The fear of infertility (even after you’ve had your babies)


After Kit was born, I remarked to a friend I was so happy, I felt like I was on a constant drip of happy-making drugs.

I was happy that I was no longer pregnant (it was a trying, nine-month long stew of no energy, epic back pain, and a low-grade depression). Happy that I had this beautiful, amazing daughter (a girl! How could we be so lucky?). And, mainly, happy that it was all over.

By “it,” I mean having babies.

Before my babies, I spent 8 or 9 years perpetually worried about if I could get pregnant as fertility is not the kind of thing you can test out. Never in my 20s did I think, “Maybe I should just try to get pregnant super quick to see if I’m fertile. This will be good to know for when I’m in my early 30s, finally married, with a good career under my belt and finally ready to get pregnant.”

Like most women, I went into baby-making totally blind about my ability to reproduce. I was hopeful, but I also had read reams of personal essays over the years about infertility. And I also had friends suffer through it. So, I carried a low-grade, yet constant, worry around all during my 20s and early 30s. 

And then, I got pregnant. Surprisingly quick, at that. I guess all the years of anxiety about the health of my womb traveled down to my ovaries and plumped them up with good, baby-making hormones (that is what anxiety does, right? Immediately fix what you’re anxious about? Or no?).

I Google-searched “happy uterus” and this popped up. So I’m going with it. 

But just because you can get doesn’t mean the worrying stops. In fact, it only ramps up. As, once you get pregnant, you worry about if the pregnancy will “stick.” And if the pregnancy sticks, if the baby is healthy.  And if the baby is healthy, if you can carry to term. And if you carry to term, that the delivery will go okay and not kill you or the baby. And all this time you’re living in a netherworld of fear, you can’t take any medication at all for silly things like a headache or for seasonal allergies which makes you even more miserable, while strictly limiting what you do and what you eat while a succubus grows in your belly and sucks out all your beauty.

And then once you have a baby, you have to worry about SIDS, as fuck no do you want to go through all that again.

It really is a beautiful, special time.

The anxiety doesn’t stop with one baby. After Sam was born, I was anxious about when / if we would have another one. (Lest you think you would feel more at-ease with a second pregnancy, I had two friends suffer through secondary infertility, not to mention several miscarriages. How is that for a mind-fuck?)

And then Kit came, and I felt this incredible weight off of my shoulders / uterus. I did it. I had two healthy babies. I no longer had to live in fear or a constant state of limbo about what could / would happen to my womb.


Required reading?

When a friend of mine was trying to get pregnant, she was reading all about cervical mucus (as you do). And she texted, “Did you know any of this stuff?” And I had to admit I didn’t. As so much of this isn’t talked about or isn’t taught. And if it is, the drum beat is “Don’t Get Pregnant.” And then you hit a certain age and you are expected to totally turn on a dime to “Get Pregnant.”And we don’t even know what the fuck is going on with our own bodies.

And although I’m done, there is still an aura of unease about it all. The other night,  I  was reading an article regarding some woman’s infertility and I legit started crying. My husband, noticing my face, asked what was the matter. “I’ll never be able to get pregnant,” I almost whispered. But didn’t. Because, deep down, somewhere in the swirl of dread, I knew I had given birth …. Twice. My babies were asleep in the room next to mine. I don’t know where I’m going with this personal aside, other than I wanted to point out that the fear of fertility is so intense that it can block out the fact you already had two babies. And if I feel this way with literally insane perceived infertility, what must women feel like who are struggling through this? It must be a nightmare.

Which is why I am so happy to wash my hands of this period of my life.

What a time. What a wonderful thing to be on the other side of. The door is closed. And I’m so relieved it is.  

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