We hit the twelve month mark. Twelve months of trying to conceive made it official; we were dealing with infertility. I felt broken, like something was wrong with my body. This was truly the first time in my life I had not been able to achieve a goal. I had no answers to why we couldn’t get pregnant, why I was still gaining weight, and why my pain kept getting worse. I had always taken care of myself, followed doctors’ orders, I had always eaten good food, why was this happening to me? My husband and I couldn’t do this without some help, so like it or not, it was back to the ObGyn.
After extensive panels of tests, they pronounced that I was normal and found one slight abnormality with my husband’s sperm. The doctors wouldn’t say that it was definitely the cause of our infertility, but there was a strong possibility that was it. We were told that IUI, intrauterine insemination, would help us bypass this difficulty, and that the procedure was most often effective within three cycles. We were given a quick overview of the procedure: I would take a drug to help me ovulate, undergo an ultrasound, then get a hormone injection of a drug called HCG, and a few days after the injection we would collect my husband’s sperm and perform the insemination. In our desperation to become parents, we decided to go through with the procedure.
I was told that mood swings could be a side effect of the ovulation drugs; that was quite an understatement. In fairness, ovulation drugs don’t affect most women the way they affected me, many women go on to conceive successfully without any side effects. In my case, the fertility drugs took over my body. One Saturday afternoon, while tidying up our bedroom, I noticed that my husband had left his socks on the floor. In my head I thought, “I should tell Frank to pick up his socks.” However, something different came out of my mouth. The next thing I knew I was screaming, “ Damn it Frank! Why the heck are you always leaving your things around the house! Why can’t you ever pick up your socks!” I was completely shocked by what came out of my mouth. I’m usually not the type to get angry over socks on the floor, especially since there is usually a pair of mine lying around somewhere. But in that moment I was angry in a way that I have never before been angry with my husband, and my normal voice disappeared and was replaced by that of a screaming banshee. I should have taken that as a sign that fertility treatments weren’t going to work for me, but I thought they were my only alternative and I was willing to put with to conceive a child.
The first round of treatments didn’t work, and round two was no better. My doctor’s answer to the first failed cycle was an increased dose of the drugs which made me unbelievably ill in the first cycle. I had acne from my chin to my forehead, I was nauseous, and in pain. Once again I called the doctor’s office and was told that people sometimes have bad reactions to the treatment. I can tolerate a lot and was willing to put up with all the negative side effects if it meant conceiving a child. When it was time for the ultrasound, the doctor said he thought we had a good chance of conceiving. Unfortunately, despite our good chances we still were not successful. The doctor suggested that we try again.
Half way through round three I reached my breaking point. I had taken the pills which the doctor prescribed but they didn’t have the desired effect, so the doctor prescribed even more of the fertility drugs. Taking the extra dose in my 3rd cycle of fertility treatments meant that I was taking four times the dose which was initially prescribed for me in the first cycle. I felt terrible, I was irritable, tired, cranky, bloated, puffy, and sore everywhere. The thought of taking the last injection and completing the cycle made me even more ill. Each time I had taken the injection I got unbelievably ill, I experienced hot flashes, moodiness, cravings, and unbelievable pain; all of this was on top of the irritability and moodiness from the pills. As much as I wanted to be pregnant and become a mother I knew in my heart that making myself ill wasn’t the way to make it happen.