“Infertility” Isn’t a Dirty Word: Part I

This is a two-part series about a topic that I’ve wanted to write about for a while now — our road to having a baby. I hope it inspires others to try to achieve their dream of becoming parents — know that you are not alone.

Every day I gaze at our amazing infant daughter and realize how lucky we are. Every time she gives that toothless smile, says “Mama” or rests her little head on my shoulder, I thank my lucky stars that we were blessed with her, after everything we had to go through to conceive.

I’m not ashamed to admit it: I’m infertile. Although many are reluctant to talk about it, infertility isn’t a dirty word. it doesn’t define who I am and, obviously, it didn’t stop me from becoming a mother.

The Infertility Diagnosis

Turns out that 13 years of being on birth control pills to not get pregnant masked the fact that I have PCOS — polycystic ovary syndrome. When left to do their thing, my little ovaries go into overdrive and produce a ton of follicles, few to none of which mature enough to make it down the fallopian tube once a month. No ovulation equals no chance of conception, which is hard enough to achieve as it is, believe it or not. Couple that with another diagnosis of a blocked fallopian tube, and our chances of conceiving, even with fertility treatments, dropped even further.

I won’t lie: hearing the word “infertility” tossed out by my ob-gyn and, later, my reproductive endocrinologist hurt — a lot. My reactions mirrored the five stages stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. I lingered under “anger” and “depression” longer than I care to admit. I was barely past the age of 30. I wasn’t 16 and pregnant. Why me? I started a (mostly) private blog to get out some of the thoughts and emotions that were slowly eating away at me, which helped to some degree.

It took visits nearly a year’s worth of visits to doctors and specialists before getting pregnant — a LOT of $40 insurance co-pays. In addition to my ob-gyn, I was seeing an endocrinologist to keep my pre-existing thyroid disease under control, and visiting my reproductive endocrinologist at the fertility clinic every few days for months at a time. There were also a few trips to a radiologist thrown in for good measure. Despite being told it would never work due to my blocked fallopian tube, after just one cycle of IUI (“artificial insemination” — use your imagination, folks), we had our miracle.

Discussing Infertility

While I didn’t announce to the world that we were having trouble conceiving, close friends and family knew what my husband and I were going through (he’ll want me to mention that his swimmers are fine, in case you were wondering), and everyone provided support in their own ways. I discovered that others I knew also had needed fertility treatments to conceive, and it was comforting to know that I wasn’t alone. Eventually, I resolved to talk about our experience freely. If I could help guide others on their journeys, why not?

From a young age, I knew I wanted to have children one day. When we were in our late 20s, I had friends who would say, “I’m too busy living life to have kids,” but for me, it was never a question. I never saw my future children as impediments to my happiness — they would be my happiness, my fulfillment.

Today, I smile every time our baby wakes at 2 in the morning or throws her food all over the place. I almost relish dirty diapers, and I gladly baby-proof the house. Because despite my infertility diagnosis — and her 5-weeks-early arrival — Baby Frugalista is here.

 

Tuesday: Look for Part II in this series, How We Got From There to Here

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