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The 'F' Word

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I became a bitchy, irrational, depressed crybaby who could no longer be around any expectant mothers or children for more than 30 minutes. I felt full-on panicked. I no longer believed I would ever get pregnant.

woman with pregnancy test

Julia Childless: Fertically challenged. Is that even a word? Well, I think that's what I am. I am trying not to say "infertile," and I refuse to hit up the TTC (Trying to Conceive) boards to research what acronyms they're using these days. The last time I visited one of those sites was almost a year ago, when I became so confused and overwhelmed I closed the window without commenting, leaving a trail of "baby dust" behind me.

When I first started trying to get pregnant, everyone told me to just relax and not to worry. I'm in my early 30s, and come from a long line of super-reproductive folk (my parents are both one of 10 siblings). My gynecologist did the requisite blood work at my annual, neglecting to inform me that my free "well woman exam" was now being billed as "pre-conception counseling." When that hefty invoice arrived, I discovered my health insurance didn't cover infertility treatment. The pressure to conceive cheaply -- the old-fashioned way -- was on.

The first six months I took charge of my fertility (with the help of Toni Weschler's requisite book). I upped my yoga classes and meditation tapes. I quit caffeine and alcohol and artificial sweeteners. My husband altered his diet as well, in solidarity -- he also stopped biking and started sporting boxers -- even though his sperm count was well above normal. And, of course, we had lots and lots of sex followed by the recommended postcoital 30-minute position -- going against everything I had learned about preventing bladder infections. I was starting to get concerned.

In the meantime, everyone around me was getting knocked up. Friends, family members, strangers whose blogs I read. I made no secret about my baby-making attempts -- I assumed it would happen for me, just like it did for everyone around me. In fact, many people began asking if I WAS pregnant, but that's an issue for a whole other blog entry.

We stopped dining out regularly and went to the movies less, using the money to do some more out-of-pocket testing. It had been less than a year, so I was still assuming that pregnancy was just a matter of time. I continued doing more affordable remedies, like over-the-counter progesterone cream and acupuncture; I didn't want to go whole-hog on the medical treatments, unless they were absolutely necessary. Then I became confused by what my gynecologist thought was necessary and wound up switching doctors. Twice. Finally, I found someone I could understand and communicate with, and she recommended Clomid.

My cycles had already been puzzling. Charting my temperatures and checking my cervical mucus for 365 days straight showed me one thing -- none of it made sense. There was always something "wrong" -- no thermal shift or too many of them, abnormal luteal phase lengths, cycles that were too short, and ones that went on and on ... the months on Clomid were even more frustrating. I was showing zero signs of ovulation, which nobody could explain beyond, "Well that's weird." Plus, I became a bitchy, irrational, depressed crybaby who could no longer be around any expectant mothers or children for more than 30 minutes. I felt full-on panicked. I no longer believed I would ever get pregnant.

Before the holidays, we made the decision to see a reproductive endocrinologist, using the money we had put aside for the down payment on a house.

We went to see our specialist right after the New Year, and I really like her. She has a few theories as to why I may not be getting pregnant -- two of them requiring minor surgery, which fully freaks me out -- but further testing has to be done. Every time she opens her mouth, I hear the sound of the cash register ringing simultaneously, and I know that's something I have to let go of. As my mother-in-law says, you don't go shopping at Barney's and ask what's on sale.

Even though I've been "fertically challenged" for a while now, I feel like this journey is just beginning -- I hope you'll come along for the ride with me.

next: Moms Put on Their Poker Faces and Win Big
7 comments so far | Post a comment now
gbmonkey January 22, 2010, 10:28 AM

Adopt having a house is more important than seeing a fertility doctor some people just cant have kids but you can adopt

Leah January 22, 2010, 3:13 PM

Not only am I childless after losing my full term baby at three days old (fifteen years ago), I was adopted at age five.

Last summer I had an amazing experience of reuniting with both my birth mother, birth father and meeting a younger half-sister I never even knew existed. Life as difficult as it can be at times, can accurately point you to see what is really important and tell you which direction you should go in. There are so many children right here in our own country who need loving homes and if your arms and heart are open, an adopted child really can love you back.

I can assure you that I loved my adopted parents as much as I loved my birth-parents (who divorced shortly when I was around the age of 3). And we are a very happy and now a larger family.

Good luck to you in seeing what direction your life is telling you to go. May many blessings come your way!

Christina January 22, 2010, 6:33 PM

My husband and I found ourselves visiting a fertility specialist and undergoing all sorts of tests after 4 years of trying. Once we saw what was in store physically and the actual odds of conceiving, we quite cheerfully began contacting adoption agencies. We are now the proud parents of 2 1/2 years old twin boys via open adoption.

Angela January 23, 2010, 9:26 PM

Adoption is a great option, but every couple needs to decide what works best for them. I’m sure that by now you have put a lot of thought into this and have your reasons for pursuing the path that you’re taking. Good luck and keep us posted.

Lisa R. January 24, 2010, 6:33 AM

My husband & I had a beautiful, 7-yr-old daughter when we started trying to have another baby. Although I didn’t know we’d “started trying”; I thought it would be as easy as having our first was. It was not. Many tests, treatments, scheduled sex, depressing years of getting a period and 2 painful miscarriages later, I found a new ob/gyn & hired a personal trainer to lose some weight & get into better shape. It finally worked, and our adorable son will be 3 years old in 6 weeks. It wasn’t easy—and I often dispaired of ever having another child (and our two are 9-1/2 yrs apart)—but ultimately it worked out for us. I hope & pray it works for you, too. Good luck to you!

And to “gbmonkey”: Dear Lord, please take a basic English & grammar class and learn to use capitalization & punctutation. Your response was one muddled, run-on sentence that made no sense at all as it was written. Use a comma & a period, for pete’s sake!! You look ignorant & uneducated when you write like that. The Internet is not a license to abandon all the rules of grammar you ever learned in school.

setermined January 26, 2010, 5:32 PM

Dear Julia,

When I decided to have a baby, I had a premonition that after years of trying not to be pregnant, I would have difficulty conceiving …and boy was I right! I started trying at 35 and went through much of what you are going through, with all my friends getting pregnant around me (“but you have one ovary?” “on your first try?”). My husband and I tried au natural for the first 6 months, then we saw a fertility specialist. Before I tried any treatments, I had a presumed ectopic pregnancy, and that combined with my husband’s low sperm count sent me straight to IVF. So, the reality is that IVF is rough, but not as rough as it is in your mind. It is super-stressful, and it is rare to hit one your first, second, or even third try. But rare is not never. I had to do it 4 times before I conceived my incredible twins.

They just finally came out with the statistics that women under 35 with fertility challenges who undergo 5 cycles of IVF have the same chance of conceiving (and bringing a baby to term) as someone without challeges of the same age.

I hear that you want your own child. That’s a legitimate desire. You can think about the other options, like adoption, down the road. As you go on this crazy journey, be kind to yourself ( I did tons of yoga and acupuncture) and your partner.

I’m crossing my fingers and toes for you.


unfankeno June 23, 2010, 8:16 AM

France captain Patrice Evra claims that coach Raymond Domenech dropped him from the squad for “no valid reason” and denied him the chance to apologise to the French public by reading out the players’ statement himself.

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