Nothing can prepare you for this

When I was in my mid-20s I briefly considered donating my eggs. At the time, my motivation was primarily financial, although I was not ignorant to the idea that I could help give a baby to someone who desperately wanted one. I’ve always wanted to be a mother, and I had no doubt that being told you couldn’t have one “naturally” could be crushing to a woman.

After some consideration I deemed my motivations too selfish and my work schedule too hectic to move forward. I didn’t give egg donation another thought.

I didn’t give another thought to that woman I could have helped either. I wish I could rewind. I had no idea, ten years later, I’d be the woman struggling to force her body do the thing that it was built to do. No one ever thinks that it will be her. No one ever wants to be the one running out of time, money and options.

My husband and I began trying to conceive right around the time we got engaged, four and a half years ago. We weren’t naive that given our age, both 31, that we were shorter on time than some of our counterparts to build a family. We certainly didn’t consider ourselves geriatric, but we could do basic math. We planned a July wedding and I sincerely thought I could be pregnant before I walked down the aisle. As long as I still fit into my dress, I would be happy.

Two years later, after many life changes, but none of the baby variety, we reluctantly were referred to a fertility clinic. After the prerequisite testing, we were given an unexplained infertility diagnosis, and I began the first of several rounds of Clomid + IUI. While an unexplained diagnosis was intimidating, I was still so unprepared for what was to come.

In March of 2015, only a few months into fertility treatments, I wrote this:

When I wonder how much longer I can go on like this, in this state of mind, it makes me feel guilty. I would give anything to be pregnant. And I’m trying to give everything I can. I am trying. But I am so tired, too.

I had no idea what it meant to be tired, then.

Less than a month later I would become pregnant for the first time. A month following the happiest moment of my life, I miscarried for the first time.

More than two years, another miscarriage, four more IUI cycles, two failed IVF rounds later and a bout of chronic endometritis later, I know what it means to be tired. I read “not pregnant,” again, on that little stick just this weekend.

When I wrote that early post I was still so full of faith in my own body. I knew I would get the job I coveted of mother, and it would all be okay. The bloated, achy, overly hormonal side effects of Clomid would be a distant memory as I rocked my son or daughter to sleep at night.

But it hasn’t happened that way. Our infertility story is much longer than we could have ever expected, and we’re still very much in the thick of it. Infertility demands so much of your time, money, body and brain space. No woman or couple has any idea just how tiring this can be.

It’s hard to see the forest for the trees sometimes. Without the child my husband and I so desperately want, I’m not yet to a point where I can say, yes, everything was worth it. I’m still waiting. I’m still tired.

We’re nearing a crossroads. I’ve given my body, my energy, our money and more than four years of our time to science. Soon, we’ll need to decide how much longer we can continue, if at all. Facing that decision is parts scary, parts sad, and a small part freeing.

My husband and I are supposed to be parents. No one could have prepared us for what that would take, when it comes to others so easily. But we will be what we’re meant to be, someday.

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The someday nursery

There’s a mostly empty, unused room in my house. It’s the someday nursery.

My husband and I bought our first home last fall. It had been one of our primary goals since leaving New York City (other than the obvious one). We closed on our house just two days after we found out that our last FET didn’t work. At the time, that was probably the best thing for me. I was so busy trying to prepare for the move that the grief I felt over another failed IVF didn’t hit me right away.

I’d, of course, hoped that we’d get that positive pregnancy test just in time to move into our new home. We were literally leaving the place where we’d experienced two miscarriages and many more failed attempts to go somewhere new. It’s drenched in symbolism. I’d mentally planned to organize a specific room as our guest room, and leave the third bedroom a fresh canvas for the baby that was sure to have found it’s cozy home in me.

The room is still empty.

Last week, when I was feeling especially down on myself and stuck in this limbo of endometritis treatment, I decided I needed to do something about the room. I did have plans for that Saturday, so I made the room my plan. I was going to unpack the few boxes in there, set up our desk, hang some art on the walls.

I did none of that.

I didn’t even walk into the room.

Among the absurdly complex emotions I have about infertility is the idea that my whole life is on hold. That’s partially on me. I’m afraid to move forward for fear that it will just keep on moving without a baby. I don’t want to just accept things as they are. I don’t want to be comfortable in this uncomfortable place.

But, sometimes moving forward helps. Buying the house and all the logistics involved helped occupy my mind and kept me busy. Wayfair and West Elm occupied my time and my wallet. It felt really good to be doing something.

I constantly ask myself, what’s the balance here? How can I be okay with where I am right now without being complacent? How does anyone go through this sh*t and not be completely changed by it?

That stupid, empty room.

All hail me, the antibiotic queen

The last two months have been, shall we say, a bit confusing in Infertility Land. Following my second unsuccessful IVF transfer in November, my doctor was puzzled why three seemingly good (day 5 and 6) embryos had failed to implant. Statistically, given both my and my husband’s genetic screening are normal, it is extremely unlikely that they were all abnormal.

My doctor:

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The most likely candidate for failed implantation in my case (to recap: two failed IVFs, two miscarriages, and a boatload of IUIs totaling more than four years of unexplained infertility) is endometritis.

WTF is that and why does it sound just like endometriosis?

Endometritis is inflamed uterine lining, and I have it. Chronically. And how did we land on this diagnosis? With the most painful biopsy of my uterus I could imagine. I do not mince words here. I have a reasonably high tolerance for pain. I’ve had sporadic kidney stones since I was about 17 years old. I bite down and bear it. A uterine lining biopsy is no joke. I, in fact, nearly fainted. I sat up following the procedure, felt weird, and then hear my doctor and nurse yelling into the hallway for juice and a cold compress as they each grab my hands and check my pulse. It had slowed to about 50/bpm.

This endometritis thing is wack, but at least we’re starting to get some answers. I was asymptomatic, so there was no real reason to test for this before. It’s possible that I contracted the initial infection that lay essentially dormant when I had my D&C for my first miscarriage. The timing of that makes complete sense, actually. Nothing has worked since then. The number one complication of endometritis is infertility. Check! I got that.

I was relieved to have a diagnosis and something to blame the stress of the last few years of fertility treatments on. And thankfully, chronic endometritis is treatable. Just a course of antibiotics should clear it right up! Yes, there would be another painful biopsy waiting for me on the other side of that treatment, but so what?

I dutifully took my two pills a day for three weeks (thanks to a sinus infection prior to my treatment, my course of antibiotics was more like four and a half weeks). Then tried to keep my anxiety at bay for the next invasion of my uterus. You know what helps, though? Valium! The most wonderful nurse on the planet gave me one about an hour before the procedure and I’d slide that pain scale on down to a seven this time around. I was also pretty high most of the day, so I joyfully spent the following few hours in my bed.

Fast forward one week to yesterday… results day. No bueno. The tissue remains inflamed. Three weeks of antibiotics is no match for MY chronic endometritis!

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So, ya know, that’s not fair. The next step is a double dose of antibiotics for two more weeks. And then we biopsy again. Cannot wait for that good time.

In all seriousness, I’m sad. Sad that this easy treatment for this condition we didn’t know I had didn’t work. Sad that the timing of all this effectively prevents us from having a child in 2017, even if I were to successfully get pregnant in my next FET cycle. Which, sure, is fine, but it’s just one more thing that sucks. I made an effort to start the year positively after the last few have beat the crap out of me, and it makes me question why I’m ever positive.

Yes, I’m selfish — I want a baby and I’m pissed that I’ve waited so long to get what I want. Only to just keep on waiting. Now I’m waiting with boxes of probiotics and Monistat to quickly clear the inevitable yeast infection.

Is it time to move on?

It’s a question I don’t really want to ask, but it may be time: Is it time to move on from my clinic? 

The stats:

  • “Unexplained” infertility, diagnosed in January 2015
  • Six total assisted cycles over two years
    • Four IUIs, resulting in two miscarriages (#2 and #4) and two failed attempted (#1 and #3)
    • Two failed IVF cycles
      • One fresh stim cycle
        • Resulting in five embryos for freezing
      • One double embryo FET
    • Two different “lead” doctors on my case

Not great, I hear ya. But here’s the thing: The support staff at my clinic warms my soul. I feel bonded, especially, to my IVF nurse, who I’ve written about before. She’s rooting for my success as much as I am, and that means a lot to me. She answers my questions and eases my concerns day, night, weekend, whatever. She’s in this.

Having said that, it’s counterproductive to throw money (not to mention time) at a place that, to date, hasn’t been successful getting me to my goal. Ultimately, that’s what matters most.

We will meet with the doctor later this month for a post-mortem on this failed cycle, after which, I feel like I will need to make the decision about moving on from this clinic. Dislike.

In hopes of a false negative

Anna and Elsa didn’t stick. Probably.

Does anyone have experience with a false negative pregnancy test following an FET? My husband, ever the online researcher, immediately hit the message boards yesterday following the call from my doc saying that our IVF was, again, unsuccessful. He found many women had experienced a false negative in their first HCG test. The “many” was enough for him to suggest that I retake it later this week. So I am.

I really was not prepared for another negative this time; I was feeling incredibly positive about a good result. The news of another failed IVF hasn’t completely sunk in yet. I don’t know what’s next, other than retaking the test. I’ll do that to give him some peace of mind. He deserves it, too.