By Brandy Black
All my days have become the same, at 5:00, my routine begins, I walk to the stereo and slip in a prepared disk that I listen to every night at this time. I open the refrigerator with a glimmer of hope for what I might get out of the pain I am about to ensue. I grab the needle and the vial and draw out 1.75 CC’s, I slowly pull back the cold clear liquid and push until it is at the very edge of the needle. I search for a spot that isn’t too bruised for another entry. I carefully and methodically rub alcohol on my skin waking it up for the enthralling prick it is about to receive. I take a deep breath and thrust the needle into my skin pushing hard to be sure that every ounce of the fluid seeps into my body. I pull the needle out of me and place a tiny band-aid over the prick. I repeat this three times, each with different medication. My eyes don’t flutter, I don’t get a rush through my body, I feel sad and beaten down and tired. When I finish my daily routine, I turn off the music and walk with my dog to get a shot of wheatgrass. They know me there and sometimes even pour me a little extra green grass always with an orange slice on the side. I tip the shot back and shake my head in disgust every night. The teenagers behind the counter must wonder why I put myself through this so often. I want to tell them my story and what is behind these sad eyes but they wouldn’t understand, they wouldn’t know what it’s like.
Now I lay here in the recovery room with sheets drawn on either side of me, groggy, hearing moaning and whispers from the other beds. I look down at my wrist and and see the clear plastic tube feeding me. This is the last time I will be here with these familiar nurses and doctors. I am done, I am quitting no matter what the results may be. I am scared and not ready to let go but I have no choice. This habit has become expensive and exhausting. It has consumed my life, my partners life and is the topic of all conversations. I wonder if I will be able to say good-bye to this chapter of my life. I have never desired something so passionately and struggled to let go so much. I don’t give up easily, I never have, I am stubborn and strong willed. (pause) I will have to wait two weeks for the results and than I will know if I truly have the will power to stop this charade.
I get out of the hospital and 2 weeks become 14 days and 14 days become 336 hours and 336 hours become thousands and thousands of minutes, time is slower than it’s ever been. Every morning I am relieved that another day has passed. The 14th day arrives and I am sitting in the doctors office, the couch is comfortable and I am not, I rock myself back and forth waiting for the test results. I will know in less than 5 minutes if the 2 and half years, thousands of dollars spent and hundreds of shots taken were going to pay off in the end. Was IVF really all that everyone said it would be? None of the nurses can look at me as they pass by the small window looking out to the waiting room. They know me well, they know my partner, they have drawn my blood every other week for as long as I can remember. We all know this is the last time.
I hear my doctor’s voice calling me into his office, it is shaking and I try to read into every syllable I hear. I slowly push myself off the couch with tears in my eyes and open the door. I see a nurse at the end of the hall and her eyes immediately shift down to the floor. The walk to his office seems endless, I round the corner to see him, arms open, and a smile on his face.
“Congratulations, you’re pregnant”!
I wrote that over 10 years ago and now have 3 kids, one for every year of infertility. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that we went through that much struggle and there was once a time when we truly believed it wasn’t possible for us to have kids of our own. It wasn’t until CCRM approached us to partner with them and share our journey for National Infertility Awareness Week that we drudged up the emotions that came with trying to get pregnant. Without hesitation we both knew we wanted to be a part of sharing our pain and struggle in the process. It was such an emotional taxing time and the only thing that gave us hope was knowing that other people were going through the same thing and came out the other side with success stories.
I’m not going to lie, creating our family felt like it was also pulling Susan and I apart and there were moments that we wondered if we were able to endure the constant disappointment. There was nothing more exciting then dreaming about our family, what our kids would look like, how we would celebrate the holidays, what our traditions would be—playing cards at night, reading by the fire, taking trips to Disneyland, our lists went on. With every month that we didn’t get pregnant that list grew and grew and grew until one day it seemed those things were never going to happen for us. Our dreams begin to dwindle and the doubt crept in. We couldn’t figure out why we weren’t getting pregnant and we were in denial that it could be infertility but after spending thousands of dollars on sperm donors and failed IUI’s it became obvious that we had to take next steps to do testing and eventually IVF. Although the process at times felt sterile and far from what we imagined our baby making journey to be, we were so grateful that modern technology and companies like CCRM existed. CCRM is one of the nation’s leading fertility centers and has 10 locations in US and Canada. They offer a myriad of infertility resources ranging from award winning physicians around the country to egg donor testing to a deep expertise in in vitro fertilization (IVF) with fertility assessment, fertility preservation, genetic testing and third party reproduction. All of those things being foreign words to me until I began to realize that we were a couple that was facing infertility.
I fought it every step of the way but with coaching from experts we fast tracked the process by taking the plunge into IVF. At the end of the day, there are a number of reasons why any couple may not be able to have a baby “naturally” and in our case it was “unexplained infertility” but now that we have 3 beautiful children, it doesn’t matter how we got there. It is their story, and ours and we are here to say that you don’t have to give up. It can and will be possible for you too.
We went through 3 rounds of IVF and I actually blogged through the whole process. I was so emotional about it at the time that I wrote under a pseudonym— Rosy Barren. You can find them here if you are going through the same thing and want to learn about our journey. I was very honest about all that we were going through and this is actually the first time that I have publicly announced that it was me that wrote that blog. It helped me getting it on paper and working through my feelings. I urge you to share your story with us and CCRM #LetsTalkFertility. We help each other by being open and honest about how common this really is. Despite what people think 1 in 8 people are affected by infertility yet when CCRM polled 1000 people, 40% of them believed that it is considered a socially taboo subject. Maybe it’s pride, or the pain that it causes but we help one another when we share our story. Hearing other people’s struggles certainly helped me.
Here is a video of Susan and I talking fertility. Use the hashtag #LetsTalkFertility and tell us your stories.