It’s been eight years. Eight years of my husband and I trying to start a family. If you had told me eight years ago that this would become the hardest journey of my life, I would not have believed you. If you had told me 20 years ago that I would have this much trouble getting pregnant, I would have laughed. Well, I now believe you and that laughter has turned into a lot of tears.
It all started six months before we even made the decision to start trying. I was diagnosed with severe dysplasia and had lesions on my cervix which needed to be removed. At the time, I was planning our wedding, so my doctor suggested we should wait, enjoy our special day and arrange to have the procedure done after. The wedding was flawless and absolutely magical, we had a wonderful honeymoon in Cabo San Lucas and when we returned, the date for the procedure was confirmed.
The procedure I had to do was called a LEEP, which stands for loop electrosurgical excision procedure that uses a thin, low-voltage electrified wire loop to cut out abnormal tissue. The procedure went well and life went on… until a month after.
If I remember correctly, it was October 30, 2006. My period was a few days late and of course I started thinking all kinds of thoughts, one being “could I be pregnant?” Then, after an hour or two, I went to the bathroom and low and behold, my period had started. So, I put on a pad and that was that, until 30 minutes later, when I had to change my pad. Then 30 minutes after that, I had to change it again. This will get a little graphic, but I went through about half a dozen pads in an hour — it was like I got shot. Todd, my husband and his twin brother Shawn drove me to the health clinic and after about 45 minutes, they could do nothing and I was just full of blood. That’s when I was rushed to the emergency room. It’s a night I will never forget.
On the ambulance ride down I was in a lot of pain, so the paramedics gave me some valium. I have to tell you, I don’t understand the purpose of valium. You still feel the pain, you’re just so drugged up that it doesn’t matter. When I arrived in the hospital, I was placed on a bed and was put in a small waiting room. While I was waiting, the blood kept coming out and I was still in a lot of pain. Finally, a blood clot the size of a grapefruit came out! I know this is quite graphic, but this is all true.
I was seen by a couple of doctors and after analyzing my situation, they came to the conclusion that when I had my LEEP done, my doctor cauterized my cervix closed. Yup, that’s right, my cervix was closed and so when I had my period, the blood had no where to go but in to my uterus.
Now March 2007 rolls around and I just finished my three month waiting period after stopping the Pill. Excited and nervous all at the same time, but Todd and I decided it was time to start a family. And so the quiet nightmare began. We were either having chemical pregnancies or weren’t getting pregnant at all. Then I started to develop cysts and from there it basically went downhill.
In November 2007, something else started to happen. Our friends around us started getting pregnant. The first two or three I could handle, but after several, I didn’t think I would have the emotional strength to be happy for my friends — but I was, because I had to be.
After months of trying, failing, doctor appointments, ultrasounds, diet changes, acupuncture, and so on and so on, I found out I had endometriosis. Endometriosis is a disorder in which tissue that normally lines the uterus grows outside the uterus. Dealing with endometriosis is not easy, it’s actually pretty miserable.
We continued to try all throughout 2008 and 2009. Then we moved to Brazil for Todd’s business in January 2010. We sort of continued trying, but not with the same intensity back in the U.S., because we had a whole new set of issues to deal with due to living in a foreign country.
Upon returning from Brazil in January 2014, me at the ripe old age of 40 and Todd 39, in a way exhausted from the four years in Brazil, we were hoping to get back on our pregnancy journey. Of course this came with finding out that at least four other friends were pregnant, almost 20 friends in total over the course of these eight years. However, it was different this time, because those four friends had struggled to get pregnant and were trying IUI (Interuterine Insemination) or IVF (Invitro Fertilization) with a fair amount of failure.
In July 2014, I finally had laparoscopic surgery to confirm my endometriosis and to clean it out! I thought the day would never come. My doctor even told me it was a mess in there, I can only imagine.
This past January 2015 was our first official IUI session. It failed, but that’s OK, because we finally have a chance to give this pregnancy thing a seriously good try. I’m hoping it’s not too late, but I feel we are in a really good place to finally make this happen.
I’m sharing the details of my story, because I am one of millions of women that have fertility issues. It is a horribly devastating feeling to not be able to reproduce. I’m a pretty tough cookie, but this has taken Todd and I to hell and back many times. But we’re not giving up, if anything we’re just getting started.
What I want to know is, why aren’t more women sharing their stories of infertility. There have been a few exceptions like Celine Dion, Giuliana Rancic and Sarah Jessica Parker, but on the whole, not much. When I hear that Susan Sarandon gave birth at 45, or Halle Berry is pregnant at 47, or Geena Davis had twins at 48, my question is, how? Is it taboo to talk about this? Do these women not share their story because they’re embarrassed? Or do they want to give the illusion that it “just” happened? For eight years, I’ve been hoping to hear more stories about infertility from women of all walks of life and I feel I’ve been let down. Yes, the friends that have become pregnant after their struggles of infertility are a blessing in my life, because it gives me hope, but I want to hear more stories. I want to feel I connect with a community of women and couples that know what it means to be reproductively challenged, but they are few and far between.
The face of infertility is me, it could be you, it could be your friend, it could be your coworker. It could be a woman in her early thirties, late thirties or early forties. When we first started trying I was 33; now I’m 41. Yes, it’s more common that a woman in her forties will have fertility issues, but 33 is quite young and it comes as a shock to know you have fertility issues.
If you have fertility issues, know that you’re not alone. Don’t be ashamed of it, talk about it, share your story and when you become pregnant, we will celebrate with you and it will all give us hope that maybe one day soon, we’ll be pregnant too.