Confessions of an Infertile OB/Gyn.
I thought I might write a book some day and title it that. As it is, it seems I tend to ramble if I type more than 200 words. So here it is.
I am a statistic. The one in eight couples that are affected by infertility. I don’t know if my profession protected me somewhat, but I never felt shame as some people describe. Anger. Disappointment. Hopelessness. I have wailed with sounds I never knew I could make. But never ashamed.
One of the things that always bothered me was the assumption that our lack of children was entirely related to choice. I admit that we delayed childbearing some for my education. But starting at age 29, we were all go for a baby. But we were missing two things. Good eggs and good sperm.
When people would ask why we were waiting, I would just respond in truth. “Turns out we are very infertile. Maybe that third round of IVF will be the one.” Now I can’t say that I didn’t make others uncomfortable with my response, but I am comfortable in the truth.
I want to empower other women to speak freely about their fertility struggles. To know they are not alone. I am proud of my journey. It is part of me.
What if? And other games we played…
What happened? IVF cycle #1. The day we had no sperm. We always had sperm. Only a few million sperm. But sperm.
So what do we do… A hail Mary pass. A failed testicular extraction under local anesthesia. Ouch.
Freeze the few but quality eggs I had. And wait three months—the time it takes to make new sperm from square one.
What if we never have sperm again? Do we use a donor? Do we adopt a child? Adopt an embryo? Be the best aunt and uncle we can? And so we waited… People always ask how I could deliver babies while struggling to conceive?
The answer is simple. I LOVE what I do! I know that I am doing exactly what I was put on the earth to do. That brings a peace that I can’t describe. I yearned for a child. But not a different life. I love me. Every person you meet is fighting a different battle. Kindness matters. And I remembered my goal. The one I wrote at the beginning of my medical practice. To treat everyone with compassion, respect, and skill. And we waited…and hoped…and I found joy and peace knowing I was on my path.
How did we get here again?
Wait a minute. I know this room. How did we get here again?
A miracle. Millions of sperm. More than ever. Better than ever. It must be a sign. It is now or never. We boarded the roller coaster once again. That feeling as you click click click to the top. Hands in the air. Ready for the most amazing ride of our lives.
And then the fall. Still falling. Nothing fertilized.
So sorry, Sunny. Your eggs were so poor and cratered. If we hadn’t seen them 6 months ago, I would advise you to stop and save yourself further pain. It’s not your fault. It’s not my fault. Fault has no value here. Same song. Different verse. Someone changed the key.
Me again. IVF cycle #2. Pensive. Disillusioned. Still hopeful.
courage- noun. the ability to do something that frightens one. strength in the face of pain or grief. It was almost a year before we had enough courage to consider another cycle. A lot can change in the course of a year.
Time passed. And we passed the time. Traveling to our favorite places. Doting on our spoiled dog. All the while, taking antioxidants and vitamins, with the hope that maybe I could change the course of my aging ovaries. And then we decided we would put all our eggs in one basket. Literally. One more round and thaw my eggs from the first cycle to fertilize as well. Just one egg. Just one sperm. Just one miracle. Just one. Please. Amen.
And the call. Magic. Blessings. Miracles. Hope. I would like to introduce you to my embryos. Day 5 blastocysts. Ready for transfer from lab to mom. And so we wait. If my infertility doctor would have told me to stand on my head to help them implant, I would have. However, he asked something much harder. Lie in bed with a full bladder for what seemed like forever. Definitely too long for my bladder. After a while, I could wait no longer.
I lied there on my back, bedpan under my bottom. And felt the warm relief go all the way up my back to my hair. And that is how I conceived my son. Of course, we didn’t know it was successful yet. We had to wait weeks until blood work and ultrasound would confirm we were indeed pregnant. This is our story, and it was perfect for us. Urine and all.