THIS IS US: Introducing ROSE
I Was Adopted
My birth was the result of the union between a fifteen year old boy and his twenty-five year old nanny. She did not want me and he could not keep me. I was given at birth to an older couple who were friends of the family. My adoptive mom was forty-nine when she took me home. I had a wonderful childhood. I was a daddy's girl. I could not have chosen more wonderful parents.
TTC in the Early Years
My infertility story starts when I was just twenty years old. My husband and I had been married for one year. I was curious why after a year I had not become pregnant. We were not actively trying to get pregnant, but were not trying to prevent it either. I made my first appointment with a gynecologist. He did an exam and told me I was fine and to stop worrying about it. We were young and had plenty of time to have babies.
Another year went by and still no baby. I went in for my yearly exam and again mentioned my concerns to the doctor. He did the exam and said,
"All looks well. You're probably worrying about it too much. If you dropped some weight, it would probably happen."
Really?? Lose weight?? He never offered further testing or a referral to a specialist. I had honestly never heard of the term infertility and certainly did not know there were doctors that specialize in it. I relied on my doctor to care for me, even if that meant sending me to someone else. I did not have a resource like Google to do research. I didn’t even have a library in the small town where we lived! My husband and I started having marital problems, which lead to divorce, so having a baby was far from my mind.
My Devastating Miscarriage
I reconnected with an old high school sweetheart and we became a couple a year or so later. I became pregnant in the fall of 1991. I made an appointment to see a highly recommended OB/GYN for my prenatal care. I started bleeding a week before my appointment. I begged God to let me have this baby. I cried myself to sleep praying I would wake up and the bleeding would have stopped. It didn’t. It was worse, and I started cramping too. It was Christmas Eve and I was on my way to the ER,... alone. My boyfriend was spending Christmas Eve with his three year old son and could not (or would not) go with me. On Christmas the ER doctor, basically told me that he thought I'd created this pregnancy in my mind. He told me to go home until the miscarriage was complete. His words ringing in my ears was devastating enough.
I went home to a house full of family... yet I was alone.
My mom and dad didn't even know I was pregnant. I said I didn't feel well and laid in a dark room alone crying until it was over. I lost the baby in the early hours on Christmas day.
The Highs and Lows of Hope
I made another appointment with the OB/GYN that I mentioned before. I pulled my medical records and had him review them. He said I had been pregnant and my body terminated it because the fetus stopped developing. He said it was not uncommon for this to happen with a first pregnancy. He assured me I could start monitoring my cycles, and that I could get pregnant again. I was off and running... charting my temperature and tracking my amorous activity. I was confident I would get pregnant at any time. It happened once already, right? Nope.
I met with the doctor again after about 3 months of graphing my sex life. My graph indicated that I was not ovulating. He suggested a laparoscopic endometrial biopsy, so he could look at my reproductive system. I agreed and had the procedure. The doctor said I had a tilted uterus but no endometriosis. He then suggested my husband's sperm be tested, which we did. Since my husband already had a son, I assumed his "swimmers" were healthy, but that was not the case. His sperm had a low motility rate... lazy sperm in other words. He frequently smoked weed, which didn’t bother me, but we found it can cause the motility issue. When I asked him to stop, he refused.
I was determined to have a baby so I went back to the doctor and started my first round of Clomid. I did five rounds the first time, increasing the meds by one table each day. By the end of the fifth round, I was taking 5 tablets a day, but my periods kept coming. If my period was even one day late, I was peeing on that stick! Each time my period came, the feeling of loss was intense. I felt like someone whom I loved with all my heart died each month... but I kept going.
My doctor suggested more tests. He put me through a painful test called a hysterosalpingogram to determine if my tubes were clear. The cramps were almost as bad as my miscarriage. The test was negative for blockage so that was not the issue. I did five more rounds of Clomid and still the periods came. Sadly I did this for two years with no results.
I was still seeing the same doctor. I remember going to his office, which was ALWAYS full of pregnant women and pregnant staff. Sometimes I would get so upset in the waiting room I would vomit in bathroom before my appointment. My doctor knew my delicate, depressed state of mind, as I was usually in tears when he saw me, yet he NEVER suggested that I see an infertility specialist. He actually never used the word infertility. EVER!
My doctor advised it was time to move on to IVF. He explained how it worked and what I would need to do. My insurance had only covered 50% of the cost for the Clomid so I contacted them to see what the coverage was for IVF. The did not cover it at all... nada.
I threw up. Cried. Threw up again. I stepped away from the situation for a year or so. I needed to think things over.
My PCOS Diagnosis
I spoke to a few people and found another doctor at the “women’s center” in Detroit. I had my records transferred there. During my first appointment with my new doctor I was told that there was little possibility of pregnancy without IVF. He wasn't even sure that IVF was an option because of my PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). I asked him what PCOS was. He explained that when I do have a mature ovum, it gets trapped in the ovary and becomes a “cyst.” Because this has happened again and again, my ovaries were very cystic. I asked how he knew I had PCOS. He said it was in the report from my last laparoscopic exam.
It was in the report!
I asked if that were the case, why would my last doctor have me do so many rounds of Clomid. He said he could not speak for my previous doctor, but that it would not have been his choice of treatment. I thanked the doctor and said I would schedule an appointment when I decided what to do.
That was my stopping point. I was thirty-six years old and could not take anymore sadness and failure. I had been going through all of this alone because my (selfish) husband did not feel the need to be there for me. I stopped speaking to so many people because either they did not understand or looked at me with sad eyes. I got so tired of being told “It's God’s will” or “Maybe it was not meant to be”. CLEARLY it was not meant to be or I would BE a mother.
Acceptance and Regaining Happiness
I divorced my second husband and met a wonderful man. He and his ex-wife went through infertility too. We both knew and accepted there would be no children in our future so we made a happy life for the two of us and our fur babies. I had to come to terms with my childlessness and was learning to be accept being part of a "pregnant women and babies-centric" society. Deep down inside I knew for the last fifteen years (ok, to be totally honest, probably the last twenty years) that I would never have children. There was always, however, this tiny, infinitesimal spark of hope that it COULD happen. I clung onto that notion. Maybe that was my inner-self helping me cope with the loss.
When I turned fifty, (almost two years ago) my spark abandoned me. I was instead slapped in the face with the reality that it was REALLY over. I had to look at myself and see someone who would never be anyone's mom or grandma. I am the last of my family, the only one left. I would have no one to remember me. No one to pass my family heirlooms too. I will never feel the deep love one only has for their children or the love given by child.
Childless Not By Choice
I suffer from anxiety, but have a wonderful therapist. She said that a support group might help my unresolved feelings regarding infertility and loss so at her urging I Googled and found RESOLVE. I went to my first meeting not really knowing what to expect, as I had never participated in anything like this before. Soon I realized that I was not alone. I may no longer be trying to have a baby but all of these women know the heartache I went through. I will never have children. I have come to terms with that (for the most part). I hope my story will help someone know they are not alone.
My Final Thoughts to Share
My words of wisdom....follow your heart. If you are not happy with your doctor, find another and another until you are satisfied. If you are not happy with your treatment, speak up! This is about YOU and the family you want.
Friends in fertility,