For part I of my infertility story, click here.
Let me set the scene for you. I had just finished graduate school, and I was psyched and ready to start my new career as a clinical social worker. I had also recently gotten engaged, so I was planning my upcoming wedding. You would think there was enough to occupy my mind, but the question, “Am I gonna be able to get pregnant?” crept into my thoughts on a daily basis.
Logistically, we weren’t ready for a baby. It was also pretty early in our relationship. I knew in my gut that it was a little too soon to introduce a tiny human into the mix. But my emotional and far-less-rational mind was louder than my rational mind. It was like an itch I just had to scratch. So I decided I would start tracking my irregular cycles so I would be prepped and ready for go time. (Let’s not forget about that part of me that felt like being a late bloomer and experiencing years of irregular periods meant I was broken and needed to be fixed.)
Like any good student, I started with research. I read books and articles. I learned how to track ovulation. Armed with ovulation predictor pee strips (thank you, Amazon, for allowing me to buy in bulk for cheap), a basal temp thermometer, a period tracking app, all while checking on my cervical fluid situation every day (and that’s all I’m gonna say about that), I was gonna figure this out. Since I was getting my period every 40 to 60 days, the process was tedious. I continued to stay focused and determined, because I wasn’t broken and I was going to prove it!
I had visited my OB and expressed my concerns about my irregular periods affecting my fertility. She shrugged, smiled, and gave me the “you’re young, don’t worry” speech. She ran thyroid, progesterone, and some other tests, and everything checked out “normal.” I went on my merry (miserable) way and continued to track my cycles.
And then I got my first positive ovulation test! Yea, baby! I was psyched. Maybe things down there were working. Against the better judgement of my rational mind, I did the exact opposite of abstain. I knew now was not the time to get pregnant, with a new career and a wedding in a few months, but I couldn’t help myself. I even saw a temperature spike on my ovulation chart, which meant ovulation occurred. Yea, baby! We were in business!
Four days later the word “pregnant” stared back at me on the digital test. Ecstatic! Four days after that, I got my period. Devastated.
My OB said I had a chemical pregnancy. She told me this was good news, because it showed I could actually get pregnant. I mourned for a couple of days but was able to see the positive in the situation. I continued to track my cycles like a madwoman, and we moved quickly from “tracking” to “trying,” even though the timing was less than ideal. It was like a freight train. Full. Speed. Ahead. I couldn’t stop, even if I wanted to.
Over the next year I experienced three more chemical pregnancies. I was told that’s pretty common. I was told that most women experience chemical pregnancies but don’t know it because they aren’t testing themselves. Since I was tracking my body’s hormonal moves like a crazy person, I would start testing for pregnancy eight days after I ovulated. Eight days! I would test every day until I got a positive test or my period. I would look at the pee strip in the lighting of every room in the house, just in case. These days were full of hope and excitement. But every day that went by without a positive test, I would become more and more disappointed. Disappointment turned into anger. Anger turned into depression. Depression turned back into anger. That, combined with the regular PMS symptoms… ugh, my poor husband.
Every month when I got my period, I would cry, eat a big calzone, yell at my husband, wallow for a few days on the couch, and eventually put on my big girl panties and look ahead to the next month. I put one foot in front of the other. Deep down, I felt more broken after every passing month.
After going through this miserable cycle of calzone-eating and husband-yelling for a year, I was referred to a fertility specialist. Since I was 35 and considered “old” in the world of baby-making, one year of trying with no pregnancy is considered infertility.
INFERTILITY? The diagnosis stung a bit, but at least someone was taking the situation as seriously as I was. If one more person said, “You’re young, you have plenty of time,” or, “It’ll happen when it’s supposed to,” or, “Stop stressing, you’re making it worse,” I was gonna punch them in the face. Twice.
Stay tuned for Part III, where I’ll share my fertility test results, fertility treatments, how I started to heal, and what happened when I finally got pregnant.