Editor’s Note: All of the pieces in our ‘confessions’ series are anonymous.
My husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for more than five years. When we were first married we wanted to wait a little before trying since he already had two kiddos and he was on a pretty frequent rotation out of the area. Now we are starting to give up hope as my body starts to age and he continues to deploy.
Right now I don’t care if this statement is 100% true… it is how I feel: I am infertile because of the military.
I do all the “right” things. I eat healthy and exercise. I track my flow using an app called “My Days”. I know my cycle and it runs like clockwork. I take the appropriate temperatures and test for the best fertility window. I can even feel when I ovulate, that little pinch in my abdomen. He does all the right things too. He has been tested and he is healthy. I on the other hand cannot get tested. The hell you say! I have been to multiple primary care providers (PCPs) with the hope and intent to document my infertility. We all know how much fun changing doctors is when we move. Plus, I always seem to get assigned to a doctor or nurse practitioner who is on his/her way out the door. Out of the six PCPs I have had in the last three years not one of them is willing to put anything in my medical records. Each time I go and attempt the same difficult conversation… I am met with distrust, disbelief, or disdain.
One of the more memorable questions I have been asked was, “Do you know how it works?” (I am not kidding. One of the military medical professionals actually asked me if I knew about the birds and the bees.) I believe I responded with something like, “Well, I wasn’t a virgin when we met, and he had two kids before he met me so am I am pretty sure we know the mechanics.” His response was, “Are you sure?” At this point I was getting angry but trying to keep my cool. “Yes.” was all I could say.
How the hell else am I supposed to answer a question like that?
I long to be pregnant. So many women, especially those with kids, ask some version of the question, “When are you going to have kids?” especially right after deployment or when you move to a new town or when your husband comes up in conversation… or just whenever they feel like it. The problem with this question is twofold. One is how can I answer honestly without anger? The question is innocent and genuine but it is so loaded with assumptions. As a feminist my gut reaction is, “How dare you assume that just because we are married we are going to have kids!” As a stepmom my reaction is, “I already have kids, I just didn’t give birth to them.” As a wannabe mom my reaction is “EFF YOU! It is not for lack of trying.”
The second problem with the question is, how do I answer without sorrow? This one depends entirely on who asks. A close friend or relative will hopefully know already but if not I will gently explain the frustrations. An acquaintance might get “as soon as he is home” or “when he is in country for more than a month” or something short and typically glib because I just don’t want to talk about it. A stranger can kiss my butt.