I sat down to write on this topic and had no idea what to say. Even after three years, I am no expert on the topics of infertility or trying to conceive. I only know my journey. So, that’s where I started. Telling my story (albeit the abbreviated version). It doesn’t cover every bump in the road - my darkest of days, or how having a child doesn’t leave my mind for a single day- but it is the map. My map. Unfolded and folded back up more times now than I can count... Let’s hope that by reliving my history, that I can change my future.
To think about three years all at once is a long time.
Three years ago I was a newlywed. We hadn’t been home from Mexico for very long and we were already swept back up into the remainder of the ‘Summer of Weddings’. (I was in two more after my own that summer.)
I’d married my best friend after 7 years together. We had a new home, our dog, and had just found out we had a niece on the way. It was that fact that had us lying on the couch, discussing our reproductive future. We’d be telling everyone it would be at least a year and then we would just stop trying not to. In reality, we planned to pull the plug at the first of the year. This late August day had us chatting about why we were waiting. Were we not ready? No, that wasn’t it. It wasn’t money either. We certainly have the space in our new place. We realized over the next couple of weeks that the date was arbitrary and so, we tossed it out the window. I was in another wedding at the end of September, so we decided that after that, it was game on. September 28th saw my last birth control pill.
I instantly got off on the wrong foot. I got another period a couple weeks later (my second for the month of October) and didn’t see another until the New Year. I knew then that something was amiss. Not only did I know that after 8 years of birth control there can be an adjustment period, but I knew then that something just wasn’t right.
I battled for the next year with learning more about my body, fighting my own controlling tendencies, and grieving a bit each time I saw another friend or relative start their family and pass me by.
The year after that was spent battling medication, appointments, new doctors, and myself. Mostly, I felt like a constant failure. I would get my hopes up that ‘this time we have the combination of drugs that is going to do the trick’ and then I would respond worse than I did the last time. It was an uphill battle and I scratched and clawed (mostly myself) the whole way. August of 2010 (a month before our two year TTC ‘anniversary’), we got dumped by the doctor. The chief OB at my clinic told me that there just wasn’t anything more he could do and that I would need to see someone at Seattle Reproductive Medicine for a more aggressive treatment.
I felt kicked in the gut. That man, with a wall fill with baby pictures, couldn’t make it happen for me. I couldn’t make it happen for us. I was done. We were done. We had to take a break. J and I decided that we were quitting the formal TTC game for awhile. I’ll admit that it took me some time to abandon old habits. Instinctively I still knew that it was midcycle and that it ‘couldn’t hurt’. And I was still disappointed when AF arrived. Instead of obsessing, I found other things to occupy my time – a new job, weight loss, and the trip of a lifetime. This year was going to be the year of ME. All about improving my life, making positive changes, and getting myself back on track. I started acupuncture, was eating healthy, and planning our first ever trip to Europe. Jeremy and I agreed that we would pick back up with Seattle Reproductive when we returned at the beginning of June.
Meanwhile I lost 21 pounds, started my new job, and in mid-May we left for two weeks to visit England and Ireland. Every minute was amazing and exceeded our expectations. Just as we agreed, we visited Seattle Reproductive the second week of June. She wrote me a Rx for Metformin and while I got busy ramping up on that gem of a medicine, we would reconvene when I got my next period and we’d get this party started. We discussed combinations of meds, timing, and starting with IUI.
None of that happened because on the 4th of July – we got our blessing – our first BFP. We cried, I called my closest girlfriends and we cried again… it was honestly one of the greatest moments of my life. Not at all feeling like I thought I would, but it was a sight to see. My blood work over the next few days was beyond excellent (jokes of twins were made from my nurse), and after the blood work came back great, we decided we would tell only our parents. The rest of our family could wait until at least our first ultrasound.
Both my parents cried, my dad having no idea what we went through. My mom and sister, appreciating his miracle a bit more, laughed cried and instantly started planning. (I come by my planning obsessions naturally.) We were on cloud 9 and completely uncharted territory.
Then came the downward slope - a bit of spotting, an inconclusive ultrasound, a bit of rest, and the news that we were probably miscarrying. Another beta a week later to confirm and – what? It went back up?! Heart stops, hopes have elevated, ultrasound shows progress – but no heart beat and more spotting. Six weeks after our miracle day, started one of the worst weeks of my life. We officially said goodbye to Sprout(s).
I am so grateful for all of the support we’ve had over the last three years. This is not at all where I thought, or had hoped, we would be. But, that’s life. Had we not struggled this way, I would not have learned all I know about my body. I would not have made some truly amazing friends. Nor would I have understood this side of a serious problem that so many women face – silently and alone. I’ve joined this infertility community that no one wants to be a member of. But, one that is filled with love and support.
Three years. Hard to believe we’ve made so much progress, and yet have so little to show for it. Three years later and I am grateful to still be madly in love with my husband. Even more in love than I was on our wedding day. Still working to make positive changes, balance our lives, and keep moving forward. There isn’t anything left in the past for me. Only hard work and more challenge for the future. Here I am, three years later, with no baby, having struggled like mad, but also having learned to (and increased my capacity to) love even more deeply.