Sunday, April 19, 2015

You Are Not Alone

This year I am kicking off National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW) by participating in Resolve’s, Bloggers Unite! I am excited to not only share with you information about Infertility but am happy to remind those who are suffering in silence that, you are not alone.

1 in 8 couples suffer from infertility. One in Eight! That means that you most likely know someone who is dealing with infertility and many go through this journey alone. I am sharing my story today so those who are going through the same thing know that they are not alone. I am also sharing my story to let everyone know what it is like to go through infertility.

Infertility is defined by the inability to conceive after a year of frequent intercourse. Due to the fact that I knew it would take a little while for us to get pregnant, we did not share the news with our family and friends in 2009 that we were trying to conceive, plus, we didn’t want our lives to revolve around trying to get pregnant. We were taking the laid back, it will happen when it happens approach and decided that we could pleasantly surprise everyone when it happened. I believed that if we just kept trying, if I just relaxed more and we just “let it happen,” then I would get pregnant  because that’s what I have always heard. People say things like, “It will happen when God wants it to happen” or, “Just have fun! It’ll happen soon enough!” People don’t say things like, “If you’ve been trying for a year, you should see a doctor” or, “Have you tried temping and charting to make sure you’re ovulating?” In fact, we’re led to believe (since 5th grade sex ed) that it only takes once and you’ll be pregnant and for some people, that’s true but for many couples like us, that is not the case. We never imagined it would take so long. Month after month, year after year, nothing happened. Even armed with the knowledge that endometriosis would make it difficult to conceive, we expected with each month, that I would get pregnant. After four years, we had no surprise news to share and eventually, our doctor suggested that it was time to get help.

Going to the Reproductive Endocrinologist was not what I expected, although I will admit I went into it rather blindly. Many women do a lot of research before their first appointment; I just read the clinic’s website. When I filled out the book of forms before my first appointment, there was a question that said: What type of treatment option are you looking for? And I wrote: MAKE ME NORMAL. All I wanted and expected was to be given some kind of magic pill that would help me get pregnant. Easy peasy. Sadly, that was not the case.

First, there were a litany of tests; blood work, transvaginal ultrasounds, saline sonograms and a semen analysis. We were told that my husband’s tests were normal and everything looked good. On my end, however, we were looking at possible Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, Endometriosis, a blocked left tube and scar tissue around my right ovary.

To begin, we started with Femara, a trigger and timed intercourse. We just weren’t ready for anything invasive. We still believed that we just needed a little push to get pregnant. Just a little nudge and that would do it. Plus, the idea of the trigger shot alone gave me massive anxiety. I’m not a nurse! You want me to give myself a shot? The first time I did the trigger shot, I was so nervous, I poked myself and pulled the needle back out before I pushed the plunger! Fail!  But the timed intercourse didn’t work. And then it didn’t work again.

We moved on to IUIs (intrauterine insemination) but still didn’t share our journey with anyone for two reasons. The first reason is that I wasn’t sure I could handle my own disappointment and the disappointment of everyone else. I already felt like a failure. This was MY fault. The second reason is because with each cycle, we were sure it was going to work. We were positive that we would still be able to surprise everyone with the news that we were pregnant.

Two months of medicated, timed intercourse, three IUI’s, one cancelled IUI and a year later, we were forced to accept that what we were doing wasn’t working. My doctor sat me down and said that it was time to move on to IVF.

IVF had always seemed like this expensive, dark, looming cloud. For the longest time, I thought it was only something celebrities and other rich people were able to utilize and we assumed that if we ever came to this point, it would be the end of our journey because it was not something that was obtainable for us.  IVF is not covered by our insurance. Until that point, we have been fortunate enough to have some insurance coverage for my infertility treatments, however, due to recent changes in the health care system, we will no longer even have the coverage that we once did.  While our policy says that it covers “50% of the diagnosis and treatment of infertility” there is a large list of exclusions including: medications for the treatment of infertility, artificial insemination and IVF. So basically, it doesn’t cover anything at all. While the little coverage it does offer is somewhat helpful for testing, it does not help people like me with blocked tubes and scar tissue build up from endometriosis.

Who has close to $20,000 just sitting around waiting to be used to make a baby? While there are loans for infertility treatment available, the interest rates are incredibly high. Just the idea of applying for a loan is daunting. You find yourself thinking, if I get a loan that I have to make payments on for two or three or four years, what will I be depriving my future child of in order to be able to make the loan payments? How will I pay for their needs and contribute to a college fund and pay for the loan I had to take just to be able to get my body to work properly so I could have the child in the first place? Instead of just the normal financial concerns of how to afford having children, you have to add the amount of money you have to spend just have the chance to have a child.

BUT, ever the optimists, we decided to try and figure something out. We started saving and fund raising. We cut back our spending to practically nothing. Want a candy bar? Nope. We need to save the money for IVF. We stopped eating out, cut down our cable bill and stopped going shopping for anything that wasn’t a necessity. There was a time when I bought a pair of $50 shoes without batting an eye. Now, I side eye shoes priced over $15 and only buy them if I have worn through the soles on my only pair. So here we are today, moving forward (finally) with IVF and speaking out so that other's know they are not alone.

That is why I have such a passion for Infertility Awareness and NIAW is especially important to me. I believe that we need to change the social stigma that surrounds infertility and educated each other about what infertility looks like and what the treatment options are. It is a taboo subject in our society which makes many people afraid to talk about it or speak up when they are suffering. We infertiles beat ourselves up enough, we already feel broken or damaged and making infertility a taboo subject makes us feel like outcasts.

So speak up, support your friends who are suffering from infertility and educate yourself so you understand what it means to be infertile and what the treatment options are. No one should go through a journey like this alone.

Go to the Then Comes Family facebook page and download a banner to use as your Facebook cover picture to let everyone know that you support the 1 in 8 who suffer from infertility:

For more information and understanding the disease of infertility, check out:

For  more information about NIAW go here:

For Friends and Family of those who suffer from infertility, click here:

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