Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Infertility: Why is Everyone Pregnant But Me?!

“Do you have any children?” I asked the woman.  We were riding the elevator up to our hotel rooms after the dinner sponsored by the convention.  Since it was a mom-blogging conference, I thought it likely that she did.

“No, we’re trying,” she answered, the far off look in her eyes betraying her cheerfulness.  “We have a fur baby.”

“Oh,” I said feebly.  I didn’t know what to say. 

I should have.

Six years ago it seemed that all my college friends had run up to that so-called fertility finish line of age 35 either with a baby in their arms or pregnant.  Some with both. 

I went off the pill and was convinced we’d be pregnant within months.  Surely after all the time I’d spent treating pregnancy like leprosy my body would cooperate, knowing that this time I’d stopped running.  It would know that this time I wanted to catch this blessed affliction, and I wanted it desperately.  

After nine months and an empty belly, at the insistence of a good friend, I marched into my OB-GYN's office and demanded tests. 

Dr. G asked me to wait three more months, claiming that after a year we could officially admit something was wrong.  I refused. She obliged.

We did test #1. It wasn’t J.  His fishies had moves like Lochte.

I was put on six months of Clomid, which did nothing but make me a raging, hormonal bitch (which, as you can imagine really promotes intimacy) and caused me to pass out cold during a friend’s music set at the Empty Bottle.

We moved on to a hysterosalpingogram – a mildly uncomfortable process in which dye is run through the fallopian tubes to make sure they are clear.

Both tubes were blocked like a porn site on an office desktop.

We began our course of Eastern and Western Medicine.  We saw the amazing Dr. KellyLee Whiteside at Harmony Health, where I began a regimen of regular acupuncture, fertility massage and an anti-inflammation diet.  I also had a tubal cannulation performed by the wonderful Dr. Edmond Confino, the doctor who pioneered the procedure.

Now for those of you wondering what a cannulation is, it is basically roto-rootering the fallopian tubes.  Since all you get to numb the pain is a lousy valium, it is HELLACIOUSLY PAINFUL.  Seriously, if any terrorists or rogue governments want to torture women, they'll have hit pay dirt with this operation.  I would have ratted out my own mother and promised to behead a baby kangaroo if it would have ended the suffering. 

Dr. C succeeded in opening one tube and suggested that we do an intrauterine insemination.

It failed. IVF was our only option. 

One of J’s clients gave us a recommendation to Dr. B, a stern, no-nonsense, but ridiculously successful reproductive endocrinologist, and we began treatment.  I still went to acupuncture with its healing and calming aura in comparison to the anxiety provoking visits to the RE, where the waiting room was heavy with sadness -- where although we were all going through the same thing, no one ever met anyone else’s gaze.  We were all on the same cycle, but no one ever smiled or talked or acknowledged anyone else’s presence.  Everyone just stared at the TV, at a magazine or into the distance.

But everything marched along.  I took the pills. I gave myself shots in the belly. I grew and harvested 17 eggs.  Only five were viable. Of the five fertilized only two survived.  Both went in. We hoped for twins (Ha!).

We waited for two weeks.  I joined an online support group.  Those women were my lifeline.  I was afraid to teach class, for fear I'd jostle things around and prevent implantation.  Every day J gave me a shot in the butt.  Every morning, convinced that we would get bad news, I woke up and sobbed. 

The day we were supposed to find out was J’s birthday.  I couldn’t imagine that the universe would be so cruel.

Thank God, it wasn’t.  We were blissfully, astoundingly lucky.  After one try we were pregnant!

Once the pregnancy was underway, I got a little greedy.  I asked my OB-GYN if we’d be able to get pregnant naturally next time. 

“Probably not,” she answered.

When Mr. R was 9 months old, I was pregnant again.  Lady A is our miracle.  We are light years beyond fortunate to have found two pots of gold at the end of our infertility journey.

So, lady in the elevator, I know exactly what you are going through.  I didn’t want to gush.  I didn’t want to get too personal in such a public and transitional space.

I only wish I could have let you know that I’ve been there. Let you know that you’re not alone.

And most of all, I wish I could have said something -- anything at all-- to take away that lingering feeling of being incomplete.   


  1. I'm so glad your journey ended this way.

    I had infertility issues that I now consider mild—probably because of the proliferation of kids I managed to produce.

    At the time, surgery, meds, constant negative pregnancy tests, it didn't feel so mild.

    We decided to skip AI and IVF because I was emotionally tapped out. We'd been discussing adoption the very week that I took my routine, habitual pregnancy test at around 50 days into my cycle (not unusual for me).

    There was nothing routine about that positive test. And so a miracle was born and I now spend some of my energy praying for other tiny miracles to show up in other women's bathrooms.

    I'm not the only person who deserves a miracle.

    1. Thanks, Nicole, for the amazing comment and for sharing your story. It is amazing how many people suffer in secret through this. No one should have to go through this without someone who has been there. It ranks among the most emotionally trying episodes of my life, and a big sister/sponsor figure would have done wonders for my emotional health.

  2. I'm so glad you are sharing this story. We struggled with infertility for years and ultimately turned to IVF for the triplets then, after being told I wouldn't be able to have more, had our surprise baby too. I feel as you do, that I want to tell people who I know are suffering that that used to be us too and even though I have a house full of children now I do know that place they are in.

    1. Who wrote that post about wanting a tattoo to show you're a mom when you're not with your kids? I think we need one for infertility too!

  3. You shared your journey so well! I'm so happy for the sweet ending and your precious little ones. I too, was never a "got knocked up from drinking water" kind of gal, and I appreciate your honesty so much.

    1. I had hoped this post would help some woman to know that she's on a road so many of us have been on. Thanks for visiting!

  4. Thank you for sharing your story! This is my brain right now ... as horrible and selfish is it may be I keep asking myself why not me. After 3 years of trying 4 miscarriages, one reconstructive surgery and 2 going on 3 HSG's we are still no further along than we were in November of 2009 though my heart is a lot more hardened. Bitterness and jealousy are never pretty on anyone ... still trying to brush those bad boys off my shoulders!

    1. It's not selfish at all! You aren't begrudging others their pregnancies - you simply want to be pregnant yourself. It is excruciating to watch others get what you are so desperate to have. It is normal to feel bitter. I did, to the point that whenever I learned of a friend's pregnancy, my heart sank.

      I am so so sorry that you are going through this. I wish you the best - physically, emotionally, spiritually - on your journey.

  5. Thank you for sharing your story! We also struggled with infertility. I too had a HSG, but didn't have to do the tubal cannulation. That sounds absolutely horrible!

    After months of clomid, a few tries with IUI, and 2 full rounds of IVF I have been blessed with beautiful b/g twins.

    I have had a few friends go through IVF and was more than happy to answer questions and tell them about our experience. It seems like people are still afraid and ashamed to talk about this subject.

    1. Thanks, Sara. It is such a hard battle and it is coupled with such shame. Even though my husband was very supportive, I felt like even he couldn't fully understand what I was going through. I would be happy to be that buddy for anyone!

  6. Keesha
    I'm one of those evil girls who seems to get pregnant like that. I once had an old lady tell me to stop washing my clothes with my husbands :) this post was a reminder of the blessing of being so far on the other side of the spectrum. On a side note just like the drugs that made you crazy hormonal SUPER fertility is bad for intimacy if you're thinking your family is finished :)

  7. It's amazing how so many of us have similar stories. I went through having a miscarriage after trying that long word H test with the dye. Not the C word test or any of the other stuff. Even though I knew you were a mom I still had to speed read to your success. I feel the pain of anyone who is trying and I can honestly report that there isn't anything anyone could have said to me to make me feel better. But hopefully blog post like these find their way to their desktop and for a minute women like us can know they are not alone. My son is seven and I was finally successful at age 34.

  8. Thank you so much for sharing this, Keesha. I can't imagine what this experience must have been like for you. I'm so glad that it all worked out in the end. Even though the lady in the elevator might not ever read this post, I hope that someone else who is struggling with fertility reads it and that it gives them some hope.

  9. In my opinion, fertility doctors are generally quick to tell you it will never happen and to push the IVF option (and why not, it's the money-maker for them). The proof is in how many women conceive naturally after they've been told it will never happen. My doctors told me that even healthy couples have only a 25% chance at conception for each try, so I'm surprised your doctor pushed you to IVF after only one IUI attempt. My husband and I tried IUI/chlomid and got lucky our first try. However, that single IUI treatment resulted in my only pregnancy. The doctors told us IVF was the only answer for us, but I refused to believe that. We tried IUI with injections several times hoping for a second pregnancy, but with no luck. We didn't feel comfortable with IVF, so instead, we decided to grow our family through adoption. Today, my two sons are beautiful examples of two different ways you can grow your family. You don't have to give birth to be a mom.


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