Friday, October 28, 2011


July 2011

Every once in a while, I feel it.

It isn’t there all the time, at least not front and center. It’s mostly waiting in the wings; in the shadows. But sometimes, it sneaks out and starts to smother the light all around its darkness until it finally demands attentions and then BAM! It’s there and it’s ugly and it hurts and it will not go away.

It’s been building for a few weeks now, and it started during the donor cycle. The hormones got the best of me and I tried. I tried even though I knew it wasn’t possible. I tried and I hoped and I prayed, “Please. Please, oh please, oh please, oh please, oh please.”

Then I went online. I looked and I hoped and I minimized my browser when I was away from my laptop, worried what might come in the mail and what R would think if he saw it. I took the tests in secret and hid them in the bottom of the trashcan.

When the negatives kept coming in, I was fine. When I felt the familiar signs of my time coming, I was fine.

But then I watched Julie and Julia.

In the scene immediately following her sister’s wedding, Julia Child receives a letter from Dorothy telling her that she is pregnant. And Meryl Streep just nails it. She reels and she sits and she says that one sentence and then she weeps into her husband’s shoulder while insisting that she’s so happy. And I felt it, and it hurt, and I wondered if I will feel those things when my sister tells me she is pregnant.

The past week has been hard for me. I am just now realizing that I was hurt by my divorce. I told myself over and over during the process that I was fine. That it sucked and I was stressed but, overall, I was fine. I am learning that I’m not fine. While I don’t mourn the man or the relationship, I was hurt deeply during our marriage. I honestly didn’t know that.

I just didn’t know.

My first marriage robbed me of a lot of things, and I will be working with a counselor to identify those and start healing, but this one is obvious. It is up front and center, demanding attention, and will not be ignored:

My first marriage robbed me of my opportunity to have children.

It took that part of me and threw it away, leaving me here with one beautiful child and without the ability to have more.

I could have made different decisions; I could have gotten re-married to a man who wanted more children, but I just didn’t know.

My first marriage taught me that having children was hard and that I couldn’t handle more. When we split up, I spent ten months as a single mother, and while having a child was challenging, it was easier than it had been during the marriage. But I still felt that one was plenty and I couldn’t handle more.

When I met R, in so many ways, I met a kindred spirit: someone who thought similarly but not the same, who challenged me and loved me, who understood where I’d been and where I wanted to go. We talked about kids before we got married and agreed that we would not have more children; we felt that the children we were bringing into our relationship were enough.

Then it changed.

I saw how marriage was supposed to be, how parenting was supposed to be, and it all changed.

Even though we agreed to this before we got married.

Even though we came to the vasectomy decision as a couple.

Here we are, 32 months later, and I want another child and I know it won’t happen for us. We talk, and he listens, and he loves me through these emotions. He doesn’t hold it against me and he doesn’t freak out. By the end of each conversation, he has me laughing and agreeing that the children we have are enough.

But all that really means is that it has retreated into the shadows.

I try my best to ignore it: I don’t go online, I avoid that section of the stores, I avoid movies that trigger those feelings. I throw myself headfirst into parenting Little K and loving every minute of it, because I know I won’t have these moments again.

But life gets so quiet when she is gone, and I can’t always keep it in check. It slips out of the shadows and waits in the wings for an opening.

I guess that’s one more thing to talk to the counselor about. Man, this is going to take a while.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Back in the Stirrups Again

Just as I posted my previous entry, an email came in from my donor coordinator. I have been requested by a recipient, and my final (!!) donor cycle will begin the end of this year.

My wonderful sister and editor, becomingbrina, was online with me as I received the message. What a blessing it is to be able to immediately start processing my thoughts and feelings about this cycle!

I am always honored to be selected as a donor. Prayers for the recipient and the resulting embryos are already filling my heart. There is a part of me that is sad that this will be my final cycle; I have formed close relationships with the associates at my center and will miss my interactions with them. I will be losing my primary method of supporting Assisted Reproduction.

I won’t be sad to say goodbye to the hormones: as I articulated to becomingbrina, I am particularly baby-crazy during the injections.

I won’t be sad to say goodbye to hyper-stimulation, which seems to hit no matter how carefully I am monitored.

I certainly won’t be sad to say goodbye to the pain, bloating, and crippling constipation that linger for two weeks after retrieval.

But I am concerned about the timing of this cycle. It is tentatively scheduled to take place over Christmas, which is already a difficult time since Little K spends that holiday with her father. And I’ve been known to go baby-crazy during that month anyway.

So I am taking this opportunity to proactively coin my own phrase, “The Perfect Storm of Suck.”

Feel free to borrow that, as needed.

At least I’ll get to blog this cycle.

Am I Infertile or Not?

The short answer is: My husband and I have not been diagnosed with infertility.

The long answer is:

When viewing the infertile community as a whole, we see a wide array of circumstances that cause a person to define themselves as “infertile.” Keeping in mind that relationships exist where both the man and woman have been diagnosed as infertile, there are significantly more relationships in which either the man or the woman has been diagnosed in this way. (There are also women without a male partner who pursue IUI/IVF via sperm donation and men without a female partner who pursue IUI/IVF with surrogates or gestational carriers, but that is a post for another day.)

Are these individuals considered more or less infertile by the community? Of course not! A woman experiencing male-factor infertility is not ostracized because the “infertile” person in her relationship is her husband, and a man whose wife has lost her fallopian tubes does not leave her to carry the weight of infertility alone; the couple shares the diagnosis.

And there, I believe, is the dividing line: The couple shares the diagnosis.

So where does this leave me?

My husband has sperm count of zero but he does not share my desire for more children so we cannot be defined as infertile. As his wife with the desire for another child, I sometimes think of myself as “Situationally Infertile”: I have the desire, yet lack the ability within my relationship, to become pregnant.

I do not believe that I am minimizing the pain of infertility by using this phrase. I feel close to individuals experiencing secondary infertility, which RESOLVE defines this way:

The conception of my daughter did not require any assisted reproductive technologies or fertility medications. The conception of additional children would require IVF with testicular biopsy and, possibly, ICSI. My husband does not want to pursue treatment, as he is satisfied with the size of our family. So where does that leave me?

A question constantly making the blog rounds in the infertile community is this: are you still infertile if you’re not trying to conceive?

Most of the bloggers and commenters answer: Yes.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Wow, what a quote. I think this may be a missing piece of the puzzle for me. Although my husband had his vasectomy in 2009, he did not attend his follow up appointments to verify that his sperm count was down to zero. For him, the procedure was the “hard” decision. However, until we receive confirmation that the vasectomy was successful, I feel there will be a part of me that continues to hold out hope for another child.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

She’s Not Wrong

A few cycles ago, Little K and I were cuddling when she accidentally kicked my stomach. As I groaned in pain, Little K apologized and asked me, “Momma, why is your tummy sore?”

I answered her, “I’m making eggs for another Mommy.”

“Why does she need your eggs?”

“To make a baby.”

“What happened to her eggs?”

“I don’t know. But she needs eggs to make a baby, so I’m sharing with her.”

“Oh. (pause) You should stop sharing your eggs.”


“Because your tummy is getting fat.”

Monday, October 24, 2011

When Infertility Isn’t Medical

Spoiler Alert: I am a Grey’s Anatomy junkie.

On Grey’s Anatomy, Owen Hunt and Christina Yang are married. Christina has been very clear since the beginning of their relationship that she does not want children. Owen, on the other hand, wants children and hopes that Christina will change her mind. When she unexpectedly becomes pregnant, he pressures her to carry the child, thinking that this is their chance to become a family. The situation escalates, causing her to move out of their home for a time. Eventually Owen supports Christina’s decision to end the pregnancy and she moves back home.

When my husband and I were courting, he was very clear that he did not want to have more children. And at the time, I felt the same. But my heart changed once we were married - seeing my husband interact with my daughter was eye-opening and, suddenly, I yearned to have a child with this man.

But what about his heart?

Although he loves my daughter, my husband still does not want more children. After a year of discussion, prayer, and pastoral counseling, we jointly came to a decision, and my husband got a vasectomy. Factors ranged from my husband’s age, to the ages of our combined children, to our financial situation. In the end, I prayerfully chose my husband over another child, respecting his feelings related to the size of our family.

But that doesn’t mean the desire went away. Two years have passed and I am continually reminded that I will not become pregnant. As I wrap another donor cycle, I wonder about the outcome for this woman who has both the desire and opportunity to carry a child. My jealousy flares up as friends announce their pregnancies and the tears flow when I watch Julie & Julia or Up. Conversations with my husband become baby-centric and prayer becomes my refuge.

When does it stop?

In Grey’s, Owen continues to struggle with his competing desires to have children and respect his wife’s decision. Who knows where they will end up when the series wraps? As for me, I know where I will be: in my husband’s arms. What blessing would be found in another child if I didn’t have this wonderful man to raise it with me?

Awkward Introductions

How would you feel if you knew your egg donor wanted more children? Would you be afraid? Hurt? Would you choose another donor? Or would you offer her compassion and understanding?

This is my journal.

I am proud to be an anonymous egg donor. I love knowing that I have given six women hope; that I have contributed to six growing families. When I first read about the infertile community in 2005, I prayed about how I could help, and this has been an answer to my prayer.

I have another prayer that has not been answered, at least not the way I would like.

Two years ago, my husband and I agreed to his vasectomy. I continue to struggle with this decision: the hope and desire for another child haven’t gone away.

The women who have brought me into their reproductive cycle have turned to donor gametes because their desire for a child is so strong; throughout treatment, they cling to hope because their heart tells them that their family is not complete.

Maybe we’re more alike than I thought.