*I suggest reading The Journey: Part one before continuing with this story.
Let me begin by saying that in my journey to get pregnant there wasn’t some magic moment when I “let go.” There was no signing of adoption papers (some people seem to think adoption is a fertility drug which I disagree with on many levels). There was no feeling of “whenever it happens is fine.” There was no thinking the right thoughts to make this happen. I did not think the right thoughts.
Before I reflect any further however, let me give you the gory details. I left you with us opening that door to western medicine, to the UCSF IVF clinic to be exact. We arrived at the office for our first appointment and the very first thing we saw was a sign reading, “Due to the sensitive nature of this practice, please do not bring children into this office.” Tears came to my eyes. They got it. They knew that if you walked through those doors you’d been through the ringer. You were probably frustrated, deeply afraid, and also hopeful that this place (and all of your savings) would result in the baby you so longed for. (And frankly, you were probably not in the mood to see someone else’s happy, adorable child.)
We saw our doctor who happened to be young, brilliant, italian and gorgeous. Ciao dottore! He was also encouraging and positive and framed things so beautifully. His italian accent didn’t hurt either. “This is very good, very good, very good, very normal…” as he flipped through our extensive interview. “I am very optimistic for you.” I almost cried right there. NO ONE had said that to me in all these years.
After two hours of interviewing us and doing an internal exam, he didn’t once ask me if I was drinking caffeine or the right kind of water or suggesting I go on a liver cleanse. He simply pulled out a piece of paper and said, “This is our plan. You take the following tests, (He very sweetly looked up at me and added, “I’m sure they will be very normal.”) and then this is our first step. We try this for 3-6 months and if that doesn’t work, we go to step 2, and so on…” Each step was a different, and/or a more invasive kind of intervention. We weren’t thrilled about all the steps, but we had a plan and it was written down on paper. This was more than we’d ever had! I liked this man with a plan.
As Matt and I stepped into the elevator we looked at each other and agreed we felt hopeful for the first time. His line of questioning didn’t have the undertone of “What are you DOING WRONG that has this not work? He simply looked at the facts (the sperm analysis, counted my follicles, went over our blood test results…) It was so scientific and objective! and I was ready for that.
A quick interlude now. An abridged list of the things people asked me/suggested to me during this journey:
1. You’re drinking tap water? You have to stop that immediately.
2. You stopped coffee, that’s good. But green tea? That’s just as bad.
3. Drink as much green tea as you can.
4. Black tea? Bad bad bad.
5. Coffee? bad bad bad.
6. How do you hold your sphincter? No, really. Are you clenched up a lot? You need to relax there.
7. Don’t exercise too much.
8. Yoga bad.
9. Yoga good.
10. Try evening primrose, Vitamin A, chaste berry, Vitex, herbs, raspberrry leaf, nettles and rosehips.
11. Matt should stop riding his bicycle.
12. (Said in a thick accent from a tiny, adorable acupuncturist): “Your husband reason you miscarry! Bad sperm! Bring him for treatment!”
You just need to relax.
You just need to have faith.
You just need to relax your sphincter.
You just need to take these herbs.
You just need to take this speculum home and identify the exact day you ovulate.
You need a liver cleanse.
Your kidney chi is too low.
You need to to let go.
You need to clear out the old energy in your womb, your old wounds.
Do you think you were really pregnant that first time? Who diagnosed it?
You need to meditate.
You need to go on vacation.
You need to drink Robitussin.
You need to have only good sex.
You need to look into adoption.
You need to be unattached.
Maybe if you weren’t depressed..
Are you crazy yet people?
After weeks of more testing (some of it was really uncomfortable, namely the HSG test) going to a class where I learned to inject an orange with a syringe (for some possible future day of injectible meds) and more blood tests, we went back to our doctor and got the results. Our diagnosis was “Unexplained infertility.” Very technical term, no?
For us, this meant that they had no idea what was wrong with us, or said differently, that there was nothing wrong with us, and we began our first intervention. This was Clomid (a fertility drug taken orally for 5 days) and then an IUI (intrauterine insemination) on ovulation day.
I was afraid of what the drug would do to me. In some, it creates hyper-moodiness, hot flashes, night sweats, nausea or even blurred vision. After a few days of taking it, I didn’t notice any side effects at all other than the fact that when I watched Oprah that week, I would start crying when she was announced and the crowd started cheering. Just the sight of Oprah was very overwhelming!
Ultrasound day was very exciting. We saw that I had two follicles with eggs that were about to drop. We knew twins was a possibility and as long as there weren’t 4 or 5 follicles with eggs, we were still game.
After taking an ovulation predictor (still the best way in my opinion to determine ovulation, and less crazy-making than charting your temperature) we came in the next day for our big moment. Matt came by in the morning to make his deposit, they washed it in a centrifuge, got rid of the slowpokes and made his sperm bionic and super-powered! My appointment was later in the day and lasted all of 5 minutes. They threaded a catheter into my uterus and shot those guys right up there. Done! We asked if I should lay there for a while and the nurse said, “It’s not necessary, but people like to. Stay as long as you like.” So I laid there for a bit and Matt and I chatted. It wasn’t exactly romantic, but it was exciting.
And that was that.
A couple of weeks later, frustrated, sad and angry that I felt no symptoms, I grieved. I grieved for yet another cycle of disappointment, for all that we had been through, for getting our hopes up, for the fear that it might never work. I cried so hard my eyes were swollen and my head ached, but I felt like I had finally touched into the depth of my sadness.
And then I took a pregnancy test.
And it was positive.
I am a Clomid success story. Or maybe an IUI success story. (I am adding these lines because when I was scared about taking Clomid, I googled “clomid success story” about a hundred times looking for positive story) Look here folks! It worked for us on the first try.
In the end, we’ll never know what it was that helped. Was it the drugs or was it simply meant to be that cycle? Was it the bionic sperm or did all that praying finally pay off? We’ll never know. We will always have to, no matter how difficult it is to do, bow down to the mystery. Oh, the mystery.