By Sandi Sheehan
Published in Resolve for the future and beyond, Spring 2014
My infertility and I started out as strangers. Then we met, and we were instant stark enemies. But then we became friends, and that’s when we started going places.
For the longest time I couldn’t get past my unexplained infertility. It used to get me all fired up. There was something about it that just wouldn’t let me rise above it, go around it, or work through it. Having no understood cause for it, I had no way of knowing if it was something I’d ever be able to overcome. The thought of not being able to conceive pierced my heart, buckled my knees, and brought tearful days that seemed to go on for lifetimes. Everything about my body’s abilities seemed unreliable, and because of that, time stood still.
I discovered after many cycles of trying to conceive and nothing happening, that being pissed at my diagnosis wasn’t going to get me where I needed to go. Despite the deep pang of hurt I felt every time I said or heard the word infertility, I eventually realized that I had to back down, stop getting in its face, and instead start accepting that it was part of my story whether I planned for it or not. I knew that in order to reach my heart’s deepest yearnings, I had to give it what it needed most: a true peace offering. As crazy as the notion was, I began accepting the imperfections of my body and viewing them as my new normal, so that I could find a way to merge my two worlds. My one world of frustrating stops and terrifying unknowns with my other world that overflowed with stored up love and hope for wished-for little ones. At first I couldn’t see how these two opposing worlds could ever work together. I couldn’t see how I could ever stand a chance becoming pregnant in a world that relies heavily on the very things my body wasn’t exact or precise.
It was in this unsettling, imperfect place I eventually found the courage to let go of the label and forgive myself for having my infertility in the first place. I forgave it for hurting me, being a roadblock, and for making things so difficult. By doing this, I opened myself to the possibilities of becoming pregnant with help. I wasn’t about to have my infertility tell me what I could and could not do. After meeting with my reproductive endocrinologist and having a uterine polyp surgically removed that scarily carried with it a high recurrence rate and potential for endometrial cancer, I started to get a sense of my options and realized that a successful outcome was more possible than I imagined. Knowing the polyp was gone was a tremendous sigh of relief, but not knowing whether more would show up and become a deadly cancer overwhelmed me. I clung to my baby hopes and treatment path. The shots were unnatural and painful at first, but not after a while. The long waits were grueling, but they came with the territory. The big fat negative pregnancy tests were crushing, but they kept me taking baby steps.
My happy pregnancy news finally came, but when I was six months along, so close to finally holding my first little guys, my world unraveled. My water broke, letting in an infection, and I experienced, through loss, the deepest suffering that my belly and I had ever known. My sons’ heartbeats stopped. I became septic, and my mommy glow that I cherished every nanosecond, was gone in a matter of just a few hours. I wept until every tear of mine was tapped dry, but that didn’t stop me from weeping. Eventually I became pregnant again, but sadly, I suffered another loss due to another pregnancy complication. But the more attention and time I gave to questions, the more hopeful the answers became.
In a lot of ways unbelievably, I made it my hopeful ever after. After messing everything up and turning my world upside down, my infertility finally made a full one-eighty. It led me to the preventative treatment my body needed: a cervical cerclage, Lovenox shots, and nine months of strict bed rest. Ever so grateful, I gave birth to twin boys born one miraculous minute apart.
Becoming friends with my infertility made me stronger. Strong enough to see that, in some ways, it was a gift. The more I opened myself to it, the more beautiful the outcome became.
Sandi Sheehan, MA, is the author of Bunless Oven: Bring Hope To Your Trying-To-Conceive Tears. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, but it’s her own tear-filled conception journey that allows her to connect with the hearts and bellies of her clients. She volunteers for RESOLVE by peer-leading a hope after loss support group.