Wednesday, April 21, 2010

What IF

April 24 - May 1st is National Infertility Awareness Week. Many people don't know that such a week even exists...I know I didn't...until I was thrown into the world of infertility.

When Dh and I made the decision in 2004 that we would start building our family (even before he was my DH) we didn't know anything about RE's, FSH, IVF, injections, retrievals, transfers etc. Infertility wasn't a word in our vocabulary. We had fun trying to conceive that first year. I was 28, still young, so we didn't think we had anything to worry about. When we weren't pregnant after that first year we started to get a little more serious and a little less fun. I read books about TTC, and joined Fertility Friends. I started temping and checking my cervical mucus...but still we didn't worry. When we still weren't pregnant after another year DH went to the an SA. Easiest test first. Low sperm counts. OK...that's why it's taking us longer...less swimmers. When 2007 rolled around and we still weren't able to conceive, the fun went completely out the window and we got really serious. I went to an RE.

Diagnosis: PCOS and high FSH. Treatment: IVF.

We went into that first IVF optimistic and hopeful. Upset that our family building couldn't be done in the bedroom...but overly positive. Result: 22 eggs retrieved, 0 fertilized, nothing to transfer. I was devastated. I felt that I a wife, as a woman. It took me the better part of a year to pull myself out of the despair I fell into. Seeing pregnant bellies around me deepened the wounds my failed cycle had created. I couldn't go to baby showers...not because I wasn't happy for the mom to be, but because I needed to preserve what little emotional wall I had left.

In July 2008, I was ready. I was ready to cycle again. I went into it hopeful, yet pessimistic. I had no fantasies about getting pregnant. Emotionally, I was very detached from the whole thing. Injections? Yea, just something I had to do. Monitoring? Yea, just something I had to do. It helped that I had jury duty the same week I started kept my mind busy so I didn't have to think about what was going on inside my ovaries. Result: 22 eggs retrieved, 4 fertilized, 1 surviving embryo on day 3. We transferred that lone embryo...and I tried to stay positive. On beta day, I was a nervous wreck, I hadn't POAS because if my test was going to be negative I didn't want to see the stark white. I'd rather have a nurse tell me my levels were 0.

However, when the call came, it wasn't zero. And my beautiful girl was born 36 weeks 2 days later on April 10, 2009.

I tell everyone I can that she is an IVF baby. I'm not shy about going through IVF. I'm not shy about the toll it can take. I'm willing to talk. And people ask questions. I love when people ask questions. Because it means they are interested in learning.

Yesterday on the train, I was speaking to a woman whose baby was born 15 days after Lexi. She was asking about IVF and what it entailed. What the process was. As I was telling her about the injections, the monitoring, the emotional toll...a woman 2 rows up turned around and asked if she could come sit with us...turns out, she is just starting the IVF process and was scared as hell.

I was honest. Infertility sucks. You lose your privacy, you lose intimacy. Baby making is no longer a spontaneous act. Sex is timed. It's robotic. Injections are painful, they leave bruises and welts on your body. It is expensive, even with insurance coverage (my state mandates IF coverage). Your ovaries swell to the size of grapefruits. OHSS looms. It's isolating. But in the end, infertility is the best thing that's happened to me. It's made me more patient. More compassionate. More empathetic. It's brought me wonderful online friends. It's opened my eyes to so many things. And it brought me this:

And as we start to embark on our next infertility journey (the road to #2)...we're hopeful. We're optimistic. We're having fun trying again...even though we know that fun won't bring us a baby.

Don't be silent about infertility.


Photogrl said...

What a insightful, well written post!

I wish that I could be so open about my IF journey, maybe with time I will be. I'm fine talking to strangers about it, but worry too much about what friends and family think.

Thank you for sharing.

Jamie said...

This is a wonderful post - it should be mandatory reading for anyone TTC.

CortneyTree said...
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Anonymous said...

Excellent post! After ovarian diathermy to treat PCOS, I am currently lucky enough to be ovulating on my own (and, actually, as I type this...). Each month continues to be difficult for us, but we have high hopes, and your post has encouraged me, both to keep pursuing our potential baby, and to keep being vocal about treating infertility. Thanks!