Even writing the title to this post is tough. Usually when I talk to anyone, I refer to it as “fertility issues”. In my mind, that’s easier to say than INFERTILITY. But I guess that’s what it is. We are struggling with infertility.
It’s time to open up
The infertility issue is probably one of the main reasons I got the itch to start writing. By nature, I am a deeply private person. Sometimes this trait is great; I think it really helps me as a nurse, supporting the patients and families without letting my emotions get in the way. BUT, this is not exactly a good thing when it comes to a struggle like this. This is painful to the core and never leaves my mind. This, I can’t just keep in. So here I am, opening up about it. As cliché as it is, this is our journey. I don’t know how far into this journey we are, where it will end, or if it ever will. My hope is that sharing my journey may help someone else on theirs.
Is this normal?
The day we got married, I stopped taking birth control; I wanted to make sure the hormones were out of my system when we felt ready. Nate and I talked a long time about the “right time” to start trying to get pregnant. We wanted to make sure our marriage was where it needed to be, we had trips we wanted to go on, and of course we wanted a smidge of financial stability. While we were waiting, I tracked my cycles with apps and thermometers, we continued to work on our mental and physical health, and we enjoyed life together as a couple. Finally, we planned our dream trip to Italy and decided getting pregnant anytime after that would be great. Our “plan” was working out perfectly.
We started the “we are not stopping it from happening, but we aren’t trying” thing. I wanted it to be casual, no stress. And as the months went by, that was my mantra: keep it casual everything is fine. I kept thinking back to when I was tracking my cycles, though. Our timing was right, but still no sign of a baby. Month after month went by, and I started to wonder is this normal?
Thanks for the push, mom
If you were at our wedding you might remember my mom grabbing the mic and chanting “Babies! Babies!” Needless to say, she’s excited for a grandchild. After almost a year of trying I finally shared with my mom that we were having some issues. I wasn’t sure I was ready to reach out to anyone yet though since it hadn’t been quite a year. On her own, she did some research and reached out to a local clinic for some information. At the time, honestly I was just annoyed and I still wasn’t ready to go in. That’s such a huge step, it feels like you’re admitting there’s a problem (If you ignore it, it’s not true right??). Eventually I opened the email with the clinic’s information, took a deep breath, and made the appointment.
*As we continue, I’m going to get into some fertility jargon. If you don’t know these terms, consider yourself blessed. If you have any questions, feel free to ask.
This is the opposite of easy
I distinctly remember in our first appointment we sat down and our Nurse Practitioner looked me in the eye and said:
At this time, out of couples your age who have been trying the same length of time as you, 80-90% are pregnant.
That felt like a punch to the gut, but it made me so thankful we decided to take that step.
Neither Nate nor I had any issues we were aware of so the beginning included all of the basic fertility testing. That is: labs, ultrasounds, an HSG, semen analysis, and lots of history questions. This all took another month and a half (another month and a half of negative pregnancy tests). When we came in for our follow up appointment we found out Nate did, in fact, have an issue with morphology. Because of this they suggested we go right to IUI.
We were given the option of trying IUI “naturally” versus medicated. Our NP kept using the word “natural” and all I could think was, none of this is natural anymore! We decided to start right away with medicated cycles of IUI. This includes oral medication, ultrasounds to check follicle size, and trigger injections to stimulate ovulation. She said it was a very good possibility that IUI is all we need and there’s a good possibility this will work for us.
*Spoiler alert* we are in our third IUI cycle and it hasn’t worked yet. To put it eloquently, it’s been a bitch.
Here come the emotions
The last few months have been a roller coaster, really. I’m not sure how else to put it. The first month we tried IUI, we were full of hope and (at least on the outside) pretty carefree about it. It actually felt nice to be able to take a new type of action toward our goal of getting pregnant. The meds make me a little emotional, the shot always ends up super inflamed, and I have been cramping for 3 out of the 4 weeks a month, but that first month was relatively decent.
Since then though, it hasn’t gone as well. The second month I ovulated super early, we had some sperm issues, and I barely even made it to the IUI appointment (maybe more about that another time). By the time we got to the ultrasound appointment (where they check to see if your follicles are ready to do the trigger shot for ovulation) I was feeling pretty down. Then in our ultrasound she discovered a large cyst on one ovary. She said this would most likely keep the two follicles that were developing on that side from maturing enough for a successful attempt. She also said because of the cyst we would need to wait until it was gone to try again.
That was the first time I cried in the office. Until then, I’ve held it together. Nate and I have laughed and joked like we were out on a date, not like I was [pants-less] with my feet in the stirrups with an ultrasound transducer all up in there. I needed to cry. I needed to let myself feel angry, frustrated, sad, worried, and even a little jealous. Normally, I keep all those feelings in check, but the last few days I’ve needed to let myself actually experience them and work through it. Being this age, I’m constantly surrounded with joyous announcements of first pregnancies, second pregnancies, showers, births, and birthdays. My heart is truly happy when I hear or see these things. I want the people I love to get what they long for.
But there’s a little space in my heart that aches and wonders, why not me? When will it be my turn?
For now, I pray and pray and pray. I know we are so blessed in so many ways and I do everything I can to cling to those blessings. Both Nate and I have jobs to allow us the option of even stepping foot into a fertility clinic, something so many people will never be able to do. We have amazing friends and family who have been and I know will continue to be so supportive of us.
We also have the support of each other. Nate has been by my side this entire time. He’s been to every single appointment of mine plus all of his own; he’s held my hand and dried my tears. I don’t know why our journey looks like this, but we are on it together and this is where we are.
Your will, God. Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else.