Thursday, December 24, 2009

Hope during Infertility

What better time during the year to be filled with hope and gratitude than Christmas!? (Perhaps, Easter?) However, I have been filled with hope, indeed!

I know a post about infertility right after a pregnancy announcement may seem a little insensitive, but I've done a lot of thinking about my experience with infertility. It is my sincere hope that other women find strength in their trials.

For months and months, I wanted to get pregnant. But, because I was breastfeeding Bug, my cycles hadn't returned yet. And consequently, my fertility hadn't returned yet. Then, my body started showing signs of returning fertility. Signs...but not reality. Every time my body began another cycle, I was filled with painful emotion. The flowing blood of menstruation is a physical cleanse. The body dumps the old to make room to try again. A clean slate. Another month to temp and chart and record and plan. Another month for hopes to rise. Yet, every time my body would cleanse itself, my spirit was sullied with grief, anger, jealousy and fear.

I always trusted my body, until it didn't do what I wanted it to do. Or what I though it should do. My body had always done what I wanted it to do, before! Finally, I realized that I had a defect. For all I knew, my body could have been aborting a possible baby every cycle. But that was just it, my body didn't understand to keep it, and it would begin the cleansing process before it even knew whether or not it was necessary.

Day and night, I would suckle my needy toddler, with tears in my eyes. Weaning him could be the answer. But I couldn't do it. I knew he needed to nurse. Would it be right to take something away from the child I have to -maybe- get a child I want? *Note: I still have not weaned Bug. In several months, I will probably do a post on nursing during pregnancy.

That child I already have been blessed with brought other questions forward as well. If I already have a young child, did I have a right to mourn my infertility? Did I have a right to claim infertility? I had been wanting to get pregnant for a whole year! By medical standards, I was infertile. Did breastfeeding change that? Maybe. But it didn't change my desires.

I know that there are probably women that are jealous of me and my one child. And I was jealous of women who are expecting or already have two. Did my one child make my sadness any easier? To a woman who strongly desires a(nother) child, but cannot get pregnant, I think there is little solace.

Many women experiencing "true" infertility may not appreciate the difficulty of the situation I was in, just as I could not fully appreciate their difficulties. But, if I am able to get one point across, I wish it to be known that infertility of ANY kind or duration, is difficult if a woman truly desires to get pregnant.

So, every time I began another cycle, I would swallow my pride. Through my grief, anger, jealousy and fear, I would pray for strength, faith, patience, health and hope.

And sometimes, even if it doesn't seem like it, we have a loving Heavenly Father who is watching over us. He knows our desires. He knows our struggles. And He knows the best way to bless us, and the right time to bless us. In hindsight, our struggles always look easier than what they really were. Heavenly Father knows how difficult things are for us. But if we remember Him always, He will bless us in the most unexpected and marvelous ways!


Mommy Bee said...

I don't suppose I could ever quite qualify as 'infertile' because I kept getting pregnant...I just kept miscarrying too. I had several unconfirmed pregnancies that resulted in very early miscarriages (as in, my charts said I was pregnant, but I never got a + test, and then I 'got my period' but i knew it was really a miscarriage). After my first miscarriage, the next one was 10m later, then 6m after that, then there was 11months until I got the positive test for Bear. That 11 months included 2 or maybe 3 of those early mc's...I don't know if it's harder to repeatedly miscarry or to not be able to get pregnant at all.
Hubby and I figured I could potentially get pregnant within a few months after Bear's birth, so we prevented for a few months, but by the time he was about 9-10months old we stopped any of that. My 'ideal' child spacing was around 2 years, but because of the ruralness of where we lived we wanted a summer much for our plans though, it was 14 months of 'trying' before I got pregnant...and promptly miscarried. Thankfully I got pregnant the next month (when Bear was 25months old). Like you, I was infertile due to nursing for much of that 'ttc' time...In fact I didn't get my cycles back until 20 months postpartum, and then got pregnant on the 4th (and 5th) cycles. So perhaps our trying didn't count until those last few months? In that case I can't claim infertility...if anything i have the opposite problem. LOL! But the fact that my body made me wait so long to become fertile again was a trial of its own sort, and I very much feel for you. I too considered weaning the child I had in an attempt to conceive another child...given my history of miscarriage I actually had no reason to even feel very confident of carrying a baby to term again. So I finally concluded to live in the present, love (and nurse) the child I had, and just let life happen how it may.
It turned out ok.
and you know, for all that I thought 2 years was really great child spacing, I've now watched my sister with her kids 2 years apart, and mine almost 3 years apart...dang, 3 years is GREAT spacing!!! Only one kid in diapers for one thing!!!

Terresa said...

My mom & one of my sisters struggled for 5 years each to conceive their first child.

I didn't have that problem. I ended up w/3 kids in 22 months (including twins).

As you post, "He knows our struggles." And I would never swap the life lessons I learned during those growing up years with my young babies.

Great post!

TopHat said...

That was kind of like it was for us. I didn't want to wean Margaret at all. It just took some time and patience on my part. I should do a nursing during pregnancy post too. Maybe we should do a carnival. :)

Stacy said...

Great post- I've liked poking around your blog tonight.

Your feelings are very familiar. It took us over two years, some fertility treatments and a 2nd trimester miscarriage to get our little boy here. Now that I look back on that experience, I realize that it probably just wasn't time for him to come yet, and my husband and I weren't ready for the challenges that he would bring.

But I think that anytime you want to have a baby- be it your 1st or your 5th- and it doesn't come along your timeline, there is room for grief and sadness. And there aren't many people that understand that, especially when many of them look at you and say "well, why don't you just quit nursing and then you'll get pregnant?"

I may very well be in your boat soon, because the pull to have another is very strong, but neither my baby nor I are ready to wean, and I'm not sure my body is totally ready to be fertile. So we wait to see what the Lord has planned for us.

Congrats on your pregnancy, btw, and I hope that all goes well.

Katie said...

Mallory - I saw your question about night nursing a baby and a toddler at Heather's blog, and I replied there, but in case you don't see it, I'll repeat it here!

This is what I did. We had four in the bed - my husband, the newborn, me, and the toddler. The bed was tight against the wall so the toddler didn't fall out. I just rolled over from left to right depending on who needed to nurse the most at that moment. That got old really fast though, and I eventually night weaned the toddler.

I feel that if they are over 2 years old, it's just fine to night wean abruptly. They are usually angry about it, but I don't think they are truly traumatized. Of course you know your child best and will be able to tell. And of course I still allowed nursing at all other times of the day.

I currently have a 2.5 year old, and for the last few months, he has been totally fine about night weaning. Before bed time, I tell him that after he falls asleep, he will not be having any snackies until morning. He says "OK mom". Then he'll wake up in the night and scream and cry for snackies and I say no and ask him if he wants water, and he drinks some and yells at me a bit and then quiets down and goes back to sleep immediately. After a couple of days of this, he generally sleeps through the night or wakes once or twice for a quick drink of water (as many adults do). We've had to repeat this several times because we've gotten back into night nursing when he's been sick.

It certainly was not this easy with my older two boys, but sometimes you get lucky I guess.

Another way I've nursed two at night is by laying on my back with one arm around each kid. But that doesn't work so well with a brand newborn baby.