It was another stressful marriage counseling session today. This session wasn’t stressful because my husband and I aren’t getting along; this session was stressful because the topic ended up being our struggles with infertility, which occurred from 2011-2013. I kind of figured this would eventually come up in marriage counseling, but I wasn’t anticipating it to come up this week. Actually, I was hoping it wouldn’t come up until I had worked through it thoroughly with my trauma therapist.
If you’ve ever experienced infertility, you know that it is hard. It is like grieving the loss of what could’ve been every single month. You wake up one morning a month, hopeful that this pregnancy test will be the one; this one will be positive. You wait your two minutes, praying for two lines. It gets to the point where your mind starts playing tricks on you. You want so badly to see two lines that you can’t tell if there are actually two lines or just one. Every month you’re left with the most earth-shattering heartache that comes only from finding out that you won’t be able to be a mommy this time. Once again your body failed to conceive a life. Once again your body didn’t do what you wanted/needed it to do.
I often wonder if the sexual abuse I went through as a kid had any impact on my struggles with conceiving my daughter. Not just from an internal perspective (how intact things are in there), but also emotionally. As much as I love to escape from the shitty-ness of life by “finding what feels good” and having amazing sex, it is not always emotionally easy for me to feel “attached” or present during sex. Prior to my trauma work, it was not uncommon for me to have flashbacks during sex. Now, those memories come up during sex a little less, and when I feel them starting, I practice mindfulness. If you’ve never practiced mindfulness during sex, I highly recommend it 🙂
Anyways, back to the marriage counseling session:
I wasn’t prepared to have this conversation with our marriage counselor. Infertility is hard for anyone who goes through it. For us, we tried on our own for a year and then did a year of infertility treatment. This included a dye test to check my ovaries (which were great), but that procedure was incredibly uncomfortable. Of course my husband had to give a sperm sample, which was a bit off – likely due to the excessive amount of energy drinks he was consuming (according to our doctor). Once treatment started, there were several internal ultrasounds, self-administered shots in the belly, medication, progesterone inserts (I used Crinone for several months, which was awful, and then switched to Endometrin, which was only slightly better), timed intercourse, and eventually an IUI when all of the rest failed. For someone who has been sexually abused the way that I have, fertility treatments was one of the most trauma-triggering things ever. I don’t know how I got through it. I stayed busy with AA meetings that year and graduate school I guess. The IUI was probably the worst. It was incredibly painful, but it’s hard to tell if it’s really that painful or if my body was reliving painful experiences from when I was little. I guess it doesn’t really matter. After the IUI (which was not successful), I spent four days laying on the couch wanting to die. I felt like I was a little kid again. Nothing was ok. Deep down, I knew during those four days that the IUI was going to fail; that my body was going to fail at being able to support a growing life.
My marriage counselor asked if I blamed myself for our fertility issues. The answer is obviously yes. I understand that logically it isn’t in my control. I get it. However, it seems to me like my issues with anxiety, depression, and PTSD are probably a contributing factor in why it took us so long to conceive. I do believe we got pregnant when we were meant to. Actually, my daughter was conceived on my 1st AA birthday 🙂 I celebrated one year of sobriety by going out to my favorite restaurant with friends from AA, and then came home and asked for birthday sex 🙂 2.5 weeks later, I found out I was pregnant. There were two lines on the stick that morning, and not because I imagined it.
Talking about infertility is hard. It’s probably hard for everyone, but it’s been over 3 years since I found out I was pregnant and all of the emotions that I felt during those two years of hell are still very much present. Thinking about what I went through during that year of infertility treatments brings back some very intense feelings and flashbacks of my childhood sexual abuse. And today, during a session where this came up and I wasn’t prepared to handle it, I struggled to remain present and not numb how I was feeling.
If you’re struggling with infertility right now, I am so incredibly sorry. It is not something I would wish on anyone. I think that people who genuinely want children and will be able to provide the love and care that a child needs absolutely deserves the opportunity to do that. There were several times during our journey through infertility that I thought about seeing a therapist. Looking back, I wish I had. I wish I had found someone local to talk to during that time. Instead, I’m left with all of these unresolved feelings. Looks like there’s something else to add to my list of topics to address in therapy when I’m not working on trauma stuff haha
Well, tonight makes two nights in a row with a migraine. I’m blaming therapy for that. I think my trauma stuff is just a little out of control at the moment, and these headaches are my body’s way of saying enough is enough. After the fiasco last night of not medicating mindfully, I’ve decided not to search for any medication to take. Instead, it’s yoga nidra and bed.