Anyone who has infertility knows that it’s an unpredictable, confusing, and ruthless journey. There are so many things that have to go right, and most of the time it seems like everything goes wrong.
This is my spiel of what I find is the most disheartening part of my journey.
Of all the tribulations that infertility entails, the most disheartening one is when my period doesn’t show up. I’ve always had unpredictable periods. When it didn’t show up for months at a time when I was younger and not trying to have a baby, I considered myself lucky because having my period was an inconvenience. It’s still an inconvenience, but one of a different kind now that I’m trying to get pregnant.
Every time my period doesn’t show up on time I have to go through the heartbreaking process of thinking maybe I’m pregnant, only to take multiple tests that all come out negative. Then there are the times that more time passes and my period still doesn’t show up. Now I have to come to grips with the fact that another month of possibly conceiving has flown out the window. Then I wait until my period decides to show up so I can continue this journey.
As I sit here writing this, I am a week late for my period. I know I’m not pregnant because I’ve probably taken 10 tests in the last week, but I’m sure I’ll take another one today because I’m too hopeful.
Infertility and trying to conceive is a hard enough process as it is. All I want is for my period to show up when it’s supposed to so I can at least try to get pregnant.
Here’s to (most likely) another month (or more) wasted because aunt flow is erratic.
What is your most disheartening aspect of infertility?
I never imagined that I would be taking a pregnancy test on Christmas morning. Instead of trying to be quiet as I put gifts under the tree for my kids, I was trying to quietly take a test in the bathroom and not wake up my sleeping husband.
I was hoping to be celebrating ‘babies first Christmas’ like everybody else on my social media is doing today. Instead I’m snuggled up on the couch with my two dog and husband. I’m very grateful for them, but my heart still hurts.
Instead of feeling excited to open gifts, I felt butterflies in my stomach as I peed on a pregnancy test and anxiously waited for two pink lines to show up.
My TWW came to an end today, and so did my hope for a Christmas miracle. A second pink line didn’t show up.
Infertility. The word that is so unspoken, yet so prevalent among us. It’s often a word that never crosses anybody’s mind or comes from their mouth until it directly affects them. Why don’t we talk about it more?
I don’t talk about my struggle with infertility often because it’s embarrassing that my body can’t do the one thing that it was made to do. For that reason, I’ve never really felt brave enough to tell anyone why I don’t have kids or that I don’t know when I’m going to. And if you also struggle with infertility, I’m sure you know those questions come up frequently.
Growing up, I had always wanted a family. I imagined getting married young and having babies right away. And I thought it would be a breeze. That’s what I was taught in sex ed class in 9th grade, so I thought it must be true. They taught me that getting pregnant is incrediblyeasy and I need to practice safe sex. I can’t even tell you the number of times I heard that phrase. Unfortunately, my teacher left out the part about how it’s not easy for everyone. So when I didn’t get pregnant the first, second, third, or even the 15th time that we tried, I was a little confused. I thought I was doing something wrong. Is it because we are taught that it’s so easy to get pregnant that we feel embarrassed and shameful when we can’t conceive? I can only speak for myself, but I have definitely felt like a failure, embarrassed, and even shamed by others for not having babies already.
I was a senior in high school (2013) when I met the guy who would become my husband. I had a few other boyfriends, but I never felt like any of those relationships were “it”. Meaning, I (thankfully) didn’t see myself marrying any of them. For that reason, I never had sex with any of them. I wanted that to be with the right person. When I met my now husband, things felt right and, as cheesy as it sounds, I truly felt like he was the one. And I was right. Anyway, being a virgin for the majority of high school meant I didn’t waste a ton of money on contraceptives because let’s face it, I wouldn’t have needed them anyway because I am infertile. Isn’t it ironic that people spend so much money preventing something that ultimately wouldn’t have happened anyway? I was on birth control pills, but not for contraceptive purposes. I was on the pill because my periods were out of control. When I was a freshman, I had my period for three months straight before I decided something isn’t right here. I told my mom, who then made an appointment for me to see my doctor who prescribed me the pill.
The pill kept my periods regular for about three years. Then I started getting breakthrough bleeding frequently, so back to the doctor I went. I don’t remember exactly what he changed about my prescription, but it worked. For a while. The breakthrough bleeding eventually happened again, so, as per usual, I went back to the doctor and was prescribed a different brand of birth control pill. Repeat that process about 100 times and that will bring us to Spring 2016. That’s when I finally had enough and stopped taking the pill because it just was not working. At that time, I was engaged to my now husband, so I wasn’t too worried about becoming pregnant because I knew we would make it work, but we still took other preventive measures because we wanted to wait until after we were married in September 2017 to start having babies. I haven’t taken any form of birth control since I stopped the pill.
I know it’s normal to not have regular periods for a while after stopping the pill, but I didn’t get my period again until December 2016, approximately nine months after I stopped taking the pill. In August 2016, I remember sitting at my gynecology appointment. I was due for a Pap smear and while I was there, I talked to my doctor about how I haven’t gotten my period in what seemed like forever to me. She said if I didn’t get it by December, then I can come back and they will do some investigating to see what’s going on. Well, low and behold, Aunt Flo showed up in December. Go figure, right?
Aunt Flo didn’t show up again until February and that’s when I started tracking my periods. And she showed up every month until July. She went MIA that month. I actually thought I might be pregnant this month. Ironic, right? Well, I wasn’t, it was just my body playing tricks on me. And I still wasn’t in August when dear Aunt Flo was still nowhere to be found. Any guesses to when she showed up? If you guessed September, you win! She finally showed up and even stuck around long enough to come to our wedding. That’s my luck, though.
After our wedding, we started trying to get pregnant right away. I started taking ovulation predictor kits to increase the chances of success, and during all that time, I only got one positive OPK. While everyone around us was posting pregnancy announcements, we had nothing except a garbage can full of negative OPKs and pregnancy tests. Aunt Flo also continued to come and go whenever she pleased, making things even harder. This theme continued for the next thirteen months.
Despite our best efforts, we surpassed a year of trying. We could officially seek help because most clinics won’t do anything to help unless you have tried for a year. (For those that don’t know: Infertility is defined as not being able to conceive after one year of unprotected sex. If you are 35 years old or older, then the magic number to be diagnosed as infertile is six months.) I had an appointment in November 2018 for another Pap smear. This time with a different provider that I was establishing primary care with after starting a new job with different insurance. At that appointment, I talked to her about my unpredictable period and our troubles conceiving. She referred me to an OB\GYN. Two weeks later, I had my appointment. We made a game plan. I had labs drawn and scheduled an ultrasound for two weeks later. My doctor said he suspected PCOS, and depending on what the labs came back as he would start me on Femara for three cycles. If that still doesn’t work, then he would do a semen analysis on my husband to rule him out as the problem. We would then go from there.
I was so excited to have a plan in motion that I didn’t realize it was December and my deductible would be starting over in January. (I had never needed to use my health insurance for anything since I only got off my parents a little over a year ago, so I was a newbie at this.) My labs included LH, 17-hydroxyprogesteron, estradiol, and FSH, which cost me a little over $1,000 dollars. I almost fell over when I saw that bill, but I still wasn’t nearly close to meeting my out of pocket cost, though. I knew I better reschedule my ultrasound and start over with my deductible after January. I should have waited to do the lab work too. If I had known how expensive four labs would be I would have waited until after January, no doubt. You live and you learn though. So right now we are at a standstill. I don’t know what my lab results mean. I looked on my account for the clinic I go to and they are all within the normal range, I think anyway. I’m not sure if that means I have PCOS or what, but I’m staying off of Dr. Google because he only causes confusion. I’m waiting until my ultrasound to go over the results and what they mean with my doctor. Who knows, I might even need more blood work done. What difference would it make if I knew what they mean now anyway? I can’t do anything about it now because infertility is expensive. So for now, we wait.
In the meantime, I’m going to be more open about my infertility. I’m not going to be embarrassed anymore. I’m going to tell whoever asks why we don’t have a baby yet the truth, instead of awkwardly laughing and making some excuse. I think I’ve used every excuse in the book anyway. I think honesty is the only way to make people aware that, despite what we are told about it being easy to get pregnant, it’s not easy for everyone and its nothing to be ashamed of.