Our Infertility Journey from Day One
This past year through our infertility journey has definitely been the hardest year of my life so far and that was COMPLETELY unexpected. However, before I get too far into this story, I do want to put out a disclaimer. I have not officially been diagnosed with infertility yet. I am at the very very beginning of the process. I have only had minimal testing done and am waiting just a short while to officially be at the 12-month mark to begin the full-blown testing and either get pregnant or receive some kind of diagnosis.
The reason I want to put this disclaimer out there up front is because I know there are others out there who are much much farther into this process than I am right now. They have invested a lot more time, money, and emotions into this than I have and I do not want to lessen the impact this has had on them through my story. I also want to give them more kudos than I even have to give for continuing to try each and every month. I have learned that this only gets harder each time you get another big fat negative and I can’t even begin to imagine how I will be able to handle the stress 6 months, 1 year, or even longer from now. However, these couples try month after month without letting the emotional stress get the best of them, without giving up on their dream, and all while continuing to keep a smile on their face and live their daily lives. These couples deserve to win the lottery or something! While I hope to never be in their shoes, I hope to be able to handle infertility with the grace they do when/if I do end up there. I only have the utmost respect for these couples and I wanted to put that out there up front.
The Beginning of Our Infertility Journey
My husband and I had talked about kids before we got married, and we both knew it was something we wanted, even though we wanted some time to enjoy life as a couple after marriage. With me being the woman, my baby fever hit pretty hard shortly after getting married. It’s insane how people you barely know assume it’s fine to ask you when you plan on having kids. I’m pretty sure that all started about a month after we were married! Over time, that definitely rubs off on you and I was getting more and more ready to take the next step. However, my husband was a bit slower to come to the same conclusion. Around that time, my employer offered to pay for my Master’s Degree and I couldn’t say no to that deal! I spent the next two years buried in the books so any baby making had to be set aside, despite my growing desire to pursue motherhood. As I was nearing graduation (Yay!), we began to talk seriously about it and decided we wanted a couple of months after graduation to relax and celebrate before dealing with morning sickness. In a rare moment of not thinking things through, we booked a trip to the Caribbean to celebrate my graduation, our birthdays, and our last trip as a couple without a kid.
I then read about Zika and realized the Caribbean was the last place we should have gone but it was booked and paid for. We couldn’t back out. During my preconception visit with my doctor, I discussed it with him and he pretty much said we had to wait another 3 months after our trip to ensure any possible Zika got out of our systems. I panicked! I had already put it off longer than I had planned for and even though this was a short setback, I wasn’t prepared for it. I’m also 100% Type A and this curveball did not set well with me. I actually called my mother-in-law in a panic and convinced her to talk to the doctors she works with and get their opinion. They said 45 days, so that’s what we went with.
During that waiting time before and then the 45 days after our trip, I began tracking my cycle using ovulation tests to give me a sense of the timing I would need. This was my Type A personality kicking in again. Who else tracks their cycle before they have even started trying? I did discover that I have a pretty consistent cycle and I knew about when I ovulated before we began, so I was prepared and ready for success going into this journey!
The first few months of our infertility journey
The first month we tried was exciting! We had fun, didn’t stress, and I actually stopped using any tracking. I felt from the previous months that I was consistent enough that there was no need to continue doing any tracking. Throughout my marriage, we had no “accidents” and I’m also really regular, so there were never any pregnancy scares. So the first time I tested was quite exciting. Of course, it was negative. At the time I had three friends that had gotten pregnant their first try so I had higher expectations than I should have. It was pretty disappointing to not get that lucky. However, I also realized that was rare and I knew it would happen soon enough.
We continued to try month after month. After about the 4th month, I started to really get stressed about it and added back in the ovulation tests and I continued to get a consistent positive each month. I then also got hooked on forums for those trying to conceive! That’s what really made me go crazy! All the symptom spotting and Googling only made me more stressed, but I couldn’t convince myself to stop! I began tracking my Basal Body Temperature (BBT), which is a way to confirm ovulation. My BBT also showed a consistent cycle and that I was ovulating, so I stopped it after a few months. I was back to no tracking at all. I just knew it would happen soon. And then it didn’t.
At about the 6th month, I decided to go full blown on my tracking. I had tried relaxing and that didn’t work. I decided I had to get a really good sense of what was going on with my cycle and see what I could do. I bought a new BBT thermometer, bough OPKs in bulk, and began tracking everything I possibly could. I also began trying all different kinds of supplements. I tried PreMama, I tried Vitex, I began taking iron, I tried herbal teas, I did fertility yoga and fertility massage. I knew it would work. And then it didn’t.
What I do think it helped with was my shorter luteal phase, which can prevent pregnancy. Depending what article you read on the internet (and I read them all!), you want your luteal phase to be around 14 days. However, anything around 9 days is too short and my luteal phase was around 10 days, sometimes 9. My luteal phase temperatures were also not as high as I would have liked. One of the supplements I tried helped and I now have a consistent 12 day luteal phase with higher temps that show a very clear ovulation. I really give the iron a lot of credit as I was having several issues that all can be a sign of low iron levels. All of those issues are going away or are gone now. I knew these luteal phase changes would help me get pregnant. And then they didn’t.
As each month progressed, I got more and more frustrated and the emotions became harder and harder to deal with. I read somewhere that dealing with infertility is like going through the five stages of grief every single month. I definitely concur with that. I never imagined it would be this hard to deal with a negative pregnancy test each month. I ended up disconnecting from all social media for several months. It became too hard for me to see the pregnancy announcement and baby photos from all my friends. I wanted so bad to be in that stage with them. I began pulling away, skipping parties, and leaving early. I remember once, I was at a gathering, and a group of people next to me were discussing a friend of theirs that was infertile and how long it was taking her. Even though they were talking about her with utmost respect for what she was going through, I couldn’t take it. I actually stepped outside and cried in the car for a few minutes. I then went back in and convinced my husband it was time to go. This was not a good way to live life, but I didn’t know how to handle my emotions and I definitely wasn’t ready to give up trying.
Current Status of our infertility journey
I continued to track every detail of my cycle. However, now, it’s not because I have hope. It’s because I think it will help the doctor determine what is going on when I have my first appointment. I’m currently in the two week wait of my 11th cycle as I write this and I have no hope or expectations that I will get that big fat positive before my appointment with my OBGYN to talk about next steps at the beginning of March. To be honest, this lack of hope is actually immensely easier to deal with than hope crushed each month.
Before I hit this hopeless stage, I had reached out to my doctor and let them know how long I had been trying and if there is anything we can do before I have officially been trying 12 months. They offered to order 21 day bloodwork, which would confirm ovulation 100%. I did it and got good results. I ovulated. That gave me hope for that cycle that I would get pregnant. But then I didn’t.
So now I sit and I’ve decided to share my infertility journey and any future updates with you all. One of the hardest parts of this past year was the lack of people wanting to talk about it. It’s like it’s the cultural norm to keep quiet about it. This means that those of us that are struggling assume we are the only ones struggling. All we see are the pregnancy announcements that make it look like it was sooo easy and happened quickly. We don’t see the fact that maybe they tried for years to get there and we don’t see those that aren’t posting announcements because they are in the same situation I am in. This makes us feel alone. And those that we have opened up to don’t know what to say or how to offer support, so they ignore it. And this makes us feel alone. Everything makes us feel alone.
So I want to do my part to combat this aloneness that comes from an infertility journey. I’m going to share each step in my journey in hopes that it can offer comfort to those in a similar situation. And while I pray to God my journey may be coming to an end, I doubt that is the case. I have come to terms with my situation. This blog, knowing it may help others, is also making it easier to come to terms with where I am at. Even though I don’t want to be here, I find joy in the fact that I can help others because I am in this situation.
So please follow my blog to hear updates on our life and follow our story as we begin our infertility journey.