A few months after Rye was born, I already was anticipating getting that question. And anticipating it would make me wince just as much as when people used to ask me, “When are you going to have kids?” or “Don’t you guys plan to have kids?”
Yes, Josh and I were married 10 years before we had Rye, but not all of those childless years were by choice. We got married at age 22, and agreed at that time that kids were a long way off and we’d discuss it again in the future. The longer we went without having that discussion, the more comfortable we were in being “just the two of us.” And a lot of our friends were still single, and almost none of the couples were having kids (yet) either, so the conversation felt like it was always out on the distant horizon, no need for us to come closer.
But it was something I prayed about, because even as I started thinking of us as a couple that just wasn’t going to have kids (and you know, could go vacationing in Europe and backpacking in Peru), I didn’t want to miss out on God’s blessings if that was something he wanted to give us. And in the summer of 2008, God spoke to me, and totally awoke my desire to have a child. It was a 180-degree turn overnight.
Unfortunately, God didn’t speak to Josh that same night. Josh needed time to think about it, and we were in the middle of a major house renovation project, so I agreed to wait a year before “trying.”
Even now, thinking about the next 2 ½ years of “trying” makes we want to curl up in bed (alone) and pull the covers over my head. For anyone who has not reached the stage of trying to get pregnant, let me tell you, it’s not fun.
The average amount of time it takes a woman to get pregnant is 6 months. After that, you start getting antsy. They say at 12 months, you might want to consult a doctor and make sure everything is functioning and rule some of the easy obstacles out. We waited until about 21 months into it before going to a doctor.
Each month, hopes were dashed. Tears were shed. And every third person I knew seemed to be pregnant. Even people on birth control were getting pregnant. And I kept thinking about all those years I had been on birth control and worried about getting pregnant and how it was all for nothing. Josh, the pragmatist (and pharmacist), would remind me birth control was on the $4 list, so it wasn’t a “big deal,” but when you’re the woman and it’s your responsibility, it is a big deal.
Perhaps the hardest part was that I had gotten on some kind of mailing list that presumed I was pregnant, AND WAS GETTING PRENATAL MATERIALS AT WORK! Which led to the inevitable teasing of “Hmm, Carrie, is there something we should know?” Oh, if only they had known. Note to everyone: don’t tease people about pregnancy, because as much as we like to think that getting pregnant or not getting pregnant is in our control, it really isn’t.
When we did get doctors involved, all the preliminary stuff looked good. Josh got an A+. I had no cysts or tumors and my records showed I clearly was ovulating. So we had to proceed to bloodwork and really look at my hormone levels. And that’s where the trouble was.
They never came up with a specific diagnosis. My hormones just were not the way they should be. And a mysterious hormone whose purpose is unknown but seems to have a correlation to how many eggs you have left was undetectable in me.
Despite knowing that God was the one who put the desire for a child in me, I was losing hope. And I kept getting a year older, and whatever eggs I had left were getting older too. So in December 2011, we went to a fertility clinic. Six months, thousands of dollars and many, many more tears later, I was finally pregnant. And 10 months later, our precious miracle was born.
People who go through fertility treatments are often told stories about women who were infertile, went through fertility treatments, then had a surprise extra baby (or two) in the next year, without trying. Those stories warm my heart, and any story of the infertile-or-previously-infertile definitely pulls at my heartstrings.
But my year of “surprise baby” eligibility has come and gone, and I suspect my hormones are just as off as they were previously, and my eggs, may they still reside within me, are turning 35 next month.
So am I ready to have another one? Yes, please! But I can’t go through fertility again. I’m glad I did because Rye was worth every bit of it — the emotional roller coaster, the overcoming of squeamishness to inject myself with needles, waking up at 6 a.m. for daily drives to Baltimore for bloodwork (not to mention all that bloodwork and how stingy my body is when it comes to giving blood), even the first failed attempt and then having to do it all again while harboring the fears that it would fail again and I might never have a child.
I just don’t feel like I can go through it again, mostly because of the emotional component. I think only people who have gone through it can know what I mean.
Throughout my infertility, I wondered if things would have been different if we had started “trying” at 22 or 24 or 27. We’ll never know. Had I known what a joy children can be, I would have started at 24 and hopefully have had 6 kids by now.
But as it is, I’m not on birth control, and I’m not crying at the end of every month. If God were to grant me another pregnancy, I’d scream hallelujah and rush out to buy a lottery ticket. We are also willing to accept any babies on our doorstep for people who find they are currently or soon to be in the possession of an extra baby. If you know of such a person, I will draw you a map to my house. No questions asked.
When people do ask me “are you ready for another one?” I haven’t let it bother me. To almost-strangers I give the general “we’ll see.” More often, my formulated answer is “Rye is kind of a miracle baby, and I don’t know if we’ll have another miracle.”
Really all babies are miracles. Ask anyone who has “tried” to have one.