Infertility, a word that not many think about unless you are affected by it or know someone close to you that is struggling with it. Like many, I never imagined that I would become so familiar with this word. No one expects that they will struggle to have a child, when there is so much attention out there to prevent pregnancies you assume that it's easier to get pregnant than not. Pregnancy is truly a difficult feat, the fact that an egg and sperm can meet and create a human being is such a miraculous event. Many don't realize how hard your body has to work to accomplish this perfectly timed event to create something so precious and beautiful.
Here's our story on how we finally had our little "miracle"...
I always imagined life with a house full of children and busy event filled weekends. I wanted 3-4 children, a large home to accommodate them, a profession in which I could be home with them on holidays and summer vacation, live in the suburbs, drive a large car, basically become a typical suburban mom. So, I became a teacher, got married, bought a home with 5 bedrooms and a large backyard, bought a SUV, and just waited for the children to follow. Did I mention that I'm a planner? Yes, I had planned my life's events and was hoping that God would allow it to all happen according to my plan.
As part of the plan, I was about to get married and thought it would be wise to go see my OB and get a prescription for birth control. We didn't want to get pregnant right away, perhaps two years into our marriage after some traveling. We were married in January 2000 and I started the pill a month prior to my wedding. My body decided that it would not agree with the pill and I had side effect after side effect which did not make for a fun honeymoon. So after being on it about 3 months, I stopped and we figured other ways to "not get pregnant". A little less than two years had passed and we decided that it was time to start "trying". I expected that we would be pregnant in a matter of months. Why wouldn't I think this, everyone in my family had children very easily. There was no reason for me to think that I wouldn't have the same success. To my surprise, it wasn't happening. Remember my plan, yup, I was a little irritated that my body wasn't listening and wouldn't follow "the plan!" Still, we kept trying. Not to mention the constant comments from in-laws and relatives about when we were going to have a baby. Korean elders are infamous for being candid and saying whatever is on their minds, so you can imagine the kinds of comments we've heard over the years about getting pregnant and all the things that we should be doing to all the the things that we were doing wrong. You name it, we've heard it all!
2003 and still no baby! You've heard the stories about your girlfriends and friends of friends that get pregnant on a whim without trying and the "oops" baby that came along so, why weren't we getting pregnant. What were we doing wrong? I started my research and tried to follow all sorts of calendars, taking my temperature, timing it perfectly with ovulation, different positions, different times of the day, different foods, supplements, relaxing, going on vacations, exercising more, exercising less... the list of suggestions were endless. Anything that was suggested we tried! Now we were really starting to worry. I finally went to the doctor after year and a half of "trying to conceive". First, you have a typical exam with some blood tests to check your hormone levels. My levels seemed fine. Next was to check my husband's little swimmers. They seemed fine. Now when I say fine, there is broad range of "fine". For example, your levels can be anywhere from 50-200 and as long as you fall into that range, you're told you're fine. Oh and not to mention that each time you test, your levels can fluctuate, but still you're told it's fine.
So... here we were still not pregnant and trying another year, we went through some more tests. Apparently when women were cursed with labor pains there must have been a clause that also included pains associated with infertility. It's the woman who has to go through a series of exams and tests which range from uncomfortable to pretty painful. For starters, there is the wonderful ultrasound probe that many of us must try to get used to each and every time we have a doctor's visit, ugh!!! Constantly having your blood drawn that the inside of my elbows bruised from the techs looking for the "right" vein (by the way, I hate needles). The dye test to check if your fallopian tubes are open, which is pretty painful. Oh, did I mention the ultrasound probe, no matter how many times I've had that done (which is a lot over the years) I still can't get used to it and it's still awful! With all of these tests and exams, still there was no conclusive reason as to why we weren't getting pregnant. We fell into the category of "unexplained infertility"! I wanted an explanation and I wanted to be able to fix whatever the problem was and move on! Not having a definite answer to this problem drove my husband and myself crazy. Not to mention the friends and family endlessly asking what was wrong. We had no answers. At least if there was a cause we could either try to fix the problem or make peace with the issue and move on. BUT NO..., there was no answer and all we could do was keep trying and continue going back to the doctors.
During the course of all this trying, we were also given LOTS of unsolicited advice from the couples who already had children. I suppose that once you get pregnant, that automatically qualifies them as the baby making pros. People wanted to share what worked for them, just to give you an idea of what we were told, "Drinking orange juice everyday helped us get pregnant" or "We went on vacation and came back pregnant" and the most infamous advice was "You just need to RELAX." Oh this evil word! It started to become a word that I detest and did not ever want to hear again. If I could get a dollar every time someone told me to "RELAX" I would have enough money to retire. Countless times, when people knew you were trying to get pregnant, their advice was to "RELAX." I don't know how many times I've tried to relax, but apparently my definition of relax must be different from everyone else's because relaxing didn't work! Can you sense my dislike for this word!
A bit of advice for those of you
who may know someone trying to conceive, DO NOT tell them to relax. No
matter how you say it, it's demeaning. If you can't think of anything
else to say, say nothing at all.
I could probably come up with a book of all the advice I've received and have just two chapters, "What NOT to say" and "What you SHOULD say".