The Start of My Infertility Journey
My husband and I got married in June of 2009, I was 26 years old at the time. We had been together for three years at that point and knew we wanted to start trying to have children within a year or so. I had stopped taking my birth control after our honeymoon and just kind of wanted to see how things went. When I wasn't getting pregnant after a few months I purchased some ovulation predictor kits because some of my colleagues at work said they worked great for them when trying to conceive. So I starting using the ovulation tests and sure enough they were testing positive and I figured out what days during my cycle I was ovulating. I thought bingo this should be easy now. Not so much. After a year of trying still nothing had happened.
I made an appointment with my OBGYN and he said the first step would be to test my husband's sperm because that is the easiest and least invasive to test. Initially his test showed that he had slightly lowered levels of mobility (how effectively the sperm move), but follow up tests showed that everything was just fine. So now it was my turn. I had a good friend who had recently undergone treatment at The Center for Advanced Reproductive Services at UConn Health and highly recommended them, so I decided to go there. I went for my initial visit, where they did an exam and then set up some appointments for some preliminary tests.
I had a lot of blood work done as well as a test where they put dye through your fallopian tubes to make sure there isn't a blockage preventing the egg from getting to where it's supposed to be going. All of my tests checked out fine, so at this point I had "unexplained infertility."
My husband and I met with our doctor to decide what protocol would make the most sense for us to achieve pregnancy. There were essentially three options going from least invasive to most invasive. I could try taking a medication called Clomid that would boost my ovulation and then be told when to have intercourse (they would figure out exactly when I was supposed to be ovulating). Second option was to take injectable medications that would essentially do the same thing, but are just more easily controlled and I would have to go for blood work more frequently. With the injectables I would then get an intra-uterine insemination, so I would go into the office and have my husband's sperm injected exactly when they know I would be ovulating. Final option, full blown in vitro fertilization. Through this process you take injectable (shots) medications to cause your ovaries to produce as many mature eggs as possible. The goal is to be able to retrieve as many eggs as possible because through this process not all will be mature, or normal, or successfully fertilize, so the larger the batch the better your chances are for having viable embryos. At that point, you are put under anesthesia so they can retrieve all of the stimulated eggs. So once your eggs are taken out, they then fertilize them with sperm (in this case my husband's) in a lab, allow them to grow for 3-5 days depending on their quality, and then transfer the best embryos back into your uterus. This is about the most abbreviated, and least technical explanation I think I could possibly provide!
After talking with our doctor the chances of success are highest with in vitro fertilization, so although it was the most invasive, and labor intensive in terms of shots and doctors appointments, we felt it was the way to go.
My first round I was on a relatively low dosage of stimulation medications; given my age and test results, there was really nothing indicating that I would need an aggressive protocol. As part of the process, we needed to attend a class with their nurses that explained how to prepare and administer your injections. During this meeting the nurse also answered any questions you may have about the process. At this point I was feeling confident that this was going to be a breeze and work the first shot. So in this class (there were other couples there as well by the way) I asked if I was still going to be able to work out during this process. It may not sound so bad as you are reading this, but the reality is, it was bad. I was cocky, insensitive, and nonchalant. At least in my opinion of myself I was. Looking back I am disgusted, here are these other women, who knows what their circumstances were and how long they had been trying, and I ask if I can still work out as if this process was inconveniencing my lifestyle. A-hole.
Well needless to say I was humbled real quick, like almost befitting a Greek tragedy. My first cycle only yielded two relatively average to below average quality embryos and it didn't work. I was beyond devastated. How could this be? Statistically it just didn't make sense that at 27 years old I didn't get pregnant from in-vitro?! We met with our doctor again to go over what he believed had happened and what he recommended going forward.
This was only the very start to an incredibly tumultuous journey to parenthood. However, like I mentioned above with the workout comment, each step along the way I have learned a lesson, become more humbled, and have grown to be a more sensitive human being. So although these were hardships I never imagined I would endure, I am eternally grateful for not only my outcome, but the lessons I have learned along the way.
By the way, for all you local gals, I was a patient at The Center For Advanced Reproductive Services (often referred to as Uconn Fertility). This facility is state of the art, PHENOMENAL. They are offering a FREE fertility event this October. You take a simple blood test that provides information regarding how fertile you are and your chances of conceiving. With many of us getting married or starting families a little later in life I think this is a fantastic service and you have nothing to lose.
HERE is the link for more information.