What We’ve Learned from Unexpected Infertility

bride and groom embracing

When Steve and I got married six months ago, we immediately hopped on the baby-making bandwagon. At forty (him) and thirty-one (me), we were feeling a little crunched for time, especially because our “plan” involved two or three little ones. With a congenital endocrine disorder, I knew that our chances of avoiding trouble-free conception and pregnancy experiences were slim anyway. We both love kids and we both wanted to be parents. Badly. So we threw away the birth control two weeks before our wedding and dove in headfirst. We called it “not avoiding,” but who were we kidding? We wanted to make a baby.

The idea of creating life made our intimate moments deeper (and interestingly, hotter). We were baby-making machines and it excited us both in new ways.

Then something happened. We didn’t get pregnant.

Six months of planning, and expecting and hoping and timing and charting cycles, and nothing happened. I was in the midst of my final semester of graduate school and Steve was feeling professionally stuck. I’m sure my body was raging with cortisol, which made it a hostile environment for any fertilized egg that dared enter my uterus. I had gained more weight than I care to discuss, and I knew deep down that getting pregnant at this time was unhealthy for me and very unhealthy for any baby.

I came home one day, took a (negative) pregnancy test, and a few hours later started my period. Steve arrived home from work soon afterward to find me curled up in bed, bawling my eyes out and punishing myself emotionally with episodes of Brothers & Sisters on Netflix. The process of hoping and trying had become more stressful than joyful and we knew it was time for a change.

So we sat down and talked. Really talked. Before the wedding we had agreed that there was no such thing as a perfect time to have a baby. There would always be a reason to wait.

But what if there was such a thing as a terrible time to have a baby? And what if that time was right now?

We agreed on two important truths:

  1. 1. We would be awesome parents someday (“someday” being the key word). But if we were to start that journey now, in the midst of personal and financial and health stressors that were testing both of us, were we really starting off awesome-ly? Or were we putting our biological clocks ahead of common sense? Ahead of love for the child(ren) we hope to parent in future?
  2. 2. If for some reason we never got to be awesome parents, that was okay too. This was a surprising realization for both of us, I think. Even though we had fought against WIC while we planned our wedding, even though we considered ourselves progressive, outside-the-box, creative, smart people, we had somehow bought into the cultural expectation that we must have ALL THE THINGS that come with marriage. All the things, including babies. But when we looked at each other and we asked ourselves, “Will we be okay if it ends up being just the two of us?” we realized the answer was a resounding “Hell yes!”

Do we want to create life, to nurture tiny humans, to watch them grow and flourish and take care of us someday? That’s another “Hell yes!”

But do we need to get pregnant because that’s just what you do after you get married? Do we need babies to somehow complete our partnership?

I think our team is complete on its own. We hope the team expands in the future. But for now, we’re looking inward at each other and finding ways to strengthen and grow as individuals and as a couple.

It will make us better people. And someday, I hope, better parents.

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