Infertility in Sobriety

I’ve spoken in the past about the “Big Duh” when it comes to asking yourself why your life is in constant turmoil. For me, the “Big Duh” was my alcoholism. Even in the midst of all of the numbing, boozing, and pills, I could see that my life would become tremendously more manageable if I simply stopped participating in self-destructive behavior.

And it did. When I finally made the decision to get sober in 2010, there were many things that got better almost immediately. Then, as I worked the steps and continued to grow along spiritual lines, plenty more things in my life got better. Then life got beautiful, and I began to float along what we like to call the “pink cloud.”

In 2014, I married my now husband during a beautiful sunset ceremony in Maui. We decided to take the first year of marriage for ourselves before starting a family. Towards the end of 2015, I was getting antsy. I was ecstatic when we both came to the decision that it was time to try to get pregnant.  I immediately began to make plans surrounding us having our first child. I couldn’t wait to become a mommy.

When it didn’t happen right away, I didn’t immediately think the worst. After all, Google said that it took most couples around six to nine months to conceive. I had just come off of my birth control and figured that my body was just taking some time to get into its reproductive groove.

It wasn’t until that six-month mark that I began to have a gut feeling that something was wrong.  I was due for my annual check-up with my gynecologist and figured I would chat with her about it, hoping she would ease my mind and simply tell us to keep trying.

“Most of the time, the source of infertility comes from the man,” she said one afternoon. “Have you had your husband checked?”

“No,” I replied. “Is that necessary at this point?”

“Well, you’re in your thirties now and not getting any younger. It certainly can’t hurt,” she said.

Ugh. The biological clock warning. Yes, I was fully aware that I was 32, but why should that matter? Yes, my husband was 45, but who cares? Julia Roberts had twins in her forties, right? You see women waiting until their late thirties and early forties to become moms all the time! My mom didn’t have my brother until she was 35!

“I want your husband to go have his sperm count checked, and I want to run some tests on you too. We will make a plan from there,” she said.

I left concerned, but continued to tell myself that I was just over worrying as usual.

Except I wasn’t. The testing performed on my husband gave us some terrible news, and before we knew it we were sitting in front of an infertility specialist who began to throw words and phrases at us like “InVitro fertilization” and “cautiously optimistic.” (I hate that phrase!!!)

It wasn’t until we pursued our first round of some less invasive fertility treatments that we discovered there might be something going on with me too. One Friday evening, I peed on a stick and saw what every hopeful mommy prays for during that three-minute wait – two pink lines. I continued to test daily, and the lines got darker. A week later, our doctor’s office confirmed with a blood test that I was indeed pregnant.

But our joy was short-lived. It wasn’t long after that I miscarried.

Up until that day, there was really only one other time that I had pleaded with God, and that was the night I got sober.

I sobbed and cried and begged God to let me keep this baby. But it didn’t happen. To make matters worse, our doctor didn’t have the best bed-side manner about the situation.

“Yeah I’m sorry, that just happens sometimes,” he said on my voicemail one day. His tone sounded so normal and almost upbeat. When his nurse told me that my HCG levels had dropped, she said it in a way that made it sound like I had a urinary tract infection or something. Was this really no big deal?

But it was. And it was the beginning of several months and years of painful and expensive treatments. We sought second and third opinions.

We went from basic medications to invasive IVF treatments. The hormones made me crazy, and I was taking so many injections that I could hardly walk. Each time we would enter into a treatment with optimism, and each time we would be let down. It wasn’t until I suffered one more miscarriage that I decided to throw in the towel. I just couldn’t do it anymore.

By the end of 2016, I began to question if my life was even worth living. That’s when I knew I was in big trouble. While I can tell you with utmost honesty that throughout all my turmoil I never considered taking a drink, I finally understood what people meant when they talked about hitting a bottom in sobriety. I found myself there, and I didn’t want to live anymore.

I was angry, empty, and bitter. I had no spiritual foundation and no emotional sobriety. I was nasty to my husband, my family, and my coworkers. I just didn’t get it. Why was this happening to me? I had done everything I was supposed to. I was sober, responsible, and a loyal wife. I was hardworking and trustworthy. Why wasn’t I allowed to experience motherhood? I finally had come to the irrational conclusion that this must be my karma. This was my punishment for all of the terrible choices I had made prior to getting sober. I deserved this, I thought.

It was the same scenario as the moment that I decided I wanted to get sober. The pain had finally outweighed the pleasure, and it was time to do something different. This was beyond my “Big Duh”, but was something that was almost comparable to my alcoholism. I had to admit that I was completely powerless over trying to get pregnant. I had to surrender, or it was going to kill me.

At that point, I not only made the decision to start diving back into my program of recovery, but I also sought some outside help. I think it’s important to mention that because BOTH of those components saved my life. Yes, AA has no opinion on outside issues, but the literature does tell us that sometimes help from professionals is encouraged and necessary. There are still some old-timers in the rooms that discourage it, and it not only violates the traditions but can have deadly consequences. I needed both, and I am so grateful that I had a supportive husband that never left my side through such a dark time.

My husband and I shut the door on trying to get pregnant at the beginning of this year. We have taken all of the necessary actions to adopt a baby and are currently waiting to be matched by our agency. We could get a call in two days, two weeks, two years, or never. I am still taking it one day at a time.

I think we all eventually hit a wall at some point in sobriety. At some point, life starts happening again, and we fall off that pink cloud. I never really understood the importance of being spiritually fit until that happened to me.

The good news? Not only can you get through it, but you can get through ANYTHING and still stay sober. Life has its ups and downs, as we say.  So what comes next? We live, we learn, we grow and most importantly, we help others.

This too shall pass.

Follow the bread crumbs

Featured image attribution: ImageCreator – http://www.imagecreator.co.uk, the Blue Diamond Gallery

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