How did you first know you were dealing with infertility?
I think for me, I had gotten pregnant and so, I didn’t even think that was on the table. I’d had a miscarriage and I thought I’d just have a couple cycles and try again. I also hoped it would help me heal from the miscarriage. Then, month after month, nothing happened. I got really anxious as I got closer to the one year mark, because I knew that was when the doctor diagnosed infertility. But I can vividly remember going in and doing beginning testing and thinking they were going to say, “You’re fine, everything’s good.” But instead, I went to my OBGYN for an ultrasound and the tech said she wouldn’t recommend wasting my time there and handed me a pamphlet for an infertility specialist. I held it together long enough to get in my car and then started sobbing because I wasn’t expecting it. I knew I was irregular but I’m an optimist so I would just assume I was pregnant every month. I think this made it harder because every month following the miscarriage, it was reliving that I wasn’t pregnant anymore. I looked at it like, “every month the baby should be x months old” and then I was diagnosed with infertility, and I’d think “how did I get here? I was supposed to have a one year old.
What happened once this was determined?
We continued testing with my regular OBGYN and that’s how we found out that I wasn’t regular and that my husband had low motility. The doctor said he would start me on Clomid for three rounds and if that didn’t work, we would move on to a specialist. We wanted to avoid that because we were aware of the cost. Even at the OBGYN, once it was coded as infertility, insurance stopped coverage. Thankfully, the generic Chlomid was inexpensive. But the dye test for my fallopian tubes cost thousands of dollars.
What was the medical process like for you?
Beyond the testing of my hormones, the dye test, and my husband having his sperm tested, we were very fortunate that the first round of chlomid worked for us.
Did you try anything beyond medical interventions?
I took countless ovulation kits and pregnancy tests. After that, I know I’m never going to “try” to get pregnant again. I’d talk myself into believing I was pregnant every month and then be devastated all over again. There was no closing the door on that cycle and starting over because, being irregular, I never knew when it was coming.
What I did find helpful was stress management. I was naïve about the impact of stress. I thought I was healthy-I ate well, I exercise, and I thought I had learned how to manage stress. This was a sign that I needed to slow down. So, I changed my job schedule and focused on really working to lower my stress level.
What was most helpful?
People listening. People who followed up, who didn’t forget. My mom, my sister, and a couple friends who would check up on me as ask me how I was, how things were going. People who didn’t me make you feel like I did this to myself. A lot of prayer. My aunt saying to me, “you will have your baby.” She had suffered a couple miscarriages and fertility issues as well and helped me to see that I would have my family, whether it meant adoption, surrogacy, or something else. I would have my baby.
What were failed months like?
The disappointment was so painful, it felt like I was reliving a loss every month. I had anxiety every month. I would just shut down.
What was hardest for you during this time?
Not having any control. My whole life I could achieve what I wanted if I worked for it. I honestly thought I was in control. But nothing worked for this: no eating healthy; no managing my stress; no having sex every other day; no prayer; no talking about it to other people. For the first time in my life, no matter how hard I worked, I couldn’t pick the outcome. I’m honestly grateful now for the experience for that reason. It’s a fresh reminder that, anything in my life, I’m not in control.
How did your partner deal with this process?
He was calmer. Sometimes it was helpful, sometimes it was annoying. He was another reminder that I wasn’t in control. He would tell me “It’s going to work, it’s fine.” I don’t think he got it though. The disappointment I felt, the hormone surge when I felt that disappointment. Even the miscarriage. He was sad, but nothing like I felt and that was a little lonely at times. He has since told me that he was sad watching me be sad, but he wasn’t near as upset as I felt. I remember that I’d sit on the couch and watch Giuliana and Bill and just cry. He’d ask me why I was doing that to myself, could not understand why I’d want to make myself feel worse. But I was watching because I could commiserate. I felt emotionally connected to her because I could understand what she was going through.
What was the least helpful thing someone said to you?
My mother in law said, regarding my miscarriage, “Well you were moving that weekend.” Which made me feel it was my fault. She also said that she couldn’t understand why I couldn’t get pregnant because my father in law could “just spit on her” and get pregnant. Again, making me feel as though I was doing something wrong and that I was in control of what happened.
What was the most helpful/supportive thing someone said to you or did for you?
Prayer and others asking about what was going on, keeping tabs on me to see how I was doing. It definitely helped me feel less alone and that I wasn’t going through it by myself, that I had support.
What would you like others to know about your experience?
That it is such an insular thing and so hard to get out of your own head when you’re in it. I wish others knew to be more sensitive to those dealing with it. It’s not just a month-long thing to process, you can’t get away from it, it’s all you’re thinking about.
Also, that everybody has a story. I thought you got married and popped out babies. Others go through this. I no longer have that naive thought process and can help others going through it in whatever form. It deepened my faith, knocked me on my knees and helped me surrender my life. I hope I never forget that. I’m not in control. That’s what took the stress away, knowing I just had to go through the process, to let go.
What advice would you give to someone about to begin the process of fertility interventions?
No advice. I just want to offer encouragement and hope.