It took me five years to get pregnant with Henry. I always knew it would be difficult for me to get pregnant. Even when I was young I just always sort of knew that having kids would be hard for me. I scheduled an appointment with a fertility doctor the very month I stopped using birth control and had my appointment four months later (this was back in my on-the-ball days, ha ha ha).
I remember my first fertility appointment so clearly, even though it was seven years ago. I was pretty clueless about infertility since I’d only been trying for a few months. I was nervous. I remember being worried that I would run into someone I knew. I remember sitting in the waiting room with several other infertile girls and couples and awkwardly no one looked up from their magazines and infertility pamphlets (no iPhones back then!). I remember my doctor’s white coat was dirty on the insides of his sleeves. I remember getting choked up talking about my infertility, even though I didn’t even really know I was infertile yet. I remember lying to him, telling him I’d been trying for longer than I had so he would take me seriously.
The doctor gave me clomid right away, which I hadn’t expected. When I went home with my clomid prescription I felt more anxiety than I did before the appointment. I went from trying to get pregnant to TRYING to get pregnant in an afternoon. It was exactly what I wanted, but for some reason hadn’t really expected to happen so quickly.
From the beginning we knew my problem was ovulation. I don’t ovulate. I have a good uterus and good eggs, I just don’t ovulate. This is one of the most mild of fertility problems, and one of the easiest to fix. I am very, very, very grateful for that. In infertility cases like mine, the process basically goes like this:
– You take drugs starting on a specific day of your cycle.
– You go to the doctor’s office multiple times throughout your cycle and they monitor you via vaginal ultrasound and/or blood work to see how your ovaries/uterus/eggs are reacting to the drugs. They increase/decrease your drugs based on what they see on the ultrasound.
– If your body reacts and ovulates you have a chance of getting pregnant (the old fashioned way or via an IUI), if not you wait for your next cycle and try a different combination of drugs to hopefully stimulate ovulation.
When I went to fill my prescription that evening I was surprised to be told that my insurance didn’t cover clomid. I was totally unaware of the huge cost of fertility. I had never thought about medical costs in my life so I had no idea that certain things were/weren’t covered (naive, I know). I had to pay $25 per pill. I remember standing there at the Walgreens on 3300 South in Salt Lake, wondering what the heck business I had spending that much on medicine. We were young newlyweds, Peter was in school and not working, and we were trying to save every penny we could because we knew we had business school in our future (five years in the future). I was hesitant about spending the money, but at the time I felt like starting a family would be worth $125 so I paid for my five pills. Little did I know that $125 would be a teeny, tiny drop in the bucket.
That first fertility cycle was simply the lowest dose of clomid. Nothing happened. The next month they doubled my dosage (which cost me $250 in medication) and nothing happened. In the following months, the pills increased every cycle, the frequency of appointments increased every cycle (every appointment cost $250 and I had multiple appointments per month), my anxiety increased every cycle and NOTHING HAPPENED.
When I say “nothing happened” I don’t mean that I didn’t get pregnant, I mean that my body didn’t even ovulate. I was spending all this time and money and I still hadn’t even had the chance to get pregnant.
This went on for months and months. Once I got to the highest dose of clomid they tried mixing in other drugs (some cheap, some expensive). Nothing happened. Then they mixed in injections, some that I did myself at home and some that I went to the doctor to have done (again, $250 each appointment and the shots were $40-$100 each). Nothing happened.
I dealt with the following side effects: blurred vision (which was especially worrisome because I spent two hours a day in my car commuting to work), hot flashes (like, whoa), breakouts, weight gain, headaches, night sweats, swollen face (not every day, just occasionally, but it was so bad some days that I had to work from home), and CRAZY (Peter called my pills “the crazy pills”). It was not fun. Actually, it was downright miserable.
Finally after about a year of pumping my body full of drugs and spending far too much time (and money!) at the fertility clinic, they finally found the right combination of drugs/injections and I ovulated! I didn’t get pregnant, but I ovulated! Finally, some progress. The next month we did the same thing, I ovulated, and we did our first IUI (which I think was about $300 for the procedure??).
I got pregnant! I had an early miscarriage (at my mother-in-law’s house on Christmas, not fun), but I had gotten pregnant! Progress! We tried five more IUIs over the next year and I never got pregnant again. The next step was IVF, and for a variety of reasons we weren’t ready to do that so we stopped treatment.
Fertility is a terrible thing. It’s obviously not the worst thing that can happen, but it can be pretty awful. It took me about three and a half years to truly make peace with my infertility. Eventually it just seemed ok. This sounds a little dramatic, but I think that letting it go sort of changed my life. Not being a mom turned into one of life’s disappointments and was no longer a devastating tragedy that defined me (dramatic much??).
Then I got Henry! Yay! I’m so lucky.