Back in business!
I bought a new computer! Wahooo!!! look for new fun excitement in the near future. However, right now I have some business to attend to.
Last week was National Infertility awareness week. Mel (http://stirrup-queens.blogspot.com/2006/09/history-of-infertilitys-common-thread.html) challenged all of us to post about infertility everyday. Well, I had plans to do that till I ruined my computer. So I give you this.... this end of the week, last minute post about a subject near and dear to my heart.... and my nether regions.
Many people reading this blog don't know what came before it. I started this blog about 9 weeks into my pregnancy. I have mentioned a few times what we went through to get here, but because this blog was mainly about the excitement of growing my little goon, I kept my deep thoughts about Infertility on my private blog. However.... it's time to speak up, and and educate a little.
First and foremost, infertility sucks. It sucks when you think you may be heading that direction, it sucks while you're going through it, it still sucks when you get pregnant because you have a much higher fear level than the average pregnant woman, you've read too much and know too many people who have had terrifying losses, it even still sucks after you have a baby, because family planning takes on a completely different meaning, you also have to figure out how you'll pay to make more babies, or if you've chosen to grow your family through adoption, you then have to navigate the world of assclowns who say whatever comes to their mind. Infertility sucks, don't ever let anyone tell you anything different. Even once you've triumphed over the evil giant that is infertility, you are still shellshocked and changed.
The basics of our story... we tried for a year to get pregnant on our own, however at 6 months I knew *KNEW* that something was wrong. I didn't know what, but I just knew that something was up. Thus began a difficult journey. Everyone we knew was having babies, babies they concieved without really trying. Seeing these babies, as wonderful as they are, was like putting your hand in a bucket of ice water; at first it just seemed a little cold, then it hurt to the point of numbness. Once we started seeing our RE (reproductive endocrinologist) we'd already had a battery of test run by our Naturopath - all the basic blood test, general semen analysis, and HSG (where they put dye in your uterus to see if your fallopian tubes are open - a mildly invasive and very uncomfortable proceedure). Dr. M (our RE) is a soft spoken, brilliant man with no bedside manner and little sense of humor. However, he's a leader in his field, and we love him. After our first meeting with him, we jumped head first into infertility treatment. It seems we alwasy assume it's the woman who has a problem. I felt like I was a failure as a woman, and that it was all my fault that we were going through this. Several cycles of clomid (a drug straight from the bowels of hell) and IUI (intrauterine insemination - listen people, don't call it artificial insemination...we already feel pretty far from 'natural' no need to make us feel more worthless, m'kay?) We had three cycles (four? I can't remember) of this, each ending in a bloody mess (ha. ha. ha.).
We began our first grieving process with our first IUI. No longer was our future child going to be concieved while making love at home.... now we would be concieving our child on a cold exam table with a doctor and a catheter. Ryan didn't even get to go to our first one, he was somewhere on an airplane, while Molly (my acupuncturist) held my hand as Dr. M inseminated me with Ryan's previously obtained sample. Yeah, that makes you feel human. Each cycle brought us a little deeper into sadness and loss. Every 28-30 days, no matter what we did..... blood, and the horrible effects of Clomid were enough to make me insane and want to live in a house made of ice (mood swings? hotflashes? good times, good times!). After our second (third? who remembers?) IUI, Dr. M noticed that the sperm sample seemed off. After our fourth IUI, more tests were ordered, and it was determined that we had male factor infertility.Apparently, for no reason what so ever, Ryan creates antibodies against his own sperm. In simple terms, his body is trying to destroy them. This doesn't bode well for people who want to make babies. In one day, we went from thinking that it was just going to take more time, and more IUIs to knowing that our chances of concieving without IVF (invitro fertilization) were less than 1%. We went from thinking that I couldn't get pregnant, to knowing that Ryan couldn't get me pregnant.
I left that appointment feeling like a weight was lifted off of me. I'm NOT BROKEN!!! Yippie!!! and then I felt a crushing.....but Ryan is. I didn't want him to feel broken. I didn't want him to even for a second to think that there was anything wrong with him. But I couln't control any of it, we'd already realized that we couldn't control anything, and now I had to realize that I couldn't control how Ryan felt. All I could do was support him and do my best to get knocked up fast. We did an additional 3 IUIs, while prepping for the IVF. Each month, we had little hope of success, and were still devastated when it failed. We found (ha!! we refi-ed the house)) the money to finance one IVF, and figured if it didn't work we'd find a way to try again. We spent an entire summer struggling to get our minds around what we were about to do. It was completely surreal, and at the same time felt like what we were supposed to do all along.
By this point, our landscape of friends had completely changed. We had found that many of our 'fertile' friends either didn't understand what we were going through or that we couldn't bear to be around them and their kids. Their kids were wonderful and perfect and all that, but we were still stuck in a world without. Just hearing about a birthday, or milestone was like a dagger through your heart. Who knew if we'd ever know what that was like? Luckily we met other people who were struggling to get pregnant, and found kindred spirits. We were not alone. Someone 'got' us. We weren't the ones left out in the crowd..... we had a tribe.
Finally we started our first IVF. If you've never gone through any infertility treatment, you have to understand that it's an exercise in humilation. You spend a lot of time with practical strangers ... in your bidness, if you know what I mean. You inject yourself with drugs into your abdomen, and go to daily vaginal ultrasounds. Mmmmm nothing like a 7 AM wake up call for a visit with the cooter cam. You also are subjected to endless blood tests to see what your hormones are doing. You are taking tons of drugs that make you feel like a bloated sac of eggs. Heck, you ARE a bloated sac of eggs (or so you HOPE you are a bloated sack of eggs). Finally, when it's deemed that you have successfully produced follicles on your ovaries, you schedule an egg retrieval, take a shot in the butt to release the eggs, and hope for the best.
Retrieval isn't fun. They knock you out (thank god!!) and extract eggs from your ovaries by putting a long thick needle through your vaginal wall. Then they send you home while they fertilize the eggs. Again, you hope for the best.
Everyday for the next several days, you sit, on pins and needles, wondering what's going on in your petrie dish of hope. You get a call from someone telling you how many are still growing. And again, you hope for the best.
Finally they determine that one or more of these potential little people is ready to be transfered to your uterus. More time in the stirrups, and finally you leave and.... yep, you guessed it, hope for the best.
All this time, all this hope. and you have no idea what will happen. two weeks later you take a blood test to determine if you're pregnant. And if you're not well then.... you start again.
We lucked out, and got pregnant on the first IVF, and 40 some odd weeks later we had a living baby. Infertility still sucks. It's forever changed some of our relationships. It's changed the way we look in the mirror and how we prioritise our lives. It's shaken us to the core and made us stronger and more resilient. It will always be there, and it will always suck. But it's part of who we are, and there is no changing that now.
So, next time you hear of someone having trouble getting pregnant, don't be an assclown and give advice. If you know someone who's been married a while, don't repeatedly ask them if they are going to ever have a baby, you never know what is happening. And if, god forbid, you have a friend going through infertility treatment, give them space to do what needs to be done, more than likely, when it's all said and done they will come back around. And if not, well be happy for them knowing that they have found a tribe.
Of course our story didn't just end with a living baby, but now we belong to the unwanted c-section tribe also.... but that my dear readers is a post for another day..... C-section awareness week is coming soon......