This week is National Infertility Awareness Week…I considered not even acknowledging this on the blog. Frankly, the last few weeks have been incredibly difficult. I’m physically and emotionally exhausted and in many ways I’m very tired of infertility monopolizing so much of my life. But the fact that there needs to be a week dedicated to awareness reminds me that there is just not enough information about infertility out there and I have the opportunity through this blog to help with that…so here goes it.
The easiest way (thanks to my obsession with an overly organized planner) is to give you all a brief timeline of our infertility:
Sunday, February 2, 2014: It’s my 27th birthday! Dan and I have been married for a little less than 6 months, we decide to casually start trying for a baby.
Thursday, January 8, 2015: I go to my OB-GYN for my annual check-up and casually mention Dan and I have been trying naturally to conceive for about a year. She encourages me to try for a few more months. She offers to send me for prenatal genetic screening now, I happily comply.
Tuesday, February 3, 2015: My bloodwork is back… I screen as a carrier for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA).
Monday, March 2, 2015: Dan’s bloodwork is back… he is also a carrier for SMA. My physician arranges for us to meet with a genetic counselor… she recommends I meet with a fertility specialist. She says IVF for the first time.
Thursday, March 11, 2015: We meet with a genetic counselor.
Monday, March 30, 2015: We meet with a second genetic counselor.
Thursday, April 2, 2015: I meet with my OB-GYN. We discuss all the options. She tells me the name of the fertility specialist she’d like us to go to, I agree and she makes the referral.
Thursday, May 7, 2015: Dan and I attend an IVF seminar
Thursday, May 14, 2015: We meet our fertility specialist for the first time. He advises we pursue IVF with PGD. He tells us how lucky we are to have SMA (see previous post). He tells us he doesn’t believe we will ever conceive ‘naturally’.
Saturday, June 6, 2015: I go for my first (of countless) morning blood draws. It’s the first time I realize how crowded our fertility centers waiting room is. (Even on Saturday).
Wednesday, June 10, 2015: Dan and I go for our first (of countless) ultrasounds.
Wednesday, July 15, 2015: I have my first phone interview with the genetic counselor from the lab that will eventually carry out the PGD testing on our embryos. We talk for 1 hour, I take 12 pages of notes, cry 4 times and hang up feeling overwhelmed.
July…August…September pass… we wait… and wait… and wait. There’s more bloodwork, doctor’s appointments and phone calls. We work with laboratories in Washington, California and New Jersey… our DNA travels across the country. There are complications and delays, issues with samples and insurance… and waiting. Always lots of waiting.
Tuesday, October 20, 2015: We get the call we’ve been waiting for… our DNA sequence for the PGD is finally complete. I can start hormones for our 1st IVF cycle.
Tuesday, November 17, 2015: I start hormones for our stimulated cycle. (12 days of torture)
Monday, November 23, 2015: I have another hour long phone conversation with our PGD genetic counselor. We discuss every single detail of the testing of our embryos DNA.
Sunday, November 29, 2015: We have my egg retrieval at 9 am. 15 mature eggs are retrieved.
Monday, November 30, 2015: We have 13 embryos.
Saturday, December 5, 2015: We have 4 embryos.
Wednesday, December 30, 2015: We have 1 embryo.
Friday, January 8, 2016: I start a new regime of hormones for future transfer. (2 months of torture)
Friday, March 4, 2016: Embryo transfer day
Sunday, March 13, 2016: WE’RE PREGNANT!!!
Friday, April 1, 2016: 7 week ultrasound… no heartbeat. We have lost the pregnancy.
Wednesday, April 6, 2016: I begin the physical miscarriage.
Tuesday, April 26, 2016: My HCG hormone is finally back to zero…from a medical standpoint my ‘natural’ miscarriage is officially complete… it took 20 days…
Today: We wait. We’re still trying to find a ‘cause’ for the miscarriage… there’s blood work, biopsies and exams in our future. There are a lot of questions and not enough answers.
This timeline explains the ‘medical’ side of infertility… but that’s not even half the battle…
It doesn’t include the number of times I’ve cried in the shower so Dan doesn’t hear.
It doesn’t include the number of pregnancy announcements I’ve scrolled past on social media that genuinely make my heart ache.
It doesn’t include the number of bruises on my stomach or IV sticks in my arm.
It doesn’t include the number of pregnancy test I’ve taken that came back with only 1 pink line. Or the sadness I feel every time I open the drawer in my bathroom that still has the pregnancy test I took that had 2.
It doesn’t include the number of times my nurse has called me at work and I’ve hidden in the corner of an empty patients room and cried.
It doesn’t include the number of hormone induced fights I’ve picked with my husband about everything from laundry to dirty dishes to sushi.
It doesn’t include the number of people in my life who I’ve pushed away because infertility is the name of our island and no one else understands what it’s like here…or how much I hated myself for resenting them for not being here with us…or how every day I imagine a life on some different, happier, less painful island.
This is a simple timeline, but there is nothing simple about infertility. It’s a life changing, devastating, physically, emotionally and mentally exhausting experience shared by 1 in 8 couples. Educate yourself. Educate the people you love. If you’re someone like me, be willing to share your story. If you’re someone who is lucky enough to not be on ‘Infertility Island’, ask questions. Be present for the people who are on said island.
Dan and I have been discussing a lot lately what our plans are for the future. We try imagining different lives for ourselves… one with children, one without children, one in Connecticut, one living in some beach town on the coast of somewhere beautiful. One life I will never be able to imagine is one without infertility… but with enough awareness, education and research someday, maybe, someone else will… maybe that someone will be your daughter… or better yet (no offense)…maybe she will be mine.