Recovering From Infertility

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Categories Parenting
Having fun in the grocery store.
Having fun in the grocery store.

I almost wrecked my car in the parking lot the other day.

I was driving away from the grocery store, Faith and Jonathan strapped securely in their car seats. A week’s worth of food was rolling around in my van, slowly being crushed by my double jogging stroller. My mind was a million miles away.  Suddenly, my attention was drawn to a giant city bus covered in snapshots of babies. I quickly located the logo, and went numb…the familiar names of my fertility specialists were starring back at me!

I edged my van closer to the bus’s bumper, frantically searching the pictures, looking for faces I knew… Although two of my close friends also conceived their babies at my doctor’s office, I didn’t see any smiles I recognized. Yet I was still shaken. I honestly hadn’t thought about the doctors, tests, procedures or early morning drives to my RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist) in months. Yet, the highly visible bus advertisement was like a splash of cold water in my face. It instantly took me back to the time and place of infertility.

My husband and I had been married for about a year and a half when we had “the talk.” I was overjoyed to receive the green light in starting our family. My husband would have liked to have waited a while longer, but my clock was ticking, and my desire to be a mom was burning in my heart.

It wasn’t a huge surprise to me that we didn’t conceive right away. I had always had nutty cycles, odd symptoms and extreme PMS. We waited the customary 12 months before seeing my gynecologist for a consultation. She scheduled me for a HSG (Hysersalpingogram) and several other tests. A close friend who was also going through infertility told me that gynecologists aren’t specialists in fertility, and she suggested that I see an RE (Reproductive Endocrinologist). I quickly made an appointment and we continued with the poking, prodding and testing.

Our testing wasn’t pain or embarrassment free. Our innermost parts were being evaluated by specialists, and our results were read to us off of a piece of paper. Turns out, I am a card carrying member of PCOC (Ploycystic Ovarian Syndrome), a common fertility issue among women. Our case was further complicated by male factor infertility.

We left the doctors in a fog. I couldn’t piece together what I had been told about our future as parents. I felt broken, defective and as though my hopes of being a mother had just been crushed. I don’t remember much about that day…I do know my husband heard the doctor differently. He thought she conveyed hope to us. We also both remember that I was so upset and distraught that I rear-ended another car, which was definitely a low point of the day.

We prayerfully began our infertility journey, beginning with ovulation induction medication. Eventually, we moved to OI and Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). Each month leading up to our positive pregnancy test was a roller coaster. Our lives revolved around my cycle. My husband’s work had to be adjusted, I had to get up early every day, I took mood altering medication, had my blood drawn every two to three days and rigorously studied any infertility materials I could get my hands on. It is hard to even remember the pain of that time, yet I know it was intense. Daily I was reminded of my broken womb. I felt like such a failure, and I despaired at ever realizing my dreams of mommy-hood. The uncertainty of the situation was so intense, that I even began researching foster care and adoption. With no assurance that the treatments would work, I was quietly creating an alternate route to motherhood.

We recognice now how easy our journey was compared to others. We never had to use the “big guns” of IVF. Our positive pregnancy test occured only 19 months after our family planning talk. And we were blessed with an incredibly healthy pregnancy and subsequent delivery of our duo.

Why then, almost 16 months after giving birth to my children, do feelings of inadequacy and jealousy rear their ugly head in my life? Several friends have announced their pregnancies this month, some of which were not planned. And I honestly have to say that I battle my emotions at each announcement. It is almost like I forget that I have two wonderful children, and am taken back in time to that place where everyone seems to be fertile except me. Why is that? Allow me to repeat myself: I already have two children! Why then, the jealousy over easy conception?

This brings me to the title of this post: “Recovering From Infertility.” I guess I thought that once I had children, I would no longer be infertile. But the fact of the matter is, I still am infertile. We have no reason to believe that if we chose to try for another baby, that it would happen without medical intervention.  So I guess, in a way, that I still feel broken. Not in a “poor me” way.  But I am more aware…sorta like someone who has repeatedly injured their ankle. They know that it isn’t a good idea to put a lot of stress on their joint, as it might not hold. That is how I feel, like I can’t assume my body will hold up to the task of making or carrying babies.

Infertility has been a blessing in my life. I can say that now, because I am on the other side. It has opened up my world to a segement of the population that is struggling.

Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive within one year or within six months if you’re over age 35. Approximately one in ten couples will experience difficulty conceiving due to infertility.
Infertility affects about 6.1 million women and their partners in the U.S. -about ten percent of the reproductive-age population. Infertility affects men and women equally.

-www.ivfpittsburgh.com

When people ask me if my twins were “natural,” I often respond that we did need some help. I open up that part of our lives, because I never know the background story of the person I am talking to. One day, I signed in to get my car’s oil changed. The kids were with me, and the lady at the front desk looked at them, and said to me “You don’t know how lucky you are to have them.”

I responded, “I think I do, actually. My husband and I had to go through infertility treatments to get pregnant.” Her eyes lit up, and she began asking me questions rapid-fire. By the end of the oil change, she had made an appointment with my RE, and her hope was restored.

Infertility took us from despair to joy, mourning to rejoicing. There is a verse underlined in my Bible with a note: Very meaningful during this time of waiting for a baby.

“I am confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

Psalm 27:13-14 NIV

I am so thankful that our time of waiting is over! It is worth rejoicing over!
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21 thoughts on “Recovering From Infertility”

  1. I know exactly what you mean about being jealous about other peoples pregnancies. I will soon have 4 kids and yet felt hurt when my SIL announced she’s accidentally pregnant (again). I delivered my first twins but also had to have an emergency hysterectomy. Our 2nd set of twins are being carried by a surrogate. They are completely biological mine and DH’s. Even with 4+ mos of bedrest, I miss being pregnant!

    Thanks for letting me know I’m not the only one that still feels this way!

  2. p.s. When I’m asked if our twins are natural, I reply, ‘No, we paid extra for that!’. Either that I tell them there was a ‘Buy One, Get One Free’ sale. That usually keeps them from asking anymore questions.

  3. You’re a better woman than me. I still cringe at the “are they natural?” question. As though I’m incapable of producing a natural baby. Whatever that means.

    We started trying to conceive 6 months into our marriage. After 18 months (we didn’t think we were in a hurry) we finally met with my OBGYN on the subject (he does have additional training in IF treatments) who did an HSG and ran some other blood tests. We did three medicated (Clomid) cycles, then two IUIs before being told that our odds would be better if we moved on to IVF.

    We finally met with an RE who ran some additional tests, and went through cycle #1, then #2, and then #3. We had relatively unexplained infertility. My reserves were fine (though there was question about my egg quality) and DH’s sperm analysis came back *ok* though a bit low on the morphology side (which should have been alleviated by ICSI.)

    We were finally successful on our third round (with donor eggs), but only after three long years of treatmets and several chemical pregnancies along the way.

    I’m proud of how well my body is holding up during this twin pregnancy (hard though as it may be.) It’s as though I’m being assured that I am capable of being pregnant, even if I needed some help getting there.

    Great post…good food for thought. How do I get to the point where I let it all go?

  4. My husband and I went through this too, a while ago. (I blogged about it here: http://blog.360.yahoo.com/blog-ViebVUEhdLOqocl.t_Z.Og–?cq=1&p=388)

    We didn’t go very far down the road, though. Once we knew that our only option was IVF with ICSI, and with no guarantees at all… we just sort of retired to lick our wounds. We had been into the infertility trauma perhaps only seven or eight months, which is nothing really, but even so, it was a roller coaster ride which I decided I just couldn’t take any more.

    A few months after we opted out, we made up our minds to go in for adoption, and a few months after that, our twin girls came home. (That story is over here, if you’re interested: http://poupee97.wordpress.com/tag/adoption/page/4/) So yes, it turned out well for us, but it’s not the kind of pain I’d want to go through again.

    Getting “over” infertility is a tough one. Actually becoming parents – one way or another – does help, but, as you say, maybe it never quite goes away.

  5. Your post brought tears to my eyes and brought back lots of memories. I too suffered with infertility. Mine was secondary though. I already had an 8 yr old daughter when I married my DH. We started trying after a year of marriage. I got off birth control (years of wasted money) and started monitoring my cycles. After 9 months I knew there was something wrong. Once we met with the RE he confirmed “I” was the problem. How could this be I already have a child. I had a mix of endometriosis along with scare tissue on my tubes from previous surgeries. He decided IVF would be the only way. After our first failed cycle I didn’t know how I could go on. The emotional pain was horrific. The second cycle was painful as well in the fact that egg quality and quantity wasn’t as good as the first cycle. We got 2 good embies and found out we were blessed with triplets. One embie split and the other stuck too. Even throughout my pregnancy I didn’t feel relief until I finally held my twins in my arms.
    Infertility is a long, painful road any opportunity I have to share my story is therapy for me. I feel as though I help others through my story.
    Staci
    doubletheblessing.blogspot.com

  6. Due to male-factor, we had to do IVF with ICSI. After one failed attempt, we got pregnant on our second try with twins. They are now 10 weeks old and I’m still struggling with the infertility feelings. They are much less prominent and much less intense, but still there nonetheless. I doubt it will ever go away. When I hear pregnancy announcements, I still irrationally determine in my mind if they are “deserving” enough to be pregnant. And I constantly think about having another baby – I’d like to experience a singleton next time!!

  7. Thanks, Krissy, for an important and thought-provoking post. I always find it astonishing how many couples have gone through fertility issues once the topic is broached. It seems like most of my friends and siblings have dealt with this in one form or another!

    I, too, have PCOS, and at age 34, I was told by my RE that I probably had never ovulated in my life, based on the very unusual appearance of my ovaries. Our finances precluded more intensive fertility treatments (not covered by insurance), so we were very, very thankful that the first dose of clomid resulted in our beautiful three-year-old son. We thought I would have to depend on Clomid again if we wanted to get pregnant, but it seems that that one dose knocked my stagnant ovaries into production, because as soon as I stopped nursing our son at one year, I became pregnant with our second son. We thought it was a fluke, so we were even more surprised when I stopped nursing our second son to discover that I’m currently pregnant with fraternal twins. I tell this story (which I realize might be painful for some to hear–I’m sorry) to encourage people with PCOS not to lose hope. It seems that at least with my non-working ovaries, they just needed a “kick in the pants” to get started working, and now they seem to be working overtime. I certainly know that many women with PCOS have to endure much more intensive therapy (my sister with PCOS underwent many, many IVF cycles), but I wanted to let people know that it is at least possible to have a happy outcome after this diagnosis, even without intensive procedures.

    Michelle

  8. “Are they natural?” … can’t say that question bothers me a whole lot. Especially, coming from another mom or mot. I don’t mind talking about it. Helps break the ice sometimes.
    As Lisa mentioned, “I paid extra” for my guys too.
    I just turned 25 when we decided to start trying. I didn’t get pregnant until a month after I turned 26. So, I guess I really was infertile or something. Dox couldn’t find any reason why we weren’t conceiving. We had every test done. They couldn’t find anything other than my long cycle. Finally, after our 3rd try at IUI it took. And boy oh boy (literally) did it take.
    I didn’t use any drugs other than clomid. My boys are identical. So, I guess I was always meant to have twins. Funny thing is, my main worry was that they would be conjoined. Well, they weren’t, but they did develop TTTS. We had surgery at 21(ish) weeks and delivered at 27.
    So, I definitely appreciate and am grateful for my 2. I doubt we’ll have any more. Honestly, I don’t think we can. I think 5 years of no birth control pretty much solidifies the fact that I’m just unable to conceive.
    Anyways, the funnest detail of my whole ttc story is that Natalie Portman’s dad was one of my fertility doctors.
    Pretty random…..but cool.

  9. After 5 years of infertility treatments off and on, my husband and I decided to take a final shot with IVF. We were successful on our second attempt and now have 2-year-old fraternal twin daughters. The year before they were conceived was a tough one for me emotionally, as every few months, a formerly childless friend announced her pregnancy. Eventually, I no longer had any more childless friends and felt so alone. I expected to still feel jealous about easy conceptions after I had the kids, but much to my surprise, I am finally truly happy when I hear of another’s pregnancy. Maybe it’s because I had a tubal ligation after my C-section, and I feel like I took matters into my own hands. I no longer think about my body failing me, because it no longer has the chance. Interesting post!

  10. I went to the same RE as you (I think), and am currently pg with twins after IVF. I too saw that bus, but had a completely different reaction. A huge smile came over my face. Because without them I wouldn’t be rubbing my belly and talking to my little ones who have yet to be born. But I do realize how very lucky I am to actually be in this position. It has taken a long time for me to say that. Lucky. After 4 years of IF- I am. For some IVF doesn’t work. Or they can’t afford adoption. I count my blessing every day. It doesn’t take away the pain and aguish of those 4 yrs, but at least now I can smile :)

  11. Thanks so much for this post. It really resonated with me. ALthough I have my triplets, I still feel the pain of infertility whenever I think about the possibility of having more. Because the truth is that it won’t be easy and I am not sure I want to go through all of that again.

  12. it took us two years plus lots of tests (all came back inconclusive or normal) before my doc thought to just try clomid. i was elated! so excited! told everyone. and then i miscarried at 6.5 weeks. i was devastated. and to make matter worse, my best friend told me that she was pregnant.

    my doc told us to try again, first time miscarriages were (sadly) common. another round of clomid, another positive pregnancy test. this time a strong heartbeat and we made it all the way to 10.5 or 11 weeks. then another miscarriage. i was convinced that i was never going to be able to have children.

    we went through another round of testing. it was really weird that i could get pregnant and see a heartbeat and then lose the baby. i tested positive for some random genetic thing called MTHFTH or something like that. but only on one side of my genes. it wasn’t really linked to miscarriages when it was heterogenous like that. but it was assumed that the condition caused my blood to clot abnormally well which meant that it would seal off microvessles in the placenta.

    but my doc said to try to take baby aspirin. and while we were waiting for another month to pass before i could get the all clear to take another round of clomid. pregnant again. we hit the 6 week mark, 8 weeks, 10 weeks, 12 weeks. strong heartbeat, good fetal growth. but i kid you not, i didn’t breathe easily at the doctor’s office during my monthly checkups until we heard the heartbeat. and katie was a huge baby – 10 lbs, 1 oz.

    so then when we wanted to try for baby number two, we knew what to do. clomid + baby aspirin. round one of clomid didn’t take. round two we struck gold twice. nate & josh were born a year ago yesterday.

    but i am thankful each and every day for my three children. it was the worst feeling in the world to wake and remember that i wasn’t pregnant, that my friends all around me were pregnant (most the first damn month they tried), and that i had lost two pregnancies. but time and three wonderful kids have made the pain i went through all but a very distant memory.

    i hope that the pain that any of you hdydi readers feel can be but a distant memory too.

  13. I just wanted to share another story of hope for those of you who are still experiencing the pain of infertility, even after the joy of finally holding those precious babies in your arms. I have been there. My husband and I tried for nearly two years to get pregnant. During that time almost everyone I knew announced their pregnancies and how shockingly easy it was for them to get pregnant. It was devastating.

    After all the testing came back normal, they told us we had a 30% chance of getting pregnant on our own in a four year period. Not good odds, and we weren’t keen on the idea of riding that painful roller coaster for that long. I couldn’t take it. After a round of clomid, three rounds of clomid plus IUI, a one month break, and then a round of follicle-stimulating hormone plus IUI, we finally got the good news. We were at a point where our money was running out, so it was either IVF or adoption. We welcomed our twins 4 years ago (as of 9/16), and as you all well know, it was the day our dreams came true. I still harbored feelings of anger and resentment for quite a while, and I was greatly offended at the inquiries of complete strangers about how I came to have twins.

    Over time, my anger has subsided and I have become more open about our struggles. We had no one who had been there, who could understand the pain, so I want to be a source of support for people who are riding that horrible roller coaster. I wouldn’t change our experience, not a drop of the pain and frustration, because I can’t imagine life without our precious twins.

    Oddly enough, when my twins were 9 months old, I realized I had become pregnant unintentionally. We were so shocked since we figured there was no way I’d get pregnant without help again. I laughed cynically when a nurse at the OB/GYN’s office warned me to use birth control just after the twins were born.

    There is hope, and the anger will probably diminish with time. I didn’t think it ever would, and I still get so angry when people out there are so quick to discard an unwanted baby. If only they knew how many people would give ANYTHING to have a child, and how very precious that life is.

    Thank God for the treatments that are available today. I can’t imagine years and years ago when there just wasn’t a solution, and couples just had to live with the fact of infertility indefinitely.

  14. Krissy, what a wonderfully candid and open-hearted post! Nothing to add other than I am glad you are justly rejoicing and that you are providing rays of optimism and hope. :)

    (and smiles, too…look at those cuties!)

  15. 3 kids later and I still feel broken too. Thanks for sharing your story. It’s always good to know that one isn’t alone in the the recovery stage!

    My Short Story
    11 years of trying, dx Unexplained Infertility
    Clomid on and off, then IVF 2 Fresh cycles, many frozen cycles
    6 transfers
    2 pregnancies
    & lucky to have 3 kids (twin boys and a girl)

  16. This post made me think about my own feelings about infertility. For me, in some ways, healing is not about not hurting still or not still being sad about the process of getting pregnant, but about those feelings fading and being less intense over time. Just like the pain and scariness of childbirth has faded over the past 17 months (how else would women be convinced to have another baby?), the sadness of intfertility is faded. Sometimes, when something reminds me, it sparks up again, but still so much more muted than it was before. I do sometimes try to sit back and realize, on a really hard day (like today? hmmm….) how lucky I am to have two kids when there were months when I thought that my cats were as close as I was going to be able to come to babies.

  17. I was so excited to see this post! From time to time, I experience these same “flashbacks,” and it’s like I am right there again. In the middle of the most painful struggle of my life. Our struggle wasn’t that long, comparatively. I was pregnant exactly one year after we started officially trying, and only 3 1/2 months after our diagnosis. I was so anxious about conceiving, even before we started trying, that I pulled out the big guns (ovulation sticks, thermometers, expensive fertility monitors) almost right away. I was so convinced that something would be “wrong” with me, that I never even considered the notion that my husband might be the cause of our problem. It only took one IVF cycle, and we were pregnant with fraternal twin girls. Now, almost one year later, I am still reminded of that painful time. Whenever I hear a song by The Fray, I am immediately back in the car on one of my countless early morning drives to the RE. And, even though I am over-the-moon happy with our outcome, I still get pangs of jeolousy when a friend or co-worker announces their non-stressful, non-IVF pregnancy. My personal favorite — “I got pregnant three time while on the pill.” Sure you did. Why wouldn’t you? I still mourn for that experience I will never have — waking up one morning, on a morning just like any other, except on this morning, there are two lines (or a plus sign!), and I am honestly shocked.

  18. A trip down (not-so-distant) memory lane for me, too. Although I’ll never forget my feelings during our almost 2 years of trying to conceive, I honestly was surprised at how raw those feelings still are. My story is similar — endless tests, blood draws, follicle scans, etc. As hard as I tried not to, my life revolved around the calendar. Femara and Repronex was finally the combination that worked for me (unofficially diagnosed with PCOS) and our first IUI ended with an ectopic pregnancy. I honestly felt a little refreshed after having to take a few months to recover from surgery and we were on our last IUI attempt when we were blessed with our twin girls.

    What truly surprised me throughout our infertility journey was the reaction we received from some of our family and friends. We didn’t shout our “issue” from the rooftop – and most everyone (who knew) was supportive – but the negative responses are more memorable. Never mind that it came from a friend who decided she was ready to have a baby and she was pregnant the next month. I was happy for her (who would wish fertility issues on anyone else) but her many attempts to get me to try vitamins or the chiropractor or accupuncture did cause a rift in our friendship. And if I heard “Oh you’re just stressed — if you’ll relax, it’ll happen in no time.” Right. And you became a doctor when, exactly???

    Ha – I guess that was truly my first lesson that all things baby-related really does make people feel like they can offer up their opinions no matter what. I truly don’t know how I feel about it now that our girls are here…….have I recovered from infertility – probably not.

    Great post!

  19. Yep. We have a singleton and twins and I am also still recovering from infertility. Sometimes when it takes my friends a few cycles to get pregnant or if there are miscarriages involoved it is easy for me to feel genuinely happy for them. But I struggle with others who say things like “all we have to do is look at each other and we get pregnant”, it makes me want to scream. Our fertility journey though not easy wasn’t near what it is for others. We never had to go to IVF either and because I had a diagnosis before we were even married, we jumped in right away and just had to figure out what drug worked for us.

    I always answer the “are they natural?” question saying that we had help too, hoping someone will find some hope.

  20. Your post brought tears to my eyes, because I can relate, too. We have male factor infertility, and no chance of conceiving without IVF/ICSI. Thankfully, we’ve only had to go through two cycles, one fresh and one frozen, to have one DS and b/g twins on the way. Our journey was relatively short…we tried for a year, then went for testing, found out our dx and moved right to IVF. It doesn’t bother me any more to hear of a friend who is pg, but I couldn’t tell you how many times I cried after an announcement or a thoughtless question, or something as benign as seeing a happy family in church.

    Honestly, I hate the question, “Are they natural?” I want to say, “Well, their not plastic!” LOL I wish people would just ask the question they really mean, “Did you need help conceiving?” or something to that effect. Just my pet peeve!

    Thanks for sharing your story!

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