The Next Five
We survived that road trip & many more journeys that we partook over the years. Some journeys were well planned and then there were some that we were forced upon us unexpectedly.
These years following our 5 year anniversary road trip are a bit if a blur. We busied ourselves with doing what most young couples do: we focused on advancing in our careers; we became first time home owners, travelled and worked feverishly on trying to start a family.
This is when my descent into hell began.
We endured more miscarriages and failed attempts at starting a family that what you could count. We stopped counting because it was embarrassing to admit to so many failures. When you add up the amount of time and money we spent on doctors, medication and therapy sessions, we realize that we could have done the Jolie thing and adopted several children. But we weren't ready for adoption.
I underwent so many painful procedures to try to fix what they didn't know, was wrong with me. I went through all kinds of changes while taking those fertility drugs. I truly felt like Dr. Jekyll & Ms. Hyde. At one point, Mr. Hyde (aka hubby) had to hide from me. He tried to get me to empathize with him about how difficult it was for him to go through all those procedures too. After all, it puts a great strain on a man to be forced to provide a sperm sample on demand and into a cup.
REALLY?!?!?!! This was the 2nd time in my life I suffered from penis envy!
On the topic of all things Freudian...Don't even get me started on the psychological meltdown an infertility patients goes through.
As an infertility patient, you are stripped of your dignity and sanity, among other things. It's funny how many infertility specialists suggest or include a psychological assessment as part of the infertility work up. Meanwhile, in some practices, you are forced to deal with real life examples of psycho-social ineptitude: there were the idiotic reception staff who called your job & left messages with your assistant that your Estrogen levels are low and the doctor ordered you progesterone suppositories; then there's the insensitive nurses who are trying to tell you, after your fourth failed attempt how lucky you are to not have any kids because you can sleep in late, travel or stay home & do nothing all day; and, the absolute worst: egotistical, money hungry, arrogant doctors! I'd like for some of those 'professionals' to undergo some form of psychiatric treatment!
I whole-heartedly struggled through all of our heartbreaks. I was barely able to catch my breath before the axe would fall again: miscarriages (yay we're finally pregnant! Then a few days later finding no heartbeat during the ultrasound exam or feeling the sick, warm squishy feeling of blood oozing out of me & staining my clothes as well as my heart); then there were the false positive pregnancy tests due to all the fertility drug after-effects (swollen achy boobs, nausea, late period, bloated abdomen, all from drugs) Where were the drugs for my sanity?; failed procedures (the dreaded 2 week wait after the sperm or embryos were deposited into my uterus. For 2 weeks we'd walk on egg shells (no pun intended) hoping, wishing and praying that this would be the last time we'd have to go through this. Only to be on the side of a doctor's desk with the doctor scheduling our next $10,000 treatment, while leafing through brochures for European cruises.
We became proficient at being aunt and uncle many times over, but becoming parents was something that eluded us.
We also became that awkward couple that declined baby showers, christenings and birthday parties. Really, I should say that I became that awkward woman that avoided these social events. I inadvertently estranged friends and family as I became obsessed with being a professional infertility patient.
We both secretly blamed ourselves for our failure to create our own family. It wasn't until we were at yet, another new doctor's appointment when I pigeon-holed my doctor for answers as to why I couldn't get pregnant & stay pregnant. I demanded to know who was to blame for our broken dreams. He balked at first, but I would not back down. I demanded...needed...desperately... wanted an answer. The doctor caved in and revealed to us that it was my body that was betraying me. And he didn't know why. I took the news the hardest.
I took it as a very personal attack on my womanhood. I had to prove the doctors wrong. I promised myself that I would not have any regrets at the end of my life. Being childless was not an option for me. But apparently becoming penniless in the process seemed like a compromise I was willing to make.
Hubby, on the other hand, had tried in so many ways to let me know that no matter what, children or no children, he would be happy so long as we were together. After years of being poked, probed and analyzed, we were both tired, bitter, angry and silently brooding.
Passion left the building a long time ago, spontaneity became a figment of our imagination, love making became mechanical and I dreaded doing the deed.
We lost our ability to keep things light and fun between us. He stopped being able to make me laugh. His sense of humor and his light-hearted nature was one of his more appealing gifts that I cherished. And it wasn't that he stopped trying. It was me, I lost my laugh.
As we wearily celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary on an island in the Caribbean, we sat near each other on the beach watching a gorgeous sunset, I silently wondered how many more anniversaries would we share without children? More deeply, I wondered, how many more years could this marriage last without children?