Imagine you’re sitting in your house, sipping on a cup of tea while your two kids play in the living room. You have kindergarten and playdates on your mind. Cartoons are blasting on the T.V. and they’re playing loudly. You can make out only a few words here or there, but mostly you hear laughter. You look beside you and notice cereal smashed into the floor. The living room is a tornado of toys and sippy cups. But you don’t care. You have what you have always wanted, a bustling house where kids live.
But what if you didn’t? What if you woke up tomorrow and descended the stairs to a pristine looking room. You could hear birds chirping in the distance. It’s silent. For over 6 million women in the U.S, this is their reality.
This reality is hard for Christine to swallow. Since she was young, she had dreamed of having a family. Being a mother was a role she knew she was perfect for. When she was 18, she started dating Neil. Neil wanted the same things. Everything was going perfectly.
When Christine was 19 she was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Women with PCOS have an imbalance of sex hormones, which can lead to menstrual issues and trouble getting pregnant. As a teenager, she never imagined this could affect the image of what she wanted out of life.
When Christine was 25, she and Neil decided to start a family. They stopped using birth control, and were excited for the next chapter in their lives.
A year of trying later, they knew something was wrong. Their new reality became doctors and fertility treatments. It became poking and prodding. It became surgeries. Their dream seemed to get farther and farther away with every appointment.
The doctors didn’t help. Physically or emotionally. Christine knew they saw her as number. One of those 6 million women. They coldly gave her every negative test result, with a monotone voice. The uneasy feeling that constantly sat in her stomach left their minds as soon as they left the office and met their families for dinner.
What had she done wrong? Why couldn’t she get pregnant when so many other women get pregnant without even trying? How could there be mothers who give their children up or treat them poorly while she sat in this doctor’s office for another test and cried herself to sleep at night. It didn’t seem fair. It wasn’t.
When medical treatment was becoming more painful than helpful, Christine and Neil decided to turn to holistic treatment. They began seeing an acupuncturist and started changing their lifestyle. They changed their diet to include organic and fresh foods, began exercising, and took Chinese herbs. Things felt right this time.
Within a few months, Christine was pregnant. But it was a chemical pregnancy. A chemical pregnancy is essentially a very early miscarriage. The only thing to prove that you were actually pregnant for that short time was the pregnancy test. This happened twice. A chemical pregnancy is like a cruel joke to someone who is just waiting to see the two pink lines in front of their eyes.
They kept up hope as well as their healthy lifestyle the best they could. They started every day with a positive outlook. Maybe today will be the day. It has to happen. Things have to work out.
They were reaching their 33rd birthday. The clock was ticking away. With every day that passed it felt as if their chances of having a family were drifting further away. They decided to explore IVF and surrogacy as an option. They weren’t giving up.
This brought more invasive testing. It had to be worth it though, right?
The doctors seemed to grow colder with every word they spoke. Negative 125% chance of conceiving naturally on their own and 0% chance with IVF, which meant surrogacy or adoption was their only shot. The thought that she would never be able to feel what it was like to be pregnant, to be able to carry their own child, was an unbearable thought. This felt like their breaking point. They could almost see the world crashing around them. Hot tears welling up in their eyes. The doctor’s voice seemed to sound muffled, a thousand miles away. His face blurred by the tears. A few words ruined their lives.
Just a few days later a miracle happened. Sometimes doctors are wrong with their diagnosis. After all, they are based mostly on statistics. Maybe Christine was in denial, but on a whim she decided to take the last pregnancy test she had in the house. Having only one pregnancy test in the house after years of fertility issues was like a code red. What could it hurt? She went about her morning, ignoring the test laying on the counter. She glanced at it as she walked by. TWO LINES. It can’t be. It must be “line eye,” right?
The next day, after taking about 10 more tests, the reality she always imagined for herself seemed to inch closer. She went for blood tests and ultrasounds. It was true. She was pregnant.
She kept it a secret, even from Neil. Why get his hopes up? There was no way this could be real.
This time two weeks had passed. 8 years of praying, countless treatments, surgeries and doctor appointments. It felt like a dream. Every day felt different. Happier. She shared the news with Neil. They would have a family.
Weeks passed. Everything was normal. Except better. One morning it changed again. Christine felt achy and weak. She noticed bleeding. The doctor said it was normal, but it got worse as the day went on. They went to the doctor for another ultrasound. The look on the doctor’s face was enough to make her heart stop beating. She knew.
“I’m sorry to tell you, but you’re having a miscarriage.”
There was a fibroid and it grew so large it suffocated the baby. The baby had no room to grow. Just like that, it was over. It was as emotional as finally seeing those two pink lines on the pregnancy test. Except this time, she could feel her heart breaking. Pain she couldn’t have imagined before this.
The world might as well have stopped spinning. Maybe it was a nightmare. She would wake up in a few minutes and still be pregnant. But it wasn’t a nightmare. This was their reality. They felt tired and hopeless. They didn’t just lose a child. They lost their future, their family, and their hope.
“Maybe I could have eaten better. Maybe I didn’t sleep enough. What did I do? My baby would have been xxx old now. One day, we will meet again.”
These are thoughts Christine has every day. 6 million other women do too. Staying positive is hard. But she does. And now she’s dedicating herself to help those other women like herself. And there are plenty of them. Over 6 million.
Christine is still in the reality of the infertility struggle and work hard every day to make this dream of a family come true.
She has given herself the power to say “This is not how my story will end.”