*WARNING* THE FOLLOWING POST MAY CONTAIN ALTOGETHER TOO MUCH SELF-PITY (& SOME TECHNICAL TERMS. CLICK ON THE LINKS.)
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.
- 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.
- 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.