After three years, multiple IVF cycles, two devastating miscarriages, and countless setbacks … Aela’s road to motherhood has been anything but easy. Follow her story on Babble and don’t miss the latest chapter in her journey below.
You don’t know it yet, but your life is going to seriously change in 2012. Don’t be afraid, you will get through it all. But there are some things you should know.
I know you never expected to be diagnosed with infertility. I don’t think many women do expect it. Like many others, you’ll have a hard time with the diagnosis. It won’t make any sense to you. You’ve had regular, clockwork periods your whole life and have never had any signs of any issues. You thought your biggest challenge in getting pregnant would be that you’re a lesbian. Lesbians don’t suffer from infertility, right? They just don’t have any sperm in their lives.
I wish that were true for you.
I can’t tell you how long it will take before you become a mother to a baby that is alive and well in this world, but it will take you two IVF cycles to become pregnant with your twins. It will then take 17 weeks before you lose them.
You won’t want to get out of bed Christmas morning, three days after your loss, but you’ll wake up to breasts that are so engorged with milk that they will ache to be fed on by babies that you do not have. Your wife and your mother will see you through this pain. You are safe to sob and scream. And you will. You will always be safe with them.
The months following your loss will be the darkest of your life.
You will become angry and bitter, and for the first time in your 34 years, you will begin to hate your body. You’ll hate the 10 extra pounds the fertility drugs and the pregnancy gave you, but you won’t want to lose them because they are all you have left of your babies. You’ll have wished you knew that donating your breast milk had been an option, because then at least some good could have come from your babies’ deaths.
You’ll try again over the next year — after more invasive uterine screenings, tests, and procedures — to get pregnant with the extra frozen embryos you have, and you’ll be so hopeful, so certain each time will be “the time.”
They won’t be.
You’ll think maybe you just need some fresh, live sperm, and you’ll try desperately to get pregnant at home with a known donor, plastic speculums, and needle-less syringes. These efforts will get you nowhere.
You’ll become exhausted and hateful of your body and decide you just can’t do it anymore. Your wife will then try. She’ll try with you at home with a known donor and will amazingly get pregnant on the first attempt. Be cautious with the joy that follows. It will not last. She’ll lose her pregnancy at 12 weeks, after the baby fails to develop a heartbeat.
You’ll blame yourself for her pain. You’ll know that if you hadn’t given up, she wouldn’t have suffered through this. You’ll question which is worse: having lost twins from your own body or witnessing the woman you love lose a baby from hers. You’ll never figure out the answer.
You’ll go through all the initial intake papers and appointments at your new fertility center because you will have moved since your last attempts. You’ll retell your story and again live through the obligatory (yet genuine) “I’m sorries.” You’ll begin this next phase cautiously hopeful, which is a terrible feeling. You’ll want to be excited and to a degree you will be, but you’ll have seen too much at this point to trust any of it.
You’ll get pregnant again. Finally. But the fear of loss won’t leave you, and you just know something will go wrong. You’ll see your baby’s heartbeat at six weeks and discover there’s such a slim chance of losing a baby after that heartbeat is seen. But you will. You’ll lose that baby, too.
Aela, I don’t tell you this to scare you. I don’t tell you this to prevent you from ever going down this road. I tell you this because, even in spite of all the heartache and pain you’re going to experience, this journey won’t define who you are. There will be days you feel like the pitied infertile woman who just keeps losing babies, but this journey will teach you.
It will teach you how strong you are. How brave you are, even on the days you feel like you can’t leave your bed. Maybe especially on those days.
It will teach you how beautiful this life really is, because the blood and tears will give way to personal growth and smiles.
It will teach you to truly cherish the joyous moments in life and the people you share those moments with. They are gifts, these moments and these humans.
It will teach you that you are not alone and that we all need each other. So many women will come to you with similar stories of their own, and total strangers will send love and encouragement, and you’ll need each of them to forge through.
It will teach you that you can rise from the darkest moments of your life with a healthy heart. You will begin to forgive your body and come to peace with her. You will learn to love her unconditionally and to trust her once again. And you will love her.
You will find happiness in your days, even when you didn’t think you could. One day, you will laugh again and not feel guilty for it. You will learn it’s okay to have down days, and you will learn to honor them as part of it all. But you will also learn to lift yourself out from them. You will learn how to. And you will learn that you can.
I wish I could tell you when you’ll become a mother to a baby alive and well on this earth, but even I don’t know that yet.
I write you this letter as we’re about to undergo yet another procedure to get pregnant, this time, a frozen embryo transfer. Will this be our baby? Will this be “the time”? I don’t know.
But I do know we’ll be okay if it’s not.