Your body is a wonderland – I hope that when the time comes for me to get pregnant, I will take a moment to marvel at the miracle of science that would have brought me to that moment. I hope that when the time comes for me to give birth that I will be in awe of science that will keep me safe, healthy and alive. What I know now, in this moment, is that my body will be able to cope with all that is to come, as it has proven to be a lot tougher than I ever thought it could be. Most of the tests I’ve undergone haven’t been invasive, I’d say that a week of daily ultrasounds followed by self administered hormonal injections is more of an inconvenience than anything else. But when procedures fail, or blood tests come back with bad news, I am stoic in my responses and book in for more. I am proud of how resilient I am and how responsive my body has been to the myriad of medications and treatments I have had and undergone. Sure, we’ve not had much luck as of yet, but the mere fact that I am still here today, with a sound mind and (reasonably) healthy body, is something to be celebrated.
Daydreaming will become your new hobby– On my phone, hidden deep inside a folder within a folder, is a note containing the names we’ve chosen for our future children. There are quite a few, but an equal number of boys and girls names. We each have our own favourites, and we continue to go back and forth on whether we should honour my family tradition of two middle names, or follow what is familiar to Justin of having just one. It’s the little pieces of planning that keep me going. On any given day, I’ll find myself drifting off into happy thoughts of what is to come, it breaks up the monotony of my 9-5, and I guess in some weird way, it helps me make decisions years in advance.
Everyone is an expert– I have lost count of the number of emails and messages from incredibly well meaning friends and family members who somehow see fit to send me, and I’m going to be honest here so I might offend and for that I will make no apologies, unsolicited advice. I have been told to have sex every day at a particular time, with a specific flavour lubricant and in a certain position, take this vitamin, take that vitamin, clean my chakras, read this book. The reason for our infertility has been kept private, so when people slide into my DMs claiming that having sex at 8:07am on an empty stomach got their aunts neighbors sister pregnant, it does nothing more than infuriate me. I’d hazard a guess that even if I shared the reason behind our problems, people would chime in with their 2 cents. Even if you are someone who has battled infertility and want to share an article or some advice that worked for you, chances are that the woman you’re sending that Buzzfeed link to is experiencing a journey that is remarkably different from yours, and though the article may be well meant and sent with love, it hurts. Usually because every other woman in her life has sent her the same damn article.
You have to pick you battles– We’ve had many a falling out over the cost and timings of treatments and procedures, but our battles have always been against other people. The first round of IUI was, quite honestly, FUBARed from the get go. I missed appointments. I forgot to follow up voicemail messages. Both mine and Justin’s hormone levels were off, but could be worked with. And FedEx lost my trigger shot. The trigger shot, for those not in the know, makes you ovulate at a very precise time which in turn allows doctors to perform IUI when I’m at my most fertile. I’d have to administer it at stupid o’clock in the morning the day before my procedure and yet the damn thing was in a warehouse somewhere in Florida. The brunt of my anger was directed at a poor customer service agent that no doubt made $10 an hour and had no interest in what was at stake. My battle, nay, my WAR was with him, and him alone. In the stifling red mist I lost sight of common sense, failed to consider that my doctor or even my local pharmacy probably had said shot in stock, and I could just spend an additional $100 to pick it up. Not a chance. This lil lady gave Eric at FedEx hell for close to an hour. Pacing frantically back and forth, I began hysterically telling him that he’d personally ruined the chances of me ever starting a family. This was a battle I should never have started. I should have started one with my doctor whose pockets were being lined by the pharmaceutical company I was ordering from in the first place. $200 and a mad dash across Cincinnati later, my trigger shot was administered by a wonderful nurse called Kathy, only an hour later than scheduled. Battle, and war, won.
Calendars become your enemy– I’m going to hazard a guess that when those two blue lines appear, many people then calculate the due date almost instantly. We have taken that to an extreme by calculating not only the due date, but the due date of twins or triplets, the date we’d tell our parents, followed by the date we’d tell our respective bosses or team, and whether we would be able to make it back to England with me 6,7,or even 8 months pregnant or with a 2, 6, or 13 month old child. When my period shifts a day or two, I recalculate everything, then strike a mental line through Christmas 2019 in England because “there’s no way we’d be able to get a newborns passport processed in time”. I consider all the major work events I have next year, and wonder whether I’ll be onsite for them. Will we be able to announce to family over Thanksgiving, or Labor Day? Do I really want to be pregnant during these horrific Ohio summers? Oh geez, I’m never going to be able to handle a Taurus or Scorpio baby! When the conception of your child is at the hands of science, every day counts. Every single day.
Every emotion is turned up to 11– Be it your natural hormones, or the ones you’re being injected with, you will spend several days a month full on Clare Danes ugly crying. Your physician and good old Google will be able to tell you all about the physical side effects of Clomid and progesterone, but save for the yummy-mummy blogs that have since become my kryptonite, there is little history on the emotional hell you will go through which often compounds the mental strain you’re already under. I had a breakdown this summer that resulted in a couple of hours at the ER and a full psychological review. I was a hormonal, emotional wreck that needed professional help as a result of me detoxing from an unsuccessful round of IUI. I had been pumped with hormones for 6 weeks then told to come off them cold turkey. A few days off work and some Xanax later, it was clear that Justin and I were going to have to develop some coping mechanisms, and take steps to soften the blow of heart ache. I think the days after we found out our first round of IUI had failed, I was closer to death than I ever care to be again. It was hell on earth and my heart breaks that women have to go through hell to get to heaven.
Life through this, and you won’t look back- There is much to be said for a soppy family motto. Ours is “We Got This” and it got us through several years of a long distance relationship, a thankfullly brief time of poverty, food poisoning and missed flights. When procedures fail, or periods come on after you displayed the symptoms of early pregnancy, you just carry on. When you have screaming matches over the phone about trivial things, or when you roll over to sleep without saying goodnight, you carry on. When you have to scrap a round of IUI because you otherwise won’t be able to afford Christmas gifts, you grin and bear it. Life will, and does, go on, and you will one day look back at your journey to parenthood all as one massive lesson- the downside is you don’t know what the class is on. Allow me to pander to the geek in me, by quoting everyone’s favourite Jedi: “Fear is the path to the dark side…fear leads to anger…anger leads to hate…hate leads to suffering.” You will at some point of your journey be fearful- of the injections or procedures, of it not working, of it actually working. Even now, weeks away from our next round of treatment, I am anxious that I’ll get pregnant. I am anxious of a success as that is truly unknown to me. But I have learned not to be afraid. I once feared what was to come on our journey, but I lived through it, and so shall you.