I promised myself I would share a little of our history thus far... where we have been, and how we came to this point in our lives.
My DH and I were college sweethearts, and married soon after graduating in 2002. We moved to the big city, and determined to focus on having fun and getting our lives 'together' for at least 3-5 years before we'd consider having children... We were excited to be DINKs (Double-Income, No Kids), and gave no thought to what the future might hold in store for us. In my mind, there was nothing to worry about --my older sister had already proven how very fertile she was several times over, so it never even occurred to me that we would not have the same ease of conceiving. ...sooo very naive and presumptuous of me.
The years passed, parents on both sides began giving us a hard time about grandbabies (who am I kidding--my mother started in on that before we'd barely made it down the aisle!), and we began joking around about the 'revolving door' of our 3-5 year plan, just to get them off our backs. In truth, we retired my birth control as an early Christmas present back in 2006--fully anticipating that we'd be expecting by my 28th birthday the following March. Boy, how wrong was I.
As time passed, I started noticing things...like the fact that my cycle had gone haywire within the first year off the pill. I'd go from 20-day cycles to a 45-day cycle...which is just long enough to completely mess with your head and send you through several packages of pregnancy tests -- all negative. The pre-pubescent acne that I had somehow managed to avoid as a teen came back and found me with a vengeance...and despite being MUCH nearer to my thirties than to my teens, suddenly I was fighting breakouts like I'd never experienced before; ones which were no longer responsive to my ususal facial cleansers. But the most disturbing trend I saw was my weight-- in the span of two years, I'd gained a not-insignificant amount of libbies, and found it near impossible to lose any of them. Even my DH, who had witnessed my healthier eating and 5-day-a-week workout regimen, would comment in surprise at how 'amazing' it was that I hadn't yet lost any weight. Amazing, my foot...more like 'shocking' for him and devastating to me. Clearly, the time had come to seek out professional help. And so I did.
In the 2nd year of TTC, I caved and went in to my ob/gyn. Clearly, they had no idea what to do with women who could not conceive. I was put through all the normal tests, diagnosed with PCOS (the real cause behind my erratic cycles, acne, and sudden weight issues that had never plagued me while on the pill and which, looking back, I could distinguish as a problem since I was 15), and put on metformin. It seems that PCOS also meant that I did not regularly ovulate---making pregnancy altogether unlikely without some medicated help. Based on this, the Dr prescribed 3 months of Clomid with TI (timed intercourse), unmonitored. It goes without saying, that we had no success.
After that, my ob/gyn really didn't know what to do with me, and upgraded to the Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) at the Big City Hospital in our area. We were nervous, but also excited to meet with a specialist who wouldn't be so perplexed by my lack of fertility. I was made to go through more tests and consultations with the drs there, and again, it was recommended that I do 6 months of additional "natural" IUI (intra-uterine insemnination, aka the 'turkey baster method' -- but done naturally, with Timed Intercourse in place of the actual IUI procedure), which meant more Clomid--but this time with monitoring. For those unfamiliar with the world of RE, 'monitoring' loosely translates to early-morning appointments (requiring me to get up an hour and a half early so that I could be back to work on-time), vaginal ultrasounds (what I would soon refer to as my Electronic Lover) on specific days of your cycle to monitor the 'progress' of your follicles (which develop into eggs), unfeeling, power-hungry nurses, and distant, unfriendly ultrasound techs. There were the side-effects to deal with from the Clomid, too... I have never felt so uncontrollably emotional and on edge in my life. Poor DH! I can't say it was easy for him, either....all the hormone-induced emotional breakdowns, and the very unromantic scheduling of our formerly spontaneous love life.
Nothing came from our efforts with the Big City Hosptial RE in the end... 6 natural IUI's with Clomid and TI, and 2 real IUI's with femara (another form of Clomid). No luck.
Emotionally, the course of the year seems to bring a perfect dichotomy of feeling, between increased resignation & lessening hope of ever realizing our dreams of a family. After 8 months of such an emotional rollercoaster, and with the holidays looming, we decided to take a break, and all ourselves time to relax and regroup after the new year.
Facing no other options but IVF (in vitro fertilization, otherwise known as the 'petri dish' method), we knew we were facing the Big Time: IVF was the last-resort procedure on our journey to have biological children of our own, and came with a hefty price tag: $12-15k per round. We also knew that IVF wasn't a guarantee--the success rate, while drastically better than my chance of conception on my own, was still only 50-60%...which meant we would most likely need to save up enough for more than one round.
We'd heard of something called a "shared risk" program, and found that it was similar to 'infertility insurance' --- you put x amount of money down, and were guaranteed x number of IVF rounds. They even had a "refund guarantee" 'rider' that would give you 70+% of your money back if you didn't conceive and bear a child under the program.
The only thing was, Big City Hospital didn't offer such a program. To stick with them meant not only more of the same horrible patient-care and inconvenience of their location, but also greater expenses than what we would pay elsewhere.
That decided it for us. That brings us to this year, 2010.
This year, we transferred to a different RE, one that had received glowing reviews from other fertilely-challenged friends of mine. We love the new dr, love the staff, and have loved our experience thus far with them. Unfortunately, luck is still holding out on us. Our first round of IVF was a fantastic failure. Really. ... we never even made it to a transfer. I had 59 measurable follicles--- my ovaries were so enlarged that the U/S tech said they were the size of oranges, and TOUCHING even.. But something went wrong with our trigger shot, and my beautiful little follies never released any eggs. We left the Egg Retrieval devestated, never envisioning that we could face that sort of letdown at that stage in the game.
So now we're trying to heal - emotionally, as well as physically, for me -- so that we can put the past behind us, prepare for the next round of treatment, and ready ourselves to dare to hope yet again.
IVF was tough in many ways -- so structured. Two weeks of this shot every morning at 7 am. Then add another shot at 9 pm on top of that for an additional two weeks. Combine that with monitoring appointments (at the new RE's office super-close by, thank God), and it's pretty time-intensive. But surprisingly, it wasn't altogether terrible... If only the end result of round #1 had been different...
Today I find myself praying an unlikely prayer...for my period to make its' appearance. Until it does, I'm stuck--unable to move forward with another round of IVF, or make plans for trips, or move forward with life in general... thus we wait. As the song goes, "the waiting is the hardest part." Tom Petty definitely got that right. The waiting is the most excruciating part of this whole process. Of infertility in general. You wait for your next appointment...the next stage in the process...the results of your bloodwork. For your period to come, or to not come. You wait to get another chance at the whole game. It's psychological and emotional torture.
But it's not more than I can bear. God does promise not to give us more than we can bear, and He is not a man that He should lie. I continue to trust that He knows what He's doing with our lives--that His plan is so much better than we could ever imagine--and that He has not give us this desire to have a family in vain. I know that He will continue to go before us in all things, and will hold us together. He has blessed me with a husband more dear to me than life, two puppies that act as a balm to my soul, and with an amazing family and friends. In all these things, my cup runneth over. How can I not trust Him with whatever our future holds? He allows me the strength to hope that our dream of a family will one day be realized. And I cannot give up on hope. What would be the alternative? A life of despair? No thank you. I'll risk my heart first, and pray for God to look down on us in favor, and hear our prayers.