Looking back on my previous decades of life, I have decided that personally and as a society, we readily take the ‘steps in life’ for granted. We are born, grow up, go to college, get married and have a family. I know I assumed that when my husband and I wanted to start a family it would come to us quickly and easily. Oh, how I was wrong. A journey that is supposed to be a fun, spontaneous and energetic between two people in love, quickly resulted in the biggest battle we had to face together. We start our journey, in this series “Everything No One Tells You” here, because there are SO many couples out there suffering from what sometimes feels like a shameful disease. In the United states alone, there are more then 6.7 million couples (about 2 in every 10) who face some kind of fertility issues (CDC.gov). That is not meant to scare those of you who are about to start this amazing journey, but instead to give you comfort that you are not alone.
I sure felt alone in my 7 year journey to parenthood; Partial Complex Epilepsy, clomid, intra-uterine insemination, gonadotropin injections, in-vitro fertilization, multiple miscarriage. I felt alone, embarrassed, frustrated, depressed and useless- among many other hormone induced emotions. My Husband became married to Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde – unpredictability became the norm in our household.
For clarification purposes it is important that you know the generalization for infertility is “not being able to get pregnant after 1 year of trying or 6 months if the woman is 35 or older. Woman who can get pregnant but are unable to stay pregnant” (medicine.net).
So how did it all begin? Well, since I had been diagnosed with Partial Complex Epilepsy (due to doctor error in prescription medication I had been given), I was actually told I should not get pregnant because the stress of pregnancy may induce a seizure. We tried to start a family for 2 years before beginning seizure medications and then after one of the worst seizures I had we decided to call it quits for the baby making stuff and get my health and well being in order first.
Fast Forward 2 years – I had just weaned myself off Kepler and Lamictal, which I had been taking to address the seizures, only to discover that a common side effect with these types of medications was amenorrhea. Right out of the gate, we faced our first challenge in fertility. In short, I stopped all seizure medications, got a ‘normal’ cycle going and still, 2 years later…..nothing. No pregnancy, no inkling of a pregnancy…nothing. My Prince and I decided it was time to get help. Well, lets face it ladies, we decide when it is time to get help because most men have too much pride to ask for help, ever….even if it is 2 am, you are lost with no cell phone signal and you hit a deer so badly your car won’t start….
So, at my physical that year I asked for a referral to a fertility specialist. We made our ‘consult’ appointment and began what I felt at the time, was an embarrassing and shameful, journey to parenthood. My Prince and I both met with the fertility doctor, Dr. O, no pun intended. No, I am not kidding. His office was a fancy corner office, with wall to wall windows. His office space that wasn’t transparent was covered in awards, certifications and degrees. He seemed like a wonderful candidate, professionally, to get us pregnant – right? We sat there, red-faced, as he asked us questions we were not prepared for. He probed for information on our ‘romantic life’ to include frequency, positioning, locations etc. No joke…it felt like my father was interviewing me which made it more awkward and uncomfortable. This setting was NOT helping the shame I felt walking into this clinic.
After a lip biting hour he discussed tests we must go through in order to pinpoint what was going wrong. I distinctly remember having an out of body experience during this portion of the consult. Dr. O was rambling on about the different tests we needed and I only heard words here and there; x-ray, water, histogram, dye in the ovaries, catheter, internal ultrasound etc. I had no clue what any of this meant but I kept nodding as if I were in a job interview I knew I wasn’t qualified for.
I was terrified.
The thought of adoption came to mind.
When my mind and body eventually reunited, Dr. O asked me to give blood work as a baseline for comparison throughout this process. He also told my husband they would need a sample from him. No, not a blood sample, and yes, a story for another blog post.
Our journey had officially begun with the Fertility Specialists. We made necessary appointments and were silenced by fear the entire 50 minute drive home.
Next Blog Post: Routine Fertility Testing for Men and Woman