This week is National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW). The goal of NIAW is to raise awareness about the disease of infertility which affects 7.3 million Americans.
Some of you know that we struggled with infertility before we were both blessed and lucky enough to successfully undergo fertility treatments to get pregnant with our beautiful children.
Some of you, both old friends and new, did not know this was a problem for us. I want to share my story with you here.
I promise you that I won’t go into all the specific testing we went through, or name the names of all the drugs I had to take, or use a bunch of technical jargon that would just bore you to tears; instead, I’ll tell you about the emotional part of it…and give you the shortest version possible.
Hubby and I had been dating about a year or so before we got engaged. When we got engaged, we seriously started talking about having kids. We decided it was time for me to go off the pill since my doctor recommended it because I’d been on it for so long (10+ years). Once we were married, we weren’t ‘trying’ for a baby, but we didn’t prevent it either. Honestly, I just assumed (yes, I know what happens when one assumes) that I’d get knocked up in a few months.
Fast forward a year later: no kids. So then we started ‘trying’. I began tracking my periods and noting when I thought I was most fertile. Fast forward again a year later: still no kids. No late periods. No maybes. Nothing.
So now I’m getting frustrated. I come from a very fertile family! One of my grandmothers had 9 kids, my mom had 5 kids, both my sisters (at the time) had 2 kids. All of my aunts on both sides had more than 1 baby. No issues on hubby’s side, either. It never occurred to me that I might have any problems getting pregnant, or that I wouldn’t also be Fertile Myrtle like the rest of the women in my family. Frustration and baby making do not mix well together.
‘Trying’ was no longer fun. ‘Trying’ became a job. ‘Trying’ was a scheduled event, and no longer spontaneous. I read all these books and did all kinds of things (some good, some just crazy) that were suggested by them, and by others:
• Try elevating your legs after doing the deed and lay that way for a half hour.
• Stand on your head with your legs against the wall (yes, I tried it).
• Try ovulation kits.
• Try relaxing.
• Have hubby drink coffee or a lot of caffeine before doing the deed to speed up his little swimmers.
• Try to quit thinking about it, and before you know it, you’ll be pregnant! (This one is my favorite….it was like nails down a chalkboard when I heard it. This one always came from women who ‘tried’ for a few months and then got pregnant. Bitches.)
• Quit drinking.
• Eat certain foods.
• Missionary style, only.
• Take vitamins.
• Go to the chiropractor.
• Avoid certain activities.
• Use the basal temperature method.
And of course, none of that worked. We decided to get some basic fertility testing done to make sure his man parts and my women parts worked. We found out that everything looked fine. We were told that nothing was wrong…sometimes it just takes awhile…to just keep on trying.
Ahhhh! Just forget it! We talked ourselves out of wanting decided that we really didn’t want kids. We were enjoying our life! Traveling, spending money on whatever we wanted, doing whatever we wanted whenever we wanted to do it. Having two incomes and basically no major responsibilities. We had nieces and nephews. Life was good. That is what I was telling myself, anyways. Can you say denial?
And it went on like that for another year and a half or so, but the entire time we still weren’t preventing getting pregnant, and I was still keeping track of my periods. And we were still both hoping it would just happen.
It seemed like I was being followed around by pregnant women everywhere I went! I’d turn around, and there’s somebody pregnant. In line at the grocery store? Pregnant lady in front of me. One time, hubby and I went to Target and he ran into the restroom really quick. I only stood waiting for him for maybe a minute, and 5 pregnant women walked into the store! Some even had other children with them! How was that fair? How could God give them more than one when all I wanted was only one??!
Girlfriends of mine kept popping up pregnant. I remember one friend, who had a problem staying pregnant once she got pregnant, invited me to lunch to tell me she was pregnant. This was a huge deal because both of us were each other’s support system. Only somebody that can’t get pregnant, or has problems getting pregnant, can truly understand the complete sense of failure and desperation that comes with every month you aren’t pregnant again. “I’m pregnant, and I wanted you to be the first friend of mine to know since we are in this together”. I was so excited and happy for her! Until I got home. Major water works and I just couldn’t stop crying. I was SO jealous. I was mad. It wasn’t fair.
And after realizing that every time I’d make a wish on a star or birthday candles, or throw a penny in a fountain, my wish was always the same. I don’t even think I need to tell you what it was. It’s 4 and a half years after we got married of trying and praying and begging that we realized we had been talking ourselves out of wanting children because we had tried and couldn’t get pregnant.
So finally, we went to a fertility specialist. Every test under the sun was done. And here was our final diagnosis: there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with either one of us!! We have this wonderful little thing called “unexplained infertility”. No reason we shouldn’t be able to get pregnant, but we couldn’t.
The easy fix with this diagnosis was to start me on some drugs that would make me ovulate a lot…they would make me release more than one egg when I was fertile that month. We did that for three months….nothing. The next step was either doing in-vitro fertilization or artificial insemination. More on the process of infertility treatments here.