I was infertile. I was in my mid-20s, married to my high school sweetheart, generally healthy, and there was no reason I shouldn’t be able to get pregnant. But I couldn’t.
We tried for six months with no success. I went to my OB/Gyn. She recommended I track my cycles. I did.
A few months of tracking and trying, it was clear I had returned to my former cycle irregularity as soon as I had stopped taking my oral contraceptive. “You’re young. You’re healthy. Let’s not waste time. I’ve seen too many women have their concerns brushed off and then age becomes a factor. Let’s get you pregnant.” She explained I, for some reason, wasn’t ovulating regularly. So, she prescribed me a low dose of Clomid to spur my body into ovulating and referred me to an infertility specialist. Disaster.
Ovarian cysts formed. I could barely walk, my abdomen was so distended I appeared to be in my second trimester, I couldn’t wear anything tighter than an empire waist dress because my abdomen was so sore from the cysts, my hair started falling out, acne flared, I couldn’t concentrate, I was a hormonal wreck. Back on birth control I went for one month to dissolve the cysts. Once off of the contraceptive, we kept trying. So many negative pregnancy tests. So many tears.
I saw the infertility specialist. She wanted to label me as PCOS but I didn’t fit in the box. She sent Hubs for testing. He came back: “super motility” with zero fertility concerns. I was clearly the problem. I ran through numerous invasive, humiliating, and painful tests; all came back spotless. Meanwhile, every pregnancy test was negative. My body was inexplicably standing in the way of our dreams — my entire life vision — and I had no explanation, no solution. Even worse: I had to remain silent.
I couldn’t tell anyone at work because a young woman trying to conceive is a liability in corporate culture. Sharing that news would’ve sidelined my career. I couldn’t tell my friends or family because I considered it a private matter that they wouldn’t understand. My family had all easily conceived; most of my friends were trying to prevent conception. A few people I did let in tried to empathize but there were unfortunate statements like, “Just relax and forget about it, then you’ll get pregnant,” and “People accidentally get pregnant all the time.” I felt so alone, so “other”, and so palpably barren.
Upon my fertility specialist’s advice, we hesitantly agreed to try one more even lower dose of Clomid. I woke up unable to walk or stand for longer than a minute. I cried in pain (I don’t cry); we went to the ER (I don’t go to the ER).
Bigger, meaner ovarian cysts twice the size of my ovaries appeared in the scan. The emergency room physician looked concerned and said he’d never seen cysts so big. “No driving. No intercourse. Limit walking,” he said. “If those cysts burst, they could take out your ovaries.” I started bawling. He asked me why I was crying. “Because I’m trying to have a baby — all I want is a baby — and you just told me I have two ticking time bombs attached to the exact organs I need to make that baby.” He looked at me like a confused puppy and left the room.
He returned 30-minutes later. “I talked to your gynecologist,” he said, “She’s great! She calmed me down and told me ovarian cysts can get this big. She said another round of oral contraceptive should take care of them.” He tried to give me narcotics for the pain but I refused; I don’t do pain medication. Back on birth control I went. Away went the cysts. Square 1.
Another visit to the fertility specialist. “If you don’t want to do Clomid again,” we most certainly did NOT, “you should seriously consider IUI.” She wanted to artificially inseminate me.
Hub’s and I talked… a lot. I cried… a lot. We decided to take a break from the doctors and the medicine for 6 months just to see if we could do this on our own. My fertility specialist tried to dissuade us. We remained firm. “I’ll see you back in six months.” she said. With that, a big, irritated part of me wanted to get pregnant just to spite her.
I returned to my OB/Gyn and fumed about the fertility specialist. She recommended an expensive fertility monitor to aid us in our natural conception efforts. $300 poorer and one fertility monitor richer, we were tracking and trying.
Three months later, #1 was conceived. The lonely, exhausting, painful, secretive, mournful infertility battle was over. We finally had our baby. The emotional scars will never heal. I’ll never be the same person I was before. However, I’m glad. We are more appreciative, grateful parents than we likely would have been otherwise because we experienced what we did. I am a stronger person for having had my brush with infertility. Yet others have and continue to suffer more than I. I am a lucky one.