Dealing with infertility can be a frustrating and heart breaking experience. It can affect the day to day aspects of your life, how you feel about yourself, and your relationships. My experience with infertility began back in 1996. My husband and I had finally decided that we wanted to start a family. I stopped taking my birth control pills and prepared for pregnancy.
Months and then years passed. No pregnancy. I was disappointed and embarrassed. We had told our family, friends, and coworkers that we were trying to conceive. I felt like a failure. I made excuses. I told everyone that we just weren’t really trying that hard to conceive. I didn’t want to admit (even to myself) that anything was wrong.
I tried using different methods to predict ovulation. I kept Basal Body Temperature charts and used ovulation tests to determine the best time to conceive. Nothing worked.
My daily life at certain times of each month revolved around the possibility of being pregnant. I stayed away from lunch meats and hot dogs….just in case I had conceived. Didn’t want to expose the baby to listeria. I limited the amount of caffeine I had and banned all alcohol…just in case I was pregnant. This sometimes led to awkward moments with relatives or friends who would notice what I was doing and ask if I was pregnant. It was hard to explain that I really didn’t know if I was or not, that I was waiting to see and that I was just taking precautions on the off chance that I might be pregnant.
I started to feel hopeless. I was conflicted. After so many tries and no success at getting pregnant, I had trouble actually picturing myself as a mom. I truly didn’t feel like it was ever going to happen. However, I didn’t want to believe that I would never have a child.
One positive affect that infertility had on my life during this time was the strength that it gave to my relationship with my husband. We were in this together. We both wanted a child so badly. The challenge of dealing with infertility brought us closer and helped us grow as a couple.
In 2000, we admitted to ourselves that we needed help. We first sought treatment through my gynecologist. She prescribed clomid, a fertility drug that stimulates ovulation. This didn’t work for us. My gynecologist referred us to a fertility specialist.
The specialist administered several tests before starting treatment. My husband had a physical, some blood work, and his semen was tested. Everything appeared to be normal. I had blood work, a hysterosalpingogram (test that checks for blockages in fallopian tubes), and a laparoscopy (surgical procedure that checks for abnormalities in my uterus). Nothing was found, except a few fibroid cysts. There was still no explanation for our infertility.
The fertility specialist decided to start our treatment with an IUI (intrauterine insemination) procedure. The first one didn’t net any results. The second and third IUI procedures were unsuccessful as well.
In 2002, the specialist suggested in vitro fertilization. I had several reservations about this procedure. The cost was significant- $12,000. Pregnancy was not guaranteed. My husband and I wanted a baby so badly, though, and nothing else had worked. We decided to go for it. We made the right decision. It worked. In October 2003, our daughter was born!
Looking back on those years when I thought I could never have a child, I realize there were some things that I could have done differently. If I could give any advice to someone experiencing infertility, it would be to seek treatment as soon as possible. If I had just admitted to myself that something was wrong and approached my doctor years before I did, I probably would have become a mother sooner. Another important piece of advice: talk to a trusted friend, relative, clergy person, or mental health professional about what you are going through. You don’t have to go it alone or be embarrassed. Also, keep lines of communication open with your spouse. You can lean on them when the challenges get too much to bear. Lastly, never give up hope. Keep in contact with your doctor and be aggressive in your search for the type of treatment that will work for you.