Fable of an Infertile Female is a fiction column I have developed based on the combined stories of women experiencing issues with fertility at various phases of the process through the voice of a female. I currently just have little snip-its put together, but will be posting the updates here as they are developed.
What is interesting is that I only found myself reacting in such a way to babies and toddlers, older kids did not evoke such angst. Perhaps it is the maternal desire to hold a little one, have one who wants ot cuddle back, smell the sweet baby smells, feel needed by a little person and to be loved unconditionally. There is that visible connection between parents and their babies or toddlers.
Children are pure. They are not plagued by life’s challenges and toils…when they are the bounce. As adults we don’t bounce, at least not with the same ease and effortlessness. These babies and toddlers in the waiting area also make it real to us that we are fighting with every fiber of our being to just keep it together and make it through the day with out a meltdown (especially with the hormones raging through our bodies).
Babies and toddlers are essentially everything we are and want to be, but we are just not because of biological circumstances. Loss of control. Wait and see. Everything on hold. A goal that requires putting all your hopes and dreams in the ands of someone else. This is not an easy thing to do for those of us who are driven and determined to fight for what we want. We ar the type who like to maintain a sense of control of self. We have turned our minds and hearts over and entrusted them to science. That is a giant leap of faith and hat alone shows that we too have the ability to bounce.
1/2 Way Pregnant
Apparently it is possible to be 1/2 way pregnant… Who knew. I witnessed an amazing thing earlier this week. The transfer of 2 embryos. On the ultrasound screen I was told to watch for two little dots of white light, and sure enough – there they were being shot into the uterus for what we hope will be a successful pregnancy.
It is far to early to tell if the transfer will lead to a successful pregnancy, but it is possible to be 1/2 way pregnant. You must care for your body and do everything by the book to ensure those little embryo’s want to make a home and stick around for a while. It is hard to escape the thoughts of how your body is changing while waiting for that blood test to see if your HCG levels have increased. Are the cramps, muscle aches, tenderness, fatigue, cravings, funny smells, etc due to something positive happening, or could there be something wrong? Is it the hormone injections that make you feel so miserable? Is it all in my head? You approach everything with caution, because you do not want to ever think….
- It didn’t work because I lifted something heavy
- It didn’t work because I was on my feet too long Monday
- It didn’t work because I ate too much sugar
- It didn’t work because I………
You are excited about the possibility of a pregnancy, yet you don’t want to get your hopes up. You are only 1/2 way there. That 7 day wait to find out if your HCG levels increase begin to feel like an eternity.
I have visited this waiting room many times. Many women and couples going through IVF. It is no secret why you are there. There are anywhere between 20-30 other people in the room. Some people are thumbing nervously through magazines they could really care less about reading. Others are fidgeting or tapping their foot rapidly. Some are playing games or reading books on their electronic devices. Most are just staring down at the floor waiting for their name to be called for their blood work.
Each time it is the same. Faces may change but the same expressions are apparent. Nervousness, anxiety, fear, worry, resentment and anger are just some of the feelings that fill the room. No one makes eye contact. No one speaks.
On the last visit to the waiting room two friends were visiting. One of them apparently had a son, and the other was there for IVF. It was hard not to hear their conversation, since they were the only 2 in the room talking at a normal volume. The woman with the son was talking about the latest things her son said or did that made her laugh. She followed nearly every statement to her friend with “if you get pregnant”. Each time she told her friend “if you get pregnant” a few in the room would cringe, wiggle in their chairs, or sigh. It was obvious the woman was trying to be supportive of her friend, but clearly did not understand what it was like to have fertility issues.
When we left, my husband pointed out how awkward it felt to have someone talking so loudly about their child in that waiting room. It almost felt as though the woman was trying to inspire everyone to keep pushing forward by gloating about her child.
It occurred to me how many times I have witnessed someone putting a baby in the arms of a woman with fertility issues or talking about how wonderful it is to have a baby when the woman/couple is open to sharing what they are going through. It is almost as if the person thinks that you will magically conceive a child if you are around babies. It is like talking loudly to someone who speaks another language. They are not deaf or hearing impaired, they just understand things differently.
Worst yet, is when you are trying to conceive and someone asks, “are you going to have kids?” or “you better get busy starting that family of yours, because your clock is ticking”. People do not know what you are going through. After my experience with infertility, I would advise people never ask the question. If your friend or family member is open to sharing this information with you, they will. You just do not know what the person may or may not be going through to start that family.
Whether you are trying naturally, IUI’s, IVF or other fertility treatments, it is always a waiting game. For months prior to seeking intervention and trying IUI’s, I would read early symptoms of pregnancy from various websites. You would read about the typical things such as cravings, morning sickness, breast tenderness, etc. I ran across a few websites that suggested that some women get a metallic taste in their mouth that would resemble sucking on pennies. Sucking on pennies? How does a person know what it tastes like to suck on pennies?
I am not sure how it happened, but suddenly every month I began tasting pennies. Yay, I am tasting pennies, I must be pregnant. I also noticed cravings, queasiness, breast tenderness, and other symptoms listed (which also happen to be symptoms of PMS). Low and behold it was just more disappointment.
Following IVF I began smelling strange things. I smelled doughnuts when there were nothing that even resembled doughnuts nearby, was convinced my husband smelled like baby food, and spent most the day looking for sour milk around my desk at work. It makes you wonder, how many of your symptoms you create for yourself based on how you think you should feel. What symptoms would be obnoxious to some, we crave.
How does our mental condition impact our physical condition?
Shopping takes on a new meaning when you are trying to conceive a child. Running to Target to pick up a few things turns into an accidental stroll through all the baby items. It is a form of self-inflicted torture. You find yourself wondering if you will ever have a boy or a girl that you can dress in cute clothes, smelling the scent of baby powder when walking past the diapers and wonder if you will ever get to pick out a car seat.
You try to redirect yourself to pick out some clothes for yourself. As you walk through the new styles you start wondering which outfits would have the most give should you actually get pregnant. Instead of buying that pair of jeans that fit you just right, you wonder if you should get the next size up, just in case.
You read about a great sale on Danskos or that perfect pair of boots and started to wonder if you should spend 100+ dollars on a pair of shoes incase my shoe size changes during a pregnancy.
So you give up on shopping for clothes and shoes, and settle on a handbag. Before you know it you have old ratty clothes in your closet, shoes with soles falling off, and a closet full of handbags.
Shopping just doesn’t have the same meaning.
Sense of Self
When processing all the information that I received at the doctor’s office I became overwhelmed by the options we had, the difficulty of that decision, and my los of sense of self.
When trying naturally I was so certain that I was meant to be a Mom, and excited about the joy of a child. After a number of years trying various fertility treatments I became so wrapped up in the science and the process of family building I forgot why I wanted a child. I got to a point where it felt more like a meeting of a goal than I did about a child.
That is when I questioned my whole purpose? Maybe I am not meant to have a child? Maybe we are meant to adopt? Maybe we are meant to adopt a child with special needs? Would we make good foster parents? Maybe I am supposed to be a career woman?
Who am I?
We begin to grieve not only the fact we cannot have a child but the loss of who we thought we were meant to be…but in this moment of self discovery and following the road to a family, we may find ourselves doing something completely unexpected that fulfills us in more ways that we could have ever anticipated.
Crazy Lady Driver
The fertility clinic increased the doses of hormones that I am taking. The prescriptions that I am given make me feel a bit like I am losing my mind. My ability to multi-task and problem solve are no longer enact. My vision is all wacky and my moods are imbalanced. I am a bit at war with myself because I know that I normally have abilities, that I no longer have with the cocktail of hormones I am currently taking.
I got out of work this afternoon and realized that it was Wednesday which automatically put me in a terrible mood. That meant that I needed to gas up the car and pack for another 1 night stay 3 hours from home for a 7am appointment for blood work and ultrasound, only to turn round and be at work by 1pm the next day. A 6 hour round trip drive and cost of htel room because there are no fertility clinics any closer. A lot of time and money spent for something that takes about 15 minutes.
I began to wonder how smart (or legal) it was to place a hormonal, crazy, crabby, frustrated, exhausted, vision impaired woman on the road! Men, let this be a lesson…no more picking on women drivers.
You have the opportunity to take the day off from many things in life. You can take a day off from work, cleaning house, eating healthy, exercise, taking a shower, socializing, answering your phone, checking email, and so on. However, you can not take a day off from infertility.
Some days all you want is one day where you do not have to think about babies, injections, hormones, ovulation, your body, etc. You need a mental health day away from infertility thoughts. A day to give your body a break from infertility treatments. A day to feel like just you.
After six years of trying the old fashion way, clomid, IUI’s, and a magnitude of other interventions it was time to move on with our life. Answers were needed. Several tests were run to figure out where the problems existed and nothing obvious was coming forward. I remember sitting in my doctor’s office and being told, that we could keep trying the same interventions and run some tests which would likely just end up costing us more money without different results. Then she suggested we consult with a specialist who would be in town doing consultations with potential candidates for IVF.
We met with the specialist and he indicated that IVF would be a likely solution. I remember feeling relieved. We knew we had a long road ahead of us, but we had an answer…..and a plan.