My husband and I started TTC (trying to conceive) in January 2010. We thought it would be as simple as throwing out the birth control and increasing the ole marital relations. Ha. Little did we know that we'd be taken on a twenty-six month journey involving three different doctors, fourteen rounds of medications, one surgery, and a failed IUI.
The emotional and physical toll of infertility is felt not only by the people who experience it directly, but also by their spouses and loved ones. Good friends were nervous to share their pregnancies with me because they wanted to spare my feelings. My husband had to deal with me falling apart once a month when the inevitable spotting began. The medications I took made me just a little touchy (read: a total bi-atch) and I can't say that I didn't take a lot of my frustration out on him. At one point, I was even a little bit angry with my Mom, a woman who took seven years to conceive me, because she kept assuring me that "it would happen when it was meant to happen."
I gained 10-15 pounds trying to get pregnant, which I attribute to a combination of stress and the hormones I took. I thought about infertility nearly 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Facebook became my worst enemy, rife with emotional land mines of unexpected pregnancy announcements and baby photos. When infertile friends "crossed over" to the other side, I felt happy for them, but also experienced a pang of pain and emptiness in my own heart. When was it going to be my turn?
I can say that there were two real turning points in my story. The first was in late October 2011, after having a laparoscopy through my regular gynecologist. I followed up with the reproductive specialist who I had been treating with since May. He was clearly displeased with the fact that another physician had performed my surgery. Without reviewing my operative report, the doctor told me I had no hope for ever having a child naturally and should also consider adoption...through his agency, of course! It was only $30,000.00! My husband and I are lawyers: couldn't we afford this to "stop my misery?" I almost passed out from shock.
Fortunately, at that moment, a lightbulb went off and for the first time since I'd started this journey, I got angry. Really angry. A physician who was at all interested in my care would have at least reviewed the darn operative report before rending a diagnosis of "all hope is lost." I just knew that he was wrong. I started asking the questions that I should have asked months ago. What was my diagnosis? What was his treatment plan? What additional diagnostic studies and labs should I run?
Guess what? He didn't have a single answer, although he did add the golden nugget that I was obviously depressed and needed counseling - through his office, naturally! I left his office, hyperventilated in the car, and never went back. I'd be damned if I was going to pay someone to "treat" me who didn't even believe it would work. It turned out to be a huge blessing. Not only did this lead me to the doctor who did get me pregnant (not literally, of course), but I also became my own advocate. If I could give anyone going through this or any other medical problem any advice, that would be it: be your own advocate. I cannot believe that I am a lawyer and did not do this sooner.
The second point was in early January 2012, after having a chemical pregnancy. One of my best friends in the whole world called me to tell me she was pregnant. I'd heard many pregnancy announcements over the last two years and had always coped with them well, but this one came out of the blue and so when she told me, I burst into tears. I cannot tell you how ashamed I was. It is a true testament to our friendship that she understood the tears had nothing to do with her. However, this was a breaking point. I knew I'd had enough and could no longer keep trying. The timing was more than perfect because that was when we had a forced break, giving me just enough strength to try one last time. And it finally happened.
A few of the posts I wrote while in the thick of my infertility treatment:
Reality, Revised - coming out as an infertile
Sweating Like an Oldie - the side effects of infertility medications
You're Fired - dumping my first RE (reproductive endocrinologist - the fertility doctor)
When Enough Is Enough - quitting my running group to focus more on trying to conceive
Sorry No More - thoughts on putting yourself first when dealing with infertility
Pre-Surgery - nerves prior to my lap surgery
The Surgery - the rundown on having laparoscopic surgery for endometriosis
Needled - acupuncture for fertility
The End of the Road - written in December 2011, right at the height of my frustration
One Too Many Hip Openers - fertility yoga. great for a laugh, who knows if it works?
Don't Ignore - the isolation infertility can cause.