I stopped taking my birth control a month before my wedding. After nine years of being on the pill, I was excited to be done, and anticipated becoming a wife and mother.
During the first six months of marriage, I wasn’t too concerned about my fertility. After all, I was unaware of any fertility difficulties within my family. At the six month mark, I began feeling impatient, since I believed getting pregnant was supposed to be as easy as buying a pregnancy test. Up to that point, I thought we were doing all the “right things” — taking prenatal vitamins, monitoring my fertile window, etc. Nothing.
I then downloaded a couple of fertility tracking apps, bought a basal body thermometer to track my temperature, started using ovulation predictor kits, continued with the prenatals, and “baby danced” every two to three days.
Still nothing after eight months. This is about when I started going through the stages of grief, in relation to infertility…
I was in denial that it could take a while to get pregnant, so I went to a gynecologist. She said typically it was best to wait a full year before seeking infertility treatment. Again, being Ms. Impatient, I was ready to problem solve why I couldn’t conceive right then.
Over the course of the next three months, I was put on synthetic progesterone and had a hysterosalpingogram (HSG). The progesterone did nothing but lengthen my cycle from 25/26 days to almost 30(!). The HSG showed a blockage in one of my fallopian tubes, so I had to go in for a sonogram to investigate.
The day of the sonogram, I was a wreck. It was very painful and I was nauseous for a few hours after. I cried on the way back to work and texted my husband saying that this would be the last invasive test I took. The sonogram showed that everything was fine and I may have just had a spasm during the HSG.
We hit month twelve and my mental health was suffering. It was agony waiting for two weeks every month just to see that I wasn’t pregnant. Around month 13-14 I stopped everything — taking my temperature, using ovulation predictor kits — and tried to relax. That didn’t work either. I stopped going to my now-former doctor. I was angry, because I felt like we were wasting time (and money!) and nothing was working.
I was now in the bargaining stage… I remember negotiating with God that if I could get pregnant I’d go to church every Sunday.
Around month 18, I hit the depression stage. We lost our cat to a chronic illness, and a number of people I knew announced their pregnancies around the same time. I was happy for them, but their announcements coupled with the loss of our cat magnified the emptiness in our house. My husband was incredibly supportive at this time (still is) but it was definitely wearing on him too.
Shortly after our cat died we went on a brief vacation and that was the most relaxed I had been in months. However, two weeks later, I was devastated again. I remember standing in the bathroom at 8am on a Saturday morning, sobbing, because I had my period. I felt like my body was broken and I couldn’t do something as basic to living things as reproduce. My husband had a sperm analysis done twice and his results were within normal limits. I thought infertility was my fault.
I eventually found another OBGYN, and the day of my first appointment with him was a nightmare. There were so many visibly pregnant women in the waiting room. I fought hard to hold back tears, and almost lost it when a nurse asked if I had ever been pregnant and I said no. While waiting for my doctor in his office, I couldn’t contain the tears. He was understanding though and walked me through my fertility plan, which included two (unsuccessful) rounds of Clomid, blood tests, the works.
It’s now month 25 and my period started today. Although I’m certainly not pleased, I’m in a much better place than I was even a few months ago. Through testing I found out that one of my hormone levels was half of what it’s supposed to be, which is why I didn’t respond to the lower doses of Clomid. I’m about to start round two of the higher dose. And if that is unsuccessful, then we may try more invasive methods such as IUI (intrauterine insemination) or IVF (in vitro fertilization). Depending on this cycle, we may stop before doing IUI.
I’m in the acceptance stage now. I acknowledge that I may never get pregnant. And that’s okay.
Anyone else feel like they went, or may currently be going through, the stages of infertility grief? If you’re dealing with it, you may find some comfort in our infertility archives…