Flashback Friday is a weekly series that takes you back to earlier moments in our story as a married couple dealing with infertility. We’ll give you glances of what we’ve been through, what steps we’ve taken to get us here, and what we’ve learned along the way.
Well this is the last Flashback Friday. We’ve covered all of the major points on our journey through infertility. Don’t worry though, we still have some posts up our sleeves. You can’t get rid of us that easy.
I like writing these Flashback posts, because it allows me the opportunity to reflect on our journey with a new perspective. When you’re in the middle of something you kind of have tunnel vision. Your mind and heart is operating with one perspective. But when time passes, and life moves on, you have a broader view.
Our last Flashback Friday explained that my surgery went very well and the doctor found no blockage. Actually he said I looked healthy and there is nothing wrong anatomically that he observed. When we met with him after the surgery he advised us to try an IUI.
For those that don’t know, an IUI stands for intrauterine insemination. Basically, they put in a catheter into my uterus and inject a concentrated amount of sperm directly into it. There are several reasons for this, mainly to guarantee the sperm successfully breaches the cervix, and also to guarantee accurate timing of egg and sperm interaction. IUIs have been found to be successful for some couples who struggle with unexplained infertility, like us. This procedure is less costly and invasive compared to IVF, and therefore can be performed multiple times.
I was actually starting to get excited when we got to this point of our journey. The positive results of my surgery gave me real hope that everything was normal with both Dan and I. Maybe we just had a timing issue, which an IUI could definitely solve. I had real hope when we did our first IUI. In my eyes, I didn’t see why it wouldn’t work. I was logical and didn’t expect it the first try, but was confident we would be pregnant within the next several months.
When starting the IUI process I was told I would need to go to the doctor’s office for a baseline scan (internal sonogram) of my ovaries five days after my period. Then I would take Clomid for 5 days. A few days after I finished the medicine I would come in for another scan to see how my ovaries responded and then they would decide on an insemination day (or another day to come in for yet another scan).
I remember thinking… “Man! That is a lot of appointments!” Which makes me smile now, because that is nothing compared to the number of appointments our IVF required.
Also, this was the first time I had to take Ovidrel which is a small injection or “trigger shot” to start ovulation. It is of course in the form of a small, subcutaneous needle. So this would be my very first shot of our infertility journey. I remember being so nervous and almost chickening out. Again I’m laughing because one little shot in the belly is so minuscule to the amount I’ve endured through IVF, but at that time it was my mountain to conquer.
So, I followed the plan they set up, and Dan and I went to the doctor’s office for my first IUI in May of 2012. I was a little nervous because I didn’t know what to expect and I’m always scared the procedure is going to hurt. It wasn’t that bad and it was very quick. They have you remain horizontal there for about 20 minutes afterward, so I couldn’t move really at all. I remember dreaming about our future baby and talking to Dan about various aspects of having a child.
I can’t remember now if I took a pregnancy test or waited for my period after the first one. I probably took a test because I really thought the IUI would work, but either way we didn’t get pregnant. I was heartbroken, but tried to rally back. I kept telling myself it just might take a few tries. Hopefully now that my body knows the routine it will respond better, I thought. So, I quickly regained a lot of hope.
I was definitely ready to try again.
We scheduled another IUI in June, 2012. This time I might have been even more hopeful. The doctors told us that statistically the first time rarely works. But a second is a great chance, right? Again, several appointments later it was time for my insemination day. Dan wasn’t always able to take off work and this appointment required more time so I went to do our second IUI alone. I remember afterwards while lying on the table for a half hour praying to God and trying to remember (even sing a little) the words to “Beautiful Things,” by Gungor and “Blessings,” by Laura Story. But I only remembered like one or two verses from each so I went back to praying. I should have asked the nurse for my phone before she left so I could have listened to the songs.
Unfortunately we didn’t get pregnant. AGAIN.
By this point I was definitely starting to get discouraged. We didn’t know why we were struggling with infertility because we both were healthy and checked out normal in all the tests and procedures we’d had done. So why wasn’t this working? If it was a timing issue the IUI should have worked? What was wrong?
I was starting to get frustrated now.
The doctor recommended doing at least 3 IUIs before exploring more aggressive treatment options. So, I called the doctor’s office to give them the bad news that I’d need to be back. One nurse joked during these months that she didn’t want to see me anymore (meaning I’d be pregnant and wouldn’t have to keep coming back to their office). I appreciated those comments, but I almost hated the cheeriness from the other nurses when they answered the phone to schedule my new IUI appointments. I wanted to say, “No I’m not doing well, why do you think I’m calling?! I’m calling because I didn’t get pregnant for yet another month!”
But of course, I didn’t. Don’t let me fool you though, I don’t handle all of my struggles with grace. I have had many weak moments dealing with infertility.
So we completed all the steps for round 3. We had to wait until August 2012 for this IUI, because we were on vacation in July and with the amount of appointments you have to go to, you basically have to be free all month.
I was definitely starting to get jaded. I was hopeful, but not as much. Was excited, but more cautious now. I didn’t let myself dream too much. Again, Dan was low on time off from work in 2012, so this time a friend accompanied me. I wanted support and I don’t have a mother or any sisters to ask so my friend found a babysitter for her son and joined me for the longer appointment. She did a good job keeping me from being too nervous. Glad to have such great friends that will step in as a sister when needed. Blessed!
Unfortunately our third IUI try was not the “charm” either. We weren’t pregnant again!
I made an appointment after our 2nd failed IUI for the end of August to discuss further options with our specialist. Of course, the first day he was available (mind you I made this in June), was the first day of school in August.
That figures. Luckily, it was a teacher institute day so I took a half day and we went to talk to the doc.
He said it was time to try IVF. He told us that obviously the IUIs weren’t working and it was time to be more aggressive with treatment and really increase our chances of conceiving. I knew this was the next step, but it was a little hard to hear. It almost felt like defeat. I guess I knew we needed a little help, but I thought meds or an IUI would do it. I didn’t think it would ever come to IVF. I was starting to get scared, because that would be the end of the road. Up until this point there were always several more steps. But now we were nearing the end of our journey. The last long road.
And I was terrified.
They schedule several couples to have IVF the same month so the doctor’s aren’t on call 24/7 all year. So we had an IVF consult scheduled for October 31st and then at that meeting they decided to do our IVF in January and February. More waiting. Remember this appointment was in August. About a half a year would pass until we would find out if IVF would be our answer. That’s another fall to go by without a little one to go pumpkin hunting, or another Christmas to miss our baby seeing lights on the tree for the first time. I know they wouldn’t have been born quite yet, but regardless more time to wait.
Because it would be such a long wait they told us we could try one last IUI before our October appointment. So in September 2012 we had our fourth and final IUI. Same routine, same shot, same friend accompanied me, same result.
Obviously since we are currently in the process of IVF you know the result of our final IUI. Disappointment, anxiousness for IVF, but always a little hope. Even though IVF was our truly final option maybe we’d get a different result this time.
Our four failed IUIs were heartbreaking, but God was with me. I’ve learned to be patient, to trust Him, and to be grateful for what I have. Our story definitely isn’t over and I’m glad God is still helping Dan and I write it. I’m just anxious to see the last chapter and experience the joy of a “happy ending..”