This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. Yes, I am getting up on my soapbox again. This is near and dear to my heart because I have been living it for six years and it's not going away. Only by talking about the elephant in the room can we get rid of the taboo. At least 1 in 8 deal with infertility. That means that you likely know several people dealing with it, many who might be too afraid of the judgment discussing it brings. If this is you, you are not alone. If sharing my story can help even one person then it's worth it.
I was 27 when we started trying. We conceived relatively quickly but lost the baby at 8 weeks, never getting to see a heartbeat. I was beyond devastated. Due to family history I had always been afraid that I would have a difficult time conceiving. So we tried for a few months before I contacted my OB. My labs were off but my OB wasn't worried. I was young and it can take a normal, healthy couple a year to conceive. But I pushed for a referral to a Reproductive Endocrinologist. More labs and a laparoscopic surgery confirmed my fears. I had endometriosis and diminished ovarian reserves (DOR). Our RE recommended an aggressive protocol of Femara (pills) and Gonal-F (injections). Our insurance only covers diagnosis, not treatment. This was very costly. We had already booked a vacation in Las Vegas so my prescriptions went with us. I still laugh thinking about what the hotel maid must have thought seeing my fertility drugs in the ice bucket. Probably not as rare as you would think, right? We were so luck that Jacen and Spencer came from our first treatment cycle.
After their scary birth and NICU time I thought I was done. Until I held my neighbor's newborn girl not long after the boys first birthday. I wasn't done, not by a long shot. We conceived relatively quickly again, on our own. This time we saw our baby's heartbeat. Several times. But I had a missed miscarriage that required a D&C. We were able to find out that our baby was a boy with Triploidy. This is supposed to be a random occurrence, very unlikely to occur again. Six months later I saw a new RE and did several cycles with just pills. Nothing. Financially we had reached an end point. Then miraculously we conceived again. But a month later I experienced another missed miscarriage, another D&C, and another diagnosis of triploidy, this time a girl. Our RE explained to us in no uncertain terms that continuing with my eggs would not work. Donor eggs with IVF would be my only chance to carry a pregnancy. Remember, our insurance covers nothing. $30,000 is the approximate starting point for this.
So we are done. Except I do not feel done. I feel like I am meant to mother another living child. I'm not sure if it will happen or through what means that child will come. But I live with the grief on a daily basis. I grieve my three children in heaven, and I grieve for my boys that they will never know their other siblings. I grieve when a new friend asks if we are going to have more. I grieve when one of the boys asks for a sister. Although I rejoice when a friend announces their pregnancy or has their baby, I grieve too. It has nothing to do with them and everything to do with me. Infertility has tainted every relationship in some way. I am constantly angry at my body, angry that it is unable to do what others so easily can do. I had hoped with time these feelings would fade. They don't, at least not for me, not yet. But most days I have a somewhat uneasy truce with these emotions. They are there, but they no longer completely rule me.
Infertility and loss are such taboo subjects but they don't have to be.