It was one big roller coaster ride! After much contemplation, and having just broken up from a yearlong relationship, I decided to begin my fertility journey. It was a year of poking, prodding, crying, laughing, doctors, support groups, weight gain, hoping, praying, contemplating, unease, and a lot of disappointment.
Here’s how it went…first, I decided which sperm banks to use…and the weirdness was only just beginning. I mean, how much do these guys get paid anyway? Are they in it for the money? I had all sorts of judgments about the potential biological, um, donor of my child. And the picture that was created in my mind about some random guy who I hoped to never meet…ok, I seriously digress. Who knew that picking out sperm would be a lot like on-line dating…but on steroids. You could sort through “guys” by religion, ethnicity, education (you had to pay extra for the really smart sperm…no joke!), physical characteristics, genetics, family history, etc. You could even choose to see a baby picture, which I did…but that cost extra too, as did a recorded interview with the donor! OK, I got “my guy” AND a backup – everyone needs a backup in case you run out of sperm from donor #1 and there aren’t anymore vials to buy…which, by the way, is devastating after all the work you put into finding the perfect match in the first place.
My procedure of choice would be intra-uterine insemination (IUI), because that is all my insurance would cover (it would not cover In Vitro Fertilization, or IVF). I chose to have this procedure performed first by my OBGYN. He began by prescribing me Clomid, one of the many (I would come to learn), and most basic in the world of fertility drugs. Had I known what I know now, I kind of wish someone would have shaken me to say, “hello, Becca, you are almost 40, so stop with the baby steps and pull out the big guns.” But, like most women, I was SURE I was fertile and yes, we have to tackle this at our own pace (although I wanted a baby yesterday).
After my first IUI, I just knew I had to be pregnant! I mean, I could feel movement already. I realize how crazy this sounds. Everyone knows you don’t feel anything for months. BUT, it was true, after I was “basted,” (as some of my family called it) I felt so bloated and felt the movement of the fluid inside me (too graphic? Or maybe just too crazy because what was I really thinking). This feeling was all new to me, and I was excited!
The two-week wait until I could take a home pregnancy test seemed like forever, but now it was time. I eagerly awoke in the morning (the most anxious I’ve ever felt to wake up so early in the morning) and ran to pee on my stick. I took a quick shower just to make sure I gave it enough time to register. Oh my G-d! It’s positive!! I knew it! Maybe I did feel something! But, the doctor still wanted me to do a blood test to be sure. I had a little pep in my step as I walked in to the OBGYN’s office. They took a blood test…but this time…it read negative. DEFLATION! This was my first major letdown. I didn’t want to believe it, and even though I started moving forward with my second treatment, I still thought I could be pregnant – even after I got my period. I’ve heard of women who bleed even though they are pregnant, so I was convinced that was happening to me. No such luck!
Two more inseminations with my OBGYN and then it was on to the “Big Kahuna”…THE fertility doctor in Chicago. He would for sure get me pregnant (is there something inherently wrong with telling your Dr. you hope he’s the one who gets you pregnant?). He told me that I would have to start giving myself shots of medication. WHAT??? I can’t do that! I can barely get shots when someone else gives them to me. But if this is what it’s going to take to help me get pregnant, I sure as hell can do this! Right? Right! And, I did – for the very first time in a hotel room after a work event with one of my co-workers, then sitting on the toilet in a bar (lots of t.p. down on that seat), then in my car in a parking lot before meeting friends in a restaurant, and even while on a date!! The pounds started piling on yet I have to take it easy at the gym…and my moods were erratic!
On top of this, I HAD to tell my boss what I was up to because of all the work I’d be missing. In any given month, I would be at the fertility clinic at least 5-6 times getting poked, prodded, stuck, and basted. It was like a factory in there. All these women sitting around waiting to be called and not making eye contact with anyone else. And oh, those poor men who showed up. When the men were there, you knew exactly what they were going to be doing (see paragraph two about the picture I created in my mind of the sperm donor). At some point, I just started talking to people. Heck, we were all in the same boat, with the same dream and a body that had failed us.
OK, so here I am single, still trying to date, holding on to this “big secret,” feeling totally bloated, not working out as usual (little did I know that this was preparing me for the barely-existent work-outs when I finally did become a parent), pretty much giving up drinking when I was out (I mean really!), getting acupuncture twice a week, driving two hours for pelvic massages (I mean, I would try anything if I thought it would help me get pregnant) and trying to pretend that life was grand! I did this for THIRTEEN months – LIFE WAS NOT GRAND! I knew if I had any hope, I would have to try IVF, but even if I did come up with the money, the doctors were not giving me a good prognosis. I felt defeated and decided to put things on hold for the time being. I thought, “Who am I and what have I put myself through??”
There was a big piece of me that felt like my biggest dream had been shattered, and yet there was still a big part of me holding on to hope and embracing other ideas of what a family might look like for me.
At what point, do you decide to move on to plan B?
For more information about infertility:
Basic understanding of the disease of infertility.
Next Up: “The Wicked Witch,” coming April 5th
Until Next Time,