“This is how it works
You’re young until you’re not
You love until you don’t
You try until you can’t
You laugh until you cry
You cry until you laugh
And everyone must breathe
Until their dying breath
No, this is how it works
You peer inside yourself
You take the things you like
And try to love the things you took
And then you take that love you made
And stick it into some
Someone else’s heart
Pumping someone else’s blood
And walking arm in arm
You hope it don’t get harmed
But even if it does
You’ll just do it all again”
Before we did our third round of Clomid, it was time for my husband to be tested. He was a warrior and faced this madly uncomfortable situation with humor and even enthusiasm. And, being the amazing husband that he is, without a single complaint or hesitation. I won’t share his results, but I can tell you he wanted to hang them on the fridge when all was said and done. The point is he was definitely not the issue here.
I felt some relief knowing he wasn’t the issue. The idea of something being wrong with me felt easier to handle. It reminded me, here we go again, of my time as a cocktail waitress. For the most part, how the night went was pretty much determined by my handling of things and I liked that a lot. I had to deal with the bartender but he was not likely to screw up a Corona or simple cocktail. When the club I worked in closed down, I was offered a job in a restaurant. I think I lasted one month and the reason was, there were so many people to screw things up along the way. I had to deal with the chef taking too long, not reading allergy notes, bus boys throwing away leftovers people wanted boxed and so on. There were too many players and I felt ultimately if there was going to be a screw up, at least let me have been responsible in the first place.
Before we proceeded with that third round and an IUI (intrauterine insemination), my next step was a Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) Test. An HSG is an outpatient procedure, which takes no longer than a half hour. It involves placing an iodine-based dye through the cervix and taking x-rays to help evaluate the shape of the uterus and whether or not the fallopian tubes are open or blocked. All I knew of this test before going to the hospital was if you have no blockages you won’t feel a thing but if you do, it is brutally painful. Oh wow. So considering at that point we did not know if I had any blockages I just sat on that table as the iodine was pushed through waiting for a jolt of mind numbing pain. Fortunately, everything was normal and I did not feel a thing. Unfortunately, we didn’t have any answers and were once again in the category of “unexplained infertility.”
The odds of conceiving after this test go up significantly because your tubes are totally clear. I just added more hope to my little jar that month. This was the first month fertility started to feel like a night in Vegas. Doctors spoke to me in terms of percentages and our odds and as we gambled away our money, we waited rather impatiently for a bigger return.
That month on Clomid I had 3 follicles. A huge fear of conceiving triplets washed over me and this would not be the last month I would fear becoming the next Octomom. And that was the thing about infertility. We were in a sea of the unknown so anything was possible. There was something liberating about that notion, and something very terrifying.
Accompanying this IUI and Clomid was also Progesterone. Progesterone and I tried to become friends. Before we even started Clomid I was using a basal body thermometer and taking my temperature at the exact same time everyday. I have to say I did this everyday for well over a year and when we traveled even factored in time zone changes. I became addicted and often predicted where I was in my cycle. High temps after ovulation meant progesterone levels were up and so I knew energy would be down. I became a mad fertility scientist. I became a charting wizard and using fertilityfriend.com documented every temperature, every possible conception attempt, every thing I noticed in my body got put on my little chart. And at the end of it all, I now know everything about my body I could possibly ever need to know. Someone said “you will get pregnant when you don’t even realize you are ovulating!” That wasn’t going to happen for me. I knew from every pull, pang, and tenderness or lack there of, where I was in my cycle and…I still do. A full Lobotomy is the only way I am going to not realize I am ovulating!!!
From my charting I did notice that my temperature dropped somewhere between 9 and 11 days after ovulation which would indicate a short luteal phase. This can be caused by a drop in progesterone which would be an issue when trying to conceive. I have to admit, every month my temp would drop which indicates not just a drop in progesterone but aunt flo was about twenty-four hours away and yet I would still feel hopeful that maybe my temp was off that day. I never wanted to believe I wasn’t pregnant each month.
The idea of taking Progesterone seemed really hopeful for me, though, because my charting led me to believe this was my big issue. Progesterone sucks and taking the drug tricks your body into thinking it is pregnant. So you get all of the symptoms and during that two week wait become obsessed with whether or not your inability to put on a bra is because there is finally a bun in the oven, or the drugs. And on top of it you are desperately trying to not stress out, which causes stress. You gain weight and you feel crazy. Worst of all, you won’t likely get your period on the drug so you have to take a pregnancy test after 14 days and if it is negative simply stop the drug and your period will come with vigor and abandon.
Lindsey and I would often write each other after our temp dropped or after a negative pregnancy test and write such words of hope. Like maybe it was too early to tell, or until you see your period anything is possible!?!? And even when we saw our periods we would often wonder if perhaps it was implantation bleeding or we were one of those rare cases of women who get their period when pregnant. Isn’t there even a reality show about these women now? Sigh.
But, eventually the period would come, and the blood test would come back negative and we would finally believe another month was out. Several months into our journey I cried when the truth would be spoken. After the first year though, I stopped crying. When I would cry tears of disappointment they would last a few hours or a day at most, and by the next day I had reset my chart to day 1 and started over. I am not sure where we found the strength to try again month after month but moving on became habitual.
The resilience we had in the face of disappointment is one I know we share with countless couples going through the exact same thing. Where do we all find the strength to pick up the pieces? I am not sure but I know we do. I recently met a woman who told me about her challenging failed adoption before her successful one. I thought how amazing that she could get back on that horse and go through it all again. I was in awe. And then I remember that our first adoption failed as well. Our failed adoption was the hardest loss for me in our journey. I couldn’t recall any other time in my life when I was as grief stricken. But in that moment it was as if the incident, while extremely significant in my heart, had filed itself away in my head as just one more month.
I love that Regina Spektor song “…you hope it won’t get harmed, but even if it does you’ll just do it all again…” Yes we will. And to all of the women out there who are getting the no’s, having miscarriages, experiencing failed fertility treatments, the truth is, we do pick up the pieces and do it all again. We know the goal is attainable.
My heart broke once a month for almost two years. Alicia, my daughter’s birth mother, healed that broken heart. She came to us and offered, along with Aurora’s birth father, to put me back together with their strength and courage and in the end, make us the parents we so longed to be. We became a team and we relied on each other for hope, healing and a new outcome. How we all met is a future blog but it is the truest story of fate.
Next week I will discuss moving forward in our treatments with an RE and the Laparoscopy that FINALLY shed some light on why we were not conceiving.
Sophie Pierce lives in the hipster neighborhood, Silverlake, in Los Angeles, California. She is the owner of Sophie Dance, a children’s super fun recreational dance studio in Los Angeles that specializes in hip hop, contemporary ballet and tap for ages two to sixteen.