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Thoughts While Traveling Down the Road of My Fertility Treatment

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At 3:30 a.m., I woke up feeling as if someone had a dull, rusty spoon swirling inside my uterus. The pain woke me up and was so intense even a prescription dose of Motrin couldn’t take the edge off. I am used to cramps, but why was this time so intense, so painful? Because I’m coming off my first IVF retrieval and implant cycle. So this period is akin to three at once with all the hormones I pushed into my body. And oh yeah. This period is a literal, visceral, physical reminder that I’m not pregnant. No matter how desperately I want to be.

Confusion and Chaos
My husband and I started down the fertility treatment road about nine months ago after having been trying to conceive on our own for about six months. I’m at that magical age where everything starts to fall apart and my likelihood of having children naturally (or as naturally as one can with science) seems to be about the same as being eaten by a shark or struck by lightning. We started much the same as others, I’m sure. An endless battery of tests and blood work and consultations. Discovering things piecemeal. Hearing one stat from my doctor different from other stats from reputable sources online. Talking to someone who’s been there, done that, and presenting info to the nurse only to be told I shouldn’t worry about that. Excuse me? This is my life and my future. Worrying is a given.

Shockingly, injecting myself daily wasn’t the worst, although knowing ahead of time that they might exacerbate anxiety in someone who deals with generalized anxiety disorder would have been nice. The worst was not knowing what constituted a “normal” reaction versus a “you should go to the hospital” reaction. For example, two of the meds should give no reaction. If I see a red mark, if my skin becomes hot or a lump forms, that’s bad. With another drug, that red mark where my skin becomes hot and a lump forms is perfectly normal. Yup. That would have been nice to know from the get-go before I was three seconds away from calling 911 and heading to the ER.

Infertility Laughs at Plans
What I’ve learned is the treatments follow my cycle. But not all treatments have the same schedule. Not even the same treatment will follow the same schedule two months in a row. Yup. For this Type-A gal, that makes life shall we say, interesting? I’m already trying to stay “normal” and not let the treatments take over everything. But it’s impossible because I can’t bank on anything not being a possible procedure day or a treatment day except those few days a month when Aunt Flo pays a call. And because of all the hormones raging through me, she may be delayed a few days compared with previous months and then my whole cycle I carefully charted is shot to hell. Fun times.

TMI Versus a Simple Answer
This one’s the worst for me. And the best, I guess. The hubs and I have an incredibly supportive group of friends we’ve told about what’s happening. Which means when I was giving myself shots alone because the hubs was away on business, my best friend came over so I wouldn’t be alone the first time. And another friend made me dinner and a third called her sister (who’s a nurse) to make sure the air bubble I saw in the syringe wasn’t going to kill me. But it means asking for help of these friends. Constantly. Or what feels like constantly. It’s stressing that I’m oversharing and becoming a nuisance when I answer, “Hey, how are you?” with a barrage of my latest symptoms, fears and rants. It’s wondering if/when they are going to think or say, “I’m out, I didn’t sign up for this” as I head into my second retrieval cycle knowing the meds are going to limit what I can do physically, and that they affect my anxiety and depression, to the point that it makes it hard to think straight.

I’m still in the middle of everything with three failed attempts total behind me and an unknown everything ahead of me. It’s hard to be rational and logical, and it’s hard not to think of myself as a failure. Because I feel like I failed. I can’t get pregnant. I can’t stay pregnant. My body is designed to do this. To grow, carry, and nurture a child. And for the first time in my life, I feel like I’m failing. I can’t study harder, I can’t practice more. There’s nothing I can do to fix things. Nothing except wait. Wait for the meds to work. Wait for the surgery. Wait to hear if things fertilize. Wait to see if the two embryos (out of a possible 12!) that are barely viable stick. And then wait to find out when I’ll start all over again. And again. And again.

But we, I keep forging ahead. Holding out hope that these treatments will work for us. That science will come through. Some days that hope is as big as the sun. Other days it’s a silver visible only under intense magnification. But it’s all I have. And, maybe just maybe we’ll hold our miracle in our arms. Someday.

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Thinkstock image by Thomas_Zsebok_Images

Originally published: July 18, 2017
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