Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Hi, I'm Still Infertile, But...

Author's Note: This is a long-overdue follow up to this post I wrote back in 2015, a personal update, and includes a modified version of a short speech I gave at the We Brave Women Lecture Series. If you live in Utah, I highly recommend you check it out.

Seven years ago now, I was engaged. I got on birth control to assuage my fiancé's fears of fatherhood on the promise that soon we would start trying. A few months afterwards, I stopped taking birth control, and my nervous husband sort of shrugged, saying at least he'd have at least nine months to get used to the idea.

Six years ago, I started asking friends for OB recommendations. I was still not pregnant, I was devastated, and I knew something was wrong with me. I had been reading a blogger whose infertility issue was solved with one simple pill. I believed I had the same problem and that if I could see a doctor and get the same pill I'd be pregnant within a month or two. By the time I could schedule an appointment, I had been trying for ten months, complete with charts, thermometers, and ovulation predictor kits. Despite my pleas, he insisted I wait until the year mark to start testing. I was so hurt by his callous response that I didn't see a doctor again for a year.

Five years ago, I went to the Student Health Center at BYU - Idaho, ready to ask questions again. The first thing the doctor asked me was why I had waited so long to come in--nearly two years is more than enough time to establish infertility as an issue. Sigh. Christmas break was rapidly approaching, so I left with an order for a semen analysis and the doctor promising to send information on blood tests. A few months later, I had to call and harass the lab to get the semen analysis results since I never heard back.

Four years ago, I was trying to get through my final semester of school and trying not to let the passage of time get to me. I was doing my student teaching in Las Vegas and looking forward to full-time employment, insurance coverage, and answers. A few months later I graduated, and we moved to Utah. We had good jobs, but neither offered coverage for infertility treatments or testing.

Three years ago, a friend's mom called to check up on me. She asked if I'd heard of a reproductive endocrinologist. This was the first time I heard anything about infertility doctors beyond OBGYNs with a lot of experience. She gave me a phone number. I held onto it for 5 months before making the call. I was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome on my second visit and then was given the bad news--there was no magic fix.  Our only path to biological parenthood was in vitro fertilization. I sobbed, and then I found a support group.

Two years ago, with help from family and a couple of friends, we had saved up enough money to embark on our first round of IVF. I hoped it would be our only round. I was wrong. The day we learned it failed, we had gotten up early to get my blood drawn as soon as possible. It took them nearly 5 hours to call and deliver the bad news. I could hear it in the nurse's voice as soon as she asked for me. Quoth my husband, "Why does it feel like someone died?"

One year ago, we heard about a study, the kind that comes around rarely--it would cover the full cost of IVF including medications. I immediately reached out to the closest participating clinic. We were told that we fit the parameters required to be included, so you can imagine how devastated we felt when this amazing opportunity was a complete bust. Six eggs, none mature enough to fertilize.

Two months ago I emailed the nurse I had worked with on the study and asked when was the soonest I could try IVF again. As luck would have it, the doctor I had worked with the year before was about to start a "batch" (a group of women doing IVF cycles at the same time). I told her I was in.

Three weeks ago I was at lunch when the nurse left the most wonderful voicemail.

Two weeks ago I saw my insides and the tiny sac where my proto-fetus lives.

Today I heard a heartbeat and I fell in love.