I started this blog in Spring of 2009 to document the joys of pregnancy and a new baby.
But that never happened.
After a year with no baby, we started seeing an infertility specialist. He ran lots of tests with few results; there were a few things that were a little off but nothing major. They put me on a drug called Femara, which is typically used to treat breast cancer but is used off-label to cause ovulation. It is supposed to have less side effects than the more commonly used Clomid. I took Femara for months. The husband had low counts on his side as well but we were told that there was not much that could be done about that. We did three rounds of IUI with no results, got my tubes flushed, and were eventually told that if we wanted a child IVF would be our best option.
I can’t quite put into words how tough of a time this was. It sucked. Really really really bad. I was mad at my body, mad at myself, mad at God.
We didn’t want to do IVF at that time in our lives. I hated the medical side of trying to conceive. We had always thought about adopting some day, and since we weren’t getting pregnant on our own we figured it was as good of a time as any. We started the adoption process but I continued to take Femara. Month after month I did not get pregnant, but the disappointment lessened as the adoption excitement grew. We began to accept, even embrace, the fact that our family might be formed solely through adoption. Still, our hearts longed for a biological child.
At one point, out of curiosity more than anything else, we saw one of the few doctors that specialized in male infertility. He put the husband on a cocktail of vitamins, all of which could be bought over the counter.
Two months later we were pregnant.
I don’t know if the vitamins had anything to do with it or if that was a strange coincidence, but suffice it to say that when it was time for #2 we kept with the vitamins.
So lessons learned?
- When you’re trapped in infertility, it starts to consume your life and you can’t think of anything else except for how it’s all going to turn out. Know that infertility is just one small part of your life. It will not, it does not, define you.
- Talk to people. So many people suffer infertility in silence. That gives it power. Reach out to a friend, a counselor, to me! Don’t suffer alone.
- If you have irregular cycles, don’t wait a year before seeing a specialist. You already know something is wrong and it could be easily fixed.
- Get the husband’s counts checked, and if they’re abnormal, see a male infertility specialist early in the game….even if your normal infertility specialist says there is no need to.
- Get the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility. Take notes. Learn how your body works. It’s fascinating.
- Don’t get so caught up in your own trials that you become bitter. Decide what role you want to play in the lives of kids around you. Let those people know. Communicate how they can best support you.
- Consider making lifestyle changes to eliminate unnecessary chemicals and hormones in your household and food. Eat whole, unprocessed foods as much as possible. Look at ingredients list and don’t buy stuff with ingredients that you’re unfamiliar with. Limit the use of plastics and harsh cleaners. No one really knows if these things are linked to infertility. But they could be, and making these changes won’t hurt. I got pregnant shortly after cutting these things out from my life. Again, could be a coincidence, but it certainly didn’t hurt.
And if a loved one is suffering from infertility?
- Show you’re interested by asking questions. That’s awkward. Do it anyways. Don’t wait for them to bring it up, because when you’re there you don’t know if other people are comfortable talking about it. But let them know if they’d rather not talk about it, that’s okay too. If they do, listen, listen, listen. You can’t fix.
- If you have kids, have an honest conversation about how they want to handle things. Do they want to be invited to birthday parties? Would they like to be a special ‘aunt’? Or would those things be a painful reminder of what they don’t have? Each person is different. The only way you’ll know is to ask.
- Be very sensitive when announcing a pregnancy. Hearing of other’s pregnancy is so bittersweet- so much excitement and joy for them, and so much sorrow for yourself. Save all the little updates throughout pregnancy for other loved ones.
- Words are powerful. Be careful about what you say. But don’t worry too much.
Infertility is not a fun time in life. But it is not your life. You are more than infertility.