Guest Author: Charmaine
This story starts basically the same as many other women. I have the dream of becoming a mother. When I was younger, I had it all planned out… Married early 20’s, one child by the age of 25, and the next about 2 years later. I’ve always loved kids, so much so, that I went to teacher’s college and got a degree to teach young children. I sit here now, 33, married… but no children. So, I got married at 28, that doesn’t mean that the rest of my plan shouldn’t just fall into place, right? Wrong. Insert Infertility…
My husband and I were just like any other excited couple, about to start the adventure that is conceiving a child. April 2018 doesn’t seem like that long to a lot of people but for me it seems like an eternity of just ups and downs (and unfortunately more downs than ups). The first few months went by without a thought in my mind, it surely doesn’t happen straight away for a lot of people. I just shrugged it off and thought “let’s keep going, it’s bound to happen soon!” June… July… August… Here I should probably mention that my husband’s brother also had male fertility problems but since IVF and having twins followed by two others, they have now got four children. So yeah, at this stage thoughts are popping into my head… “is there something wrong with my husband’s sperm?” “Am I doing something wrong?” I was begging and pleading, so my husband finally went and got himself tested… to my delight everything was in order, and on his way out the door the doctor basically said he could start picking baby names.
This didn’t seem right, no history of infertility in my family, normal menstruation, no underlying health problems, non-smoker, non-drinker, normal weight, this should be a no brainer. At this stage no-one knew we were trying for a baby. Come December, we had the sticks to pee on to predict ovulation and did everything we needed to. Middle of December was ovulation and the deed was done. Christmas came around as fast as ever and my period was late! How exciting I thought, a Christmas baby. Alas my hopes were shattered on the 28th of December as my Aunt Flo decided to turn up after all. Unwelcome as ever. After finally telling my mum that we were trying and had been for a while, she said it took her six months to conceive me. “That’s great,” I thought “then it can’t be too long before it happens for me then.” Oh, how wrong can you get! Silly really, but I had no reason to believe otherwise.
Roll around to April 2019, one year of trying to actively conceive, back to the Gynecologist for a referral to the fertility clinic. (Here I should also point out that I live in Germany and this is very common practice and most costs are covered by my health insurance.) Straight on the phone with the clinic to make an appointment… only to find out there is a two-month waiting time for an initial appointment. *Heart breaking noises*
Waiting, waiting, waiting. My most dreaded thing to do. All the while my private life was hanging on by a thread, I have the added disadvantage of working with children between the ages of six months and three years. It was time that my boss was informed about my struggles, it is unfair to my colleagues and the kids if I am using every single ounce of energy to just hold it all together for those eight hours a day before being able to go home and crumble, defeated, into bed. Sometimes needing to excuse myself out of the room, just to get a grip on my emotions and soldier on. All in all, they are all very supportive and accommodating when I need to go the clinic.
So, in June 2019 I had my initial clinic appointment, blubbering like a silly woman on my husband’s shoulder. This is where the story gets more interesting. After talking about our plan, we set off on our merry way and the following months were a little unsettling as I was under the impression that we could start with proper treatments straight away. No, that’s not right. TESTS!! More tests!! I had to have blood taken to make sure my hormones were doing what they were supposed to, check, all in order. Then came the test to see if the sperm were actually able to make their way through the fallopian tubes… This test was unsuccessful, not because there was something wrong, the doctor was just unable to get the syringe to where it needed to go so she couldn’t even do the test. This was heartbreaking, I thought I was the reason why it all wasn’t working. I now had to undergo a Laparoscopy. Terrified! On the phone to make an appointment. They had no available times in September… another month gone. October 25th I was able to get it done. Everything came back in order. The only thing found was minimal Endometriosis but that was normal and he had gotten rid of it. He shared that in his 25-years of experience, within six months 90 percent of women in my position were pregnant.
Here I have to spring back to my job, not my job specifically but one of my colleagues… I was called into the office of my boss and was told in a rather blunt way “____ is Pregnant’. It felt like the ground was about to crumble under my feet. She wasn’t even together with the guy. Taking the pill (and antibiotics) and whoops she was pregnant. She is now a single mother and has no father for the baby… seems about right to me that she would happen upon something that I’m so desperately yearning for. My husband was called to pick me up from work that day. My first day of being defeated by my emotions.
We roll around to December 2019. Christmas eve to be exact. Our house that we are building needed to be aired out twice a day. Our neighbours come over to talk about how everything is going. I was not in the greatest of spirits as I had just found out on the 21st of December that yet another colleague of mine was pregnant. Again, by surprise and unplanned. My neighbours, knowing my situation, decided that Christmas eve would be the absolute best time to tell me that she too was also pregnant and expecting a baby in June next year. I have never had such a lousy and depressingly lonely Christmas as I did in 2019. 2020 can only get better!
Talking with our health insurance provider about possible treatment options. We were approved for 8 IUI cycles 1/2 paid for by them and 1/2 paid for by us.
We started with IUI cycle 1 in January 2020 Exciting to finally be able to get the real treatment started. My husband went in and did what he needed to do and I went in two hours later. Finished… now all we had to do was wait… again… waiting was my least favorite thing to do. But nevertheless, it’s what we have to do. Two weeks later I went in for a blood test… negative. I was literally crushed. There is nothing wrong with me so why is this not working? I made an appointment for the next IUI cycle. Appointment was set for a Monday which was the 10th day of my cycle. Looking at the screen I knew it didn’t look right, there were no pretty circles on the screen like last time, there was only something that looked like an empty balloon. My ovulation had happened already on the 9th day of my cycle. Another setback.
Crying doesn’t really help anymore. I don’t know how many tears have been shed on this but I’m betting I could almost fill an Olympic-sized pool. New appointment for March. This time we made it, although this time I have to take hormones to make sure my eggs ripen nicely. This had me a little worried as it can also cause multiples. I don’t want twins. I hear so many people questioning me and they are unable to understand why I don’t want twins. “Would you prefer twins or no children?” is what they ask. Now my husband is also included in this. No one understands how someone in my position wouldn’t want twins. I simply reply and say “I would prefer one child at a time.” A very lonely walk and at times there is a feeling of no support (which we all know isn’t true) but it’s just the way it feels. Just because I struggle with infertility, why should I have to completely give up on my dream of having single children. It sounds like I should be happy with what I’m given. Maybe they are right but I too have dreams and I too am allowed to hold onto the hope of them coming true as long as I can. We tried our second IUI in March, with no success.
Now this is where things start to get really hard. Let’s bring Coronavirus into the picture, March 15th Germany went into lockdown, March 17th we shifted into our brand-new house in a very new housing development. I was happy to have time at home to be able to set everything up and settle in properly. It is in this first week that I realized that at least once an hour someone would walk past my window with a child in a pram. This house was becoming a Prison. I had the blinds shut in whatever room I was in. I couldn’t look out any window, without being able to see a house with either a small baby (under one year) or a pregnant woman. I wanted to move out again. What I treasured after work was my seclusion from the real world and I didn’t have that anymore. I was spiraling and it wasn’t pretty.
In April the fertility clinic was closed. Yet another month where nothing would happen. In May the clinic opened up again just for procedures like IUI and IVF so I got on the phone straight away and got an appointment. IUI cycle 3 completed without success. My hope is really taking a hit. The age-old question keeps coming up “Why me?” And yet again it is unable to be answered. But again, my cousin is able to have her 4th child to just as many men. Being unable to provide for them all, she has lost custody of one of them. But a well-educated, married woman with a lovely warm house and a longing heart has to go through something like this. It’s unfair. All the while at work I am confronted with four pregnant mothers every day too. Will this pain ever end?
IUI cycle 4 – this has to be the one! May 2020, I go in for my appt on the 9th day of my cycle, I felt some twinges the night before so I decided to pee on an ovulation stick… Damn it! There is a smiley face. My husband and I decided to listen to my body and did the deed to optimize our chances. Day of appointment I was all set for the disappointing news that we were yet again too late. Well I would have loved to have seen my face after seeing the biggest circle on the screen that I have ever seen! It wasn’t too late! Husband drove in ASAP and I went in again later. The two-week wait started again. This last Friday we were given the upsetting news that it had failed again. Because I use Progesterone tablets it takes a few days for my period to come and we can start again from the start. Pick ourselves up after two days of binge eating sweets and drinking cola and get back on the wagon.
Hearing the fertility doctors say it’s when, not if, just doesn’t seem to help. I’m still in the same position without knowing if it is even going to happen. This story is not just about infertility, it’s about loss. Loss of those dreams, loss of hope, loss of control, loss of my body being my own, loss in so many ways. I am lucky to have such a loving and supportive husband by my side.
Here is to moving on and picking ourselves up to continue the journey we are on.
Thank you for listening.