Amazingly, when she started really talking at two years old, my daughter's first sentence was, "I want a baby sister." It stung. We had been trying since she was six months old to give her that sibling. We thought we would strike while the proverbial iron was hot, and by "iron," I mean uterus, and by "hot," I mean a comfortable 98.6 degrees. We thought it would be so easy. Our first IVF cycle was a gleaming success. No complications. Textbook results through the entire pregnancy, in fact. We had no reason to believe that anything would get in our way of another beautiful child. Seven failed cycles later, however, we were struggling to hold onto hope.
Through all of the failures, I started asking serious questions--Did my doctor really know what he was doing? Was there something I did wrong? Why didn't God intervene? Is there a God at all?--and not-so-serious questions--Are we all just part of the Matrix? Has my uterus become a black hole, a break in the time/space continuum with the sole purpose of swallowing embryos? Is this because I didn't eat the pineapple?
For those of us who've struggled with infertility, and even those who simply wanted to ensure a successful natural cycle, pineapple--pineapple core, to be exact--is a familiar ally. It's magic. The pineapple alters the flavor of your uterine lining and entices the little embryo to implant with the promise of pina coladas, pineapple upside-down cakes, and Hawaiian luaus if it promises to stay put for the next nine months. No, I'm making that up. The real reason we eat pineapple is for the bromelain, an enzyme found most concentrated in the pineapple's core, which may have an anti-inflammatory effect on the uterine lining and help encourage implantation.
With all of my cycles, I laughed at the thought of chomping into the not-so-pleasant core of a pineapple. I mean, it can't really be true, right? Why not blend it up with an eye of newt and one strand of hair from a wild unicorn? But here I am, about to start cycle eight, and guess what--this time, I'm going to eat the freaking pineapple. This time around, I'm keeping my uterus as horizontal as possible until my embryos stick. I'm not reaching for anything above eye level. I'm not even going to inhale the caffeinated scent of coffee. I'm taking Vitamin D supplements. I'm even doing laser acupuncture. And, most importantly, I'm writing this.
I'm writing the story of my final fresh IVF cycle (and hopefully a frozen cycle to follow if we get enough embryos) because I've been doing this for too long not to. I've learned too much about myself, my relationship with my husband, and the miraculousness of our daughter to just let this go by and only vaguely remember what it was like in ten years. I'm writing this to share because I know "infertility" is a dreaded word, but it's also the name of one amazing community of women and men who have a special, nuanced perspective on life and its foundation. And I'm writing this to create something so that even if I don't walk away with a baby in the end, I have a story to share one day with this precious three-year-old who just wants a baby brother or sister.