For some reason I have decided to be more candid about my difficult experiences with infertility treatments. Maybe it is due to the amount of time that has passed. Some of my anger has subsided. I need the release. I want to help others by telling my stories.
This post is the beginning for me. A Pinker Shade of Pale is the middle. Unfortunately, I have many other installments. These chronicles are my Back-Dated Syllabus.
My stories are not just of the heartache of failed procedures but what I feel is a severe lack of good health care that led to an anger I have never felt in my life. My inability to conceive stamped a number on my forehead and any chance of personal care simply was not available in a place I was referred to by my entrusted doctor.
I remember running up to my mother's office at my childhood home, a barely 26 year old newlywed, pointing to my abdomen.
"Mom, there might be a baby in there." All smiles. She was beaming too as we lingered in the excitement. My mom's baby might be having a baby.
My period was late but a blood test confirmed that I was not pregnant. My GYN gave me meds to induce my period.
Another month went by and my period did not come. I bought a home pregnancy test- negative. There were tears in my eyes then. Over five years later I look back at that young woman and wish I could have prepared her for the devastating struggle that lay ahead.
"Oh, honey you can cry now, but prepare yourself for buckets of salty tears. Thousand of used tissues, weeks of crying yourself to sleep. Be strong. This is only the beginning."
Again I took a blood test that came back negative. My doctor called me in for a visit.
"You may not be ovulating. You could have Poly cystic Ovarian Syndrome, but you do not seem to have any of the side effects."
"What are they?" I asked. As she listed them off, I nodded in agreement. Oily skin- check. Acne- check. "Extra" facial hair- check. My symptoms were minimal compared to others but they were there- no refuting them.
"Well, you may need to take a drug to help you ovulate in order to conceive. I may need to refer you to a fertility specialist for this, but you will be fine. You are so young."
Upon leaving her office I was confused and nervous. Driving home with this new terminology in my head and the thought that I needed help to get pregnant was quite disturbing. Shit, I was used to taking meds for depression. Why wouldn't I need more help in my life? There sprouted the seed of bitterness that would eventually explode into an uncontrollable, weed and grub infested garden of shame, anger, sadness, and disappointment.
The doctor said there were a few things that should be done right away- further testing.
She mentioned a "dye test" which is of coarse, the HSG or hysterosalpingogram.
"We should check to make sure your tubes are not blocked before moivng onto Chlo.mid or any other drug to help you ovulate. We will set it up for 3 weeks from now."
The check-up appointment before the HSG procedure was done by another doctor covering for my GYN. Lost in translation were good, clear instructions on what was going to occur during the exam. I was told the date and where to be and that was it.
I remember thinking it was weird that I was to meet my doctor at the hospital instead of her office. At that time I had no experience being in a hospital for any sort of procedure. I was the person that passed out when giving blood.
After checking in with the secretary, I was informed to go to the locker room, take off all my clothes and put on a hospital gown and wait in a separate area for the doctor to come and get me. I sat on a cold plastic chair, the paper thin gown barely covering by backside and legs; a few people came in and out of the room. I waited for about 25 minutes, and with the passing of every minute I became all the more nervous. My stomach began to turn and I felt sweaty. The discomfort of being practically naked in a stark, freezing room all alone, and the fear of the unknown made me want to leave.
My doctor popped her head in the waiting room and brought me to a room with an x-ray machine and a bed with the dreaded stirrups.
"Did you take any ibuprofen before coming here?"
"No. No one told me I should."
"Oh, I'm sorry. Let me see if I can get you some."
Turns out she was not allowed to give me anything because there was no prescription for the drugs. She went on to explain that there would be some cramping and pressure. Being naive and equating the feeling to a pap smear, I thought I knew what pain to expect, and so we continued on with the test.
A nurse came in the room to help with the procedure. She became the one holding my hands as I screamed in pain. I had never felt pain like that before. My body was writhing in agony and the first x-ray did not work. The doctor told me to lay on my side to get a better picture and the tears were pouring out of my eyes. The screams of pain came from deep inside; I could not have controlled it if I tried. I was squeezing the nurses hand and she was rubbing my forehead saying it will be over soon.
Finally the pain ceased. I lay there with bloodshot eyes, no energy, a shell of the person who walked in the room 15 minutes prior.
I left the room, knees shaking and slowly walked to the locker room to dress myself. I was in a daze. I drove home alone. I cried all the way back to work.
After an hour I felt somewhat normal. It was over. The results came in that everything was fine with my tubes. This led me to believe that things were going to be okay. This was to be the only "good news" I would receive during four years of ART.
At this point my GYN shipped me off to the fertility clinic. Explaining that she would see me when I got pregnant, I believed her.
She would never see me again.
She would only hear from me again through a carefully composed letter. One I hoped she would read over and over and over.