Infertility. What a bitch. The one thing I always knew for certain that I wanted to be was a mom. So, of course, that is the thing that was most difficult to achieve. Nursing school is hell on earth, but it’s got nothing on fertility treatments. It is like a nightmare that you are not certain will end. It is an emotional roller coaster. It is exhausting and heartbreaking and all-consuming and completely rids you of any sense of modesty. Very few people know the story of my battle with infertility. It is not something I felt the need to share with everyone. I’m not going to go into detail, but I’ll give the quick overview. I hope that my story will help someone else who is struggling to conceive. Infertility is one of those things that is very difficult to understand unless you have been there yourself. Hopefully, this serves as a reminder to the women who want to be a mom more than anything that they are not alone, many other people have travelled a road similar to theirs, and there can be a light at the end of the tunnel. So here it is: my story.
I am one of those crazy, type A people who like to plan and organize. So, of course, I had a plan for when I wanted to start having babies. I married my husband on the beach in South Carolina in 2010. I wanted to wait a few years and enjoy our time together, just the two of us, before we started our family. It was about two years after we were married that I decided to stop my birth control pills. A little earlier than originally planned, but we decided that we were ready and we knew that it could take a while. I have always had irregular periods and I had a feeling that maybe that wasn’t exactly great news for baby making. So we made the decision and tossed the birth control. About seven months later, I had not had a period. I had taken several pregnancy tests; all negative. I decided to make an appointment to see my OB/GYN. Long story short, he gave me a couple rounds of clomid and nothing happened. He decided that I was showing a resistance to the medication and therefore needed to see a fertility specialist. So off I went to make an appointment to meet with the man who would spend lots of time looking at my ovaries and uterus via ultrasound over the next 18-ish months.
Before you can actually start fertility treatments, you get the wonderful pleasure of undergoing several tests to make sure everything is in good working order and/or to determine why you can’t seem to get pregnant. The bloodwork is not so bad, but the x-ray where they shoot dye into your fallopian tubes and the ultrasound where they shoot saline into your uterus hurt like hell. All the tests came back A-ok and we determined that, for whatever reason, I was not ovulating. Cue several months of pills, transvaginal ultrasounds, bloodwork, and injections. We tried a couple of different pills, neither of which worked for me. So I ended up winning the wonderful prize of giving myself shots. I believe we did 3 total rounds with the shots (after a couple years of fertility treatments, everything starts to blend together). Obviously, the third time was successful and we did not have to go through artificial insemination, which would have been our next step if the last round had not worked.
The emotional, physical, and financial toll of infertility treatments are no laughing matter. The emotions are all over the place: the hope and anticipation when you are waiting to see if the treatment was successful, the complete crash when your period starts, AGAIN. It is mentally and physically draining. There were weeks I had a doctor’s appointment every other day. There were days I got off work at 3:30 in the morning and stayed up to go the doctor’s office at 8 am for an appointment. I had appointments super early on Saturday mornings! You better really like your fertility doctor, because you are going to be seeing A LOT of him/her. Fortunately, I loved, loved, loved my doctor. I saw him so much over almost two years, that at my last appointment, I told him I had no idea what I was going to do since I wouldn’t be seeing him multiple times each week; it was like losing a friend. It was ok though, because I just switched seeing my fertility doctor all the time for seeing my maternal-fetal medicine doctor all the time (also loved my MFM doctor)! We are blessed and all the months of stress, exhaustion, expensive medications, and doctor’s appointments were well worth it!