The road taken when trying to become a parent is already long enough. You weigh this and that — a new house or a child? My wedding or the birth of someone greater than a piece of paper from the state? Cloth or disposable diapers, when should I start stocking up on either? And then there’s fertility: even if everything checks out fine, you still have a 20% chance of conceiving a child each month.
I was lucky, if you can say that. I found out I was pregnant after my fiancé lost the job he loved for ten years and gained a job he’s been more than complacent with. I took a pregnancy test before heading to work and watched it develop a positive on the counter. I debated texting him immediately and instead decided to wait until payday so I could buy a cute onesie or a blue or pink tie for him to wear to work. But the morning of, I started to bleed heavy thick and red, and I knew it was done. As much as I wanted to build a memorial for the child we lost, I knew there would be many more along the way.
So I did what many women do: I talked to my mother. We spoke for an hour about her six years trying to have me, and she compared it to my one. We talked about how we both can’t stand to look at our pregnant friends, especially when they say it was a complete accident or a surprise, and how even touching a newborn brings us to tears of failure and regret.
We talked about how we feel betrayed by our own bodies.
I should be holding my stomach and feeling her settle into my pelvis. I should be putting together a nursery, or arranging the furniture. I want to be able to stock up on the things I need like diapers, bottles, formulas, and clothes. I should have been getting ready to have a child on Thanksgiving day, and not waking up crying because the kicks I felt weren’t real. I should finally realize that the baby I imagine who needs me so much is in reality the neighbor’s newborn son who sleeps in a room next to our apartment.
I don’t want to go through IVF. I don’t want to go on Clomid. I don’t want to have to be poked and prodded and testing like some kind of show and tell mare. I refuse to turn my walls into piles of charts with temperatures and cervical positions/mucus. I really don’t want anything to interfere with my pregnancy except for nature and I don’t understand what is so wrong about that.
There is something my mother did tell me, though. Something that struck close to my heart as a slightly hefty girl:
“Every mother has stretchmarks, right? They are like little badges of motherhood. Consider yours a badge of the awesome mother you’re going to become and wear them with pride.”
So although I may never meet my child in this life, although I may never hold her close, read her a story and tuck her into bed while telling her how much I love and care for her, I know she has in the long run made me a better mother by far.
Comments on I’m trying to conceive and feel like it might not happen
Beautiful and poignant.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with such an interesting viewpoint that i had never considered before when contemplating fertility.
My heart breaks for you. At the same time, you’ve made me feel a little better to not be alone. I understand your not wanting to do all the charts and tracking… I’m doing all that mumbo-jumbo right now and just the act of logging my temperature every morning makes me feel sad and pissed off and want to give up. I hope you get your baby! I know going through this will make you a stronger mother and that you will love them all the more for it 🙂
Thank you for writing this!! As someone who also struggles with fertility issues, I felt like shouting “AMEN!” to every line. Never before have I felt so angry and frustrated with my body. But it’s the bitterness that’s really overwhelming. Despite being late to the party in regards to first kisses, first boyfriends, loss of virginity, marriage, and pretty much every other social milestone, I’ve never encountered so many “why her and not me?” feelings in my life! It’s awful. I hate not being able to honestly congratulate my dear friends on one of the most miraculous and beautiful moments of their lives or getting upset instead of being compassionate when friends complain about their pregnancies or the difficulties of mommying.
And while I think it’s okay & natural to be angry and bitter, I’ve taken to forcing myself into situations where I can’t be. For example, I always volunteer to throw the baby showers. Doing so, puts me in a position where I have to focus on the celebration rather than my own sadness. Or, I’ll offer to hold & care for the baby (even though the first time left me weeping), so they become little ones I love and cherish, and not just living evidences of my own biological shortcomings. I don’t know if it will work for everyone and the feelings definitely don’t change immediately. But I’m happy/sad to say that after 6 months, I can finally hold my darling niece without getting upset and wanting to crawl in a hole. Instead of resenting her existence, I can feel her angelic sweetness healing my heart in a way only the innocence of a child can.
I definitely agree that the only way to truly stop focusing on our hurt and start feeling whole instead of broken is to focus on those precious babies who are already in our lives.
p.s. LOVE your mom’s take on stretch marks!!
I need more posts like this. We’ve been trying for 16 months with no success. Not even a positive pregnancy test to show for it. We know what the problem is, and unfortunately the meds we’ve tried have backfired, and if they all don’t work, only IVF would work for us. (Male factor issues). My husband did that with his first wife and is determined never to do it again. I am (supposedly) still fertile as I’ve had 3 pregnancies before. I’d be willing to give it a shot. It’s so hard. I too, hate hearing about who’s pregnant, and seeing babies. I’ve had to block friends from my newsfeed on Facebook to keep from seeing it too much. It’s unbelievably difficult.
I’m sure you’ve considered this already, but I will say my husband and I had the same issues and feelings and decided (after a lot of debate) to try to get pregnant with donor sperm. You can even try to do it at home instead of a at a clinic. I recently gave birth and we are both so happy, but my husband especially so.
Sorry if this is not helpful, I have just been looking into it and thought I’d mention it. There are also at home artificial insemination kits, I know a few women had luck with using their husbands very low count or low motility sperm by using the kit every month for a few months. It’s by no means a sure bet, but it isn’t invasive and can be done by you and your partner at home. Hugs and strength to everyone who has ever dealt with infertility or a loss.
Thank you for sharing your story. I’m sure you will hear lots of stories like your mother’s about how it took years and several miscarriages before a child was born. As a woman who struggled for three years, these stories were both comforting and frustrating to me. Just remember you don’t HAVE do to any of the IVF, Clomid, therapy stuff. You don’t HAVE to keep going. You can take a break anytime you want. It is always YOUR choice. Not your doctor’s, not your husband’s, yours. In fact sometimes it helps to “take a break” so to speak and let your body relax. Be good to yourself and your body. What finally worked for me included taking better care of myself, like changing jobs and diagnosing a gluten allergy. Hang in there, love yourself. 🙂
Are you me? I’m so glad to see this today. One of my good friends and coworkers is 8 months in, and she just “happened” to get pregnant on her honeymoon. They suffered a miscarriage, and the next month got pregnant again. It made me want to scream, after trying for almost a year and still not even a positive test to show for it. And how far do we go? I want to be a mother so badly, but sometimes it feels like I must not want it badly enough if I’m not ready to spend the time, money, and emotional resources to try interventions. I’m in the same boat, so thank you for this piece.
Thank you. THANK YOU!! I could’ve wrote this. And I feel so alone, while I am saddened you have to go this, I am glad I am not alone. I don’t have anyone else in my life that has had a hard time getting pregnant.
Both my sisters, my mom, just about my whole family can get pregnant just by thinking about it. My sisters even warned me when I first started having sex to be careful cause our family is so fertile that I could pregnant easily. In ways I was like them, we are all irregular and have periods more often than not it seems.
But now that my husband and I want to get pregnant and I got off birth control, I can’t seem to get a period. It’s been about a year. No positive tests, nothing to show for it. We are upset about it, but I don’t know if I can take doing meds and then possibly still not get pregnant and maybe have horrible side effects.
But I have no one to talk to. My friends tell me I obviously don’t want it enough if I don’t want intervention or that maybe the universe doesn’t want me to be a mom. My family tells me that I must be doing something wrong or not trying hard enough. One family member told me its God’s way of punishing me for having premarital sex and he probably thinks I’m not mature enough to care for another human being. I am trying not to stress out and I’m trying to not let it effect me when I’m around friends and family with kids.
So while I am still trying and trying to not let myself get too sad, I am so happy to know I am not alone. That someone understands. And I love your mom’s sentiment on stretch marks.
Good luck and best wishes to you and yours.
Bex, you sound like you have limited support. But there are things you can do to try to get your hormones back on track without going on dangerous meds. Try cutting sugar and white flour for a month or two, getting more exercise if you think you need to, and adding in tincture of Vitex (Chaste-tree berry) extract. If you can find sliding scale acupuncture where you live, that is an option that helped me enormously in getting my period back on track. Birth control can really do a number on your cycle, and you might have an underlying PCOS or thyroid issue to check out, but in most cases it is possible to get it back on track. Good luck!
Acupuncture can do that? I will have to look into that. As for PCOS or thyroid, I got myself checked out and my doc said there is no physical reason why I should have be having a hard time or why my periods aren’t regular. But I will see if she can refer me to an acupuncturist and get my insurance to cover it. Thank you for the suggestions! I really do appreciate them!
Double check the thyroid thing, honestly. My mum looked at me for YEARS and kept muttering, ‘goiter? neck?’ and I would come back normal. On the low end of normal, but normal. Then I got wicked stressed during wedding planning and WHAM, caught my thyroid taking some time off. I’m on meds for it now, and OMG, what a difference in my energy levels, focus…and until I got pregnant, regular periods for the first time in my life. (I’m PCOS as well, but the thyroid seems to have been doing more of a number than that.)
Also, yes, acupuncture and acupressure are wicked helpful, even if it’s just the mental ‘I am DOING SOMETHING’. I did Clomid along with chiropractor/acupressure visits, and we got REALLY lucky and hit on the fifth round. (Which makes me feel like SUCH a shithead sometimes, since I have two friends who are now into their second year of Clomid with no success.)
I hate needles, but this whole process has at least gotten me over my fear of ’em, so maybe next kid, I can just do acupuncture and not have to deal with the Clomid.
Also, I have PCOS and my doctors would honestly have had no way of “checking this out” other than doing an ultrasound of my ovaries — which were full of unreleased follicles. I didn’t really have other symptoms. But if you’re not ovulating, then there is a hormone imbalance there and you might as well treat it similarly to PCOS whether you get a diagnosis of that or not. Similar hormone balancing techniques might help. Good luck!
I want to second the vitex berry. While I was not struggling with infertility (yet), my periods were always super wacky and as I charted I realized that I wasn’t going to have many chances of getting pregnant in one year because of how infrequently I ovulated. With Vitex berry I was pregnant in the next month as an accident. I know that’s not the kind of news you want to hear, but it did work for us.
I am sorry people are saying those things to you. I have found that people who haven’t dealt with infertility don’t always understand how hurtful some comments can be. Are you familiar with RESOLVE (resolve.org)? They have a lot of resources for infertility, including a guide for friends and family on infertility etiquette. I sent it to my family when I was really struggling, and it actually helped a lot. Good luck!
I have not heard of it. I try not to research this on the interwebs because, well, right now I’m just trying not to think of it. But I’ll look into the site. As for my family and friends, I don’t talk about it anymore, I keep it to myself and my husband. It works, but sometimes it would be nice to have female support…if that makes sense. Thank you!
Good luck, Breanna. But, take it from an old lady in her 30’s, there are much worse things than being poked, charting your cycle, or even going on Clomid. I’ve been through all of those and I promise there are ways to find grace and empowerment in them. Don’t be too harsh on yourself or curse your fate yet.
You should think more about what you mean by not “wanting anything to ‘interfere’ with your pregnancy except for nature” — getting in touch with your cycle and cervical mucus *is* part of nature and can be a helpful, natural thing that might help you feel like you have some greater measure of control over the process.
All the best.
I hear you. I’m married to another woman, and I am already so angry that I can’t take part in the narrative of getting pregnant that got sold to us (the Fertility Industrial Complex, perhaps?). I can’t just get pregnant one night with my love. I have to work so damn hard for it.
The thing that gives me hope is that I will be able to say, so incredibly concretely, that our child was wanted. We will have a fairy tale story of overcoming obstacles and challenges, all to get to our happy endings.
And it seems to me, so will you.
THIS. I’m unfortunately going through the exact same thing… Trying for a year, recently miscarried at 8 weeks. Devastated and at times feel beyond hope. Just had 2nd round of iui and round 6 of clomid. Hopefully we all fight this fight and come up victorious.
Thinking good thoughts for you and all the commenters going thru this hell.
Thank you for sharing your moms words.
Don’t let anyone tell you how you “should” be feeling right now. You feel how you feel and that is valid, that’s it. You are not alone. I’m glad to hear that you had such a great talk with your Mom. And can I also just say how courageous you are to post here? I hope seeing all the others coming out of the woodwork to support you will help. I wish you all the best.
Thank you so much for posting this! My husband and I have been trying for 15 months now and I’ve never gotten pregnant. We decided long ago that we won’t do the fertility route, so I am doing lots of natural stuff. If you want to go natural, try acupuncture like someone mentioned and I’ve found the books by Susun Weed to be incredibly helpful (www.susunweed.com). My husband and I are both drinking her herbal infusions and have noticed a difference in the way our bodies work.
Regardless of what’s helping me feel more encouraged, thank you so very much for posting this. I’ve only recently been telling people that this is an issue and it’s nice to know that others feel the same way. I’ll definitely keep my fingers crossed for you.
For acupuncture, I really liked the book The Infertility Cure: The Ancient Chinese Wellness Program for Getting Pregnant and Having Healthy Babies by Randine Lewis too. Good luck!
First, I know how hard it is and I wish you all the best. Second, I totally get not wanting to interfere with charts, tests, drugs, or invasive procedures. I resisted those things for years, and struggled through frustration and heartbreak over and over again. Then I reached a point where something just had to change. I knew that if I didn’t try everything I could, I would always regret it. And to be honest, I found it empowering. I was just as “infertile” before I accepted the diagnosis. But after, I was able to concentrate on figuring out what was wrong and treating it. I felt more in control. It is not an easy path, there were still more tears to come before we were finally successful, but we were. Looking back now, in my third trimester and preparing a nursery, I feel so incredibly lucky, and the fact that I had to get poked and prodded and take some drugs to make that happen in no way diminishes that feeling of awe and magic. I feel stronger for the battle, if that makes sense, and I wish I hadn’t let myself suffer so long. But that is my story. You have to do what is right for you, and your story.
Oh this, times one hundred. After just having yet another follow-up with my doctor to discuss and tinker with Clomid doses, I hear you on the feeling of being betrayed by your body. I know it’s hard especially when it seems like everyone in your life suddenly turns up pregnant and you just want to smack the glow right off their face, or maybe I’m the only violent one 🙂 You will be challenged and stretched and discover more about yourself in this process of wanting, I’m telling myself it’s preparation for motherhood. I’m so happy you at least have the support of your mother and are in touch with your own feelings. Fertility Strugglers, UNITE!
I can entirely understand how frustrating it is to struggle to conceive, and how intimidating the assisted fertility route is. Been there. Had the miscarriage, and the treatments, and finally, against the odds, had the baby.
BUT. How are we defining infertility? The stats I was given are that 70% of couples will achieve a pregnancy after a year of unprotected sex; 90% after two; and 10% may benefit from treatment, though many of them will also achieve pregnancy on their own eventually. And as many as 30% of conceptions end in miscarriage but the vast majority of women go on to have healthy pregnancies.
So, when I read this article, I didn’t think “infertility”, I thought, oh, a young woman (author’s bio says 20) suffering the intense grief of miscarriage. As I read further, and into the comments, I grew angry on all of our behalf, because it seems, somehow, we’ve diagnosed ourselves with fertility problems that may it exist, and we are judging ourselves by them. That’s a tragedy.
I’m struggling with conceiving and I wonder this question too. In fact, I recently posted about it on my blog (and submitted it at a guest post here last week). One of the horrible facts about struggling with fertility and the label “infertile” is exactly what you brought up, timing! When exactly am I infertile? When can I start receiving the support from groups and medicine? When is my emotional anguish valid?
You said that we’re diagnosing ourselves with fertility problems that may [not] exist and judging ourselves by them; what a tragedy!
But I am emotionally not coping with not-conceiving and I need support now! Not in 3 months time when I pass the 1 year mark. Not when I pass the 2 year mark. Not when I have an official medical diagnosis of infertility. But right now I need emotional support.
I’m not calling myself infertile. When I read these comments, I don’t see anyone calling themselves infertile. But I do see families struggling and hurting with the struggle to conceive and we need support with that issue now.
I super identify with this post by the way. I identify with charting and medication and all that. Thank you for this. And thank you everyone for the comments. It’s SO comforting to know I’m not alone.
I didn’t say, or mean to say, that any of us should go without emotional support, ever. But when the time it takes to conceive is within the range of normal for humans, possibly the most useful form that support (especially from the medical community) could come in would be to normalize the experience, and watch how our language colors our emotions. Sometimes it takes longer than we’d like. That’s very hard; it’s made harder by the intense focus we put on the “struggle”, and I think there is a fertility industry that capitalizes on that. Women who believe they have a problem buy a lot more ovulation kits than women who don’t.
The tragedy here, IMHO, is that so many of us believe we have a problem when we are still in the range of normal. Where did that perception come from? I personally blame the same marketing strategies that leave us thinking we’re never thin enough, or our teeth aren’t white enough, or our homes aren’t perfectly decluttered. Now we don’t conceive fast enough, and we have the spectre of fertility treatments to haunt us while we wait…and in some cases we have treatments, whch do carry risks, before they are medically warranted. This makes me personally angry, and sad.
That said, emotions are personal and valid and deserve support. Of course.
I agree. The band of “normal” seems to be getting more and more restrictive and too often we find ourselves outside that band when in fact we shouldn’t be. And also all emotions are valid, because emotions are emotions!
What I’m haunted by is the definition by western medicine’s standards, which actually seems to contradict the definition Frances uses above. If you’re under 35, then you should conceive in a year. After that is when they start figuring out if you have a problem. If you are 35 or older, it’s 6 months.
This definition has been incredibly frustrating for me because I have had a doctor tell me I’m infertile and that given my age, my choice not to use fertility treatments is a waste of time. If someone had given me the definition above, I think it would have saved me a lot of grief.
JR, the difference might be between Canadian and American medicine. We tend to be more conservative up here, where fertility investigations (not treatments) are publicly funded. The reason why doctors start investigations after six months for women over 35 is not because the definition of infertility, which is somewhat arbitrary anyway (historically it was two years, not one; it changed when IVF became available) changes, it’s because treatments work better the younger you are, so, well, why waste time? But that only matters if you choose to use assisted fertility. Canadian population data say the stats don’t change much until 39, after which the ability to conceive drops increasingly each year. But it’s hard to apply population data to individuals.
I feel for you! My mom also struggled to conceive and when time began to stretch out for me also, I started to really worry about my own fertility. It’s always so hard wondering, do we try another few months, or do we make a doctor’s appointment? The pain of a miscarriage must just compound that struggle.
We spent four years trying to conceive. It didn’t work for us. I hesitate sometimes to tell our story because I don’t want to take anyone’s hope from them, but I found the scariest part of stopping treatment to be not knowing what that looks like. Too many women like me don’t talk, and so we become invisible.
We haven’t stopped trying to become parents, we’ve spent the last 4 years trying to adopt but it’s unlikely that will happen at this stage.
But we are okay. And we are much more okay than when we were trying to conceive. And I guess what I want to say is you can be happy and childless. Even though there was time when you moved heaven and earth and wished with every atom in your body that you would conceive the beautiful tiny baby you dreamed of. The hurt and bitterness doesn’t go away, it still stings sometimes, but after the grief fades you can be a happy, fulfilled, thankful person. And our life right now is more worthwhile and rewarding than I thought was possible.
I don’t know if that helps anyone, but I think it might have helped me four years ago.
Oh, I have been there. I wish I had words to soothe you, but it seems like you’re handling it as well as most of us do. Beautiful post!
I feel your pain. It made me teary, just reading this. With my first miscarriage, I made it nearly 10 weeks. I have PCOS, so my missed periods didn’t really alert me until I started having the other symptoms (REALLY sore breasts, extreme tiredeness, etc…). On a whim I took a test and it was positive! I was elated as I didn’t have a lot of faith I’d ever get pregnant. PCOS has the unfortunate side effect of infertility. Just as soon as I found out and brought my husband into the celebration, I started to lose the pregnancy. It was the single most devastating experience I have ever been through. A lot of the intense emotion, I know, was due to the hormones, but that didn’t lessen the blow. On the positive side, I knew I could get pregnant which was a new idea for me. Since then I’ve had 2 additional miscarriages and I know women who have had 6 and still ended up with a brood of beautiful children. My next steps are to work with my doctor every step of the way to make sure I’m doing everything I can to ensure that the pregnancy has every chance to take. I wish you lots of luck in your journey. Thanks for sharing your story!
this resonates with me as well. We`ve been trying for over a year now, including fertility treatments.
When my doctor gave me a reference for a clinic stating ‘interfility’, I stared at the paper in my car and cried. I want this so badly, with every fibre of my being. I’m also resentful of other parents – I have a friend who just announced her third pregnancy, all conceived on their first month of trying. Anything baby related makes me tearful.
At first I hesitated before going to the fertility clinic, but now I feel like I’m at least doing something. But there is plenty that you can do without going that route. Acupuncture, eating well, exercising, etc. Read up on the COQ10 supplement. There are lots of forums where women exchange advise, experiences and most importantly support each other on this very difficult journey.
I got the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility and charted for 6 months before trying (I was using donor sperm and wanted to really know what my cycle was before trying). Charting really wasn’t that big of a deal. I just kept a clipboard on the night stand and a basal thermometer. The biggest pain in the butt was waking up at the same time each day to take my temp, but I usually got up to pee around 5am, so I just did it then and recorded the temp off the thermometer when I woke up later. I actually really enjoyed getting to know my cycle and body so well. It made me feel very feminine, and primal and sexual to know what my body was doing. It was pretty awesome actually. So, don’t rule that out off the bat, give it a shot for a while and see what you can find out about your body and go from there. Sending you GOOD LUCK and baby vibes! OH – and also, maybe I’m a weirdo, but I also had a couple of fertility goddess statues around my bed and house. Can’t say that they helped, but they sure didn’t hurt. Also, they are beautiful, so bonus to that.
How to track your cycles and chart your fertility without going super insane
I owe so much to that book. We were trying on-and-off for over two years (stopping when frustrated and then restarting) when I finally read TCOYF. Learning what I did and starting to chart taught me so much about my body, something that I think is quite invaluable. I felt more in-touch with my body and its womanly processes than I ever had before.
In the end, after two months of charting I got pregnant for the first time.
I know exactly how you feel. Please don’t give up hope. I was 42 when I finally got pregnant. It took me almost 2 years to get pregnant. I conceived naturally with a whole lot of trying,tears, faith and affirmations.
I’m cheering you on!
I understand this feeling and it sucks so horribly bad. It always seemed as if everyone i worked with/friends/family members were all enjoying their unexpected pregnancies and i just wanted to tear their faces off! Anger issues much? Maybe but i dont mind… My husband and i tried for 6 years while everyone asked where is your baby (gag). I even started to tell then how we couldnt have them. It made me happy to make them uncomfortable 🙂 . I know noone wants to hear it, but we gave up completely and here she is beautiful and miraculous almost 7 years later. You are entitled to your feelings, just know that (speaking from experience) it may take some people a loooong time
My uncle and aunt had their first after 7 years of trying as well. By the third year of “where’s your baby?” questions, he’d gotten so tired of them that he finally started telling everyone that he had a very rare medical condition: his penis was so large when he would get an erection all the blood in his body would flow to his member and he’d immediately pass out! Needless to say, he enjoyed making the questioners uncomfortable too.
Thank you for this! I’m glad to see I’m not the only one growing a bit of a vindictive streak. In the grand scheme, we aren’t very far into things, but the last few months have been hard. My other half and I have been together long enough now people are asking where our baby is, when’s it going to be our turn.
I was always polite until recently, when the universe decided to make my 14 year old cousin pregnant and a severely mentally ill drug-addicted friend gave birth to a very sick little baby she lost custody of before she even left the hospital. I’ve been reveling in making people squirm ever since, because fuck it. I needed to stop pretending things are fair for a little while and let everyone else suffer a little too.
I am right there with you. Been trying for ten months. Twice, I’ve had a positive pregnancy test and started bleeding the same day. In December, I made it to 8 weeks before I miscarried. Before I went off birth control, we managed to conceive in the positive-test-immediate-bleeding way, so I didn’t think we’d have this problem. When I was 17, I got pregnant accidentally while on birth control and had so many complications (HG, life threatening allergic reactions to meds, etc) that by the time we figured out I was pregnant, the doctor recommended that I terminate at 12 weeks.
I’ve been a childbirth doula for ten years. I love children and know more than the average bear about conception, pregnancy, and childbirth. None of that seems to be helping me now. I’ve worked part time at a grocery store for the last four years and let me tell you just how many pregnant women I see every day. I even had a co-worker who was afraid to tell me she was pregnant because she knew how much I wanted a baby. (She’s now the mother of unplanned, conceived on BC, healthy twin girls. And she was totally drinking coffee and alcohol regularly when she conceived, too.) I am genuinely happy for her and was a huge supporter during her pregnancy, and while I’m not exactly bitter, I can’t help thinking how unfair it is. I keep having thoughts like, “If one more drunken teenager gets pregnant before me, I’m going to scream!”
I was diagnosed with PCOS as a teen (same as “qualm,” no symptoms except ovaries that looked like a bunch of grapes on an ultrasound). It seems to have resolved with age, but you never know. I also have a retroverted uterus (just like my momma) which isn’t supposed to cause a problem, but she also had five miscarriages between conceiving me and my sister, partly due to incompetent cervix, and had to be on bed rest with both of us. There hasn’t been a woman in my family as far back as we can research who’s been able to have a child after the age of 30. (My great-grandmother even died with a calcified fetus inside of her at 70.) In the early 30’s is when the reproductive organs seem to start coming up broken or covered in cysts and tumors. I turn 29 at the end of this month.
On top of that, my husband has a low pH and mysteriously contracted gonorrhea as a very young child, which may or may not have an effect on his fertility. We haven’t had him tested because I’m obviously getting pregnant, just not staying that way.
Since I also think the stress of meds and endless charting offsets the usefulness at this point, here’s what I’m doing about it:
* no alcohol at all (even two 4oz. glasses of wine a week with dinner can cut your fertility by 50%)
* no coffee (caffeine reduces muscle activity in the fallopian tubes, so I’m sticking to less than 50mg a day from tea & chocolate)
* taking my vitamins (including a whole food women’s multi, extra vitamin D, extra folic acid [both of which have been beneficial for women with PCOS trying to conceive], fish oil/DHA, and an iron supplement every other day [since anemia is totally a thing I’m prone to, especially after pregnancy loss])
* I went to a midwife for my yearly well woman exam, and I’m keeping in touch with her about my journey (if your insurance covers it, see if you can get regular gynecological care at a birth center — they are WAY better about honoring the “range of normal” instead of jumping to an ‘infertile’ diagnosis — and they can give great recommendations for herbal tinctures and teas that have fewer side effects than conventional drug treatments)
* I’m exercising gently with yoga, dance, etc. (since my last loss happened after two long days at work, 8+ hours on my feet with heavy lifting, I’m also quitting that job and going totally freelance where I can control my activity level)
* OvuView phone app (gives me the option to chart as little or as much as I want [right now, just when I menstruate, we have sex, take a test, and a few symptoms] in a way that doesn’t stress me out — and it predicts my fertility cycle, allows me to see patterns I didn’t see before)
The point of this very long post is that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. Fertility struggles are one of those things women only talk about in hushed voices behind closed doors and it shouldn’t be that way. Our voices should be heard, our journeys honored, and our experiences and feelings validated. I’m blessed with a great community of women both on and offline that I can share my struggle with. It still doesn’t take the sting out of comments made by child-free-by-choice friends about how I’m “not REALLY trying” since I’m not throwing myself at the mercy of a Western medicine and a fertility specialist, but I let the voices of support drown out those little barbs. Do what’s right for you, each step of the way. *hugs*
Your story sounds very VERY similar to mine. If I would encourage you to do just one thing it would be to have a bloodtest done to see if you posses the MTHFR mutation. I was able to get pregnant I just couldn’t STAY pregnant. After several years of trying my awesome OB, after having read this NEW study (at the time) about the MTHFR mutation, had me tested. And, low and behold that is what my problem was. The MTHFR mutation basically makes it so your body does not process folic acid properly, therefore you don’t absorb it. If your body isn’t processing the folic acid properly then neural tube development (which is very early on in development, before you even know you are pregnant) does not happen probperly. Neural tube development is vital for brain, CNS and heart development. There is speculation that MTHFR mutation was/is the cause for many “unexplained infertility” diagnoses. It was extremely new research when my OB found out about it oh about 8 years ago now; and it’s still considered a fairly new infertility issue. The somewhat good thing about it is it is treatable. I took massive doses of folic acid (4mg+ a day) and a b-vitamin complex to basically try to have an overabundance of those vitamins and minerals my body doesn’t naturally process. (thanks to the MTHFR mutation) The theory is that overabundance passes on to the embryo/fetus. I also took baby aspirin too because there is speculation that MTHFR mutation interferes with the way nutrients pass over the placenta. Within 3 months I was pregnant with my eldest. She is now a very healthy 7yr old. 🙂 Her sister followed a few years later.
The only “bad” part of the diagnosis is that this is something I will have to deal with for the rest of my life. I have to take folic acid and b-vitamins on a daily basis to attempt to supplement what my body doesn’t process for itself. MTHFR increases my risk for heart disease and a few other medical issues. It won’t ever go away. But, at least I know about it and know what I need to do to try and help my body function properly. (just for giggles my OB’s office actually refers to this muatation as the “Mother (MTH) Fucker (FR)” mutation.)
My infertility led to some severe problems with depression and anxiety (which I still struggle with the anxiety on a daly basis) I come from a VERY fertile family, so, being the first to struggle with any issues of infertility my family didn’t quite know how to……respond(?) to my issues. They said all the wrong things. (you know, those things they tell you DON’T say this to people who’ve had a miscarriage/are struggling with infertility…yeah they said them all and then some.) The most hurtful were when they were telling me how I should feel. They didn’t understand the anxiety and depression. So, don’t ever let them tell you how you should feel, or grieve, or work your way through this. Get professional help if you need it. (I did, desperately.) And, know that you are not alone.
Thanks, Rae! I’ve had issues with depression, my circulatory system/heart, and oral ulcers (which is also related to low absorbtion of amino acids) my whole life. I’m already doing plenty of extra folic acid and B-complex. Apparently, the baby asprin thing is to help prevent clot formation between the developing placenta and uterine wall. I’m allergic to asprin/white willow bark, but I can take red clover which should accomplish the same thing in this insance. I’ll talk to my midwife and see what she recommends.