It’s the end of April, and this month, especially this time of month, is extremely hard on me. It’s when I had a miscarriage, and it’s also the month when one of my babies that didn’t make it was due. With all of these emotions woven into the fabric of this month, it makes National Infertility Awareness Week, with the theme of “Listen Up” incredibly appropriate.
The CDC approximates that 1 in 8 families has some problem when building a family. This equates to almost 15% of the couples in the United States. Infertility doesn’t care about your race, sexual orientation, religion, or socio-economic status. It can affect anyone, anywhere.
“Infertility is not always a woman’s problem. Both men and women can contribute to infertility.
About 6% of married women aged 15 to 44 years in the United States are unable to get pregnant after one year of trying (infertility). However, in about 35% of couples with infertility, a male factor is identified along with a female factor. In about 8% of couples with infertility, a male factor is the only identifiable cause” (From the CDC webpage: Reproductive Health, March 30, 2017. https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/infertility/).
My Story – The Beginning
I’ve already posted some on my journey trying to conceive, but there is always more to the story. I didn’t really speak on the first time we tried to get pregnant (mind you, this was after three miscarriages), and the hell we put ourselves through to have a baby.
Random fact: Every time I’ve gotten pregnant I’ve been on a trip (without Tony) for four to six weeks.
After my third miscarriage, my doctor ran a a bajillion blood tests to see if there was anything they could find causing them to happen. They found that I had extremely low hormone levels, which is never a good thing when pregnant. They also found that my folic acid level was extremely low. After my miscarriage was over, my OB decided to do some ultrasounds of my uterus and ovaries. They found that I have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), but my uterus looked ok.
I started Metformin to help regulate my blood sugar levels (I’d gained a TON of weight rapidly, as is common for those with PCOS). We also decided to start trying to conceive again. With my PCOS, they found I wasn’t ovulating every month (blood work and ultrasounds showed this), so we started using clomid. On clomid I had an incredible amount of follicles and eggs maturing. So many, that it caused pain in my abdomen, and made it hard to sit or lean forward. These are the things no one ever tells you about when trying to conceive. The things that wear you down and remind you daily that you have infertility problems.
Months passed by with no luck trying to conceive. At this point, I was temping every morning and writing down everything that could be minutely related to my infertility. I was also taking clomid to aide ovulation, and after ovulation, progesterone. Nothing seemed to be working, and honestly, I just couldn’t take it anymore. It was too grueling mentally to be putting in this much effort with no positive results.
I had also just been accepted to graduate school for Library & Information Science at the University of Missouri in Columbia, MO. This change was just what I needed. Unfortunately Tony wasn’t able to move right away. He was finishing up his own master’s program in Counseling Psychology, and had one quarter left to go. So I packed everything of mine up, and he flew with me to get everything set up for me. We said our goodbyes, and the thought that December couldn’t come fast enough kept flashing in my brain.
While at grad school, I decided to see a reproductive endocrinologist. I was able to get all the genetic testing done to see if there was anything causing the miscarriages, as well as a whole other multitude of testing. Let me tell you, RE’s like there tests!
It was here that I found out I have the MTHFR gene mutation, as well as three blood clotting disorders. She didn’t think any of them were the cause of my miscarriages. She also found I had a cyst on my fallopian tube that was large enough, that if it ruptured, it could cause damaging scaring. Since she found this, we decided to do a laproscopy & hysteroscopy and look all around in there to make sure everything looked good otherwise. Plus she was able to remove the cyst without causing damage to my fallopian tube.
The Second Middle (Something a Hobbit would probably have)
Once Tony moved, we decided to start trying again. We had his sperm tested, and found he was fine. So we tried clomid, then clomid plus a trigger shot (to make sure I ovulated). When neither of those worked, we decided to move on to injectables. Let me tell you, injectables are not only crazy expensive, but also make you act like a insane person.
Tony gave me daily injections to help my body produce enough follicles, and let me tell you, my. body. produced. At one point, I had over 15 growing follicles on ONE OVARY. My internal organs were not amused with the extra added pressure they were creating. I couldn’t eat, sleep, or move well. Plus, I was acting like a crazed lunatic.
There were points, where I swear I was outside my body watching myself yelling and crying at Tony over something so minute and stupid. Yet I couldn’t stop.
During this timeframe, I also had blood taken so often I looked like a druggie. I’m pretty sure some of my classmates thought I was. I didn’t care. I just wanted to be pregnant.
The End – Well, not the END, but the end of this journey
None of it worked. I didn’t get pregnant, and it was hard to accept that it just wasn’t going to happen.
During this time I learned a few things though.
- Infertility tests your relationship with everyone.
- It is OK to ask for help.
- I was NOT the only person with infertility problems.
- Fertility treatment is stupid expensive.
- People with no fertility problems NEVER know what to say, and often say the wrong thing.
I’m sure I learned more then that, but my memory is failing me tonight.
I also learned I would never wish infertility on anyone. No matter how much I disliked them, infertility is not only a challenge for your body. It messes with your mind and your sense of self. One thing I wish I had done was see a therapist during this time. I think it would have helped get me through all the treatments easier.
For those without fertility problems.
If you are a friend of someone with fertility issues, know that we don’t want platitudes. Don’t tell her/him that it’s going to be fine, that it will happen when it’s the right time, or that it will happen when God wants it to happen. These sentiments, while good meaning, do not ease our minds and hearts. They, in my case, filled me with a white hot rage. Especially when coming from someone who had no trouble having kids.
Instead, listen to what they’re saying and let them know you sympathize with their pain. Take them out for coffee, a pedicure, or something else to pamper them. Or just leave them a text message that says “I’m here for you.” These are the things that help get them through all of the medication, doctors appointments, and disappointments.
From all of this, I hope you listen up, and take away that you are not alone.
If you’d like more information on National Infertility Awareness Week, check out their webpage.
Infertility Etiquette for Friends & Family from Resolve.
The CDC’s information on infertility.
If you’re looking for a good Fertility Charting App/Program, I recommend FertilityFriend.
Click here for your chance to win* a copy of “It Starts with the Egg,” by Rebecca Fett.
*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Giveaway ends Apr 30, 2017 11:59 PM PDT.