More In-Vitro, Lots of Sweating and My Students Who Saved Me
My last infertility post I left off with explaining that my first cycle ended in failure. I was devastated, confused and worried. I thought given my age and health, statistically it should have been a sure thing. It wasn't, like many things in life, so it was time to get back in the game.
My husband and I met with our doctor and he decided to increase my stimulation medications since my first cycle did not yield that many eggs. Again, this did not work. I could sit here and bore you with all of the details of all of my cycles, but nobody wants to read all that, nor do I want to write it!
Bottom line is things weren't working. What seemed to be a common factor in every cycle was that my uterine lining (where the embryo needs to attach to grow) was consistently staying on the thin side rather than thickening as expected. So my doctor pumped me up with estrogen to try to get the lining to thicken. There were a few cycles where the lining was measuring a solid thickness (around 8mm), but still nothing.
It got to the point where we were putting three embryos back in me at a time and still nothing was sticking.
Yale-New Haven Hospital had a special lab test that could be done on your uterine lining to see if the cells normally develop; unfortunately insurance did not cover it, but we paid cash and did it anyway. The results came back normal. This was the first time in my life where every month, every cycle, I was almost hoping for something to come back abnormal. I needed an answer. I needed to know why. It was killing me that there wasn't an explanation.
In-Vitro had become my new normal. It had been months since I saw my stomach without little bruises all over it (from all of the shots) and my butt cheeks were itching me like you would not believe, a side effect from the progesterone injections. If the bruises and itching weren't enough, I was SWEATING.
Great story for you... So I am a high school history teacher by trade and my students at this time did not know I was going through all of this. Because I was jacked up on so many hormones, my arm pits would sweat profusely. Now I have never been a sweater, not even when I work out. This was CRAZY sweat. As in... I had those wet arm pit marks on my shirts, EVERY DAY!
I couldn't hide it - there was no way. I talk with my hands, I have to pass out papers, reach for things, etc, so I just acknowledged it. I held my arms up and would fan my arm pits with stacks of papers, or put paper towels under my arms. My students were like "Mrs. Charles what the heck is wrong with you? You are crazy!" I told them I was on a medication for my allergies and it was a side effect. They thought I was nuts, but this was far better and less awkward than trying to hide it.
In hindsight, sometimes I wonder if I should have just told them. Teenagers often times get such a bad wrap, but I must tell you that they are some of the most caring and considerate people I know. After my children were born and I came out with my story, and spoke at our high school's Diversity Day, many of my past students came up to me and apologized for asking me all the time when I was going to have a baby. They all felt awful. When I told them why my armpits were really drenched in sweat for all of those days, they were shocked. They all wished I had told them and were intrigued by my story. The reality is even not having told them and not having their outward support, they are truly what got me through my darkest days. Many people take leaves of absences or quit their jobs to undergo treatment for infertility. It is perhaps one of the most stressful and emotionally draining processes one can endure. The reality for me is I am a teacher. Although I was struggling to have children of my own, I always felt a true and genuine connection to my students. I hold back tears every year at graduation because I work in a profession where it is not just what I do, it is who I am. I am a nurturer and that was what scared me to death about the thought of not being able to have my own children to raise. Going to work everyday and being with those kids made me laugh, kept me focused, kept me distracted from the stress, and brought me joy.
I am literally crying as I type this because over the past two year of being home with my own children I constantly struggle with the decision whether or not I should go back to work or stay home with my kids.
Truth be told I had incredible support while going through my years of in-vitro, but if I had to honestly tell you what my saving grace was in all of it, it was my students.
So MHS, thank you from the greatest depths of my heart for saving me and giving me the strength to fight for the greatest accomplishment of my life, motherhood.
(Pic of above was of my Key Clubbers counting the money they raised for UNICEF)