On the eve of my daughter’s seventh birthday, I leaned against her doorway watching her sleep so peacefully. I roamed around my home admiring her baby photos and our little family. I blinked and my baby is growing up, and yet, the five years it took to have her felt like a decade. I remind my little girl she is a miracle when she requests a sibling. How do I explain that my body has officially retired when I couldn’t accept it myself?
I was first diagnosed with endometriosis at the age of 19 and was informed I had a one-percent chance of carrying a baby. That one percent remained submerged the first seven years my husband and I were together. In that time, we made a life for ourselves and turned our house into a home, leaving one bedroom full of hope.
I underwent my third laparoscopy after three years of trying to carry a baby full term. Six months later, I began taking fertility drugs, which in turn made me sick three weeks out of the month. After six months on the drugs and four years total of trying, we decided to take a break before attempting a new drug.
Later that year, I saw two pink lines. I had seen those lines before and suffered those losses, but this time felt different. At 13-weeks, I lost the baby.
The heartbeat, as well as the sound of the flatline, will forever be imprinted in my heart.
I had always heard stories of those couples who suffered such a loss and end up getting pregnant and wondered if that would happen to us. Five months later, two pink lines reappeared.
I don’t think I exhaled the whole nine months until my daughter was in my arms. I had a very high-risk pregnancy, but never once grumbled and happily put up my swollen ankles while I indulged in my sour cream and onion chips. The night before my induction date, I rocked in her new chair rubbing my belly. I was overwhelmed with emotion as I told my unborn child to never give up on her dreams. She was a dream of mine and I always believed.
Her room is still full of hope but also giggles, love, and stuffed animals. Our home became our sanctuary and still is. My husband and I savored every moment, taking snapshots along the way.
In the fall of 2019, I held back tears as I watched my husband pull clumps of my hair out of the shower drain. Within a month, I was weak, my muscles ached, I was extremely fatigued, and after passing out in the closet, I went for bloodwork. My body was pushing out all my estrogen, testosterone, and progesterone.
I lay in a dark room as the sonographer made her edits on the monitor gyrating over my retired ovary. My doctor encircled me with the same compassion as she has since I had my first surgery at 19.
I felt defeated for the first time.
This fall marks three years since my ovary gave up on me. It took two years for me to swallow my guilt for waiting to even contemplate trying for another baby. Why did I feel so guilty for wanting to have her all to ourselves for a few years? My husband and I were so consumed by her that we didn’t want to go through the trying phases again.
The question always arises when I meet a new mom asking if my daughter has a sibling. I dodged what felt like interrogations because it wasn’t up to me why I don’t have another baby. My body simply will not give me another chance. I felt wounded and succumbed to my sadness in silence. I felt shameful and angry at my ovary and my body.
One night, as I was brushing my daughter’s hair listening to one of her tales, I hugged her tightly and finally breathed a sigh of contentment. In 2014, against all odds, my body gave me a beautiful healthy baby girl. Why was I so greedy and needing more?
I don’t dodge the questions now and let those moms know she is my one and only.
It’s OK to be jealous of that mom I see during carpool walking with her two little boys and growing baby bump. It’s OK to be envious of my friends who didn’t even have to try to have their babies.
I had put away some of my favorite snapshots over the years in hopes of our family expanding. They are now framed and displayed in our home we have built together. Just the three of us.
Until she gets her way and we get a puppy.