When I decided to start this blog I knew the only way it would work was if I was completely open and vulnerable about our struggle to have a baby. If I wanted people to really understand what it’s like to experience infertility I needed to be raw and emotional. It was scary. I pride myself on being a very strong person. Not physically strong, because let’s be honest the only weight lifting I do these days is in the form of lifting my 2 lb wine bottles to fill and re-fill my glass. As much as I cry, I’m a very strong person emotionally. It takes a lot for me to open up to people and ask for help. I tend to take on way more than I can handle. Lucky for me, I have a husband who knows this trait well. He sees the warning signs when I’ve reached my breaking point and he knows just when to sit me down and force me to talk. This blog has been my personal therapy session. I analyze my thoughts and feelings and then I write s*** down and you lucky people get to read it. Today’s blog is about to get real. Probably the most real I’ve been so far. I’m sure you’re wondering how it can get any more real than vaginal probing sessions and my husband’s semen samples, but you’re in for a real treat. Here goes…
I’m a liar. No, seriously! I’m a big, fat, freaking liar. In my last post I told you all about our meeting with the magician who, for only $383, was going to wave his magic catheter wand, insert my husband’s sperm into my uterus, perfectly timed to meet my egg that had just been released during ovulation and then BOOM! “Wingardiaum Leviosa!” I would be pregnant. That post was all true. We had met the magician and established that the IUI would be our next step and that we might try next month. Now here comes the lie…. We already had our first IUI. I’m sorry I betrayed my loyal readers and didn’t give you a completely accurate play-by-play. But I was scared. I was scared of everything. Scared for the procedure (I’ve learned that catheters are very unpleasant little tools). Scared that this little 5 minute magic trick might work. Scared to actually, finally be pregnant. And most of all, I was scared of failure.
Let’s back track a little to my lie. Because my new magician doctor was able to see me so quickly after I called, I was actually already in the middle of my last cycle of clomid prescribed by my regular OBGYN. So, when we discussed the IUI he told me that I could actually do my first round this month. WHAT? I think my heart sank into my butthole. I had been waiting for so long for an answer and here was this doctor telling me that he could perform his magic in just a little over a week and that I could possibly be pregnant by the end of the month. Insert panic attack here! When I told Nathan his response was, “When do we go?” He was ready! I told him I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go through with it this month and I couldn’t believe I said that. Here we were, waiting for an answer and we finally got one and I was dragging my feet. Nathan slapped some common sense into me and reminded me that this was what we had been waiting for. So after a nice little pep talk, I decided to put my fears aside and do our first IUI. So I finished my round of clomid, peed on sticks for a few days and finally got a positive ovulation test. I called the doctor’s office to schedule my IUI for the next day. We didn’t tell anyone. Not even our parents. I was putting enough pressure on myself and I didn’t want the added pressure of everyone else knowing, waiting and questioning me in two weeks. So Nathan and I agreed we would keep the procedure between us.
I couldn’t sleep the night before the IUI so I watched Friends reruns, looked up baby names and pinned things to my private ‘Baby Reese’ Pinterest board. Talk about doing a complete 180. I went from considering not even doing the procedure to planning our child’s first birthday party on Pinterest. I was ready. I was hopeful. Still scared s***less, but hopeful. Tomorrow would be the day we would conceive our child. I thought about how crazy it was that Nathan and I would know the exact moment when our baby was conceived. The science behind it all really blew my mind. Even though I had hoped we would conceive naturally, I had accepted the fact that this was our plan and I was going to make the most of our little science experiment. Nathan and I were quiet the whole ride up to the hospital.
We checked in at 7:15 and to our surprise there were about a handful of other couples already ahead of us. Each doing the same procedure. We kept hearing the receptionist say, “That will be $383.” And there we stood in that line, just waiting to buy our baby. After we got all checked in we waited in silence until the called for Nathan to go give his contribution to the experiment. A little while later he returned and then we waited about another hour before they called us both back. Once we got into the little room, I undressed from the waist down and assumed my position on the table. Nathan sat in a chair and we made small talk. Finally a knock at the door and in came the bubbliest person I’ve ever seen at 9 in the morning. She was the one who would perform the procedure just as she said she had done thousands and thousands of times before. She showed us Nathan’s sample in a small tube. My response was, “That’s it?” She laughed and said that’s all she needed. In that tiny little amount of liquid no bigger than the size of a dime were 52 million of Nathan’s best swimmers just waiting for a chance to fertilize my egg. She told us there needed to be at least 10 million to perform the procedure and my stellar husband gave them 52 million. She explained the process of washing the sperm and told us basically they take out all the bad sperm and only choose the MVP’s to be inserted.
Then we were ready to get started. I laid back and hoisted my legs up into the stirrups. Nathan was in a chair at the end of the table and I asked him if he wanted to come up to the good side or watch. He smiled and said he kind of wanted to watch. The nurse was more than happy to oblige and told him to stand behind her. She walked him through each move she made. “This is her vaginal canal. And this right here is her cervix.” Nathan stood behind her hunched over looking at my lady parts and made some faces as she pointed things out and explained the process. I laughed and had to stop looking at him. It was weird. Sweet that he wanted to see how our baby was being made, but weird. Then I felt a little pinch and some cramping. The nurse squeezed in the baby juice and then we were done! All of that worry and the procedure was over in about 10 really quick minutes. I laid there for a few minutes afterwards and then we were free to go about the rest of our day. The nurse told me I would need to go in for bloodwork in one week to check my progesterone levels and then hopefully I would be calling her back in 2 weeks to let her know that we were pregnant.
I remember walking out of there scared to move too quickly. Like I was afraid it would fall out (yes, I know that can’t happen, but common sense goes out the window in times like these.) So we left the office and went to lunch. As soon as we got in the car I was different. I felt different. I felt positive and giddy. As we drove to get lunch I looked at Nathan and asked, “Do you think it’s a boy or a girl?” He smiled and reminded me not to get ahead of ourselves, but he was happy that I wasn’t being all doom and gloom. So we went about our day and all I could think about was what was happening inside my body. Everything was perfect. This was going to work. It HAD to work! It’s science. Everything was right where it needed to be and ready to go. At that very moment, our baby was being conceived.
A week went by and it was time for bloodwork. I was still feeling really good and was counting down the next 7 days until I could finally take a pregnancy test. I was literally having dreams about being pregnant. I was googling creative ways to announce your pregnancy and I was ecstatic about the fact that based on our IUI date, our baby and I would share the same birthday. Our baby would be due November 9th. It was fate. It had to be! Until I got the call about my bloodwork. “Your progesterone level was only at a 5.2. While that does indicate that ovulation occurred, being on clomid your level should have been at least a 15. Don’t give up yet, but it’s most likely that even if the egg was fertilized the lining of your uterus isn’t thick enough for the embryo to implant. Try to relax for the next few days and call if you start your period and then we can start planning for the next cycle.” Thank God I was working from home when I got that call. I immediately burst into tears and text Nathan the news. I started googling in a frenzy. Can I still be pregnant 7 days past IUI if my progesterone is at a 5.2? Natural ways to increase progesterone levels. What the f*** is progesterone? And the google history goes on. I was trying to stay positive, but I knew that my dreams of carrying a child would be put off once again by another month. The next few days were kind of a blur. I tried to stay busy and prayed my period wouldn’t come. I had all the usual period symptoms: rage, insane urge to binge eat, emotional basket case, sore back and boobs. But I kept telling myself, maybe those are early pregnancy signs too. I woke up on Sunday to get ready for church. Went to the bathroom and had some spotting. I knew that b**** Aunt Flow was coming. Of course it wouldn’t come on Sunday so I could get drunk and watch the Oscars. And even when I woke up Monday morning, still nothing.
I went off to work on Monday and was obsessively going to the bathroom every hour. Around noon, I knew she had arrived I went to the bathroom and cried uncontrollably in the stall. All of that hope… right down the toilet. I had started my period. I’m not sure how long I sat in that stall praying that no one would come in the bathroom. I just needed to be alone and cry until I couldn’t cry any longer. Once I was finally able to drag myself out of the bathroom I text Nathan the news and told him I was leaving work. I packed up my things and headed home. I cried the whole way. Every song seemed to taunt me. Justin Beiber’s, ‘Baby,’ even came on the radio and sent me into a breakdown. Just the word baby was enough to send me over the edge. Once I got to my exit, I pulled into the gas station to pick up a few essentials: a Dr. Pepper slurpee, 2 bottles of wine, 2 king size Reese’s peanut butter cups, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, a bag of Funyon’s, a hot dog, a pack of skittles and a lottery ticket. I knew the cashier was judging me and could see my splotchy, cry face behind my glasses. I snapped without question, “I’ve had a bad day!” The cashier packed up my items and quietly said, “I hope it gets better.” She threw in a snickers bar on the house and I mouthed thank you. I tried to get out the words, but I started crying again. Right there, in the freaking gas station. I gathered all the ridiculous junk I just bought and went home to wallow.
As I sat on my couch and cried with my good pals Ben and Jerry, the reality of the situation sank in. I was not pregnant. We wasted $383. The IUI failed. My body failed. I had failed. And I was crushed. It’s a pain that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to accurately describe. How can you mourn the loss of something you never had? But there I was, mourning the loss of our baby who may or may not have been conceived two weeks earlier, but never implanted. It’s not something that will ever get easier. Maybe one day I’ll look back on that day and think about the good that eventually came. For now, all I can think about is how empty I feel. How my heart literally aches for a baby. How many times will I put my body through this before we just give up? How do people do this time after time? How do women go through multiple rounds of IVF with no success? How will my husband feel if I can’t give him a baby? Why me? Why any woman? Today I have more questions than answers and more heartache than hope.
So there it is. I’m a liar. I had good intentions and to be honest, I’m sure this isn’t the last time I’ll lie on my blog. I’ll always tell the full story eventually, maybe just not in real time. I haven’t decided if we are going to try again this month or not. Right now I’m still feeling too broken. If and when we do try an IUI again, I probably won’t write about it until after. Hopefully the next IUI blog post will be one with a happy ending, but that’s not always real life. Not every story has a happy ending. So today I’ll close this chapter of my life story and hope that the next chapter is the greatest one yet.