When my husband and I decided to start trying for a child, I was baffled as to why it wasn’t working. I never thought in a million years I’d be struggling with infertility. I always wanted kids. I didn’t dream about my wedding, I would dream about being a mom. I’d drive my American Girl dolls to soccer practice in my twin day bed (my minivan). We’d stop for coffee on the way and I’d let them get a donut.
To my college friends, I was the “mom” of the group. Let me make you some Pizza Rolls after a night of drinking. Making sure you brought a water bottle to our group workouts. Do you have enough blankets? Need another pillow? Are you too hot? Are you too cold? That’s me, I want to host, I want to take care of people…I want to be a mom.
In 2017, I felt ready, we felt ready. Which is interesting because people say you never really feel ready but we had our “ducks in a row”. We were in the next stage of our lives. We dated for 5 years, got engaged, married, rescued 2 dogs, bought a house and now we were ready.
I kind of figured knowing my luck after telling my husband, “You know it doesn’t happen on the first time,” that it would actually happen for us on the first time. I was that girl freaking out after the first time we had unprotected sex thinking, “OMG is that it, did we do it, am I pregnant?!” Then followed by franticly googling things like:
How soon can you tell if you’re pregnant?
How soon is too soon to take a pregnancy test?
When should you take a pregnancy test?
How soon after ovulation can you take a pregnancy test?
No matter how many online articles I read that told me the exact same thing, I would pretend I read something else and that it was soon enough to take a test.
And then I got my period.
Well of course if it doesn’t happen the first time so it’s going to happen the second time. Maybe my calculations were off. It usually doesn’t happen on the first time, right? So it’s definitely going to be the second time.
And then I got my period again.
This heartbreak happened for a year before I took matters into my own hands. My OBGYN continued to tell me, that despite my irregular periods, we needed to wait a full year before coming in to seek treatment. After a year, I was so frustrated, and I had a gut feeling that something was wrong. I called a local Reproductive Medical Office on my own and asked if I could set up a consultation.
One month later, there we were, in the Reproductive Endocrinologist’s office. It felt so unreal. It felt like a movie, a bad movie. How did we get here? Why are we here? Why us? At least, I did feel reassured that we were now working with a specialist and had a plan. I’m a planner and I needed a plan to feel somewhat in control.
The next 6 months went like this: blood work, testing, waiting, testing, waiting, clomid, waiting, HSG dye test, waiting, IUI, waiting, ultrasound, waiting, IUI, waiting, ultrasound and finally more waiting and more money.
This duration in our journey can only be described as “waiting.” I felt like my life was on hold. We didn’t have any answers. I felt closer to a diagnosis, yet I felt we couldn’t be further from a solution. I was hopeful but I was also discouraged. I was upset with my body for not cooperating. I was upset with the universe for my desire to be a mother yet, making it so hard. Was this really happening to us?
After our third failed IUI, our doctor recommended going in for surgery. He predicted something must be going on, that he couldn’t see because I hadn’t been able to get pregnant yet. To my surprise, we scheduled the surgery quickly after, and I had laparoscopy the summer of 2019. I obviously wanted everything to be okay but a huge part of me actually wanted something to be wrong. I wanted answers and I was afraid that if my doctor couldn’t get answers through the laparoscopy, then what would be next?
The morning of surgery was like an out-of-body experience. I was so ready to see what was going on. The only thing I remember from waking up after surgery, is my doctor saying, “Jaimie, we were surprised to see that your tubes were blocked. I cleared them out as best as I could.” WHAT? I’m on drugs but I heard you say something. What does it mean? Am I good now? After coming down from my high and heading home, my husband explained everything to me. He told me that my doctor called him mid-surgery. He was surprised to find that my tubes were blocked from scar tissue. My doctor made my husband choose to a.) clear out what he could and see if they stay open or b.) tie my tubes and do IVF. My husband selected the clearing out AKA gardening method. I was happy he made that choice. Even today, where the scar tissue came from, we still don’t know. At some point in my life I must have had an infection causing the scar tissue.
After surgery, as I healed and we were instructed to try naturally for three months, with the expectations that my tubes would stay open. After three months, if we weren’t pregnant, we’d do another HSG dye test to confirm the status of my tubes.
The summer after my surgery was surprisingly the most refreshing. In hindsight, I realize it’s probably because I wasn’t on any fertility medication. But I knew that we had found the root cause of our fertility issues and I had three months with zero fertility treatments; no tests, no meds and no appointments. We were just trying the old-fashioned way and it actually was a slight relief.
During that time, I decided to get a tattoo; my first and only tattoo. It’s my “F*$! You” fertility tattoo. It’s a circle made of dashes. I got the tattoo because after my laparoscopy scars and now over 2 years into our TTC journey, I felt like my body wasn’t my own. I had physical scars and I wanted something on my body that I did, something I chose that represented our journey. A complete circle is meant to represent whole or complete. Because I felt our journey wasn’t over and our family wasn’t whole, I got the circle in dashes.
After the third month of trying I scheduled my second HSG dye test. This time, I had a feeling that I knew what the results of the dye test would be. I wanted to get it over with but at the same time I wanted to freeze time and just keep trying and pretend that everything was okay.
My second dye test was on a Tuesday morning. I went in feeling buoyant, either way we would have next steps and an answer. If my tubes were open we would keep trying and probably go back on Clomid. If my tubes were closed, IVF would be the only option. Well, guess what happened? I got the most non-answer answer. One tube was open and one tube was closed. I thought seriously?! I had everything planned out in my head, there were two routes this could have went, and what happened? It went down the middle. My doctor was performing multiple HSG dye tests and couldn’t really assess me at the time, so he suggested I schedule an office visit with my husband to talk about the results.
I was able to get our appointment scheduled for the day before we left for our annual vacation. I had to beg and plead, but I was willing to move anything around just to get the appointment over with before our trip. I needed to know what this meant and what our next steps were. Deep down I knew what it meant, but I didn’t know if my doctor had some other magical solution we hadn’t heard of.
During our appointment, my doctor went over for history. He went through all of the test, the results, the treatments that we’ve been through, the surgery results, and lastly the second HSG dye test. The appointment was another out of body experience, where I felt like I was watching another couple in a TV show or movie hear that realistically IVF was their next option. I was waiting for some sappy Coldplay song to come overhead and then I could walk off set and live my real life that didn’t include infertility.
I had read so many things about IVF. I had seen so many videos about the process of IVF. I followed so many accounts on Instagram of strong women and couples who had gone through IVF or were going through IVF. And a part of me knew that our journey would come to this. But I had to question, was I strong enough for this? Could we do this? What would our life be like if we didn’t do this? And what would our life be like if we did?
Fast forward to March 2020: we are currently in the middle of our first IVF cycle. We started the process in January and had our egg retrieval March 10th.
For anyone going through infertility or who has gone through infertility knows, I could list every emotion there is and that’s probably how I’ve felt through this process. There are highs and lows. There are times where I feel empowered and hopeful, and there are times where I feel scared and helpless. The biggest thing that has gotten me through this is my support system and knowing that I’m not alone. Being on your TTC journey feels so isolating, but it’s so common. We don’t talk about it and I want to break the silence. I also think if we can’t do anything to change this journey, we need to laugh, even if it’s just a little bit. Here are just a few things that have made me chuckle:
Binge watching Handmaid’s Tale and saying to myself “Well I know what my role won’t be!”
My blue buttock from from the dye used in the laparoscopy surgery.
The bar crawl I made my husband do before our first trigger shot.
The time a female doctor did my IUI and I was secretly EXTRA hopeful that one would work, more than the other one, so that I could say a female got me pregnant.
Packing my trigger shot on a girl’s trip and then asking them after we’ve been drinking to give me a butt shot.
When I asked my RE how soon after the lalarasopcy surgery can we start trying again. He says, “Well I prefer you wait until you leave the OR.”
That time my husband said that my uterus is a hostile work environment.
You can follow Jaimie on Instagram at @InfertileChronicles