Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Road to Infertility Treatment

*If over-sharing and personal details are not your thing then you may want to skip this post because it's going to get a little real up in here. Also, a trigger warning to anyone that's experiencing or has experienced infertility because writing this has been hard so reading it might be, too.*
     Before I dive into the journey we had before we began any treatment I just want to say thank you to everyone who has reached out with words of encouragement, empathy, and sympathy since we decided to speak out about our fertility dilemma. The love that we've felt since that announcement has floored us and we are so grateful for all the positive energy, prayers, and thoughts that have been sent our way - a sense of support so strong it's almost palpable. So, truly and deeply, THANK YOU.
     When we got married Chris and I knew we wanted kids (he knew it right away but I took a little more convincing). But first we wanted Chris to get through law school and then we wanted to wait until we had established a home and jobs. Finally, two years ago, we decided that it was time, we were ready to start a family.  He was working at a law firm in Carlsbad and I had secured a teaching position in San Marcos. I even started mentioning to a couple of my coworkers that we were thinking about having a baby. I was in a job-share position then so the timing couldn't have been more perfect. Everything seemed to be falling into place.
     In the summer of 2013 I had my yearly pap-smear and overall check-up to make sure I was physically healthy for the demands of pregnancy. Having had an abnormal pap result once many years ago I was always nervous at these appointments, expecting to hear bad news. So when the general practitioner told me she was concerned that I'd have trouble getting pregnant because there was scar tissue covering most of my cervical opening I shouldn't have been surprised - I'm a pessimist for a reason. But I was surprised and I sat in disbelief as she wrote me a referral to an ob-gyn for a second opinion. I couldn't believe I'd spent so long trying not to get pregnant when I may not have been able to anyway.
    However, when I met with the Ob-Gyn she was of the opinion that if I was still menstruating every month then I shouldn't have any trouble getting pregnant because, essentially, if stuff is coming out then stuff can go in. I remember letting out a sigh of relief and then rushing home to let Chris know that we were in the clear and ready to go!

      Chris was the best man at a wedding that October in Maui so we used that date as the starting point for when to begin "trying". I assumed we'd be pregnant by December, which would give us a September 2014 due date, which would coincide with the beginning of the school year, so it would be the perfect time for maternity leave to begin. Except, as you know, that didn't happen. I tried not to be disappointed when my period would stubbornly arrive month after month. I tried not to obsess on what the first doctor had told me about my tiny cervical opening. I tried to be optimistic; I thought we just needed a warm-up and surely we would be pregnant by month six - I'd been off birth control for many years, I was still young, and, supposedly, my reproductive organs were all in tact! But the sixth month passed just as all the others had and my optimism began to wane again. And to add insult to injury my job-share partner became pregnant and I witnessed her belly expand month after month with the life she was able to carry inside. I was happy for her, of course, it's not like she got pregnant to spite me, but I also experienced a jealousy I couldn't ignore.
     The summer of 2014 was very different than I had envisioned the summer before. Instead of choosing decor for a baby's room I had the first of what was to become an exhausting number of appointments with a fertility specialist. At our first appointment with the reproductive endocrinology physician he was adamant that we keep trying to conceive naturally because we hadn't completed a full year yet. He told me to use ovulation predictor kits and he fed me statistics: 90% of couples without reproductive abnormalities get pregnant within the first year, 95% in a year and half. Surely we were in that 95%! He also agreed with the Ob-Gyn that the size of my cervical opening wasn't an issue since I had a flow coming out every month. By the end of that consultation I felt my optimism begin to emerge from the depth into which it had sunk so off we went certain that by October of 2014, a year since we'd begun trying, I'd be pregnant.
    October 2014 ended in the same state in which it began, with me peeing in a cup to track my optimal fertility time, having scheduled sex, taking a pregnancy test, getting my period, and sobbing in the bathroom. A scenario that would replay month after month after month, ad nauseam. All the while eight of my colleagues, all women I respect, one I particularly adore, became pregnant - the announcements written in the staff lounge about once a month, an arrow through my heart every time.
     I've come to realize that being a teacher dealing with infertility is particularly gut-wrenching due to the fact that the field of education, especially in the elementary grades, is dominated by women so, inevitably, pregnancy is a common part of the workplace. Teaching in an elementary school also implies that most of the parents of our students are also in their reproductive stage of life so there are many mothers who are also pregnant. I behold pregnancy on a daily basis. Not to diminish the feelings of infertile women in other careers but I don't think this is an issue that an infertile woman has to deal with when working at a law firm, for example. I was joyful for my colleagues because I could imagine how wonderful they felt because I had been imagining that feeling for myself for so long, but it also made me so sad. I felt like a broken woman. The only silver lining I found was that at least the one year deadline was over so now we could begin taking concrete steps to solve our fertility problem.
    October 2015 begins on Thursday and I'm hoping that this time I'll see that elusive plus sign on the pregnancy test. That f**king plus sign that has been teasing me for the past two years.  I don't gamble or bet or play the lottery but I know that intense feeling of wanting something so bad and then the air that gets sucked out of you when you don't get it - that folding over that your body instinctively does to remind you that it's time to get into the fetal position and let the moment pass. It's been awhile  since I've felt that wave of sadness and I think that's because IVF just seems like a sure thing. I'll find out soon enough.
     The next post will be about the actual infertility treatments I've done and won't be as emotional. I just wanted to convey the long road it took to even get to the point of treatment. Thanks for sticking through it if you've read till the end. Have a happy weekend!


Mami said...

Mi amor, you're strong and you've done everything needed, so be patient. Your reward is going to be real pretty soon!! Im so proud of you and I can't wait to be there to support you when the time come for me to be of any use!!
Love you so much!!

jenny said...

Thinking good thoughts and sending lots of love your way. Fingers and toes are crossed for that F**king plus sign! Much love, Jenny