This weekend there was an entire insert in the newspaper dedicated to infertility. The stories in there made me feel better and writing has always been cathartic to me so I thought I would open up and share my recent experiences on the infertility roller coaster.
About seven years ago Lance and I were in a urologists office after some tests for Lance and were told that based on the results we had three options: 1-Don't have kids, 2-Get a sperm donor or 3-Adopt.
We immediately knew that one and two were not the right options for us, and as you all know, we went on to adopt our amazing little boys. (If you haven't already you can read about that by clicking the links over there ----->)
Their adoptions were both amazing and I know that Zachary and Tyson are both supposed to be in my family, and were supposed to get here in the way they did. I wouldn't trade these experiences or my beautiful children for anything. I also know that we are supposed to have their birth families in our lives and I love them. Don't get me wrong, adoption is not at all easy (I still hate when people tell me they will "just adopt") but worth it? Absolutely!
And since their adoptions were both so miraculous, in mid-2013 we started to feel like someone was missing and felt prompted that we should go the adoption route again. Now, Z's adoption was amazingly fast, Ty's was a lot slower (but still fast in the adoption world) so we geared ourself up for another wait. We waited, and waited, and waited. We did all the same networking as before but we never heard even one stitch of news. I checked my email constantly those first few months, but going into summer of 2014 I began to feel worn out with the whole thing. I've never been very patient, and I'm terrible at waiting, I wanted to do something! But unfortunately, adoption is just a whole lot of waiting!
After a random and unexpected conversation with my MIL, I started to consider the idea of getting a sperm donor for the first time. At the beginning of our infertility journey the idea had appalled me and just felt wrong, but after all these years I couldn't figure out why it had bugged me? After all, wasn't it similar to adoption? Sort of like adopting half of a child, but without all of the sadness of placement day... I brought up the subject with Lance and he said, "I always thought that had to be your decision." I was surprised, because I thought just the opposite. At any rate, we decided to pray about it. During that summer I was going to the temple every week and felt some very distinct impressions that this was the route we were supposed to take.
So, we scheduled an appointment with Utah Fertility Center. At the initial consultation we told our stories and I had an ultrasound that showed that all of my parts were there and everything looked good. We went home with loads of information and an appointment to have an HSG test done (basically they put dye in your fallopian tubes to make sure they are clear). That test went well, and we decided to move forward. The doctor said, "Let's have a baby next summer!"
Our first step was to find a donor. We went online to a sperm bank and searched through lots of profiles until we found a donor we liked. Everyone is curious about this part. How do you pick the donor?? It honestly wasn't a big deal to us. I feel like a lot of people were weirded out that we could be so casual about it, but we have adopted two children and we know next to nothing about either of their birth fathers so it didn't feel that different. How we went about it was to put in search parameters as close to Lance as we could get, blue eyes, 6'3", etc.... We picked a really large sperm bank with a great reputation so we actually had several choices. From there we went through and read their essays and medical history to narrow it down to "the one". Honestly I felt like gave me a tiny bit of empathy for birth mothers who have to go through hundreds of adoption profiles to find the right couple, it's overwhelming!
September rolled around and we were ready for our first IUI. We had decided to do natural cycle (which basically just means no fertility drugs) because we didn't want to have multiples and I ovulate with no problems every month so it didn't seem necessary. My hopes were higher than the moon. We had purchased two vials (about $1600 for those babies!) as per their recommendation-in case one of the vials was flawed. I was confident that we wouldn't even need that vial- it was just going to be perfect and work the first time. IUI only has a 15-20% chance of working (humans just aren't that fertile apparently), but I didn't care about the odds, it was going to work!
I had several follicle scans and they showed that I had one follicle growing nice and big. Once it was the right size, they gave me the date to trigger (an HCG shot in the stomach that tells your egg to release so they can time the insemination just right) and then showed me how and let me practice on a little spongey thing. Thankfully, one of my best friends was able to do the shot for me (she has a diabetic daughter so she is really good at tummy shots) since Lance was at work at the time I was supposed to trigger.
We waited 24 hours after the trigger and then did the insemination. Everything went smoothly. I was surprised how fast it was, and honestly I didn't even feel a thing (besides the speculum...dang speculum!) Then came the hard part, the two week wait where you basically convince yourself that every little feeling you have is a "sign" that it worked. And I was convinced that it did....until my period started right on schedule the day of my blood test. I opted not to do the bloodwork since I knew it was a bust. I cried my eyes out that day but told myself, "It's okay, it will work next time and then we won't have to worry about that extra vial."
Except the next time didn't work either, which led to more tears and tons of confusion and doubt! We felt so strongly this was what we were supposed to do, why didn't it work?! We had put these two cycles on a 12-month interest free credit card so that we could spread out that expense and not take such a huge hit to our savings, but we knew we had to pay them off before we could even consider trying again and I was so frustrated. It felt like I had taken $4000 and just flushed it right down the toilet! (It's about $2000/cycle, no small chunk of change!)
Of necessity we decided to work on paying off the first two cycles and saving for more. Randomly at this time my friend called me for a life insurance consultation...long story short we ended up switching from a VUL policy to term life and received a $7000 surrender check. Now I know we're not supposed to look for signs, but this seemed like a pretty good hint at least that we should keep going! We paid off all of our debt (including our fridge we still owed a little bit on) and had enough to try again, so we decided to go for it.
Unfortunately our donor was now out of vials so we had to start that process all over again, but we found a new one without too much trouble. We had talked to our doctor and decided that we would try something to enhance ovulation. I thought maybe it didn't work the first time because we needed to get to the point where the possibility of multiples was okay? So I got on femara, which is basically a drug than stimulates ovulation--a knock off of clomid that is supposed to have less side-effects. After my baseline ultrasound to check my lining (which looked great) I was given a prescription to to take for five days. On day 12 of my cycle I went in for a follicle scan, and hooray! TWO follicles were growing! I thought for sure this was the time! I triggered the next morning (Lance did it for my while Zachy held my hand...I almost didn't even feel it this time) and then went in the next day for the procedure. My cervix was tricky and it took her several times to get the catheter in, but eventually it worked and after waiting with my hips in the air for twenty minutes we were on our merry old way to another torturous two week wait.
This one was BAD! Everything felt different. I felt nauseous, my nipples were tender (TMI, I know) I was CONVINCED that it worked. I was taking progesterone suppositories every night to help make my lining nice and thick. After a seriously agonizing and emotional two weeks I went in for my blood test (no period, yay!). I was back and forth. I thought I might be pregnant but kept telling myself I wasn't so that my hopes wouldn't be up. I missed the call with my results that evening, and the next morning I had some brown spotting so I started sobbing because I knew it was negative.
The lab called me after I had composed myself and dealt with the reality of another failed cycle and their news was surprising. My bloodwork showed that I was PREGNANT! However, she mentioned that my levels were low so they wanted me back Monday for another blood test. I called Lance sobbing (the second time that day) and told him. He said, "That's great sweetie!" and I said, "no it's not, it's not even for sure!" But then my period never came and the next day I felt so rotten I decided that maybe it was for real. I started to feel excited!
And then during church on Sunday my period came. I ran out of that church building and forgot to even grab my primary bag, I was so upset. How mean! To get my hopes up and then have them dashed! I called the nurse and she said, "It could be nothing, or it could mean that the pregnancy is just not sticking." I spent the whole day sobbing my eyes out. I felt like my heart was shattered.
After a blood test the following Monday and a consultation with our doctor it turns out I was most-likely never pregnant or had a bio-chemical pregnancy (which from what I understand is that your brain psyches your body into thinking it's pregnant when it's not)
Needless to say, that Sunday really sucked. We spent the next day doing some serious retail therapy because I decided I was DONE! I want off the roller coaster!
I'm writing this as a cliff hanger. There is no big "AH HA" moment where I tell you what I learned. Someday there probably will be, but for now I have no idea why we were prompted the way we were and I'm fighting every day not to doubt myself or the promptings we followed. I have this quote hanging on my fridge and draw strength and courage from it every day:
"With any major decision there are cautions and considerations to make, but once there has been illumination, beware the temptation to retreat from a good thing. If it was right when you prayed about it and trusted it and lived for it, it is right now. Don’t give up when the pressure mounts. Certainly don’t give in to that being who is bent on the destruction of your happiness. Face your doubts. Master your fears. “Cast not away therefore your confidence.” Stay the course and see the beauty of life unfold for you." Jeffrey R. Holland, "Cast Not Away Therefore Your Confidence".
(This entire talk is amazing, read it here)
There are good things ahead! I am excited about the future, even if it's unclear. And if there is never another baby, I know that this experience will teach me things that are vital to my mortal experience. In the meantime, we'd love any extra thoughts and prayers!