life, love, and maybe babies

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

if only I'd known...

This last weekend was Mother's Day and I couldn't help but remembering one year ago looking at all the posts on Facebook and Instagram of new mothers or mothers to be in my feed, making me sadder and sadder that I still wasn't there. I was still just waiting. Waiting for the day it was my turn. This year is obviously quite a bit different as I am waiting to become a mother to the little banana that is growing away in my gut (and starting to kick that gut, as well). 

But fear not. I remember what is was like to be in the infertility shoes. I remember all too well. Several of my friends and acquaintances are just beginning on the infertility journey, so I wanted to share a few thoughts that might help prepare you for the road you're considering heading down. These, as always, are just my experience, so don't expect that you will have the exact same experience. But I do wish I had known a few of these things going in...though maybe it wouldn't even have helped. Sometimes ignorance can be bliss!

1. Be ready to wait

I'm not talking about waiting for treatment, either. I'm talking about waiting to even be seen by a doctor. The harsh reality is, infertility is not uncommon. At all. If you are considering heading to an infertility specialist, I wouldn't wait until you hit the year mark. Once you've been trying for 8 months, give the local infertility place a jingle and ask what kind of wait you will be on to see a doctor. For me, I called after we had been trying for a year and our appointment was set for three further months out. It felt like lost time.

2. Track your cycles and be ahead of the game

When we finally got in to see a specialist, the doc gave me a blank sheet for tracking my cycles and said, "track your basal body temperature for three months, then come back and we can move on." I was devastated. I was wanting to get going right now. And now I had to go home and track my basal body temp for a further three months! Had I shown up with my basal body temps and ovulation dates accounted for already, we probably could have moved on to the next step.

3. The protocol should make sense

If I could change one thing about my infertility treatment, it would be the order in which it occurred. My original doctor (who I later moved on from) put me on Clomid for three months. When that didn't work, she had me go in for an HSG, in which they found a small blockage in my right tube that was easily cleared. So...why didn't I do the HSG first? If I had a blocked tube during those months on Clomid, it was like throwing darts through water. Completely pointless. You will often hear me say (even in this very blog entry) to trust your doctor, but you must also trust in yourself. If something doesn't seem right, speak up! 

4. You really are a number

Every fertility clinic will make promises that you are special, you are unique and you are going to be treated as such. Ya'll, that is a TALL order to fill. These people are working their tails off to make babies for all sorts of different people and sometimes, you are going to get lost in the shuffle. Paying close attention to what your doctor tells you and following up is on you just as much as it is on them. I remember a few times at my doctor thinking, "Geez, he sounds like a robot. Just telling me my results and moving on." But then I would stop and think about how many times a day he does this. How many times he's had to tell someone that their IUI didn't work, or their IVF cycle was a failure. I think about when I have to break bad news to someone and how I feel emotionally drained for days afterward. It's not an easy cross to bear. Yes, these places make a large amount of money for what they do, but remember they are humans. Sometimes it's just self preservation that keeps them from seeming that way.

On the flip side, your doctor or nurse should never be rude to you or disrespect you. If they do, get the hell out and find a new doc.

 5. You can't predict how long it will take - or if it ever will

Whether you know what your problem is (PCOS, endometriosis, sperm quality, etc) or not, there is no accurate timeline that a doctor can give you. I remember someone once telling me that once you see a fertility doctor, if you aren't pregnant in a year, they're doing something wrong. Do not listen to these people. Hope is a wonderful thing, but false hope is the worst. This is not a Nestle Chocolate Chip recipe where you put in the right ingredients and you get a delicious dessert 20 minutes later. You are trying to create a human being.

One common thing that many people succumb to is armchair doctors...aka friends that KNOW what treatment you should be doing. Friends that say things like, "Oh, Femara? My friend didn't get pregnant after 4 months on Femara. Then she switched to Clomid and she got pregnant the next month!" Yes, they are trying to be helpful, but you have got to listen to your doctor. You can certainly mention what your friend advised to your physician, but be prepared for them to roll their eyes and say, "What degree does your friend have?" 

If your doctor makes a promise like, "Oh, we can get you pregnant in six months", may I suggest running away like the building is on fire? Your doctor is just that, a doctor. Not Miss Cleo. No one knows how long this will take, or if it will ever take. There is a reason that surrogate mothers and adoption exist. Some women never make it to the land of conception and that's okay. Just know at the outset that there is always a chance that conceiving may not be in the cards. Going in with knowledge is always better than going in blind.

6. Your cost estimate is wrong

Hubs and I tried to "budget" for infertility treatments. What a complete waste of time. I get it, you want to to sort of have an idea of what it's going to cost to get knocked up, but here's the thing...there's no way to tell. I assumed we'd get pregnant after one round of IUI. Truthfully, IVF was not even in my realm of imagination. And yet, that's where we ended up. 

Oh, and IVF budgets are impossible, too. I remember looking at the costs and saying, "Well, Hubs, we won't need ICSI and we're not doing a frozen cycle, so that saves XYZ dollars. We can afford this. It will be tight, but we can. Yay!"

Fast forward 3 weeks and we found out a) we needed ICSI and b) our cycle changed to frozen when I developed 33 follicles. Again, you are trying to make a baby, not getting the transmission in your car cleaned out. This is unpredictable. If you are really a stickler about what you're going to be spending, I would suggest to make a plan for what it will cost, and then add at least 50%. There are things you will totally forget about and things you never knew were coming. 

7. The worry never goes away

Somehow I was under the impression that once I got pregnant, all my troubles and anxiousness would magically disappear. They didn't. Pregnancy is not easy. It's a roller coaster, just a different type of roller coaster than infertility. Your friends and family might be surprised to hear you even mention unfavorable pregnancy symptoms because, after all, "isn't this what you wanted?" Yes, it is what I wanted. But do I really want to grow this thing inside of me and have it kicking my innards for 9 months? Of course not. I'd love it if I could just skip the whole human coming out of my vajay-jay and produce a child out of thin air. Just because I was an infertile doesn't mean the pain and discomfort of pregnancy are welcomed with open arms.

Think of it this way...remember when you were young and had your first pregnancy scare? (If you didn't, good for you.) Remember how you sat on your bed and cried and prayed for God to give you the worst cramps ever in the history of life if only you wouldn't be pregnant right now? And then your period came and you got the worst cramps ever in the history of life? Did you sit there and say, "This is amazing!!! Thank you for these awful cramps!" Hell no. Same with infertiles and pregnancy. You hope and you wish and beg for it, but when it's happening, it's not exactly a picnic. You can be miserable and still grateful. Ain't no shame in that game.

8. Your relationship will suffer

Don't freak out - I didn't say it would end. I just want you to know that there is no couple on earth who can go through the ups and downs of infertility and not struggle. There are just too many dimensions to the process. You're going through things mentally and physically, and believe it or not, so is your partner. But remember, the only way to get through this is to talk. That might even mean counseling. It's nothing to be ashamed of or hide from. No couple signs on for marriage or a long term commitment expecting that they will have to go through this. It's hard, it's tough and it sucks. can be done. 
I'll save some other tips on how to help in the relationship department in another post on another day, but just know that it will test your relationship and hopefully make it stronger.

9. It may not happen

This is my least favorite part to write, but it is the truth. There are people in this world who don't get a baby. Whether the funds finally dry up or adoption doesn't pan out...ultimately, sometimes the end of the road really does show itself. I'm not saying this to be depressing, I'm saying it because it is the reality of the world we all live in. I don't understand why and I don't pretend to be able to make it better with a blog. All I can tell you is, if you are an infertile, guard your heart and know that sometimes the good guys don't win. If you end up in the pool of those that come to the end of the fertility road, my heart goes out to you. Keep your friends and family close to you and know you gave it everything you had. And no one can take that from you. 

Infertility is a lot to take on. Even admitting that you might be infertile is a huge step. Hell, I didn't even want to say it out loud for a long time. It's a process. A long, stressful process that takes the strength of a warrior. But you are strong and you are a warrior and you will get through it one way or the other. You may not even recognize yourself when you come out the other side. But hang on tight and rely on your friends (bloggy and real life) to get you through it. We're always here.

XOXO my friends,

1 comment:

Kaeleigh MacDonald said...

Hell Yeah, Biotch! This is a great post! Thanks for being incredible even now!

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