Now that I’m “out of the closet” about our troubles conceiving, I thought I’d give you a few tips about things that are not very helpful to say so we can avoid awkward conversations later. You’ve been warned, so I can’t promise you won’t come to bodily harm if I’m hormotional and you say one of these things 😉
(1) JUST RELAX/DON’T THINK ABOUT IT
I know. Everyone has a friend with a cousin whose boyfriend’s sister’s coworker’s wife got pregnant the minute they just relaxed! When it comes to infertility those scenarios are the exception not the rule. You see, as much as I wish it would, taking a vacation won’t suddenly whip my ovaries into shape and get them to stop producing excess follicles that never mature into eggs. I need a doctor and lots of different hormones to do that.
Not thinking about it isn’t really an option either. I’ll outline a typical treatment cycle to help you understand why this is so.
- On cycle day (CD) 3, I go in for an ultrasound to make sure I don’t have any cysts or polyps. If all is clear, I start a round of clomid that lasts from CD3 to CD7.
- Five days later, on CD12, I go back to the clinic for an ultrasound and blood draw. The ultrasound helps my doctor visualize my ovaries and see if there are any follicles maturing. The blood draw helps confirm the ultrasound findings — they check to make sure my hormone levels back up what they’re seeing on the screen. I have to go back every other day until I have at least one mature follicle. Sometimes I’ll go in up to 6 times because my body refuses to cooperate. It’s invasive, uncomfortable, and terribly frustrating.
- Whenever the ultrasound and blood draw confirm the presence of at least one mature follicle, I’m given the go-ahead to trigger ovulation. This involves giving myself a shot of hCG in the stomach. I’m covered in tattoos, so you know needles aren’t an issue for me; but it’s one thing to sit down and have someone stab you with needles, and quite an entirely different thing to have to do it to yourself. I digress … back to the hCG. In case you didn’t know, hCG is the pregnancy hormone. For one reason or another it helps trigger ovulation. Once I give myself the injection, I know I’ll ovulate in 36 hours. I get terrible side effects from the shot — you can literally time my mental breakdown (20-24 hours after administration). Starting 36 hours after administration, I’ll experience mild ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome (OHSS) for a few days.
- After ovulation I start taking progesterone and estrogen twice daily in hopes that if there’s a baby in there it’ll stick. I take these until pregnancy is confirmed/denied. If confirmed, I’d continue to take them for 8-10 weeks. If denied, I stop taking them. Those hormones come with their own long list of side effects, including hot flashes, night sweats, vivid dreams, and eating all my feelings. Glamorous, yes?
- After ovulation comes the waiting. 14 days of it. 14 days of symptom spotting. 14 days of wishing, hoping, praying. 14 days of convincing myself that I must be pregnant because I craved milk that one time, then telling myself I’m obviously not pregnant because wouldn’t I have felt nauseous by now?
- Then the 14th day arrives, and it’s time to go back to the clinic. Another blood draw to check hCG levels, generally referred to as a beta. After the blood draw it’s time to wait anxiously for the phone call with my results. Usually Andrew will spend the day with me — we’ll get some lunch, go to a movie, anything to take our minds off of the waiting. And inevitably the results come, and they’re negative. So we’re back to square one and the entire process starts all over again.
So you see … simply relaxing won’t change the fact that my body doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to, and not thinking about it isn’t humanly possible. And the process only becomes more involved the further along you go with infertility treatments. Clearly I’m a sucker for punishment since I’m just not willing to stop.
If you’d like to help us save for our next round of infertility treatments, you can make a donation to firstname.lastname@example.org via Paypal (or in person if you’d prefer).