Tuesday, August 30, 2016

My Personal Struggles with Infertility

I wish I could apologize to anyone who ever previously told me about their infertility troubles because I feel like I didn't have much compassion for women who were having trouble getting pregnant.  At least, I never had ENOUGH compassion.  That is until I faced the struggles myself.  When we decided we wanted to start a family, we tried for 3 months, then got pregnant with Chase.  No problemo!
Sweet baby Chase

So, of course I just assumed it would be smooth sailing the second time around.  WRONG!  We tried for several months, then I started to get a little worried.  We tried for a few more months, then the worry increased.  I started googling the dreaded word “infertility” and learned a lot…some good and some bad.  I don’t know if it was too much information because sometimes ignorance is bliss.  The more I learned about issues that can cause infertility and the more stories I read about other couples having troubles, the more freaked out I got that I was never going to get pregnant.  

Apparently the magic number is 12 months.  If you have tried to get pregnant for 12 months and it hasn’t happened yet, then it might be time to consult a specialist.  So, that’s what we did.  We scheduled an appointment for a consultation, met with the doctor. I happened to have a 9 cm fibroid on the outside of my uterus, so he said it that this benign growth definitely seemed to be my problem and once it was removed, I should get pregnant easily.  Perfect!  Finally, I had answers to my questions, and seemingly an easy fix.  I had the surgery, and waited the recommended 3 months to allow my body to heal, then we were back at it…trying, and trying, and trying again.  Charting ovulation, taking my body temperature, eating healthy, and on and on.  Still no baby.  So, I called him again.  "Hello, doctor..."  This time, he recommended a little help from some drugs to stimulate ovulation.  I took 3 rounds of Letrozole with no luck.  This drug was very similar to Clomid.  From what I have heard, it seems Clomid is more commonly known, however, my doctor said he had better luck with Letrozole and there seemed to be fewer side effects.  

When Letrozole failed to help get me pregnant, we then decided to continue with the infertility treatments and proceeded to do 3 rounds of IUI (intrauterine insemination).  I was not prepared for the physical or emotional toll that IUI would take on my body and my mind.  First of all, it involves lots of drugs, both oral and injectables.  Poking myself in the stomach was not exactly fun, but when my husband had to give me a shot in the booty with a giant needle, I thought he was going to pass out.  And, the actual procedure was so much worse then the preparation.  The cramping I experienced after the insemination was INSANE!  I'm talking, cold sweats, nausea, dizzy, migraines, and the list goes on.  It was terrible.  I never would have guessed that this seemingly simple procedure would cause me to feel the way I did physically.  And, the mental/emotional stress was a whole other issue.  I could have put out a California forest fire with all of the tears I shed over those 3 years.  Even though I knew friends who had gone through infertility treatments, I was not prepared for toll it would take on me.  

I had such a sense of guilt about everything.  Why couldn't I give Chase a sibling?  Am I not a good enough mother that God thinks I can't handle another child?  What's wrong with me?  What's wrong with my husband?  STOP STRESSING!...When you stop trying so hard, it will happen.  Excuse me?  HOW can I stop thinking about it 24/7?  That's just not mentally possible.  Until my eggs dry up and I start menopause, I will not be able to stop thinking about it no matter how hard I try.  And, then I had guilt about the time requirements of all of the infertility treatments.  Time I should have been spending with Chase, but instead I was driving 70 minutes round trip to the doctor's office a couple of times a week.  Sometimes I would drag him along, but he was so very curious and I didn't want to scare him when I would have to get my blood drawn or have any other tests.  I was doing all of this for him, in a way, because I wanted him to have a sibling so very badly.  He would love a baby brother or sister.  But, the guilt was still there, no matter how much I tried to justify it.  

Eskimo kisses

After 3 failed attempts at IUI, all of the emotional stress made me want to take a break from the infertility treatments.  We decided to just chill for a few months and take a step back.  We wanted to enjoy the summer and not be worried about doctor appointments and ovulation schedules.  Towards the middle of the summer though, I started to get the itch again...I want a baby, I want a baby, I want a baby.  

"Hello, doctor..."  This time, he agreed it was time to start the procedures for IVF (invitro fertilization).  This was big time.  Lots of shots, drugs, egg removal, fertilization, implantation, bed rest, endless blood tests and sonograms.  But, I had had time to clear my mind and I was ready to take the IVF bull by the horns.  It was 2013, and that September marked Adam and my 10 wedding anniversary.  To celebrate, we had planned a beach vacation without our son.  This was the longest we would have ever been away from him, so that was a little nerve wracking!  But, in any case, we both needed the break, and the time together with no distractions.  We were set to leave on Aug 10.  I  was scheduled to start the IVF stuff when we returned.  I was just waiting on my period so I could call the doctor and he could tell me when to start poking myself with the needles and swallowing the pills.  I thought my cycle was going to start around Aug 5...but it didn't.  So, I waited another couple of days, and still no period.  At this point, I was getting really mad at my body.  I was finally at peace with the fact that I was going to have to do IVF, and now my stupid body won't even cooperate so I can start the necessary drugs!  What is the problem!?!?!  Was I pregnant?  No way.  I took a pregnancy test.  Negative.  Yep, that's what I was expecting.  After you take 20+ tests that are ALL negative, you just assume the next one will be negative too.  So, I waited a couple more days.  Still no period.  I took another test.  This one was positive.  Ok, now I'm just annoyed.  What is going on?  What is the universe doing to my poor mind?  There is no way I can actually be pregnant, so this test must be wrong.  

"Hello doctor..."  They suggested I get a blood test to confirm, but they said that if the home pregnancy test showed up positive, then most likely I was pregnant.  OMG.  OMG.  OMG.  Are you kidding me? What are the odds?  I still couldn't believe it.  I wouldn't let myself get too excited because I kept thinking there is no way that I just got pregnant on my own after trying for over 3 years and numerous infertility treatments.  So, the day before our 10 year anniversary beach extravaganza, I found out I WAS PREGNANT!  I just stood there in silence with a quiet tear trailing down my cheek as the nurse confirmed over the phone that the blood test was positive.  Finally.  My prayers were answered.  Finally.  I happened to have a "big brother" shirt that I had purchased a couple of years ago in anticipation of getting pregnant, so I quickly found it, dusted it off, and put it on Chase (I told him it said "king of the world"). I took some pictures of him, and quickly printed them off before Adam got home.


I really wanted to surprise Adam, so I put them in an envelope along with a letter thanking him for all of his support through all of the struggles we have had over the past few years.  At the airport early the following morning, I gave him the envelope.  He read the letter then looked at the "big brother" pictures and after taking a moment to let it resonate, in amazement, he said "HOW?"  I laughed and cried tears of joy because I thought the exact same thing.  How...after all these years and so much stress and so many tears?  We will never know why.  But we will forever be grateful.

Newly pregnant during our anniversary vacation

I had always heard of women who had such a hard time getting pregnant the first time, and then after doing IVF or some other form of treatments, their 2nd, 3rd and subsequent pregnancies came easily, and often times were very surprising.  But, to have had no issues getting pregnant the first time, all of a sudden it was like my body forgot what to do.  I felt very isolated because I had not known anyone to face infertility the 2nd time around.  So, if you are reading this, and feel like you are alone, I want to let you know that you are not.  There are women out there who have had 3 babies, and want a 4th, but for some reason it's a struggle.  There are women who can't get pregnant at all, with no explanation as to why.  There are women who get pregnant right away, but can't seem to carry the baby to term.  With so many struggles, it's amazing there are any healthy babies born at all.  When you are young, you just think about how NOT to get pregnant, so when you shift your focus onto opening up your heart to a baby, it's really saddening when it doesn't happen.  

Now, I used to get so frustrated when people would tell me stories of miraculous pregnancies because I thought, that's great for them, but what about me?  I was honestly happy for other couples who could get pregnant easily, but it was also an overwhelming sense of jealousy.  So, I am writing this story, not to gloat about my miraculous pregnancy, but to hopefully provide some inspiration to those out there who are struggling.  You never know what will happen.  I would have bet money on the fact that I would not get pregnant on my own.  I feel for you, I pray for you, and I have so much more compassion for you then you will ever know.  If nothing else, I just want you to know that you are not alone.  So many women out there are going through similar issues, so please find someone to confide in and don't try to navigate this journey alone.

Our first picture as a family of four

Proud big brother...FINALLY!
 Staring at my baby boy in disbelief that he's mine.  
Beckham Charles, we waited a long time for you!

 photo Niki Heart Auto signature-2_zpso77bkiti.png

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