I Don't Know How to Make Peace With My Infertility

Woman lying down on sofa
Woman lying down on sofa

I press the button on my phone, accidentally prompting Siri to life.

"What can I help you with?" she asks.

I have just hung up with the fertility clinic, advising me this latest round of fertility treatments has failed. All of them have always failed. I feel desperate and out of options and for a moment I appreciate that anyone, at all, is offering assistance.

"Go ahead," Siri says. "I'm listening."

So I go ahead.

"Can you help me get a baby, Siri?!" I wail, "I want a baby! I want a baby, Siri! I want a baby so much! Do you know how I can have a baby?! Help me have a baby, Siri! Please!"

"I'm sorry," she says, rather curtly. "I do not understand."

I don't understand, either.

Whenever a pregnancy test is negative, even after I have started to bleed and can see the very shedding of the egg I hoped would turn into a baby right there between my legs, I am still in utter disbelief. I keep reviewing the contents of my life, searching through 35 years' worth of living, wanting to point at a specific instance, a single questionable behavior that has rendered me infertile. Really, though, I've had very little fun at all. I have always worked really hard, sometimes at multiple jobs as I pursue my dream of being a writer in parallel with my legal career that pays the bills. I always lose vacation days at year's end, as the time gets away from me. And we don't travel much. I never tried drugs, in high school or university or thereafter, in case I wanted to run for office one day. I never smoked. I never drank more than a glass of red wine when out with friends on a Saturday night (I don't usually go out on school nights). I walk the dog twice a day, aiming for 10,000 steps, and have always been about the right weight for my small height. I've never been irresponsible or spontaneous. I'm very nice. I volunteered at an animal sanctuary and hope to again. All my medical tests have come back normal and there is no identifiable reason why I can't have a baby, except that I haven't had a baby.

Trying to have a baby has consumed years of my life. I have spent the past year on hormone injections and pills with nasty side effects, living this half-life of trying to get pregnant. I have tried IUIs and IVFs and donor sperm and acupuncture and yoga and meditation and visualization and Buddhist breathing and holistic nutrition. I have tried watching Amy Schumer videos in the procedure room, having read a study out of Israel that said laughter could aid implantation. It hasn't.

My life feels ensnared, caught between desperately wanting to make peace with my infertility and desperately wanting to be a mother. I don't know what to do. I don't know if we should keep trying when the odds of success are so low. I don't know if we should give up on my eggs. I don't know if I can live through the years-long tumult of adoption, hoping to be blessed with a child we may never get. I don't know how to hold my husband's pain, when I am so suffocated by my own, though he's suffering through the same infertility too. I don't know what to make for dinner tonight.

It's all so exhausting. I'm so exhausted. I want to move on. I want to have a baby. I want to stop cradling the cat in my arms and singing to her. She is not impressed.

The agony of infertility runs so deep that I feel irrevocably changed by the experience -- so much so that having a baby now almost feels beside the point. How will I ever heal? How will we ever be OK with the hows and whys and buts of it all? My heart feels mashed inside my chest. Could a baby really put it back together again? Could he or she really make everything that's happened all right? I worry that's a lot of pressure to put on a sweet, little infant. And what if there isn't one to ever come? What then?

I don't know. I don't know what to hope for anymore. I am out of wishes to make.

I think about the grief life cycle I have lived over the past 10 years as I have mourned my late mother -- how what started as a thick and heady fog of anguish and remorse hardened into a small kernel of sadness that I carry with me in my heart. I hope the overwhelming sadness of infertility, too, will eventually shrink, becoming a small pebble that I lay beside my mother's, always with me but not weighing me down with the laboriousness of grief. I hope they will keep each other company there, small and humble, so when you look at me you won't know I carry stones in my heart.

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