We are not trying anymore. For ten years, my body has been trying to create a miracle. When we first started, we were decidedly not trying. We avoided the zeal of a young couple wanting to enjoy each other and our new life together. All we had was time. After the surprise of our lives ended in our first loss, the fear crept in, and we silently started to live in, “if it happens, it will be ok.” It didn’t happen. So we worked for our family. Please make no mistake; it was work. Anyone that has dealt with infertility and pregnancy loss will tell you that trying… isn’t fun. My third (and final) child is rocking in her swing next to me right now, an actual real-life miracle, and the “baby” stage ends with her; no more newborn cuddles, and I can’t be sad. I can’t mourn the end of this stage of our lives because it has, quite frankly, sucked.
My family is complete. Many of my friends have shared their contentment and joy at this point in their lives; the last child in diapers and the last few years of sleep-deprivation. For others, there’s a profound feeling of “what-ifs.” What if we try just one more time? What if he had lived? What if we try this doctor I heard about? My feelings are wrapped up in grief. In exhaustion for the toll it took on my marriage. In so much fear that the thought of ever having to take another pregnancy test makes me physically ill.
There’s a plastic tote in my bathroom closet that has been my constant companion through all of this and, no matter how many times I think to pass it on to some other woman wishing and hoping, I have this odd feeling of attachment. I have been monitoring my fertility and cycles for years; it’s a morning ritual only paused while I’ve been actively pregnant or waiting for it to return following pregnancy. There’s a folder in my bedside table that has been a diary of my cycles, my pregnancies, and my losses. Every journey towards each of my children marked with doctors, charts, injections, and medical interventions became second nature to me. I don’t feel any nostalgia at purging maternity clothes, but I’m not ready to let go of my fertility monitor.
There was no question between my husband and me about being done. I drove him to his vasectomy with a newborn in the backseat and didn’t feel anything. Even my midwife expressed relief that we were done. I have moments when I wonder how our choices would have changed if we had had a choice. People comment about how “lucky” we are to have such an age gap between each of our three children, and all I can think of is the babies that we said goodbye to in between each of them. There is profound relief mixed in with our sadness that goes deeper than excitement for the next stage. I sometimes feel robbed of treasuring these “lasts” because of my complicated feelings about pregnancy and childbirth. My frustration and resentment clouds these experiences, and I struggle to find grace for myself.
It’s been four months now. I’m only just now appreciating how utterly exhausting the last ten years has been. Physically and emotionally, always working towards a baby. I wonder how my marriage will change and how we even go about leaving the past in the past. The energy we have both expended may quietly absorb into our new normal, raising our children and surviving everyday life as a family of five. I imagine, just like anything, that this part of our lives will one day not feel so fresh, so painful; I do know that has irrevocably changed me. So goodbye to pregnancy and goodbye to trying.