I May Not Get to Be a Mother

When I first started writing about infertility, wonderful women from across the globe reached out to tell me about their long roads to motherhood. Many had gone through 3, 4, 5, 6, rounds of fertility treatments and I thought: “How awful for them! I’m planning on having this work the first time.”

To do otherwise seemed terribly inefficient.

I was wholly convinced  our first round of IVF would work, even when the doctor explained the embryo he was implanting wasn’t actually viable. I was absolutely certain our second round of IVF would work with the implantation one good embryo and when that didn’t take, I was positive the next round would absolutely result in a pregnancy. The third time, though, wasn’t a charm either.

This is the first time since we have embarked on this road that I have really had to face the reality that I might not get to be a mother. All this hardship might very well result in nothing. This fourth cycle might not work. And then what? How long can we go through this? How long can we ache before making peace with the reality of our biology? Maybe we’ll stop. Maybe we’ll rescue an animal or two. Of course our hearts and minds are open to adoption, but, for various  reasons, I doubt we would be at the top of anyone’s list. Still, I routinely walk the dog by a local high-school, on the look out for pregnant sixteen year olds.

“Are you pregnant and not want to be?” I  guess  I’ll say. “Have you seen the movie Juno?”

I’m frustrated that for the very first time in my life I really did try and live The Secret. I had long suspected my negative attitude was contributing to negative outcomes in my life in a self-fulfilling prophecy sort of way. I really believed that if I could just banish my pessimism, visualize positive outcomes, they would come to fruition. Over the course of every cycle, I imagined hearing the good news at the end of the two week wait. I imagined my uterus bathed in a peach light, like my infertility meditation instructed me to (oh, yeah, I also bought a fertility meditation). I Googled fertility yoga poses and breathed through them, convinced I was exhaling life from my lungs into life giving cells. I imagined myself holding my baby, right until the very moment the clinic called to say the pregnancy test for each cycle was negative.

When the clinic called back once, an hour after delivering the bad news, I was certain they were calling to say they had made a mistake, that they had mixed up my file and I was, in fact, pregnant. Except I wasn’t pregnant. The file they had been looking at was mine and it had an outstanding balance. I settled the bill. And then I felt so very foolish: for being hopeful, for ever believing any of this could work. For thinking I could get to be a mother just because I want to be. I’ve also wanted to be a much more successful writer by now and that hasn’t happened either. What the fuck was I thinking? Who do I think I am, daring to disturb the universe?

Life. Ammi right?

As Augustus Waters says in The Fault in Our Stars, a book about CHILDREN WITH TERMINAL CANCER, I remind myself: “The world is not a wish granting factory.” It’s just not.

A fellow infertile woman writes me that having decided to stop trying for a baby after multiple rounds of failed fertility treatments, her husband told her he didn’t really want to share her with anyone else anyway, because he loves her so much. I relate this anecdote to my husband.

“Isn’t that just so lovely?” I say. “So very romantic?”

“Yes,” he agrees. “It is. I want to share you, though, with one baby.”

I have a pang of sadness, wishing I could be enough for him, that he would take my face in his hands and say “you are enough for me to be happy.” But I understand. I do. Of course I do. I want to share him with a baby, too. I want to watch him be the amazing father I know he could be if given the chance. I already share him with the dog and cat and I love watching him snuggle with the kitty he vowed to never, ever live with. Things change.

Despite my deep longing to be a mother, I am somehow feeling more resigned now as we wait to hear the verdict of our fourth cycle. I feel much less desperate, much less crazed about it working. Because chances are it didn’t, no matter how hard I wish it did. My hope feels irrelevant and in relinquishing it I feel more prepared this time. I am steeling myself off, encasing my heart, bracing myself for bad news. I am not imagining the baby I hope is growing inside me. I wonder if that will make it easier this time: to hear again there isn’t one.