Infertility is no joke, it is rough and difficult and the most emotional thing you can ever experience. Our story thankfully has a happy ending, but for those of you out there that are still going through it my heart goes out to you. If you know anyone that is going through this journey, be extra sensitive and give them all the love you have to spare they need it. Love is a wonderful bandaid in helping patch the holes you gain along this road.
Our story started about 5 years ago. We had always talked about having a family and kids. I had a ‘life plan’ all figured out. I was going to finish school at the age of 25 and work for a few years, then get pregnant at 27 and have our first kid around 28. Then wait two years and have another. Ending our child years around 31, so we could still travel and see the world when they were grown and moved out. Funny how life never lets your life plan go according to your ideals. I was 25, I had just applied for graduation, we had been married for 5 years. I was starting my job search and had a few good options. I approached my husband with the idea of starting to try and have a baby. I told him that it would most likely take a few months to get all the birth control out of my system and then at least a few more months to get pregnant and then the kid had to bake for 10 months. So we had most likely 18 months or more ahead of us. After laying it out, begging and listing all the pros (which took months) he agreed to start to try. It was now November 2010. I stopped taking the pill. I had gone to my GYN and she had warned me that since I had been on the pill for 5 years, it would take a bit to get out of my system but she could see no reason why I couldn’t have a baby.
Months passed. It was now October 2011. My sister had just announced that she was pregnant with her first baby, and was due in June. I wanted to die. There is nothing worse than hearing that someone close to you, who knows what you are going through, is pregnant. Now, of course I was excited. A nephew was going to join the family and I got to be an aunt. And no I don’t expect people around me to stop their lives and not have kids, it is just a easier playing field when people are not having kids with you. I took the announcement to heart and had an emotional break. Maybe I wasn’t meant to be a mom, and we weren’t supposed to have kids. Am I not trying hard enough? Is there something wrong with us? The list continued and the emotions ran high for a good deal of time. I contacted my doctor again and she said that she couldn’t look at me for infertility until we had been trying for at least 16 months. That fertility doctors in the area wouldn’t either. We had to wait. Naturally I spent oodles of time on webmd and google (dangerous places for an emotional person) and started to panic about all these things that could be wrong.
Around this time we started to notice that my husband was starting to struggle a bit with his health. Not hugely, but little changes. He was tired ALL the time. He had started to gain weight in his stomach, despite exercising and eating as best he could. He also seemed to lose all interest in intimacy. Concerned that it was something like his thyroid, I urged him to make an appointment. My sweet love is very anti-doctor, anti-medicine, basically anti anything related to the field. Finally after months of coaxing, and telling him it wasn’t about having a baby I convinced him to visit his doctor. We went to his appointment and told him about his symptoms. After a series of questions and a blood draw later we learned that he had low testosterone. His doctor prescribed him testosterone injections, which were to be given once a week. Grand, the dude that hates medicine is supposed to give himself a shot once a week? Oui. So we started injections.
We had now reached April of 2012. I could go see my GYN about fertility finally. I made an appointment. She suggested that we do tests that checked for fertility signs, but could be looking for endometriosis. My doctor had suspicions that I had it because I have horribly painful periods that are incredibly heavy – like blow through a extra super tampon in less than an hour heavy. So we started testing. I went through a series of ultrasounds and dye testing to see if I had blockage or extra tissue. It was discovered that I had a large ovarian cyst on my right side, but no other signs of endometriosis or complications. She told me to wait 2 months for the cyst to dissolve, and then to try again. And perhaps have my husband tested, because guys are always easier to test than girls. So we waited the 2 months for it to pass and then tried some more. At this point I had my ovulation cycles down to an art, and could tell you exactly when things were going to happen. We had continued doing shots for my husband and he had started to feel better. I noticed an improvement in his weight and he wasn’t very tired any more. Success!
In june we welcomed my sweet nephew and it only made me want to try that much harder. We continued to try and still no success. After much debate we decided to take a break for a few months and see if we could just refocus on each other and life. To not allow infertility to be the elephant in the room all the time. So we did.
We have now reached May of 2013. We took trying slow for the rest of the year, spent time with each other and tried to just be us. We decided to try again. And still no luck. I was talking to a dear friend of mine who suggested we see an internist. That maybe there was a issue with his hormones, other than testosterone that could be causing the issue. So I searched around and found one in our area. We made an appointment, two months out. We had run out of the prescription for shots, and after talking about it decided that we would take a break from them. We waited our two months and it was finally time for our appointment. We went in and were evaluated and after a large blood test, determined that his hormones were out of whack and that the shots weren’t helping. He put him on a diet and added supplements and added clomid in place of the testosterone shots, we were to time the clomid with my cycles. We were told to try for two months and that he promised we would be pregnant. So we started. He was diligent about his diet and the pills, things were going pretty well.. except still no baby. Two months passed. Still nothing. I hadn’t been convinced that changing his diet would ‘cure’ our infertility issue like the doctor had claimed, so I took to researching it myself. I soon found a doctor in Salt Lake City at the Univeristy of Utah who specializes in male hormones. Perfect! I convinced my husband to go, because at this point I didn’t care if we had a baby or not I just wanted him healthy. The kid could come later. So we made an appointment. Again, 2 months out.
It was now November 2013. We travelled to the doctor and told him about our story and how we just wanted him to be healthy. Having a kid was an added bonus but we just needed to get his health figured out. He asked about the previous treatments and then told us this. Testosterone replacement therapy KILLS your sperm. That is right, kills them. Dead, done for, toast. It tells your body that it doesn’t need to produce its own hormones since you are giving it yourself, and since it is synthetically made it doesn’t trigger sperm production. Holy cow. At this point we hadn’t been on them for about 6 months, so the body was clearing if not cleared of it. He also informed us that the internist while having good intentions, was wrong about the diet. It wouldn’t change the outcome of sperm production. He proceeded to order a few tests and give us a prescription for clomid that instead of cycling with my cycles he was to take every day for the next 2 weeks and then retest. So we left, took the test did the clomid treatment, and retested. Our follow up appointment was a few weeks after that. At the follow up appointment we learned that his sperm count had gone from 1 million to 15.4 million. (The normal male produces around 12 million). Wow!! So he told us to get busy and try. And if by March I wasn’t pregnant to call his female counter part and see her. So we were off.
February of 2014. I find out that I am indeed pregnant, the day before I lose it. A faint double line on a pee test. Then poof, it is gone. I am heart broken, but also feeling hopeful. If I could do it, then maybe I really can be pregnant. Then the crazy body starts. I have a period for 3 months. You heard me, THREE months of bleeding every day. I decide to call the specialist and ask about what to do. She tells me to come see her. So I make an appointment for the end of April. We again learn that my sister is expecting baby number two due in November and my sister-in-law is expecting and due in December. The heartbreak starts all over, many tears are shed. But I have my appointment to look forward to. We go in and meet with the specialist, she does an ultrasound and discovers I have another large cyst on my right side. That this is the reason why I am still bleeding. She prescribes me a medication to stop the bleeding and start a normal cycle again. I also have to come back to have a sonohystagram of my uterus done to make sure I don’t have fibroids.
Luckily the medication takes and I am back to normal. After my next period I go in for my test, it is May 2014. Everything is great looking and the cyst is shrinking. Phew. So on to the next step. Since we had been trying so long she recommends we do IUI. Intrauterine insemination. I am to wait for my next period, start taking clomid to boost egg release and then come in as soon as I get a positive ovulation test. So we start. She had warned us that it took 3-4 IUI treatments to get a result, so be prepared to do this multiple times. My period comes, I take the pills and pee on a stick twice a day. Finally on a friday I get my smily face, I am ovulating. We call up and make an appointment for the next morning.
It is June 14th 2014. We travel to the Salt Lake office. My husband goes and does his ‘thing’ and the donation is left. We are told we have to wait 2 hours while they prep the sperm for injection. We go and have a nice breakfast together, talk about how excited we are but not so excited that our hopes will be crushed if it is a negative. We slowly make our way back to the office. We are called back and prepped. The nurse is the sweetest thing and is so gentle with me. We ask her a billion questions and she answers all of them. The procedure starts, it takes about 10 minutes and then I am left there to lay for 20 minutes. We laugh and chat about how today could change our world, and eventually the 20 minutes pass. I get dressed and stop by to thank the nurse. We are given instructions of no medications other than tylenol, for pain. Rest as much as I can the next few days and to wait 2 weeks and take a pregnancy test. If it is positive then call and make an appointment for a viability ultrasound.
Two weeks is so hard to wait, you just want to pee on that stupid stick. So knowing myself, I didn’t buy any until the day before I took the test. This way there was no temptation in the house. The morning of the test, my husband leaves to go to an airshow in Salt Lake. I am alone. I take the test. Is there a positive? I think so, but I can’t tell. I hurry to my mom, and ask her to confirm for me. I swear I’m hallucinating. She looks at the test and just smiles and says “Congrats, Mom.” I break down and cry. I decide to wait to tell my husband until he is home. I want to see his reaction. I go out and buy a tiny baby onesie and make him a card. The hours painfully pass. He is finally home and comes right to me to ask. I take him into the other room and hand him the card, and wait. He reaches the point where I tell him he is going to be a dad. He looks shocked and happy all in one. He gives me the sweetest hug and kiss I have had to date and tells me he is so excited. We have the viability ultrasound and pass. We are now 5 months pregnant with a sweet baby boy.
Our story is a unique one, we did get lucky and have IUI work on the first try. They never did find any issues in either of us as to why we couldn’t have a baby. We were told that sometimes two perfectly healthy people just can’t do it for some reason, and we are in that category. While yes our story is one with a happy ending, and I am very happy that it is, know that not every one has a similar story. Some are still fighting for their sweet bundle. For all of you out there struggling with fertility, know you aren’t alone. Although you feel VERY alone and like you are the only person out there going through it, you aren’t. There are people out there who are more than willing to talk with you and give you a shoulder to cry on, myself included. Don’t give up hope, your bundle is out there waiting for you.