TKO by Infertility

You’ll forgive me if my posts are getting predictable, even depressing. I’m stuck.

It is usually much later in life that people find the need – and perhaps have the time or inclination – to look back and do a frank assessment of what they have achieved. Of what has made their life worth their – or anyone else’s – time. But sometimes, forks wedge themselves in earlier. At 42, I find myself looking back at a chunk of life to date to figure out what it’s been worth, to try and see the “nothing” that my husband assesses it to be.

I’ve been with him for close to 20 years. Almost half my life. We met in our 20s. We were so much alike – loose canons, ambitious, loved being around each other. It was intoxicating. A few years in, we got married and made love like rabbits. I gathered we had several near misses. But they were still misses. Sometimes, in an especially cruel moment, he’ll say he should have paid better attention to the fact that we never found ourselves pregnant then. Perhaps I should have, too. But we were buoyed by life, sex, fun, partying. And incredibly distracted by all of it. We knew we wanted children. We assumed they would eventually come.

In my early 30s, I started to worry. He didn’t want to get tested, so it prompted a dalliance with Clomid, in hoped that it would turn me into some kind of hyper-ovulating beast. The thing is, though (and I’ll consider this fair warning to anyone at that early point in their journey), the more you need to have timed sex, the less appealing you’re able to make it. We never got pregnant. I’m not sure if it was biology, the massive blow ups we managed to have almost every time the time was right, or just arse luck.

But time crawls when you still see yourself as “young”, and you imagine it always will. What we did have was no mortgage, a tiny bit of liquidity, soaring careers. IVF was a bit of a non-option – it was frightfully expensive, with the zeros on the potential bill outstripping any extras that we had in our bank accounts. He remained resistant to checking for problems. More Clomid, I asked the doctor? No point till we know where the problem lies, was his response.

As my desperation to have a child grew, so did his impatience with me. For a while, we grew apart, and life found a way to thrust us back together.

We filled our lives in other ways – and there were actually moments in which they actually felt full. We got a beautiful dog and became “mummy” and “daddy”. Often, we would warn her that she wouldn’t always be an only child. She developed a natural affinity towards and gentleness around small children. It was a sign, I thought. The “dog” would send me Mother’s Day flowers. As a couple, we learnt new things and drew closer to family and friends. Every now and then, we’d have a massive booze-fuelled row. We’d have passionate make-up sex. I always hoped for a miracle. I made some dramatic lifestyle changes to help it along.

We travelled the world, picking up trinkets and treasures. We’d stopped at random temples and churches – in Siem Reap, Galway, Bali, Southern India, Hong Kong, Prague, Thailand. I said the same prayer. God heard something else. Our respective careers soared. We finally squirrelled away enough money to buy our first home, the design of one room was left adaptable enough for a new addition.

From the outside, our lives probably looked idyllic. Most assumed we loved the freedom of being child-free. Few knew we were simply childless.

As I approached 40 and the possibility of natural conception became more remote, he became more open to the idea of parting with the cash for IVF, and finally getting tested. I took on extra jobs to be able to foot my part of the bill. I joked that I worked for IVF. I was never really laughing.

It’s hard to imagine it, but there was still some romance to it at the start. Yes, romance. We made playlists to keep me company during the shots, for the retrieval and transfer, for the two-week wait, and he suggested adventures of distraction. I had never seen anyone more happy than my husband when we got pregnant on our second try. His spirits climbed with our HCG numbers. He cooked lavish meals and was high on life as we counted down to the 7-week scan for the heartbeat. We were so sure it would be there. Days before, we told my mother, and his, and our siblings. We really should have waited, but this was the kind of excitement that could not be contained. As I woke like clockwork to pee at 5am each day, seeking out a glug of milk after, I felt, for the first time in life, like a complete human being. I let myself go online and order a little baby onesie, with an elephant on it, for luck. I ordered him a book, something funny about being a first-time dad. He left the house with new instructions each day: behave, you two. I was finally a real wife. It was bliss.

But everything came crashing down. Ectopic, MTX, rising HCG numbers, ruptured tube, broken hearts. Emergency surgery that insurance wouldn’t cover. Perhaps because he saw how destroyed I was both emotionally and physically (the MTX left me sick for months), he insisted that we would try again. It will work again, he said. He held back before serving up a side order of bitterness and blame.

I don’t blame him. It was a massive blow. One of several. After that near miss, success remained elusive. Even when it “worked”, it didn’t. As we went from cycle to cycle, I ended up making my own playlists. I tried to do everything right. I changed my diet, got regular acupuncture. Paid for extra help during the two-week wait so I wasn’t lifting or carrying or straining. Tried to keep the hardest and shittiest bits of IVF light and happy. I was protecting him, I told myself. The reality, though, was that he was increasingly disengaged, and less willing to hope. An act of self-preservation, perhaps. I tried to hope for us both. But by our last cycle, failure was almost entirely expected when it came.

IVF – and infertility – wasn’t a powerful strike to the head. It was a debilitating and progressive body blow. It unravelled us, mauled our self-confidence, killed our passion. I try not to think about what it did to our financial security, though I am constantly reminded that the money we spent could have been a down payment for another house somewhere, or been a start to a more secure retirement. He had maintained from the start that adoption, surrogacy, and embryo- and egg-donation were not options. But when there’s nothing to hold on to, how you get back up on your feet?

So now what? How do we chart a way forward? I’m not sure.

I am still figuring out what to do with myself. I know it’s too late for a do-over, with him or anyone else. In my days, I work, and in my dreams, I mourn – the lost children, the lost chances, and the lost love. But I also look back and realise it has been years since he – or the dog – sent me flowers. Like hope, I had started fading some time ago.

He seems to be rediscovering life before this whole IVF and infertility mess. Finding his own fun. Deeming our marriage and life together a waste. I could say something about how his behaviour has affected us. I won’t. But he does wield cruelty like a weapon. During our gazillionth fight this week, he said: “How can I live in a childless marriage with a woman who is still desperate for children?”

I don’t have the answer to that question.

And perhaps that’s just it. He can’t see the next chapter – or any others after that – because, deep down, he believes I will never be able to. Even if I’ve always found a way to roll with the punches, this, to him, has been the knockout punch to my life, and our marriage.

And infertility wins.


13 thoughts on “TKO by Infertility

  1. I love reading your blogs. This one made me super sad and I just want to hug you. I’m 44 nearly 45 and we tried IVF for many years. We are now going down the donor egg route. Have you thought about this? Chin up beautiful human

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Michelle, but he doesn’t want to explore those options, and I believe this chapter, to him, is over. I wish for you every success. Sending much luck your way 🍀


      1. Ohhh that’s a shame.. It’s a hard decision to make… You’re not too old for a baby… Don’t give up girl…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Unfortunately, where I live, options like adoption and IVF die with a marriage. But let’s see where the chips land. Thank you so much for your support and encouragement ❤️


  2. I’m so sorry for everything that’s happened. Sending love and hugs ❤

    I don't want to say the wrong thing and put my foot in it … but you are a wonderful and valuable person. With or without kids (and with or without a partner), your life is worthwhile. When this sort of thing happens and it's so, so easy to see ourselves as broken or worthless, but it's not true. Anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong.


    1. Thank you. I appreciate that. Just hard to see the end of the tunnel – or unsee the headlights of the oncoming train – right now.


  3. This post made my really feel for you. I’m so sorry this is all happening. You deserve a happy ending – whatever that may be. Happiness should be yours. Sending you so much love and strength ❤❤❤


  4. CW, I know this is hard. My wife and I have been going through it (all of it) for over 2 years. She’s sleeping next to me as we get ready to fly back into reality (literally) after a nature getaway in Yellowstone, just one week after our second “miscarriage”. The first lasted 2 days. The second lasted 2 months. We too could not hold back the excitement on our first “success” and told our parents. 2 days later: we untold them. This was crushing.

    Now, from a mans perspective I can give you my personal feelings: we initially tried IVF and IU and this did not work. For one, the production of eggs were low (5 or something). Only 2 made it for transfer. Neither stuck.

    I was against donor but my wife was all for it. Just seemed weird. Picking out an egg etc. but it my mind I figured it was still my sperm (ego happy) and my wife was more thumbs up then me. So off we went: well the donor responded poorly. Gave us a very low number of eggs. I believe we had 2 chances. One failed. One lasted 2 days. This was our announced one.

    Now what? Adopt? Donor embryo meaning not my sperm and still not her egg? Foster? Or just go on living.

    It was very very hard not knowing if it was my sperm causing the IVF and donor failures. Chances are low (even though my numbers and shape were not great ) but at over 15k per “chance” I had to put away my selfish ego or just stop.

    Again my wife was up for it. Geez. Talk about selfless. Even though she has a 20 year old, as with many births, the family construct was poor and single parenthood took the wheel.

    Anyway, long story short, it got me to thinking. Why do I want to be a father and what does it mean? It’s EVERYWHERE. Social media, get togethers. The questions etc. about family. Friends popping them out left and right, of she or he “looks like you” blah blah blah. yes. Bitter. Jealous. Down right pissed I kinda still am. Even worse seeing people who can’t even care for themselves having kids. Fact is they are likely just trying to compensate for something by “having a family”. I use that term loosely.

    So, I found an answer. I want to be a father to share my experiences with. My failures. My success, my advice, my guidance, my heart. EVERYTHING my parents gave me. I would love to give them my bloodline (because I’m proud of it) but at this time I cannot HOWEVER I can give that child my heart and that’s what pumps that blood anyway! To look like me, to be of my genes, this is all a superficial societal aspect of “parenthood”. To truly be a FATHER, it takes much much more and is of much greater importance.

    YES financially, emotionally and physically this process sucks!!!!! It’s drained us. We just lasted two months with donor embryo and miscarried. It hurt just as bad as my own sperm miscarriage (kind of).

    Still trying to bury the norm all around me. But, if your husband truly wants to be a FATHER then he may change his mindset. Unless it’s a financial burden which I understand. Maybe he just does not want to lose YOU in the process. Cuz fact is, kids move on (sometimes not even gratefully and in split families) and in the end you two will need each other.

    My wife and I have watched all the movies you mentioned. Have your husband watch the documentary about the worlds strongest man (fronick) I believe his name is. I mean, if the strongest man can bury his ego and understand the true meaning of family, so can I. Haha.

    Anyway. Onward. For now just distance yourself from the “triggers” and find meaning in the word “family”. If you still want that and he does not….then you must find the meaning of “love” and reason with it. Be well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much. Have actually steered clear of even my own blog for a couple of months because of stuff I was going through. I’ll be back soon enough I hope. Just trying to find some perspective first. ❤


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