Tag: Infertility

Sam’s Story

This post is part two of a follow up to an earlier post I wrote about at Self Magazine article on how isolating infertility can be. You can read my infertility story  part one and part two. A friend read my first post and offered to share her story with me.

Swing, swing, swing..photo © 2010 Julie V | more info (via: Wylio)Like many women, Sam was surprised and pleased when quickly she became pregnant with her first child. Twenty-eight and happily married, she an her husband conceived their daughter A with only a couple of months of “practice”. About 3 years later, they decided they were ready expand their family again.

Hello secondary infertility,

Mother Nature had other plans. After a year of practice with no success, Sam was getting mixed messages from the medical field. Some said she hadn’t tried long enough, others said it was time to see a specialist. Sam trusted her gut and went the specialist route. Sam and her husband endured the usual battery of diagnostic tests with no conclusive results. Sam even endured the dreaded hyserosalpingogram (HSG) sans ibuprofen! The doctors prescribed Clomid and the mixed messages persisted. She was told her infertility was due to PCOS (this would later be disproved), she was told is was due to her weight (after losing forty pounds she STILL didn’t get pregnant).

Throughout this process, despite being close to her family, she didn’t share her struggles with them. Her husband was very supportive, but still she felt ashamed and wondered ‘What’s wrong with me?’. She wondered is her family was complete. Something told her no, she wasn’t finished having kids yet, so she shouldered on.

The next level of drugs her doctor was recommending was not covered by her insurance. A nurse at her doctor’s office recommended her for a study where IVF and the associated drugs would be paid for. It was time for some soul searching. She and her husband weighed the issues including the practical, travel and the logistics as well as the more complex, the higher risk of multiples and the issue of who would get custody of any unused embroys? Suddenly it wasn’t just “making a baby”. After many heart to heart talks Sam decided she couldn’t go through with the study. Her husband was relieved and supported her decision whole heartedly. In November, she stopped taking all medications and went about enjoying her daughter that much more.

One chilly December morning, she made her morning coffee and was utterly repulsed by the smell. At first she questioned the coffee and wondered what she did wrong. Belatedly it occurred to her that she hadn’t be able to stomach coffee while pregnant with her daughter. Bingo! Her son D was born the following August after 22 hours of labor. Six years after his sister.

Looking back, Sam is grateful for the support of her husband and the nurses at her infertility doctor’s office, but still it was a lonely time. Her advice to women struggling with infertility is to reach out, to find support. It is a very personal problem, but it can be less of a burden with support. Take the time to build a support system that works for you. She also advises educating yourself and advocating for your needs politely, but strongly.

After D’s birth, Sam knew her family was complete. She admits the age gap presents challenges, but deep down her children love each other and she’s grateful to have them both.

My Infertility Story Part II – Cliché

This post is part two of a follow up to an earlier post I wrote about at Self Magazine article on how isolating infertility can be. You may also want to read part one.  I was blessed to have a circle of friends who had experienced similar situations. NO ONE should feel alone in the infertility process. Part Threes will be the story of another woman who didn’t have that support.

Clichephoto © 2010 Tom Newby | more info (via: Wylio)We survived round one, and were rewarded with a beautiful, happy healthy daughter. Fast forward two and a half years. I was ready for a second child. My husband was happy with one, but willing to discuss making a sibling. I am an only child. I always wanted a sibling. I wanted my daughter to have someone to gang up on me with. We decided we’d try for a second, but as with the last time, there were limits to how much medical intervention we’d tolerate. In other words, no IUI or IVF for us.

About the same time, my husband managed to convince me that it would be a good idea to pack up everything we own, put it in storage and move in with his mom and her husband. We bought land from them to build a house and make a new life an hour and a half North of my support system. Stress + new doctors + limited privacy does not a pregnancy make.

I was still making frequent trips South for business commitments and to be with friends. During that time, we were actively trying with no success. My cycles felt as though they were random. I opted to switch my care to a practice nearer to our new home. I thought it would be easier to manage the daily ultra sounds without the hour and a half commute. Ultimately, the new doctor did confirm a clinical diagnosis of PCOS. We had a cause, but still no baby.

During this time, the other two women I’d been pregnant with the first time both conceived again. I was happy for them and they were both very gracious about sharing my pain at their news, but inside, I was frustrated and horribly jealous.

I was on Clomid for a total of 9 months without success and I was at the end of my rope. We had just moved into our new house and I was ready for a new beginning. My husband supported my decision to stop infertility treatments. I stopped taking Clomid. I gave up the mini-van in favor of a smaller car and I accepted a several work commitments and a major volunteer commitment.

The doctor wanted to try and get my cycles on track again. I refused birth control pills so he prescribed progesterone. The prescription said take once a day for the first ten days of the month. Since I hadn’t had a period in a almost two months, I thought he meant calendar month (as a way to be able to keep my dates straight). Turns out he meant cycle month. DUH. I was told to take a pregnancy test and when it came back negative to start taking the medication.

My husband left for work early in the morning. So I dragged my butt out of bed and peed on the stick. I hadn’t even turned the light on, but after I washed my hands, I picked up the test and thought I saw two lines in the faint morning light. I turned the light on and looked again. Oh My God, this can’t be real. I ran downstairs and said “Don’t leave!” and then flew back up stairs grabbing my glasses and a magnifying glass (you can’t be too sure about these things you know).

Son of a gun, there WERE two lines. As he walked into the bathroom I said, “I’m pregnant, is that ok?” He hugged me, laughed at me and said “It’s a little late for that isn’t it.” I had become a cliché. I stopped trying and got pregnant. It was hard to let go, but once I really let go, my dysfunctional body, to over.

Later that day, I called the OB practice and asked for a blood test to confirm the results. I was told that blood tests weren’t standard procedure. I explained that I was an infertility patient and that I wanted an HCG count. I wanted to insure that there was just one. It took some persuasion, in the form of my going and sitting in the waiting room until someone talked with me, and offering to pay for the blood test out of pocket if my insurance didn’t cover it (it did), but I finally got confirmation that there was only one fetus. Nine months later, Mim was born and our lives are all the richer for his presence.

Even with the distance, my circle of friends was crucial to my survival during the move, the trying and the subsequent pregnancy. I am confident we wouldn’t have had Mim if they hadn’t been around to cheer me on and pick me up. No one should have to go through infertility alone. Online support groups have grown in popularity since then and even face-to-face groups are being offered by infertility practices. If you are pursuing infertility treatments, please seek out a support network. I could mean faster, results.

Let’s talk about infertility

Child holding a Megaphone
Image Credit Hebedesigns

I recently read this article in Self Magazine. . According to the article 1 in 8 couples will be affected by some type of infertility. That statistic doesn’t really surprise me, it seems everytime I turnaround, I bump into someone who has or is struggling with fertility. The article goes on to state that 61% of women seeking infertility treatment do not share their struggles with friends and family. Really? People don’t talk about infertility? I would not have survived infertility, my marriage would not have survived infertility, if I hadn’t talked about it.

She talks about infertility, so does she.  I talk about it and in light of this article, I will blog my story soon.

I remember the pain and frustration as I waited for my body to do what it was supposed to do naturally. As you are going through it, infertility is stressful which doesn’t help matters any. But, in hindsight, I can say infertility is biology, and failure to conceive is not a character flaw. I did not choose this, I refused to feel ashamed.

The couple in the Self story took extensive measures to hide their infertility treatments. They went so far as to rent an apartment in New York City (closer to their doctor) and when their deception almost came to light, they were forced to concoct outrageous stories about surviving last winter’s blizzard in Washington D.C. even though they weren’t there. Wow! Infertility is hard enough without adding layers of lies that you have to keep track of. I’m not judging them. I feel sadness for them that they felt had to go to such an extremes.

I was fortunate to have a supportive husband and family and a great group of friends (many of whom were touched by infertility in one way or another). I was also fortunate to have conceived two children. Not everyone is as successful.

Like other women’s issues before it (rape, breast cancer), infertility needs to be dragged into the spotlight. So that IVF and Clomid become as understood as chemo and radiation.

As the article highlights, if infertility treatment is successful, the result is new parents (sometimes of multiples). I speak from experience when I say new parents barely have time to shower never mind rallying the troops. If the treatments are not successful, the feelings of devastation, loss and depression can force a person to withdraw completely from the topic. I understand and respect both perspectives. My kids keep me busy, so I can’t jump out and lead the charger either. Still, I wouldn’t wish infertility on anyone and I can do my small part to spread the word.

I’ll share my stories soon. If you have a fertility story you’d like to share or know someone willing to be profiled, please leave a comment here and I’ll follow up with you privately.

Here are two resources I found helpful when I was dealing with infertility.

Resolve a support group for couples dealing with infertility.

Dr. Alice Domar is a well known specialist focused on the mind/body connection and women’s health issues, specifically infertility.  I’ve met her and heard her speak severa times. She is a passionate and delightful woman. I also highly recommend her books.

ETA

My infertility story part 1 and part 2.

Photo credit Hebedesigns