Infertility… The S*** No One Tells You

No one tells you that infertility affects 1 in 8 couples. No one tells you that 20% of infertility cases are categorized as “unexplained.” No one tells you that your insurance most likely won’t cover ANY tests or procedures for infertility. No one tells you about the endless amount of pee sticks, raging hormones, blood work and the emotional and physical pain you and your spouse will endure on your journey to have a baby.

I think we all have this vision in our head that Prince Charming will come along, you’ll have your dream wedding, buy your dream home and then you’ll have a picture perfect pregnancy and welcome a beautiful baby into your family to complete the American dream. Sounds just like reality, right? Unfortunately, approximately 12% of married women have trouble getting pregnant or staying pregnant. I am that 12%. My husband and I are that 1 in 8 couple.

You never think this will be your reality until it is. For me, and like most people, I knew nothing about infertility. Each doctor’s appointment came with more acronyms and testing than I knew what to do with. I googled my way through it with the support of my husband and I spewed word vomit on this very blog to cope with the information and emotional overload. This blog was never intended to be public. I thought I’d share it with family and close friends and use it as more of a journal. After I sent the first post to a few people they encouraged me to share my story and I’m so glad that I did. I never knew the impact my thoughts would have on people. And more importantly I never knew the impact others would have on me. I’ve always said, “It’s a club I never wanted to be a part of,” but the support from others has gotten me through the best and worst days. These people have shared in my triumph’s, let me complain about snarky nurses, brought me wine and more importantly… they haven’t once told me I’m crazy! They have validated each and every good, bad, irrational and Google-driven feeling.

I never realized the stigma that surrounds infertility. People are scared to talk about it openly for fear of judgment, criticism and the lack of knowledge that most people possess on the subject. If I had a $100 for every time I heard, “Just relax,” or, “it will happen when it’s supposed to,” I would be rich! Looking back now, I don’t blame those people. They are simply uneducated as was I before I made it into the club. Infertility is a condition that affects so many men and women and the more we talk about it the more awareness we can bring to the topic. And maybe if we’re really lucky one day all 50 states will mandate insurance coverage for infertility instead of only 15.

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. I encourage you all to join the movement, #StartAsking and educate yourself. You never know if you and your spouse will become a member of the club one day.  

For more information on infertility please visit: http://www.resolve.org/

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If At First You Don’t Succeed… Try Weird S***

We’ve all heard the saying, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!” While I agree that one should never give up on their dreams sometimes those failed attempts can lead to insanity. My good buddy Al (as in Albert Einstein) did say, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” There I was doing the same thing month after month: pee sticks and meds and crying, repeat. After a very disappointing March and a failed IUI procedure I was certain I’d need to be committed to an institution soon.

Then I did what I do best when I needed solid advice… I Googled! I searched and searched for natural alternative methods to conceive and started making my list of the things I would consider trying. At this point, if someone told me I would get pregnant if I just stood on my head in a crowd full of people, spun around 10 times all while singing Broadway show tunes from Wicked, Annie and Grease, I’d say, “Pass me the mic and watch me twirl!” I mean desperate times call for desperate measures.

As I compiled my list of alternative methods I realized two things: 1.) people are crazy and 2.) people are really crazy. People believe whatever they read on the internet (pot calling the kettle black right here). The amount of crap I found on the internet about natural methods to help you conceive really blew my mind. Page after page of “how to get pregnant for dummies.” Everything from eating certain foods to specific positions, it was all there for any Somber Sally like me to read and begin to obsess over. I have never thought I would even consider this whole “hippie” route, but there I was considering.

Here is the short list of the things I actually thought MIGHT work and that I would really consider trying:

– Acupuncture
– Removing toxins from your body like caffeine and alcohol (I know I can’t believe I even considered this one)
– Nutrition and vitamins
– Chiropractic treatments

Now I know what you’re all thinking, how the hell is this chick going to give up booze and caffeine? And the answer to that is I have no freaking clue, but I figure I better try since I’ll have to do it for at least 9 months when I eventually get pregnant. And I’m happy to say that I’m so far, pretty successful. And to my shock, giving up the alcohol and my daily glass of wine wasn’t the hardest part. The hardest part was cutting back on the caffeine and my 3 cups of coffee at work to keep me from killing people every morning.

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I had already cut out my beloved Dr. Pepper before Christmas and had only slipped up on a couple of occasions. And I’m happy to say that I have cut back on my coffee significantly. Right now I’m only drinking 1 cup a day if I have one at all. I really think it’s more about having that cup as a part of my morning work routine. So if you’ve been fortunate enough to come across The Beast (me) on one of those coffee-less mornings, I apologize. But hey, I’m adjusting.

The next natural method I decided to try was acupuncture. To be honest while I had read the most success stories with this method I was scared s***less to be stuck with those needles. I mentioned it to my directors (who both had fertility issues and I frequently chat with them about everything) and one of them said she actually did acupuncture at a place about 10 min from work. She gave me the info and I looked them up and set my first appointment about 2 weeks ago on my lunch break. I thought I would chicken out, but I didn’t. I got to the appointment and chatted with the therapist about what I was doing there. Then he told me about all the ways acupuncture relieves stress which can in turn help women conceive.

After our chat he got me setup in my recliner. These chairs were awesome! Heated and massaging and I was immediately relaxed… or maybe it was the soothing Enya music they had playing in the background. I told him I was going to plug in my headphones and close my eyes. I figured it would be better for me and the other people receiving treatments around me I they didn’t hear me cuss every time he stuck me with a needle. A few pricks here and a few pricks there and he tapped me on the shoulder and said he’d be back in 45 min to remove them. So there I sat with a bunch of needles hanging out of different parts of my body. I tried to relax and focus on my mediation podcast, but it was hard. I don’t do well with sitting alone with just my thoughts. My mind raced. After everything we’ve been through, would this $20 therapy give us a baby? Do I really believe in this crap? How clean is this? What shoes am I going to wear on Easter Sunday? You know… all the really important life altering questions. Finally my 45 minutes was up and he came back in to remove the needles. He said we would work out a plan specific for me and time it with my next IUI procedure so that my mind and body were in the optimal state for conceiving. I left and thought, what the heck did I just do? The whole process was weird. I did enjoy my time in the recliner on my lunch break. I’m considering just going back and seeing if I could not do the whole needle part and just sleep in their chair for an hour.

At this point I wasn’t sure if I would continue this alternative method, but I was really glad I tried. For the first time in this whole process I felt like I was actually somewhat in control over what was happening with my body. I felt like I was making changes that could potentially help get me pregnant. Maybe it was just a placebo effect. Maybe it’s all a bunch of crap, but I was finally feeling a little bit of peace with our situation. For the first time in a long time, I felt calm and in control. And that was a really, really good feeling.

So for now I’m just trying to continue this whole Zen state of mind, getting ready to start my next round of clomid (a higher dosage this month so please pray for my husband and our marriage) and then preparing for IUI round two.