It's been eight days now since I found out I'm all finished having babies. Not because I want to - oh, God, how I want more - but because my doctor called last week and left me a voicemail telling me that even with drugs and procedures, my likelihood of conceiving again is seven percent.
Seven. Seven with help.
And why? Because my egg reserve is hovering dangerously close to nil. Because I, in my early 30s, have the egg reserve of somebody nearing the start of their fifth decade of life. I don't know why. I can implore the universe until I'm blue in the face and I'll still never know why.
I don't really know the official stages of grief, as they're laid out onto a continuum. All I know right now is that I've been swallowed up by sadness and lit on fire by anger. And that I'm wafting in between that stage where I want to remove myself from social media so as to not see another pregnant belly, newborn baby or positive pregnancy test pee-stick again, and wanting to sink softly and swiftly into the ocean for a good six-month reprieve from life.
I'm just so tightly enveloped in a trash-heap of feelings that at any given moment threaten to suck me down and pull me right under. I so desperately want to be through with trudging through this, and instead want to be at that place of quiet acceptance - where I know I'll never understand, but where I can put one foot in front of the other with ease; where I can sew this patch onto my jacket, where I can tattoo this horrid stage onto my skin, and where I can speak or think about it without crumbling into a thousand pieces.
I'm only 33 years old. I don't understand it. I don't know why I have so few eggs.
"It isn't fair!", I want to scream. This isn't how it was supposed to be! I wrack my brain at how we chose to spend the last decade of our lives, wondering desperately if babies would have freely and abundantly taken up residence in my womb-room if we'd started playing this game earlier, and whether I'd ever have blinked an eye - whether I'd ever have had to speak that crude infertility-word as a truth in my own life... Except that I don't want anything to have been any different. I wouldn't ever hop into a time machine and start having babies earlier. I love what I've done with my life. I love that I grew and birthed my Margot baby - and knowing that any one minute difference in how any of my choices played out would have meant never getting to meet her...no. I wouldn't change anything.
But I can't seem to reconcile those deep feelings of gratitude for my life and for my girl, with where I'm standing now. I just... I don't understand it.
It's fitting, I'm sure, that this news came exactly one year, to the day, after I found out that my second baby was dead inside my body. I've wrestled so hard since then to conquer and overcome my grief over that loss, as I have worked tirelessly to keep facing forward; we've tried and tried for another baby, to no avail.
But you know what I nearly hate the most? (Nearly?) That we are smothered into being SO FUCKING QUIET ABOUT THIS STUFF. It took Daryl & me 14 months to conceive Margot. Even though she came, miraculously, all on her own and with no medical procedures or aid, my medical record was still slapped with this big, ugly "Primary Infertility" tag on it. Because that's what they do when they've run the gamut of tests on you and haven't found any discernible reason why after a year you haven't gotten pregnant. And so for the entirety of Margot's life, up until my completely fluke surprise second pregnancy, I loathed and resented opening up my medical records and seeing that I'd been labeled infertile.
"Because," I thought, "Look! Don't you see? I made a baby! I made TWO babies! I'm not infertile! You've made a mistake!"
Except that...now, after all this, after seeing that dangerously low score on one of many blood test results I got back last week, I can't help but wonder, was my second baby slated to die all along? Well, sure. That's not exactly arguable. But..so, does that make Margot a bonafide fucking MIRACLE?
And why did I confine myself to a tiny, dark corner in which to grieve and process all of this? Why were there only ever as many people as I could count on one hand who knew what I've been going through? I never spoke openly about it; because for some damn reason, infertility isn't something people like to talk about. It was, for some reason, ingrained in my mind that this was something to be ashamed of - something to battle on my own - and something to never come out with for fear of great embarrassment and judgement; or, worse yet, for fear of words dripping in mustered-up sympathy hurtling toward me from people who cannot relate and who won't ever understand.
Please don't tell me to love harder the daughter I already have - I can't possibly. Don't look at me with those sad eyes and pander to me with a hug. Don't tell me that this is God's will, or that All Things Happen For A Reason. I don't want any of it.
What you should do is take a look around your messy house, feel insurmountably blessed by those tiny little things who created such havoc, and go kiss them on the lips. I don't care if they just peed on the floor. I don't care if they're straining your marriage. I don't care if their ear-piercing screams are keeping you from thinking straight. I don't care if you're so exhausted by those nightly feedings that you're ready to jump off a cliff. You should only be so lucky.
Amidst this great unknowing, questions swirl around in my head. Why me? Why do I have to write about this? Why do I have to know what this feels like, and why wasn't I dealt different cards? I'll never know.
I'll never a lot of things, actually.
I'll never get to feel a baby kick inside my body again. I'll never again get to experience and conquer that powerful force that is childbirth. I'll never again get to smell that sweet newborn smell, or to stare endlessly at my new baby again.
I'll never get to breastfeed again. I can't even begin to explain how gutted I am over this.
Did you know there's such a thing as craving all those nightmarish, disastrous feelings that come with postpartum depression? Did you know that it's possible to look into another person's family and so deeply wish to have exactly the things that they're complaining about? Or that someone out there might give their right arm to go through that stress that another parent is feeling, those fears, those woes, those worries? If only for a chance to have every last one of those things that they know they'll never get to experience...?
Secondary infertility is a bitch. Secondary infertility spits in my face every time I open Margot's closet and see all the baby clothes we were saving for our second-born; every time I look on top of my fridge and see my breast pump (why haven't I put that away?); and every time I remember we have no more need to buy a bigger car, or a second car seat. Secondary infertility clambers up my back every month that I get another period. It taps me incessantly on the shoulder when I remember I'll never get to experience a second round of firsts. When I remember that Margot's going to grow up without a sibling. When I remember that nothing about my life is going to end up looking the way I thought it would. When I have to rethink EVERYTHING. When I have to pull out all those puzzle pieces and try to put them back together in a different fashion. When I have to come to terms with that dizzying, awful realization that our family stops here; grows no more; comes to a halt at us three.
And it's just not what I wanted. It's not what I hoped for, or what I expected, or even remotely how I assumed things would go. I thought there'd be more than this.
Did you get to have all the babies you wanted? I didn't.