“…But for an absence, for someone who was never there at all, we are wordless to capture that particular emptiness. For those who deeply want children and are denied them, those missing babies hover like silent ephemeral shadows over their lives. Who can describe the feel of a tiny hand that is never held?” -Laura Bush
About 2 years…2 years of timed intercourse, ovulation sticks, an AVA bracelet, and tracking apps. 2 years of monthly sadness, beyond the realm of PMS, every time my period showed up. 2 years of the questions of “when are you going to start a family” or “You don’t want to wait too long”, while advising folks that “we’re working on it!”. 2 years of struggling to believe I had any purpose as a wife, since I couldn’t even seem to get pregnant. 2 years of confusion and hopelessness until a scheduled pap smear. My gynecologist told me that since it has been at least a year without conceiving, she would refer us to a fertility specialist to see if anything was going on and hopefully provide assistance in our journey to conception.
The journey began with a consultation at a well known fertility center to go over the various testing that would be involved to determine any possible issues. There was a specific schedule of tests that would begin as soon as my next period started. Day 3 of my period I was to come in for bloodwork and a transvaginal ultrasound. The blood work would test hormone levels for proof of ovulation and for insight on the egg supply. The ultrasound was done to measure my ovaries, uterus, and count my follicles/ovarian reserve. It was super cool to see what it all looked like and I definitely think that should be a regular part of women’s annual check up.
Between day 5 and day 12 of my cycle, I had to undergo a Saline Sonogram as well as an Hysterosalpingography (HSG test). The Saline Sonogram is done to assess the size and shape of the uterus and to see if there are any abnormalities that may interfere with implantation or with the growth of an embryo that has implanted. A small catheter is inserted into the cervix so that sterile water can be injected in the uterus. I was nerding out seeing the water enter the uterus on the sonogram monitor (lol) and I’m glad I was given the opportunity to see exactly what was being done. Some people experience discomfort during the Saline Sonogram, but thankfully I didn’t feel much of anything!
I wish I could say the same for the HSG test (smh). Chiiiiile! That test was the super uncomfortable. Even though the discomfort was short lived, I won’t forget it! The HSG test is used to determine if there are any blockages in the fallopian tubes. I had this test done at a hospital instead of at the fertility center. Its an X-ray where a contrast liquid is inserted into the uterus and followed as it flows through the tubes and into the pelvic cavity. If there are any blockages, it will be seen in the X-ray. But when that contrast is inserted, it causes some really uncomfortable cramping, and this is coming from someone who dealt with super painful period cramps for most of her life! I was so glad when that test was over, but thankfully the doctor and nurses were super kind and understanding. They talked me through every step, gave me a heads up to when I might start feeling the cramping, and were just super gentle and caring! I still never want to do that test again, but their care made a huge difference I’m sure!
Once all the testing was done, (including a semen test and a genetic screening), we met with our doctor at the fertility center and went over our options. He suggested we try Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) and thankfully our insurance covers 6 attempts! IUI is a procedure where my husband produces a semen sample that is inserted directly into my uterus to increase chances of fertilization. In preparation for the IUI, I had to take a medication called Letrozole that causes the body to start to ovulate and produce multiple eggs at a specific time. I took that for 5 days (starting day 3 of my cycle). On day 12 of my cycle, I went back in for a transvaginal ultrasound. This ultrasound was used to measure follicles and see if I had any that were large enough for me to start the next step of this process…The Trigger Shot. Since I had a good size follicle, I was prescribed an injectable medication called Ovidrel, which I had to administer into my stomach. I was so nervous to do it, but thankfully the needle was so small that I legit didn’t feel anything! I was also prescribed a medication called Estradiol which was to be inserted vaginally twice a day to help thicken the uterine lining. 36 hours after the trigger shot, it was time for the IUI procedure!
My husband provided a sample and on Oct. 13, 2019, we drove to the fertility center with hopes that our lives would be forever changed two weeks later. The actual IUI was pretty much like a pap smear, and took about 2 mins. I then laid with my legs elevated for about 5-10 mins and went on about my day “as if nothing happened” (which was the wise advice the nurse gave me!). The day after the IUI, I had to start an additional medication called Progesterone, which was another vaginally inserted pill to help prepare my uterine lining for implantation. For two weeks I had to take both Estradiol and Progesterone, vaginally, twice a day. It was the most annoying part of this entire process lol. Having to remember to stick these small pills up your vagina in the morning and the evening was the worst! Plus these pills created soooo much discharge that I had to wear a panty liner every day! And since the Estradiol was a blue pill, it made the discharge blue! I felt like a smurf! Lol But I was ok with it all if it increased my chances of pregnancy.
During those two weeks, I was content with the possibility of the IUI failing the first go round, but I had a lot of pregnancy related symptoms! Most are also PMS symptoms but were ones I hadn’t experienced normally. Extreme fatigue, super tender breasts, changes in appetite, and the day before our pregnancy test, I legit felt nauseous. I still tried to not get my hopes up, but couldn’t hide my excitement the morning of Oct. 28, 2019 when I got to the fertility center for my blood test (pregnancy test). Everyone there was so hopeful and excited for us! I went home to (im)patiently wait for the call with our results.
Around 3pm that afternoon, we got the call. I could tell by her voice that it was a no go. And she confirmed it. “I’m so sorry that I don’t have the news we all wanted,” she said. I instantly went into “strong mode” and told her it was okay and that I was ok and we can just try again! She even mentioned how positive my outlook was while seeming more sad than me. I tried to convince my husband that I was fine as well, but that didn’t last long. He looked over at me and said “babe, are you sure you’re ok? You look sad”. And I couldn’t hold it in any longer. The tears fell and I just let it all go. I cried out all of my disappointment, frustration, exhaustion, doubt, and sadness. I embraced it all and declared that day a “day o’ sadness. I didn’t run from it, or try to move past it. I let it be and allowed myself time to feel all of my feelings. And the next day I felt sooo much better. Almost as if it never happened. I felt refocused and ready to try again! I had to wait for my period to start again and it did that same Thursday. The next day I had another ultrasound to make sure I didn’t have any cysts and got the clear to start the process over! I started the Letrozole this past Saturday and go in this coming Saturday to see if I have large enough follicles to do a trigger shot. That means IUI #2 may be as soon as next week! This process is very tiring and a little taxing on the body, but I’m going to remain hopeful that we will conceive! It will all be worth it! Prayers, well wishes, and baby dust are welcome!
“…hope is never wasted. Even if what I hoped for did not come to fruition as I had imagined, as I had hoped. Hope is placing the beautifully vulnerable parts of ourselves, our raw selves, into His hands. I believe hope moves His heart; but hope also moves our hearts into His hands. Hope builds trust.” -Natalie Brenner
Let’s Talk! Do you have any questions about infertility or the IUI process? Or do you have any tips or advice? Let me know in the comments or send me a message on the “Contact” page. You can also follow me on Instagram and Facebook using the links on this page and connect with me there! Thanks for reading!