Fertility: A Cautionary Tale
First, A Few Facts:
-According to the Department of Health and Human Services roughly 12 to 13 out of 100 couples in the U.S. have trouble becoming pregnant.
-Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data indicates that 10 in 100 (6.1 million) women in the U.S. between the ages 15-44 have difficulty becoming pregnant or staying pregnant.
-When you start to break down infertility and infant mortality down by ethnic groups, the numbers become staggering among populations of color.
Nearly 10 years ago, I thought I was going to be a mom. I wasn't ready; maybe God knew that and decided that I had more to gain from the experience, but I decided I was going to rise to the occasion. Not even nine weeks into the pregnancy, I experienced sharp pains.
My mom told me it was gas and asked me to stay with her for a while, so I did what she said and didn't worry myself too much. Maybe a week and a half later, I was out running an errand and a pain shot through my womb area that was so sharp I nearly crashed my car. At that point, I told her to take me to the hospital.
After 10 hours of testing and no one telling me much of anything, they rolled me into a room, explained that my fallopian tube had ruptured, my baby was dead, I'd been bleeding out for a while internally, and that I would need emergency surgery. At that point, it was about 2 a.m. and the surgeon was on the phone telling me he was getting dressed and would be there shortly.
My mom was fearful of doctors, surgery, and anything invasive— a mindset I'd adopted for myself as well at the time. But when my nurse told her that if I denied the procedure, I'd bleed out in 48 hours, I told the nurse to schedule the surgery. However, I did deny a blood transfusion, which would make my recovery a lot slower. I remember that my nurse was particularly concerned about that because I'd lost a lot of blood apparently.
As they were rolling me down the hall, tons of thoughts flooded my head. I think that's where I benefited the most from the entire experience because I was able to put many things into perspective without even realizing it. One of the team members put the anesthesia mask on me and told me to countdown from 10; the last thing I thought to myself was that it would be really nice to wake up and have the opportunity to do things differently. From the moment I opened my eyes after the surgery, I took that last thought to heart.
Down the Road:
For years, I focused on me and getting to where I wanted to be in life. I did get to a point where I thought I'd be happy being a mom, but it didn't happen again. I'd actually gotten to the point where I was negotiating with my best friends and my mom about carrying a baby for me. Eventually, I made peace with being the cool auntie who traveled the world and chased her dreams, which I did and then boom! I ended up in a relationship with a man who can make me laugh until I cry and I feel like that happiness led to our little girl.
Today, I'm almost 40 weeks exactly and I'm so grateful for a full-term, healthy pregnancy. I was so scared to feel joy at first. A soon as I found out, I went to get an ultrasound and didn't think too hard until I saw that the baby was in the sac and not in my tube. I didn't want to purchase anything until I got the genetic testing and I didn't tell anyone until after I found out what we were having. I created reminders and affirmations in my head to soothe my anxiety, which included just being thankful for each day that I got to experience this journey, each flutter, and every kick.
Honestly, taking things day by day with her became the perfect practice for a lifestyle change. I developed the habit of staying present, focusing on what's in front of me and what I can appreciate or control for the day that will lead to a better tomorrow. I'm confident that this mindset has helped me so much in navigating the past few months with the current state of the world.
While some women are extremely blessed with fertile bodies, conception and pregnancy isn't easily attainable for everyone. Life is really precious and there are so many women who struggle with infertility. When we look at the people around us, we are often staring at a mother's love or dream actualized. But you might also be looking at someone yearning for that miracle or suffering from a loss. I think that perspective helps to foster the kind of empathy the world needs right now.
So, I say try to:
-Say thank you for the little miracles all around you; maintain gratitude.
-Pray for others when you see them struggling and for the struggles no one sees.
-Keep a tender enough heart that knows empathy.
-Improve or be an asset to the space and situations you're in.