|Does anyone else think It's a Small World is a total snooze?|
Infertility straps you into a crazy roller coaster ride of emotions. A really long one with big ups and downs. I think it is hard to understand if you haven't been on this ride before. So...
I thought I would share an abbreviated (although still quite long) version of my ride for those seeking to understand (maybe to support a friend or loved one--maybe me!) or to compare if you are on the ride yourself. I write in the "you" voice to maybe help you imagine better for yourself.
I would love to hear if anyone has had a similar experience of if these feelings are exclusively my own.
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In real life, I like roller coasters. But after a long day of amusement park rides, I find myself home in bed with my room spinning and feeling like I never stepped off those crazy loop-d-loop rides or spinning cars. Infertility is a bit like this. Sometimes you wonder if the ride you are on is even real. Are you just imagining it? Could something really be wrong with the body you always thought was so healthy? Are you sure it isn't just timing or stress or (fill in the blank)?
The decision to try to get pregnant is a hard one. You feel nervous. Is it the right time? How will you make it work? How will it change your life? You are nervous but also excited. It seems like the right time. You feel ready to be a parent, and more importantly, your spouse would be fantastic at it. You expect to get pregnant right away. You stock up on pre-natal vitamins, and actually take them. You are almost nervous thinking it could happen so fast.
Then it doesn't.
Each month you start by waiting (anyone who has been to Disneyland knows this is a big part of the experience of an amusement park). You wait patiently (or maybe not), telling yourself this may be the month. You may even start feeling symptoms (I'm not feeling very good, is that early onset morning sickness? My chest hurts, was that from lifting at the gym or am I pregnant?) and you start to get your hopes up. Finally, about a day before you should know on your own, you break open that package of pregnancy tests. You know, one of many stashed in the cupboard. This time you hope it will be the last and you will have to figure out what to do with the rest that are no longer useful. You nervously take the test and wait the 3 minutes, and then the 10 (just in case). You wonder how you will tell your significant other the good news. And then you start to talk yourself down. "No, it isn't going to be this month. Why would it?" And sure enough, you throw the test in the trash. You casually tell your spouse sometime over the next few days, "Oh, yeah, the pregnancy test was negative."
At first you are disappointed. It is hard to wait another month but you remain optimistic. After months of this, it becomes normal to throw the test in the trash and continue with your day with only a few moments of reflection on the associated frustration, disappointment, or sadness.
And then maybe you start to feel relieved. At least I did...You try to convince yourself how it just "isn't the right time." You tell yourself you like your life as it is and surely a baby would complicate the matter. Vacations would be hard. Money would become more scarce. Your body will change and that is a little scary. There are question marks about how to make "it work" when a baby finally comes. So, for now, waiting one more month wont hurt. Just that much more time for you (the highly lauded "me time") and to prepare.
When the time is right, you finally seek help from your doctor. They start by doing an ultrasound to check your anatomy. It isn't the fun kind when you are pregnant and they rub the cold jelly on your belly and you get to see the present inside. Unfortunately, it is a little more personal than that. You start to feel a bit like this is real as you lie half exposed in the cold room. This hard time getting pregnant maybe is no joke. Maybe something is wrong.
And then you start the medications. Just a little pill, clomid. Except they want you to start taking some other medications to make sure all of your hormones are even. Suddenly you are on metformin (usually used for diabetics) and synthroid (used in low thyroid patients). You feel sick nauseated almost every day and vomit multiple times a week on these new medications. People start to notice and start asking you if you are pregnant, when the baby is due, have you thought if you are pregnant?
And the clomid, it makes you a little crazy. You might cry at work in front of your co-workers when they tell you they added a patient on to your schedule suddenly. You feel embarrassed and like a crazy person. You don't want them to think you are emotionally unstable but you also aren't really telling people you are on medications or trying to get pregnant. It is still early on and maybe you shouldn't tell co-workers because then they will know you are trying to get pregnant and get worried about how you will handle your work.
And you start the cycle again. Except now you are hopeful. This medication has helped lots of women get pregnant-- and sometimes with multiples (which makes you a little nervous). Instead of the home test, you start having blood draws every few weeks (great when you are a needle phobic person like me). You are disappointed as you review the results and find you still haven't ovulated. They increase the medications slowly, month by month. You try to be patient as time ticks by. Even though you are trying to take it all in stride, on top of it all you are frustrated by the side effects of your condition which includes horrible acne and increased body hair. On top of your frustration, you feel embarrassed and ugly and you worry it has permanent effects like scars. You are told there are two options to treat these conditions: 1. birth control pills or 2. pregnancy. Neither seem to be a viable option.
They may even switch medications. And after months, they decide this just doesn't seem to be working. (At least you aren't vomiting anymore.) The disappointment becomes even more real each month as the treatments that were supposed to make this happen don't seem to work. You start wondering what comes next. You start worrying about what comes next because it seems like a big deal.
You are finally told that in order to get pregnant you will need more invasive procedures. They could start with injections that could put you at risk for ovulating something like 8 eggs. If you do this, you can't get pregnant or you could have 8 babies. Or, you can go ahead with in vitro fertilization.
You never thought you would have to be one of the ones who did that! That is what other people that get whispered about ("Oh, so and so had to do IVF -- but now she has twins!") go through, not you. Surely you don't have to go through all of that craziness!
But, looks like you do. If you want to get pregnant. You realize IVF is no joke. It takes weeks and includes multiple medications and costs thousands of dollars.
You wonder if you even really want a baby. You ask yourself, "Do I want a baby at $25,000?" Or would I just prefer a new car? It is a funny question to ask, and you know the answer but...
Suddenly this feels real.
And you realize maybe you just need a break from it all. What a relief when your doctor suggests you go back on birth control for awhile.
You know you are taking a step backwards but you are relieved to step off the ride for awhile. All of the spinning and adrenaline, ups and downs, and nausea have taken its toll. You know you have the multi-day admission and will be coming back, but for now heading to bed to sleep it off sounds pretty good!