18 Months TTC…and It Hasn't Killed Me...

The 20th of this month (December) will mark a year and a half since Michael and I started trying to conceive.  In that amount of time, we have gone from "Let nature take its course" to "How many rounds of Clomid am I allowed to take?"  The latest news: my NP called Friday to let me know my progesterone level actually DROPPED this last month to a 6.4.  That's not supposed to happen when you're on Clomid.  But it did happen and now we have to face another "next step".  That step will be to start a more moderate dose of the fertility drug called Femara (yes, the one I recently blogged about that makes me a little apprehensive).  As for a silver lining, though, they are going to finally test my androgen levels to see if they are playing a villainous role.  They could very well be the culprit.  They could also be ruled out.  Either way, we'll have yet another much-desired answer.

I began using writing as an outlet for my frustration through this blog starting back in January as I timidly crossed the threshold of fertility testing.  Since then, my stress levels have greatly tapered and I continue to seek refuge through writing (plus an occasional yoga class).  That's not to say there aren't days where these 18 months haven't felt like an eternity, especially since I actually started to pay attention to the number of women who have since had a baby or are now pregnant.  It's at least 15 women whom I personally know, and three of those were added to the list in the last week.  I have to admit it's difficult to watch others grow babies in their bellies as my womb refuses to accept deliveries from my fallopian tubes.  Yet it doesn't diminish my hopes for our future parenthood.  I won't lie: news of a friend's pregnancy or new little bundle affects me the way a slap to the face would.  It's painful, but it's not experienced for long and the initial sting soon dissipates.  Then I put on my big girl panties and get over myself.  Just like my friends have been our cheerleaders during our struggle, I will be their cheerleader during their time of sheer exhilaration.

This road has been a winding, and often confusing, one, but there are a few things I have learned along the way. 

  • First: you're never alone.  I have encountered so many wonderful women and their loving husbands who are either in the boat with me or were once on it.  It has reunited me with old friends, brought about new ones, and deepened relationships with those whom I knew only somewhat.  You feel a lot less lonely when someone understands what it's like to pee your 30th negative sign or when you want to punch a wall when you see a pregnant 14-year-old.  Plus, I have a pretty awesome husband who has walked beside me since day one.
  • Second: you'll get advice (even though you won't always want it).  Those who have been there already are the experts, and they will offer a nugget whenever they see fit.  Some of it is useful, like when I needed to know what to expect when starting Clomid or what brand of pregnancy test works the best.  But then I've also been told to do things like drink cough syrup, to relax/not think about our situation (like that's easy), to have sex all the time, to prop up on pillows, to stand on my head.  *sigh*  I know folks are trying to help, but sometimes I would rather dig my eardrums out of my head with the broken end of a plastic spoon before getting pregnancy advice involving positions and sperm gravity.
  • Third: the longer you go without getting knocked up, the more your peers start to tiptoe around the subject.  They don't mean to treat you like a fledging with a broken wing, but it happens.  They wait longer to tell their pregnancy news or they give you those poor-little-infertile-girl pats on the back.  They might even tell you, "I just know it's going to happen for you.  You'll see."  Let's be realistic!  Life still marches on even if my eggs don't.  Only God knows if I'll ever be pregnant, and I have to accept the fact that it may not happen.  No one wants to walk on eggshells, and I most certainly don't want to be the reason someone else does.  Save the sympathy cards for those who are grieving or stuck in a bed in ICU.  There are worse things than infertility.  I'm a realist.  Join me!
  • Fourth: stress plays a HUGE role.  Remember when I didn't have a period for 130 days?  That was after I had been transferred to a new school, sentenced to a year of teaching in a trailer (where it rained every other day and the heat/AC only sometimes worked), and was forced to deal with matters involving custody battles and other miscellaneous Jerry Springer-esque drama.  It's a wonder my ovaries didn't throw up a white flag and shrivel up on the spot!  Now that I'm in the main school building with a great group of kids and parents, as well as a team of teachers that are my family when my actual family isn't around, I've had as close to a regular cycle than I've ever experienced off birth control.  And yoga helps, too!

So, despite the setbacks and moments wondering if Michael and I will ever conceive, I'm still alive…and kickin', for that matter.  I remember thinking at one time that the worst news I could ever receive would be that I was not able to get pregnant or carry a child.  As much as I would be traumatized by such a blow, I am confident to say that I no longer feel that way.  It would be much more painful to be told I was not allowed near children or not qualified to adopt a child should getting pregnant not be in the cards.  The ultimate goal is to become a parent. Ever since I my diagnosis of endometriosis at the age of 20, I foresaw a future of fertility issues.  Maybe our situation is a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Maybe it's a test of our determination toward a very meaningful goal.  Maybe it's merely a test of our patience.  Until I have a baby that I'm allowed to take home as my own, I will keep dreaming about and praying for one.

V. Dub