So please please please, let me, let me, let me …

IF, Life Add comments

Which is one of the reasons I’ve avoided writing it up until now.

I’ve been wanting to write a blog post about our infertility issues (should that be our fertility issues? I feel we’re doing marvelously at the old INfertility…), but it’s difficult to know what to say. And some days I feel a bit raw and I really worry that I’ll get upset by people’s comments. So, while I’ve tried to be pretty open on Twitter, that land of sound-bites and truncated @-replies, I’ve kept away from actually blogging about it.

Okay. I guess I’ll start at the beginning. I met Gareth, Gar is awesome, we love each other, and we decided that most definitely how fan-bloody-tastic would it be to be involved in the creation of something that had a little bit of both of us, and try to give it love and a good life and all sorts of stuff like that. It’s not an unusual story.

Gareth’s mother was very very ill, and we realized that the years we would have with her would probably be way shorter than we wanted (they were shorter even than we had hoped unfortunately), and so we started down the exciting road of opening the procreation door a lot sooner than people knew. But every month nothing kept happening. Yes we timed things, yes we tried “relaxing” (By the way that whole ‘just relax’ thing is a huge myth and makes people with fertility problems feel bad too, so I’m super glad it’s a myth.), ovulation kits (I still really like the “smiley” face the digital ones give you that say it’s Go Time!), temperature taking, All-Sorts-of-Stuff-You-Really-Don’t-Want-to-Know-About. And yet we were faced over and again by the whitest blankest space in the world – the space that should contain a second line on a pregnancy test.

So, we went to the doctor who did blood tests and stuff on me (all looked well, better than average ovarian function, nothing concerning), and the usual boy-analysis on Gar – unfortunately things didn’t look so well here, and the long and short of it was that we were told that, due to MFI (Male Factor Infertility, Oligoteratozoospermia, if anyone is interested in the really long name) our chances of getting pregnant naturally were next to nil (And yes, miracles happen all the time, “just relax”, “I knew this couple who …”, etc. But no.), and in fact we weren’t even in a position to be helped out with IUI (turkey baster method – tho it’s a bit more complicated than that), so it was straight to IVF with ICSI.

I have to add that the timing of this news was, for added fun, the week after Gareth’s mother died.

We decided to wait until after our wedding (last June) before proceeding with treatments, but jumped in with more feet than two people have any right to, and on our return from Iceland I began the fun process of lots and lots and lots of injections. And we did pretty well – 22 eggs, 20 mature, 18 fertilized, 12 made it to 3 days old, and 8 to blastocyst (5/6 days). But I also got OHSS, and our embabies were cryo-frozen, and I was a stone heavier, and back to waiting.Two months later they defrosted 2 of our blastocysts for transfer (more hormones for me in preparation for this, but thankfully no injections this time), both survived the defrost, both were transferred, neither lived any further.

It was really, ridiculously, crushingly sad for us. I mean, way WAY more than I could ever have expected.

Probably not helped by the fact that my reaction to the huge amounts of progesterone involved – amongst other symptoms – nausea and dizziness.

Anyway. Six of our progeny remain in the deep freezer, two of whom are coming out next Wednesday, which terrifies and excites me in equal, huge measure. If this attempt doesn’t work, our silly hearts will be broken again. And then we will try again.

So, some of you may be wondering why I even want to talk about this. I kind of don’t. I kind of want to just keep it tied in a secret ball, crushed and held down inside my stomach. But, you see, after 2 years, it’s become such a huge part of my life (no, it doesn’t “define” me, but it is part of me). And I think it’s wrong that there’s such a stigma attached to it. I think it’s horrible that – on top of not getting the pregnancy and offspring we’ve been dreaming of – something out there is making us feel like failures, broken and ashamed of our inability to reproduce. I don’t know what all of the solution to that is, but I think that we’ll start with honesty and facts, and that maybe along with that, the wider world will start to realise that this is actually a pretty common issue (1 in 6 Irish couples), and maybe along with that, infertile people will start to feel less isolated from “normal” society.

A couple of points before I sign off on this already over-long blog post.

  1. Infertility is absolutely categorized as a disease by the WHO (World Health Organization). I would never say that anyone has the right to a child, but I do feel like we have the right to try to conceive our own child.
  2. Adoption is a great thing for many many people the world over, but is not something we are looking at right now – perhaps not ever. I also tend to feel a little bit aggrieved when I hear the phrase “Just Adopt” – as anyone who has been close to the process will tell you, it is far from that simple, and moreover, if you’re going to tell us to adopt, you should be saying the same thing to any normally-fertile couples who are trying to conceive.

Thanks to anyone who has read this far. I welcome comments, but please do comment with care, it’s a very sensitive topic.

25 Responses to “So please please please, let me, let me, let me …”

  1. Clare Hines Says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this. I took the opposite route, and didn’t try – I knew how difficult the whole process could be, how soul destroying if you let it when it doesn’t work. I knew that I would not be strong enough…. We would not be strong enough.

    I wish you all the best luck in the world and will keep fingers and toes crossed for you both.


  2. Shane Says:

    I expect this’d be difficult to write about because it’d not only involve dredging up unpleasant memories but also relating identifiable incidents perpetrated by presumably well-meaning friends and family who could well be reading. But with that disclaimer out of the way, I’d be very interested to hear more about the societal reactions to the various parts of all this, as you see them – what you consider peoples’ expectations to be and what’s been stated, what kinds of pressures you’ve been feeling and where you think they’re coming from, things that made you feel better and worse, how you’d like people to approach the topic, and so on. It’s an area I know next to nothing about.

    Best of luck getting what it is y’all want!

  3. Pablo Says:

    I think it’s really brave for you to bring this out in the open. And the sad thing is that it shouldn’t be this way. I can’t talk about which the opinions of your closer friends and relatives on the issue are, but from the distance I can say that I’m very proud of you two.

    No matter how crushing the last experience was, you haven’t given up hope, and I think that says tons about the kind of parents you’d make.

    No, change that, it says a lot about the kind of parents you will make. Keep those spirits up. Sooner or later you’re making this happen ;) .

  4. Claire Ryan Says:

    I can imagine the response you may be getting to being open about this. I can’t help but wonder why it is that there is such a stigma attached to it – are people ashamed of getting hearing aids because their hearing is poor, or getting tattoos because their skin is not colourful?

    We use technology – especially medical technology – all the time without shame, and without thought for the opinions of others. No one has the right to pass even implicit judgement on you for wanting to use it to overcome a biological defect. I hope it all works out, and you don’t lose hope along the way.

  5. deli Says:

    @Claire Hines
    Thank you so much for your comment and well wishes.

  6. deli Says:

    At some point I may do a blog about my personal experiences, well-intentioned comments gone awry and all that kind of thing, but if you’re interested in reading a good recommendation on what to say /not say to people in this situation, I recommend this page:–friends/infertility-etiquette.html

  7. deli Says:

    Thanks for cheering us on! We’re certainly not throwing in the towel yet :)

  8. deli Says:

    @Claire Ryan
    My point exactly – and mostly MY friends have been great – but I have come across comments (mostly on other people’s blogs) that talk about “frankenbabies” and other really really offensive things. That’s why I put my little request at the end of this post (although someone else interpreted THAT as “Commenters will be shot”. I guess you can’t win… )
    Anyway, thanks for coming by and commenting :)

  9. Denis Says:

    Just remember, those people that talk about those “frankenbabies” and other offensive things are still living in a world where they believe contraception to be an abomination against God, tattoos are the devils work and lasers are probably energy from hell manifest in reality… ok. So I might have made that last one up (I hope) but the others count. They are the IVF equivalent of someone telling an astrophysicist “Nuh-uh! Stars are God candles and you can’t see the wax cuz space is so dark, man.” You just need to keep telling yourself to smile and back away slowly. Listen to the folks with shiny medical degrees on their walls. They should know what they’re doing.*

    Anyway, thanks for posting this. I’m not going to say that I know how hard it must be for you to talk about this, because I don’t. I have no idea. I could try to imagine, but I’d probably not come anywhere close. Best of wishes and magical fairie vibes being sent your way. I can do that now. I read about it in the Dresden Files.

    *- Though avoid the doctors that keep their shiny medical degrees next to a full colour illustration of Jesus holding out his own heart.

  10. deli Says:

    Awesome. I’ll take all the magical fairie vibes you can spare!

  11. Giffy Says:

    Deli, I really appreciate you sharing this with us. We know quite a few people in NZ with fertility problems and are going through (or have gone through) similar processes. It is such a tough thing to go through, for the individuals involved and for the couple too. I’m really glad that you and Gar have each other to go through it with. Wish you were in NZ where you can have 2 cycles of IVF government funded or actually, bit mean to seperate you from family support, so with Ireland would fund it for you, that way at least one less thing to worry about x

  12. Giffy Says:

    wish Ireland, not with Ireland.

  13. Ian Sturrock Says:

    Saw this via Gar’s re-tweet. You guys are incredibly brave. Good luck. Like Denis, I am now sending all the magical fairie vibes I can muster.

  14. Tadhg Says:

    Well done on a thought provoking well considered article. I hope it all works out for you guys. Keep the heads up and turn your faces towards the sun.

  15. Dermo Says:

    You both have been remarkable about the whole thing, and part of that is how remarkably open you are. I commend you, and I also think that this stigma must be torn down, and that we (society) must realise that whether fertile or infertile, a couple is still a pair of human beings we can love and admire.
    I can’t understand the nastiness. I can probably understand the reticence – I personally don’t rush to bring up painful subjects with people, unless they bring it up first. However, I know from recent personal experience that conversation about something, while being the absolute best thing for a person, may be the hardest thing for them to begin without help.
    So I’m going to try and be more involved.
    Thanks for the infertility etiquette link – that’s a real help to those of us who care, and may be frightened of foot-in-mouth.
    Many many hugs to you both.

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