“I will never walk behind you or in front of you, but always beside you.”
When I first spoke those words on July 21, 2012 I had no idea how important they really were. The sun was near its last leg that day, dancing along the horizon and casting beautiful colors of orange and pink along the ocean of Papa’iola Beach. It had rained in the morning, and despite my fear of ruining my outdoor wedding, it had actually left a sweet scent along the shore as well as beautiful rainbows throughout the afternoon. Looking back, it’s amazing how symbolic that day really was.
I grew up close to my mother. As a military brat and an only child for seven and a half years before my little sister came by surprise, my mom became my best friend all those years my dad was out at sea. Perhaps it’s because of our strong bond that I always knew I’d want a child of my own. For some children their dolls are just toys. But deep down I always knew it was training for me.
As newlyweds, my husband and I knew we needed to get our bearings before we started a family. It wasn’t until over a year later in December 2013 that we made the decision to try. As articles, people and even my gynecologist told us, most couples take about a year before becoming pregnant. However, around March 2014 I had a gut feeling something was wrong. To be honest, growing up I always had a feeling it might be difficult for me to conceive. Call it intuition or just plain paranoia from a self-proclaimed ball of anxiety, but that feeling worsened as time went on. On the day of my annual gynecological exam I took the opportunity to express my concerns to my doctor. A routine checkup soon turned into something much bigger.
On April 28, 2014 I found out I needed a laparoscopic myomectomy. In layman’s terms, I’d have a robot operating on me through keyhole-sized incisions along my abdomen. As frightening as the whole ordeal was, I was relieved to know I finally had a reason for all my inklings and reservations. After a five hour surgery to remove a 63 gram fibroid attached to the back of my uterus, along with some Stage 4 endometriosis I didn’t even know was there, I felt the nightmare was over. My husband and I would finally conceive! Little did I know, it was only the beginning to our journey.
Almost exactly a year later, I found out I was pregnant for the first time. I shared the news with my husband and though we were elated, that horrible feeling of doubt reared its ugly head again. A few hours after seeing those two beautiful pink lines, I began to bleed. Chemical pregnancy. Such a sterile name for what it truly is, an early miscarriage. Though I’m sure my husband grieved just as hard as I, he never showed it, always concerned with making sure I was okay.
So continued our painful journey. Throughout all our treatments: medicated timed intercourse, failed IUI’s, two polypectomies, and most recently IVF and a failed FET (Frozen Embryo Transfer), everyone around us seemed to be getting pregnant. Don’t get me wrong, the countless baby shower invites, Facebook announcements and cute Instagram pictures are reasons for great celebration and we are truly happy for everyone, but to us they are also reminders of what we don’t have.
“We have each other.” My husband never fails to remind me of this. Though he’s never once showed me anything other than love, I was always quick to question his devotion. How can he still possibly love me? It’s my fault isn’t it? I’m the one who is broken. It’s because of me we can’t have children.
“It’s not your fault or mine. It just is.” With a smile he always wiped away my tears. “I made a promise to you that day in Hawaii, and we’re sticking through this together. If life is just you and me, then it’s enough.”
And you know what? It is enough.
I’ve read stories of how infertility often tears couples apart. Considering the emotional turmoil and stress endured, it’s not hard to understand why. If there’s a silver lining to our infertility battle, it’s this—my husband and I actually became closer. Throughout every battle and every tear, we stayed steadfast, hand in hand braving the next storm together. My husband has been my rock through it all, and I hope he can say the same thing about me. The tribulations of life can no doubt wreak havoc on many relationships, however I found ours only strengthened when we sought each other out instead of running away and dealing with them on our own.
The days immediately after our failed IVF were some of the hardest I’ve had to face. As someone with an avid dislike for roller coasters, I found myself riding the most horrible one of all—the emotional kind. As strong as I tried to be, certain triggers set me off. I was always on the verge of tears, fighting this mental battle within me. On one particular day I rushed to my car on the brink of breaking down. Proud to have held back my tears until I was safely in the parking lot, my first instinct was to call my husband. Like a strong hand shoved into a turbulent sea, he saved me from drowning yet again. In that moment of hearing his voice I quickly realized how much deeper I have fallen in love with him. Despite all the hardships we faced, I love him more than I did all those years ago on the beach. There is no way I can do life without him.
Though our path to parenthood is still unclear, I know whatever storms may be brewing ahead of us there will be even more rainbows to brighten up our day. No matter where we go or what happens in our lives, we’ll always walk side by side.