My (Ongoing) Journey With Secondary Infertility

It's time that I opened up about something that I've tried to keep hidden for almost 3 years. 

The best place to start would be at the beginning. 

In November of 2011, I was admitted into the ER with extreme pains in my lower abdomen. I was 7 weeks pregnant and I knew something was wrong. 

I don't think words can adequately explain just how painful it was. It was off the charts on the pain scale. Labor looked like a 4 in comparison. 

After throwing up several times from the pain, I remember beginning to lose myself. I just thought over and over, "Give me the epidural, give me the epidural". After an ultrasound, they found that the baby had implanted in my fallopian tube where it had grown and burst. I was bleeding internally and would have to have emergency surgery as soon as possible.

I remember waking up in my hospital room afterwards. Just numb.

I knew it that moment that I didn't only lose my baby, I had lost my fertility. I don't know how, but I just knew that this would affect me for the rest of my life. I asked the doctor on call what this meant for my future family. 

"Well, the body is amazing. Because you have both ovaries, your one tube may actually 'pick up' the egg from the opposite side."

Not me, I thought. Maybe it was the deep depression I was in or maybe it was just intuition, but I knew that wouldn't happen.

"Your best bet would be to get on medication that will cause you to super-ovulate so that you would have a better chance to ovulate from the side your tube is on."

No, that won't work, I just know.

That summer, I watched as members of my family had their babies. My due date silently came and silently passed. It was just another day for everyone else while I silently wept in my cubicle at work. Tears poured out while I basked alone in the emptiness that filled my body and soul.

When it came time that we were ready to try again, I began to research everything there was about conceiving with only one tube. The information was hopeful and I read story after story of couples that were able to continue their family and get pregnant. I wanted to prepare myself for what journey lay ahead of me.

When we had been trying for 5 months, I went to the doctor and requested to have an HSG done. It's a simple, and in my case, painless procedure where they inserted a small catheter unto my uterus and pushed dye through. This way, they can look at the shape of my uterus and if the tubes are clear or blocked.

At the end of the procedure, the doctor said, "Now, give me a call when you get pregnant. Many times this will 'clear the cobwebs', so to speak, and women are able to get pregnant within 3 months."

When I hit the official 1 year mark that we had been trying, I cried. I had suspected that this would be my experience but at the same time, I was trying desperately to ignore the fact that one of my worst fears was unfolding.

For those of you that have been fortunate enough to conceive with ease, I will try to illustrate what it is like to be on the opposite side of the spectrum.

Each month, you spend days and days preparing for when you will ovulate. When you do, you meticulously count the days until you can test. It consumes your thoughts. You overanalyze symptoms that you may or may not have. Hope swells in your heart that this might be the month that you see those bright double lines. You can't help but imagine ways to announce the pregnancy. You can't help but think of when your due date would be and who the baby would look like. It's inevitable that you wonder if it will be a boy or a girl.

And right when your hopes are at an all-time high, you get a "no".

For the next week, you get a physical and sometimes painful reminder of your failure. There will be no baby this month. No due date. No boy or girl. No announcements. 

In a sense, you have lost a part of your future. No one knows but you and your loss is not recognized as legitimate so you keep it to yourself and think, "it's no big deal…We can try again next month…"

Month after month after month passes and you can't get off the roller coaster. Each month your hopes rise only to die again. It's a vicious cycle that you have absolutely no control over.

Naturally, you start to self-loathe and hate your body. It's defective and broken.

And the bargaining begins. If I could just have one more, then I promise that they can take my uterus afterwards. If I could just get pregnant, I promise I will never complain. 

Then the anger comes. It's a deep, hateful anger that weighs your heart down. You can't help but feel jealousy towards pregnant women. You feel guilt when you skip baby showers. Some days you feel so alone you just want to scream so anyone will hear you.

But mostly, you are enraged with yourself. You wonder if people really knew how much anger you have and just how much you hate yourself. You hide it away because you don't want to be pitied and you don't want people to feel bad for you.

It's more than just trying to conceive. It's the deep depression. It's the awkward questions. It's the feeling that your heart may break at any moment. It's the hopelessness that comes with infertility.

When I hit the year mark, I decided it was time to lose weight to be more healthy. Only 5% of weight loss can dramatically help your chances. I ate better and I ended up losing 13.4% of my body weight. 

So we took a break for a few months while I concentrated on eating healthier.

When I hit the 15-month mark of trying, I made an appointment with my OB to help boost my chances. I was put on 50mg of Clomid.
Every night I religiously took the pills and would often wake up, drenched with sweat as a side-effect. When that month failed, it was bumped up to 150mg. Then that failed as well.

I felt like my body was mocking me and I forced myself to face the idea that there could be a chance that I may never have children again. I may never experience the feeling of getting a positive test or feeling the small movements of a baby again. 

Now, I realize to outsiders that this may sound dramatic and irrational but it is a fact that people with infertility have to think about. It is just as real of a possibility as the fact that maybe someday I will become pregnant. I'm already prepared at the thought of having a baby, otherwise I wouldn't be trying to conceive. But I have not processed the thought of never having children again.

So yes, it may sound dramatic but it's reality.

And that brings us to today. I have now been on my silent journey for almost 3 years and we are moving forward.

I remember making that call to the insurance company to ask about fertility treatments. I couldn't help it, I began to cry. It just isn't fair that I have to pay thousands of dollars for what other people can get for free.

I'm going to be honest, I cry a lot these days. I cry myself to sleep more often than not. I bottle it up so much, I can't help when the tears fall. It's my only catharsis

The reason why I write this is not to have a pity party. It's not so that you will feel bad for me.

It's so that you will understand.

There will be days that I am bitter and there will be moments where I have to excuse myself. I may or may not want to talk about it and don't judge too harshly when I don't share the same enthusiasm at a birth or pregnancy announcement.

But now that it's out there, we don't have to tip-toe around the subject, like it's a dirty family secret.

Yes, this is the absolute hardest thing I have gone through in my life. Yes, it sucks. Yes, I am still trying to process this journey so be patient as I navigate these unknown waters.


Becca Curzon said...

Thank you for sharing. My experience has been similar to yours. Anger is a definite hardship day to day. No one, but my immediate family, knows how much this affects me. So hard!

Hilary Hogan said...

Oh Jessica my heart aches for you. I completely understand I tried for just over two years trying to get pregnant. I finally forced myself to give up and appreciate what I had. I thought to myself at least I was able to have one where some never get that opportunity. I finally became content and put it all in the Lord's hands. But I did feel the same way you did. I did surprisingly get pregnant after all that. I pray that you will be able to find that peace and happiness of contentment and if it so be it have another child as well. But maybe if not now you will be blessed with having children in the millennium. It's tough I know stay strong! I don't doubt you are a wonderful mother and wife! I'll keep you in my prayers! Miss you friend!

Jenna Foote said...

I'm really sorry, Jessica. :( I wish you the best on this long journey.

hdone said...

I don't know you, but I loved this post. You expressed so many things that I can't put into words. I have PCOS and my doctor also suspects husband also has issues, and it has been such a hard journey for us, and we're only two years into it. This post reminded me that we aren't alone. Thank you for being so open.