Today I started a word document listing the infertility books that have been recommended reads by many of my fellow bloggers.
I went to save it and realised I don't have an infertility folder. I have a parenting folder and a pregnancy folder but not one was labelled "infertility".
I spent 5 minutes pondering over this. How can I have gotten through 4 and a half years of infertility and not have a folder. Then I realised. All my IF information is in my pregnancy folder. Why? Because I never once doubted that we would succeed. I never once doubted all those success stories regarding over 40 women.
Can I just say? - I hate not being one of the success stories. I hate it. To work so hard at a dream and not achieve. To realise that you aren't going to be one of the success stories that you read about everywhere. "You can get pregnant over 40". NOT.
[Please forgive the mild anger I feel brewing as I write these words. I work so hard at seeing the positive, anger is not a comfortable emotion for me. Yet, I know it is to be expected and is in fact probably a healthy emotion to go through in a situation like this. I also know how important it is to let it out in order to let it go. So, as much as I dislike it, I won't back off from it. Lets see where it goes...]
The stories that I hate the most - the magazine articles with a big flashy covers saying 'my big infertility struggles'. You turn to the article expecting to find someone who has truly struggled to conceive. Only to read that it only took them a year to get pregnant or that they had to endure one IVF round and then they were pregnant. And the article is surrounded with photos of the couple and their beautiful bouncing baby.
One IVF round and one year is no struggle. After our first year of infertility, I was still comfortably hopeful and positive. Yes, we had gone through one upsetting miscarriage but I wasn't worried. Most women go through a miscarriage at some stage. "So, it will take a bit longer" I thought. It wasn't until after the second and then the third year that the true struggles really began. When the third early miscarriage and finally a 'beginning of second trimester' miscarriage wring you dry. The heartache setting in, the body wearing out, the guilt beginning to plague, the torment of seeing those around you fall pregnant (some for a second and third time).
This is when the struggles begin. This is where the true stories are.
So, where are all the failure to conceive over 40 stories? Not publicly displayed that is for sure!
I did a google search on "unsuccessful fertility stories over 40". Talk about demoralising. The search was full of all the success stories. There was only one link on that page related to my search. One. With great interest I clicked on the link. What do I see? A picture of an older women holding her baby. A success story. What the?! And worse still, a collection of accidental pregnancy stories of women over 40 with the author negating the need for IVF saying that there is no reason women in their 40's can't get pregnant.
No reason? For goodness sake. There is every reason. How about the main factor for me - not being able to find an egg that isn't age damaged in some way? Or an aging womb that is not quite able to recognise the natural signs or the women whose older wombs just can't carry to term.
With both DH and I being into natural remedies, we trod that path first without success. Natural remedies does not change the biological aging facts. IVF was the only option for us. Upon reflection, I wish we had skipped the natural remedies and gotten straight down to the IVF while I was still 40.
The chances of pregnancy success at 40 is only 10% dropping down to 5% at 44, and 2% at 45. My fertility doctors stats show that. This is a doctor who does not give up hope, who looks for every possible reason and finds them, who works hard to find the good eggs. But not even she can change the fact. She has only one story of complete success to share with us. A women who failed in IVF rounds but eventually fell pregnant naturally and gave birth at 47!
Now consider the amount of over 40 women she sees. The odds are, that eventually one will work. Now consider the amount of over 40 women around the world who are trying to get pregnant. Millions? If only 5% of them are successful, then that is a LOT of stories. But 95% more are unsuccessful stories. Where are they?
People don't want to read about the failures. Especially women who are still holding the dream. I know that I didn't want to read stories of failure when I so desperately wanted to succeed. It is only now, as I begin to walk the path of childlessness, that I am finding amazing women who are living their lives having lost the battle. Who have picked themselves up and moved on. Who are finding a joyful life without children.
The world of childlessness may be a hidden world for now, but I believe that it is a good world. It may be a world that the majority of the population don't understand, but it is a world of many rewards. It's a world of self-exploration and freedom in so many ways.
For me, it is currently a world that is also dotted with waring emotions. The anger I felt earlier has now filtered down into sadness. Sadness for our lost dreams, sadness for the loss of hope and purpose. Right at this minute, I need to live with that sadness, but I look forward to finding once more the joy and wonder of life that will come with all the positives of being childfree.