I was recently approached by my dear friend Sarah (name changed for privacy reasons) about possibly guest posting as a source of therapy, to help her cope with the battle to conceive that she has been fighting for over a year now.
She’s not my first friend to struggle with this, and I know she won’t be the last— and that’s why I considered her proposal so incredibly important to showcase on this blog.
We as women are raised to believe that having children of our own is our sole purpose on this earth, so imagine the paralyzing feeling that comes with not being able to immediately (or ever) produce a child of our own.
That needs to change. We need to change the way we look at women. The way we look at making babies, and pregnancy, and carrying a child to term. And the best way to do that, is to talk about it.
So I am very excited to bring you “Fertility Fridays”, where Sarah will be sharing her story with all of us, bearing her soul, and shedding light on the truth about what it means to struggle to conceive.
I hope you will all embrace her, and this series, with open arms. And I pray that it helps any of you who may be currently struggling as well, to remember that you are not alone.
Baby Not On Board
I’ve always wondered what those “Baby on Board” signs mean. Are you thinking I’ll let you cut me off because you have a “baby on board”? Or perhaps you think I won’t purposely ram my car into yours because you have a “baby on board” and a yellow sticker to prove it! (By the way, if someone can tell me what those signs actually mean I’d greatly appreciate it). Nowadays, though, I see Mom’s and Dad’s driving around with those yellow signs on their cars and I’m brutally reminded of my reality: Baby Not on Board. Baby not in the backseat, or the front seat, or even the trunk. My baby is currently nowhere to be found except in my dreams.
You see, my fiancé and I have been trying to conceive for one year now and it’s just not happening so we sought out the help of a reproductive endocrinologist to begin fertility treatments in May, 2015. My Pilates instructor referred me to the doctor she and her husband have been seeing so off we went to our first appointment. My stomach was in a knot and my anxiety level was through the roof while we sat in the waiting room. Our doctor, Dr. A, consulted with us for an hour in her office and asked us numerous questions (not all of which I answered honestly, but more on that in another chapter) and then drew us a diagram which explained the monthly cycle for women, and when the optimal time was to conceive. She made it seem both challenging, yet simple at the same time. After blood work and a vaginal ultrasound to check my follicle count and for cysts she sent us home with a prescription for prenatal vitamins and a handful of paperwork to read. I was filled with immense hope after our first appointment! She reassured us that in the fertility world I’m actually considered a “baby” at 35 years old (trust me, the irony of that comment wasn’t lost on me!) and that we’d be in good hands. I was to call the office on day 1 of my next period and go in on day 3 for more labs and another ultrasound. In the meantime James* (name has been changed) and I were to do our homework, which is code for have sex ☺
Day 1 of my cycle rolled around about two weeks after my consult so I went in for my labs and ultrasound and since everything looked normal, she gave me a prescription for Clomid to help me ovulate better. The Clomid began on day 5 of my cycle and from this point on I’d come to rely on monthly calendars to keep track of what days to take meds, when to have labs done, and when to have ultrasounds. I also had to take daily ovulation tests during the time of the month we thought I’d be ovulating and homework frequency was to be amped up during my peak fertility days. I soon realized “homework” was going to become contrived and almost clinical in a sense and that is obviously one of the LAST things you want when trying to conceive, right??? My ovaries appeared to be responding fairly well to month one on Clomid and I had a follicle count of 9-10. Things were looking good! I did my ovulation tests religiously and James and I tried to be creative while doing our homework so things didn’t get boring.
I’ve always considered myself a bit of an over-achiever and I naively thought conceiving a baby would be an effortless task for someone like me. Boy, was I wrong. We were anxiously counting the days to when my period was scheduled to start and praying this would be the month it wouldn’t arrive. James would lovingly rub my belly and talk to it as if we were willing there to be embryo growing inside me. When I woke up at 1:30am with insane cramps three days before I was to start my period, I knew this would once again not be our month. I got up to use the restroom and sure enough my period had arrived. When I got back into bed and told James he hugged me to him and said, “I’m sorry, my love, but don’t worry. The doctors just gave someone we know a double lung transplant. They’ll surely be able to help give us a baby.” I was especially thankful for his optimism in that moment because I already felt my head and heart slipping into an abyss of doubt, disappointment, sadness, and negativity. When I woke up I was still disappointed, but called Dr. A and made my appointment to go in on day 3 and start the process all over. This time she increased the Clomid because my progesterone levels the month before were very low. Once again I relied on my handy calendar to keep me on schedule and I tried my hardest to remain positive and as stress-free as possible because Dr. A told me from day one the damaging effects stress has on fertility success. Now, if you knew me you’d understand how it’s nearly impossible for a Type-A, perfectionist such as myself to remain stress free. Between working 50+ hours a week, raising our two 6-month old puppies, tending to a house, AND planning a wedding, well, stress and I are sympatico to say the least! But I did try. I swear. Well, I kind of tried, but stress still ended up getting the best of me more times than it should. Nonetheless, I carried on and followed all other directions like an ideal patient would. I peed on ovulation test sticks when I was supposed to – sometimes even twice a day like any over-achiever would – and had sex with James like an amateur porn star. Surely this was going to be our month. The nightly routine of James rubbing and talking to my belly continued and it filled my heart with so much love and hope hearing his sweet prayers to our imaginary baby. My eyes regularly filled with tears when he’d do this because all I could imagine was him holding our baby for the first time. I kept these visions in my head as often as possible because it helped me to keep the faith. The days went by and we were nearing my next anticipated period. 5, 4, 3, 2…..Two days before my period was scheduled to start, it arrived and this time I sobbed. Even worse, I got angry and this would be an emotion that would only continue to increase as our journey continued….