Happy Friday-eve guys!
I wish this blog was full of funny and uplifting stories. I wish you could come here whenever you needed a smile or pick-me-up, but I guess that is what YouTube cat video and coffee are for#truth.
Instead of sunshine and rainbows, today I want to talk about something that has been weighing heavily on my mind and my heart: infertility. It is a diagnosis that you never really get over, at least I haven’t. Even though I was one of the lucky ones; I was able to eventually get pregnant.
I feel like it was a diagnosis I knew long before any doctor ever confirmed it. I remember, as a child asking my mother what would happen if I couldn’t have babies? She didn’t indulge my fears, instead reassuring me, “Oh, you will! I didn’t have any trouble!” So I let it go, but my mind didn’t.
I went on birth control at 18 to make sure “I didn’t get pregnant” and stayed on it until I was almost 27. The year I turned 26 was very tumultuous. I got out of a very serious, but brief relationship. I re-met my husband (we went to high school together, but did not really know each other), lost 50+ lbs, and married my husband.
I can never be sure (the doctors certainly aren’t), but I think the weight loss is what did it. I got off birth control soon after we were married (for medical reasons) and I haven’t had a period since. Almost 6 years now.
It was easy to ignore at first. My life was more convenient no more worry about getting my period at a bad time or remembering my stash of pads and tampons. Oh, and I thought, well I will save money now that I don’t have to buy that stuff! Oh, boy…
There was a little voice in the back of my head saying, What about babies? I ignored it; we weren’t ready, so it matter now. I was busy getting my masters degree in education and my husband was getting another bachelor’s to become a teacher (his first was in broadcasting).
A few years past, I got close to 30, and that voice in the back of my head was much louder now. BABIES! It would shout at me. I got a grown-up job with health insurance through teaching, and I decided to go to the gynecologist to see what was going on. A panel of tests later, and I had part of my answer: hypothalamic amenorrhea. My hypothalamus was no longer communicating with my ovaries (if you want more information about this problem, check out Stefani’s blog- she has some amazing information). My doctors were confused because I was at a healthy BMI and not over-exercising at that time.
That is the key, I think. My body never recovered for some reason. Even when I stopped working out 7 days a week and only eating 1400 calories. In fact, as I would later find out from a fertility specialist, my body had turned on itself and was attacking the eggs that I had left.
Fast forward several months, multiple failed rounds of Clomid, and six weeks of nightly FSH shots to grow my follicles, followed by HMG shots to make my body produce/release multiple eggs to increase our chances, and a round of HCG to force my body to ovulate. These may have been the worst months of my life. The complicated roller coaster of emotions was non-stop. Anger over how and why this happened, fear that it wasn’t going to work, worry over the enormous expense, and shame that my body could not perform one of the most basic functions of a woman.
I spent countless hours at the fertility clinic. At least one morning every week was spent checking my levels to make sure I was progressing and to make sure we didn’t miss our window for conception. When it was finally time (we had sufficiently forced my body to ovulate), my husband and I drove to the clinic for insemination or an IUI. I will never forget how my daughter was conceived; not at home, privately and romantically, but me with my feet in stirrups, holding my husband’s hand, looking up at a sperm and egg drug advertisement mobile, while a PA inseminates me.
I don’t mean to sound so bitter, but I guess I am. Yes, I am eternally grateful that the procedure worked. But I am still a mess of emotions. Every time my daughter has another medical problem crop up, I think See, you were not supposed to have children. This is what you get.
I want to make perfectly clear that I understand that this mentality is completely irrational. I understand how EXTREMELY lucky my husband and I were to be able to have a child at all. I know that there are so many couples who are not so lucky, so many that have endured far more than I have. I understand all of that, but I can’t stop myself from having those negative thoughts.
My doctor confirmed my fears at my last gynecologist appointment. I am still considered infertile because my period never returned after the birth of my daughter. If I want more children we have to act soon because my egg count is low and I am two years older than the first go round. Two more years for my body to attack itself and destroy what few eggs I have left. Plus, there is the added concern of my bones and osteoporosis since I am not menstruating. So much to think about…
Should we risk the energy, time, and money, especially since we got lucky once, extremely lucky! What are the odds we will again? Infertility has no cure. You can be lucky, like we were, and be in remission. But it never really goes away.
I know how fortunate I am, how extremely blessed.