One and Done. Not by Choice.

I recently joined a one and done not by choice Facebook group and quickly realized how so many in there were still in the fresh pain phase. My heart broke reading their raw posts about how they were struggling to accept they would not have another child. So I decided to share my story. Many were thankful and said sweet things. A few couldn’t see past their pain to see mine and their comments reflected that. We are all on our own journey to acceptance. I decided to share with you what I wrote and hope this opens you to see that when you see families not to judge or ask why. It is our journey and story and we have the right to feel and decide what is best for ourselves.

My one and only was conceived naturally after almost 6 years of unexplained infertility. I suffered Post-Partum Depression. I am almost 39 years old and all of our parents are dead except for my husbands mom. Not a lot of family support. So we are one and done.

You can choose to focus on the negatives or look at the positives and celebrate what you do have. I remember spending entire nights in trying to conceive forums and every month obsessing over every twitch to convince myself I was pregnant that month. Don’t bring those feelings to your current life. You did it! You are a mom! There are so many in the TTC community who just want what we have – remember that! It is human to feel anger, or jealousy or sadness. You can control however how you react to those feelings. Focus on the good in your life.

For me I have decided to embrace the freedom that having only one gives us. We can afford vacations every year. We can afford to give him a college education. I can give my son all the attention. I have a partner that loves our son and plays with him and allows me to work a side job that fulfills me. There are a lot of positives to having one. As I touched in above I have also buried both parents. I could drown in grief and anger or use my experiences to strengthen me and make the most of the life I have.

Society and social norms make us like to think that a “multiple family unit” is still the normal. But it isn’t. Take a look around you and you will see families of every number, and you see non-traditional families and blended families more and more every day. I used to think that no one could understand my grief. That I was the only 34 year old out there who had buried a parent and couldn’t get pregnant. But the truth was I was only allowing myself to see what I wanted to see. Don’t let people own your emotions. You do you.

Below is a picture of my “family”. It is perfect and it is mine.

When Infertility Strikes, and Then You End Up Pregnant

In the 6 years it took me to great pregnant I probably purchased well over 100 pregnancy and ovulation tests. I was injected with hormones, took  “fertility” pills, and suffered through a test where they actually put a balloon and inflated it my fallopian tubes. That my friends, was not a fun day to put it mildly. I did all this for a chance to be a mom, to carry a child of my own and go through the miracle of giving birth. In the end though, none of those things got me pregnant. I even resigned myself that maybe I was meant to be childless, maybe become the next Elizabeth Gilbert and Eat, Pray and Eat some more my way through Europe. But yes, eventually I did get pregnant and gave birth to a beautiful son.

I know when I was suffering through my years of infertility I was so afraid to talk about it. I felt like a failure as a woman and each month was a horrible reminder of what I wanted so badly yet couldn’t have. When friends got pregnant it was hard for me. Baby showers were impossible. I want to say to whoever is out there that may be going through this – don’t give up hope. Those years were some of my darkest times mentally. When you want something so badly yet you can’t control it to make it happen – it literally messes with your head. I know it is hard. I know all the feelings of helplessness you feel. Don’t let it overtake you. You are more than your reproductive system. You are NOT alone. Talk to someone about it. Don’t do what I did and let it just stew.

As the years went by I went to countless medical doctors, met with and tried many advanced fertility options. All failed. Modern medicine couldn’t tell me why my body wasn’t falling pregnant. My hormone levels measured normal, my “insides” all looked good. I was what they considered “unexplained” infertility. Which basically means we don’t know what is wrong with you. Well geez, thanks doc. Makes me feel much better about my situation and spending LOTS of money at your office for you to tell me this…..

After five years of this I gave up. I started looking into adoption and reading blogs on the benefits of a childless life. But then I started having hormonal issues every month. My cycles got crazy. I got to the point I just wanted to find relief from my monthly madness. I decided to purchase and read the book The Infertility Cure by Randine Lewis. It really touched me. She is a reproductive medical doctor who suffered from infertility herself and decided to become an acupuncturist after it worked for her. I liked her idea of promoting general health and balancing the body. I decided to try it. I found a local reproductive acupuncturist (yes, there is such a thing and studies have shown it works in increasing rates of conception among IVF patients) and started taking the herbs she prescribed me.

Three months went by. No pregnancy. But I FELT better. My monthly hormonal issues eased. I had more energy. I felt like a giant black cloud had lifted from my head.

I stopped going to her and continued to look into adoption and just living my life. And then one day two months later it happened. I became pregnant. ALL BY MYSELF. No drugs. No injections. No crazy doctors telling me my body just wasn’t going to work. Because it did. I remember buying prenatal vitamins and thinking I really didn’t need them because this just can’t last. This can’t be true. I wasn’t really pregnant.

At my first OBGYN appointment I remember waiting for the ultrasound to come on and preparing myself to see an empty womb. But then I saw it. A heartbeat. A tiny blob on a screen. And it was real. I was pregnant. Words cannot describe the joy I felt that day. The tears of joy I shed that day. The rest of the pregnancy I was of course nervous. And I probably drove my OBGYN crazy with my phone calls and questions. But in the end all was well. I became a mom to a healthy baby boy.

But I still remember. The pain. The depression. The doctors. The monthly reminders. And I know it is a struggle that millions still go through every month. I feel for you. Don’t give up. And if you are like me and it is an unexplained diagnosis maybe try something like acupuncture, or essential oils, or herbs. You never know. I think for me it was all hormonal. So when my body got back into balance it was able to hold a pregnancy. But everyone is different. So I will never claim to know how to cure you. I am just telling you what worked for me.

People are starting to ask me if we will try for another. I don’t know. I am extremely grateful for one. And I am older. Also, to be honest, I am afraid to enter the cycle again of depression from trying. It truly was some of my darkest moments. I don’t want to relive that.

Whatever path you end up choosing embrace it. There is more to a woman than her womb. And there is nothing wrong with living childless just as there is nothing wrong with having children. We each have our own path and our own life to live. Go and live yours.