After giving myself 97 shots in a 2 month period, eating more sweet potatoes than anyone would want, and experiencing a roller coaster of emotions month after month, I decided to share my story. It's not that unusual, but I found when I was going through my infertility journey, the thing that helped me was hearing from other women who had been in my shoes and now have a little baby in their life. So here it goes. These are snippets from my journal in hopes of providing some hope to any young woman praying for a little miracle.
This all started back in 2009. In May 2009 I flew off to Florida to visit my sister for what we labeled my "Pre-Pregnancy Party". I thought I had better go out and have a great time because within a few months my life would change. I'd be glowing and only my husband and I would know why. We'd be expecting a bundle of joy. I ran out and bought mugs that read "World's Best Grandmother" with the intentions of sending them to our mothers so that they'd open them up and scream with joy knowing that their children were expecting.
Can You Buy Stock In Pregnancy Tests?
I have to admit, I'm a planner. So my husband and I planned on having kids 2 years after we were married and then we gave ourselves an extra year when he switched jobs. Then, keeping true with my personality, I planned on seeing a positive on my pregnancy test, and when I didn't get it, I planned on seeing it the next day. Every month, I'd run out and buy 2 boxes of pregnancy tests. I needed 2 boxes because I'd run out before the month was over. My husband (he's not as much of a planner as I am) never questioned why I needed to test 6 times to know for sure that I wasn't pregnant. I thank him for that. In the first few months I didn't think much of it when the tests showed a negative. Sure it was disappointing, but I figured it would take about 3 months for my body to adjust and get ready for a baby.
The Panic Begins To Set In
I would sleep with a thermometer under my pillow. They say if you track your temperature every morning at the same time, you can tell when "the time is right". I even had graphs showing it. Obsessive? Yes, but that was nothing! Then I started using ovulation predictor kits. Pee on a stick and a smiley face would appear when you were about to ovulate. We were timing everything perfectly; what was wrong?
Octomom? Sure, Why Not!
My OB/GYN decided to put me on a fertility drug. The hope was I'd pop out more than 1 egg and that would increase my odds of conceiving. So I took the drug Femara, and I just knew that month would be "the month". I did that for 3 anxiety filled months… and nothing.
The Agony Of Not Knowing
It was time to get serious and figure out why we weren't getting pregnant. My husband got tested, and he was good. Maybe I had some sort of blockage. So I went through a HSG test which is where they put dye through your fallopian tubes. I read up on this a lot and most people said it was mildly painful. I think I almost broke my nurse's fingers because I was grabbing her hand so hard. Every bit of my being cramped up, it was horrid! But there was no blockage, and no answer. Then, I went through another test that only led to a guess of what might be wrong. The doctor thought I could possibly have an allergy to my husband and my body attacks his sperm as invaders. However, our fertility doctor says while this may be the case, on any given month it could change, so he wasn't completely sold. Ugh, the agony of not knowing.
Get Out The Turkey Baster!
We then decided to do IUI, Intrauterine Insemination. I've often read in the world of fertility treatments, you try something 3 times and if it doesn't work time to move on. We did IUI 4 times, and nothing.
Get Out The Sweet Potatoes… And Needles
If someone suggested it, I tried it. My sister heard sweet potatoes increased ovulation, so she sent me a box full of sweet potato chips and sweet potato waffle mix. Luckily, I like sweet potatoes! Then mom heard if you drink whole milk opposed to 1%, you'll increase your odds. Whole milk it was! I heard, maybe you're too thin. I called my doctor and she said as long as I was ovulating, I had enough fat. Then I decided to move on to Eastern medicine. I went in weekly for three months to get needles stuck in me for acupuncture. I remember lying there thinking, what in the world am I doing? But I was doing it for a baby, so I would try anything and everything. The Eastern doctor gave me herbs and told me not eat or drink anything cold. He said I needed a warm uterus to have a baby. Really?!? Okay, like I said, I was willing to try anything. I started drinking tea and warm tap water. I had read if you take Robitussin daily, you'll also increase your chances. Oh the things you do when desperate!
After 2 years, we both knew we couldn't keep doing this.
Here Comes The Big One: IVF
I was about to embark on a final journey. We have prayed more prayers than I can count that we would get pregnant. I know God's listening. I believe he's put us in the good hands of one of the best fertility doctors around. I went in to go through my mock transfer, basically a run through of the big day. Ouch. It wasn't supposed to hurt, but it was painful - and that's when he told the nurse, 'we'll give her a valium during the real thing'. I'm okay with that!
Excited For A Shot? Oh Yea!
What a strange thing to say. I'm excited to give MYSELF a shot. But I am. To me it means that the IVF process is officially underway. I got my mega box of shots and I mean mega.
Well, I've been giving myself shots now for about 2 weeks. When it came time to give the first one, I was so ready. And surprisingly, it didn't hurt. In my stomach it went, with my sous shot giver (my husband) by my side rooting me on. The first night I woke up 3 times sweating profusely, but for the next week it was a breeze. And that's about the time the side effects started kicking in. The headaches were horrendous. They wouldn't start until the afternoon, just about the time I had to go to work. Tylenol wouldn't faze them. But it's all for a baby, so bring on the Lupron drug. Then I started forgetting things that I normally wouldn't. Like I would need to record something for work, and I would - just the wrong thing!
I went in for my first doctor's visit since starting the Lupron and I was told everything in my body was "sleeping". That's a good thing! The doc says I can now proceed with more shots. The headaches are still ferocious, and about every other night I'll wake up sweating. I'm the type of person who wears flannel to bed (I'm always cold), but now I get a lovely mix of sweat and chills throughout the night.
Burn Baby, Burn
I'm now up to 3 shots a day; Lupron in the morning, Gonal F in the morning, then Menopur in the evening. Gonal F didn't hurt, but the needle is a bit bigger so I had to push a little more, which is a very strange feeling. I also numb the area with a cold pack and that seemed to help. But, since the first 2 were a breeze, I was shocked when I got to Menopur. The needle went in fine, but when it came time to push the medicine in, I was brought to tears. That stuff burns! Turns out a lot of other people agree, and their advice is to push the medicine in slow. I gave myself the shot last night slowly and while I held my breath during the entire shot, there were no tears. It didn't hurt nearly as badly.
Oh The Things People Say
I have a sign on my desk that says "Work With Me People". I think I need to get one to wear around my neck that says "Think Before You Speak"! I've heard my share of comments that just make me cringe. It used to be, "Just relax, then you'll have a baby". If only it was that easy! We took months 'off' from trying. We took great wine vacations during "optimal" times. But the latest comment got my blood boiling. A stranger came up to introduce herself. She said she was a stay at home mom and had 1 child. There is nothing odd about that conversation, and I didn't mind her asking if we had children. But then the next question really rubbed me the wrong way. She asked, "Well do you WANT children?" What am I supposed to say, "No, kids annoy me." Or the truth, "Yes, but I may be allergic to my husband's swimmers." I think I was so taken aback that I simply answered, "We sure hope to someday". I'm sure that was the right thing to say. (Looking back on that, it's not really that big of a deal being asked if I want kids. But I think when you're in the heart of fertility treatments, you read into comments and your heart breaks that you don't have a child).
I don't want to think about what it might be like if I get a negative on a pregnancy test after all of this. But I definitely didn't think I'd have to deal with the reality that we might never get to that point. Last week I went in for an ultrasound and I couldn't believe it. My body hasn't responded quickly enough to the drugs. I felt my throat get tight, I started sweating, and then the flood of tears. But the doctor told me to come back in 2 days and see how things are progressing. When we came back, things weren't great by any stretch of the imagination, but he said in his professional opinion, he'd continue. I was freaking out a bit when I heard the number of eggs I have is similar to that of a 40 year old woman (I'm 32), but the doctor put my worries at ease when he told me my egg quality would be significantly better, and quality is better than quantity.
It Feels Like Christmas
I woke up this morning and turned to Nick and said "I'm so excited! It feels like Christmas!" I can't believe the day has come where I'm going to get my eggs removed. I'm not nervous or scared, just excited. It's like knowing you're going to get a present, you're just not sure how many there will be. The nerves never really did hit. I got an IV and they told me I'd fall asleep soon. I laid there looking at the operating lights thinking, there are 2 lights - then nothing… off to lala land! The nurse, Cindy, was so sweet. She said the first thing I'd want to know when I came to was how many eggs they retrieved. And she said most women will forget and ask their husbands about a dozen times. So she said she'd write the number on my left palm so I could look at it as soon as I came to. As soon as I came out of the anesthesia, I looked at Nick and he said, "Look at your hand. 5!" That's what was on my palm, 5! Although a little groggy, I didn't stop smiling. That's 1 more than expected and so I'm staying positive. I went home and was exhausted. I slept until about 2:30! But I was surprised how much I don't hurt. I thought I'd be in some pretty severe pain. In fact, they prescribed me Loratab, but I haven't even needed a Tylenol. I feel some pressure, but it's not bad. This may seem silly, but I haven't washed my left hand all day! I love to keep looking at the 5! It is a sign of hope.
Come On Embryos!
The waiting game is probably the worst. It's exciting, but nerve-wracking. We knew we'd get a phone call at about 11am from an embryologist to give us an update, and up until 11, no one said much. We were just waiting for the sound of the phone. And then it rang. We got the great news, 4 of the 5 eggs had fertilized. Each day we'd get a call to update us on the progress. On day 2, things were still looking good. Day 3 we got more encouraging news. Things were still progressing. At that point, there were 2 options, transfer the embryos now, or wait 2 more days until they grow even more (which is preferred). YAY! The doctor felt we could wait…
Day 4 was uneventful because they didn't call us with an update. I guess they can't tell much on that day.
June 6th, 2011 - exactly 9 years from the day Nick and I met - we'd have 2 embryos transferred back into me. What a special day! I was a little sad when we got there because they told me the other 2 embryos weren't going to make it and could not be frozen, but we had 2 - and really all we needed was 1 to work! I wasn't counting on it being emotional during the embryo transfer, but it was. Nick got scrubs on and held my hand as the transfer happened. The tears started rolling. This was it. This was the closest we've ever been to becoming parents.
I didn't feel any different physically, but I was so excited at the possibility that I had 2 little embryos ready to become babies.
2 Weeks Later
We went in for a pregnancy test. I had to have a blood test, because the ones you do at home might not be accurate since some of the shots could still be in my system. They would know the results in 1 hour. I asked them not to call me with the results, but instead call Nick. We had been through so many disappointments that I thought if we got bad news, I'd need support and thought it would be best if I heard it from him. He had gone to the gym and I was expecting (even if he heard from the doctor) that he was going to come home and tell me the results in person. I was sitting outside when my phone rang. It was Nick. He said, "Are you ready to be a mom?" I was thinking, what kind of question is that? Of course I want to be a mom! We had been praying for a baby for 2 plus years. So I answered, "Well yea!" Then the news I had been longing to hear - "Well you're going to be a mom!" I could hardly believe my ears. I was saying, "Really? Really!" As soon as I hung up I was overwhelmed. With tears of joy in my eye, I started yelling out loud, "Thank you God!" I thought afterwards, if someone was outside they probably heard me and thought I was a crazy woman. But I'm going to be a mom... wow!!!
So if you're experiencing infertility right now, just know you are not alone. While many of us don't openly talk about it, I assure you, 1 in 10 women have experienced some sort of problem getting pregnant. Know there are always options. And keep your faith. I know it's not easy, but know that all this trouble will someday make the outcome that much sweeter. I've found I appreciate every moment of pregnancy, even the moments that I had to eat saltine crackers just to keep from feeling sick. Looking back, I wouldn't change a thing.
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