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MotherHEARD: Infertility


"As I sit here on my couch writing my story with infertility, I’ve got my 12 week old twins beside me. My husband just left to take our almost three year old son to school. My story has a happy ending.

I was already established with a fertility specialist before we had even started trying to get pregnant back in 2015. I had abnormal bleeding and my cervix and uterus were breeding grounds for polyps. Since 2014, I’ve had numerous polyps removed on five separate occasions.

My husband and I began trying to get pregnant in 2015 and since I wasn’t yet 35, my doctor told me that we had to wait a year until he would initiate fertility treatments (no surprise there). While my doctor is not convinced the polyps ever played a role in my infertility, after 11 months of trying to get pregnant without success and my polyps growing back twice in those 11 months, he cut us break and let us start our first treatment a month early. He recommended we start with intrauterine insemination (IUI) as this was the least invasive and would bypass my bum cervix.

The preparations for the IUI were easy. I took a hormone pill for five days as instructed, went for my daily blood work and ultrasounds until my one follicle was ready, and injected my trigger shot at the exact time they told me: 8PM on Super Bowl Sunday 2016. Tuesday morning my husband left early in the morning to give them his specimen and then later that morning the doctor inseminated me. It all sounds so clinical and it was. But it worked! On the first try.

Our second attempt at trying to get pregnant was not as easy. We tried getting pregnant the old fashioned way again for about nine months but we continued to be unsuccessful. My doctor recommended IUI again and we tried it three times. And it didn’t work. We foolishly thought we wouldn’t have any issue since it happened so quickly the first time. We knew that having a successful IUI on the first try is not common, but we figured it would have happened by the third attempt. When we still weren’t pregnant my doctor recommended in vitro fertilization (IVF). And this is when my mental health took a nose dive…

I mentioned earlier that infertility is mentally, physically, and emotionally challenging. No one will deny that. For me, the emotional aspect of it was the real mindf*ck. I already had one beautiful, healthy, smart, funny, amazing little boy at home. I was lucky. And here I am wanting another baby? How greedy. I viewed the monthly negative pregnancy tests as an indication that I was not supposed to have any more children. Mother Nature allowed modern medicine to help a sister out and she threw me a bone. Once. I was scared she wasn’t going to do it again. Or worse, she would punish me with an unhealthy baby. I wanted to give my son a best friend, not a burden. I felt like each month I continued to push my luck with her and I was scared she was going to retaliate. As I write this, I know it sounds “crazy” or silly. My husband told me I was being ridiculous. But I was terrified. And I felt guilty that I already had one perfect child and there were other women out there who couldn’t any. I was guilty that I had my son. And ashamed that I wanted another.

I am an oncology nurse. I try to help people through the darkest days of their lives. I have a tendency to reflect on my life and my “troubles” and minimize them because I know that there are others in the world who struggle more than I do. Whenever something goes wrong or not how I expected and I get upset, I always remind myself that someone out there has it worse than I do. I think it is because of this type of thought process, I didn’t feel like my struggle conceiving was important or even something I should be upset about. I have a hard time feeling bad for myself. It’s that damn guilty feeling again. I’m healthy, my husband and son are healthy-why should I be sad?

I contemplated going to therapy. I spoke to my good friend who is a child psychologist. She listened to me, assured me that I was totally normal and that I am allowed to feel sorry for myself. I shouldn’t have any guilt associated with that. She encouraged me to go to therapy if I felt it would help. I researched local therapists who specialized in infertility but I never called them. I never even told my husband I was looking into therapy. Not that was I ashamed. I just didn’t want to burden him. He was struggling with our infertility as well and I didn’t want to dump anything else onto him. I just carried the burden and dealt with it internally. If IVF didn’t work after a few cycles, I told myself that I was going to seek help.

We went forward with IVF and became pregnant with our son and daughter. I was 36 at the time so I was allowed to transfer two embryos. My doctor recommended we only try with one embryo but we had two good ones and I wanted to place both. In my head, I couldn’t tolerate any more negatives and if neither of these little babies was going to stick, I needed to know once. I didn’t think I could handle back to back months of negatives again. My husband agreed. We were hoping at least one embryo would implant and both did. I am still over the moon.

There are a lot of things about my journey that I didn’t discuss or go into detail about. The obvious is all of the medications, appointments, testing, etc. Don’t get me wrong, that part is challenging. The worst part for me was allowing my husband to administer my intramuscular progesterone injections. Being an nurse, I didn’t trust him to do it properly but he obviously did a great job. And man those progesterone injections are awful. Also, throughout both attempts to get pregnant with fertility help, we didn’t really tell any one we were going through it. I confided in two friends, but that was all I could handle. We weren’t ashamed that we needed help. I just didn’t want to be bombarded monthly with people asking if I was pregnant yet. Those negative tests are just so hard to see and I let the nurses’ phone calls with the bad news go straight to voicemail. We almost couldn’t go through with my IVF cycle as I developed bronchitis and the anesthesiologist didn’t wasn’t to put me under for my egg retrieval. Luckily, she finally agreed since I was on steroids and an inhaler and it was a “quick” procedure.

The trips to the doctor’s office early in the morning. The bloodwork. The ultrasounds. The medications. I think I cried every day of my IVF treatment cycle. I was tired of being poked and prodded daily. And still I had it “easy” in that we only had to do one cycle of IVF. Infertility is hard. I know I’ve said that a lot. I keep re-reading my story and I’m worried that there are women out there will see me “complaining” about it when I’ve been so lucky and blessed with three children. Hello again, my good and lingering friends Guilt and Shame.

Thank you for the opportunity to tell my story. I hope it can help someone feel as though they are not alone in their journey"

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