day.

-- Lauren