While I might be on the other side of this infertility journey these days, there is still so much more about infertility to be shared. Infertility was part of our lives and indentity for four years and I often feel like I'm in this awkward "in between" place. Infertility raises a lot of questions even after pregnancy has occurred. But that's for another post! Let's jump into things you can't prepare yourself for while struggling with infertility!
1. The emotional toll- Nothing can prepare you for the emotional roller coaster that is infertility. Nothing. Every single month that passes yields nothing but devastation and often hopelessness. Infertility makes it hard to enjoy the joys that others are experiencing around you and this doesn't make YOU a bad person. I personally found myself avoiding uncomfortable situations. There is no right or wrong way of coping with this infrequently talked about situation. While complete isolation isn't the healthiest of choices, if baby showers make you uncomfortable, don't go. This is your struggle and no one but you understands it, unless you have an infertility support system. And even then, no two infertility journeys are alike. Try not to compare, but look to them for support, hope and encouragement.
2. The financial aspect- No matter your financial situation, infertility costs add up, even with the most basic of treatments. According to the Advanced Fertility Center of Chicago, the average cost of fertility treatment is $11-12k. Most people don't have money just sitting around that's begging to be used towards something that may or MAY NOT work. If Dyson introduced a new vacuum to the market that may or may not pick up the dirt on your floors, are you buying? It's a hard decision to spend a significant amount of money on testing and treatment. Not all insurances cover infertility, in fact, most don't. We chose to do as much fertility testing as possible through my normal obgyn and a urologist, verses a referral to a specialist for this reason. With the appropriate diagnoses, some testing may be covered. But most everyone has a deductible they have to meet, before insurance covers. With that being said, there are copays every single visit. When it came to medications in our situation, Brent started Clomid around September 2016 as well as two supplements. These three medications alone cost us over $100 per month times the five months he took them. Several cycles before we started our IUI, I started Clomid alone to make timing my ovulation easier which was $50 per cycle times four cycles. The next major expense for us was having IUI performed twice. Both cycles of IUI cost just over $1000 each( $200 for the in office procedure part and a little over $800 for the semen washing). We were not quoted the estimate for the semen washing prior to our procedures, so it did come as shock to us when we received the bill. Each year deductibles reset, so time is most definitely a factor in the cost of fertility treatment. And these expensive barely touch what others going through treatment pay for. Injectable medications are so expensive. Egg retrieval is expensive. Implantation of these eggs is expensive. And let's not forget about the hours missed at work and the down time after procedures. Time is money.
3. The physical changes- Oh, the physical changes. For me personally, Clomid was a nightmare. During the four cycles I was on Clomid, I gained a good 15 pounds. And when you're only 5'4", 15 pounds is a big deal. I had heard of people gaining weight on Clomid, but thought surely I could stay on top of eating right and exercising and keep the pounds away. Boy, was I wrong. I was going to gain it regardless. And it took months to even drop a small portion of that weight. Not only did I experience physical changes on Clomid, but Brent did as well. I guess a common male side effect of Clomid is swelling, which he experienced in his legs. He naturally has lean legs, so the side effects could have been worse, but they were real. Stress also takes a toll on your body through this process.
In the end, I can say it was entirely worth it for the peace of mind that testing provided and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The four years we spent longing to add to our family made us appreciate the gift of parenting that much more and made the experience of getting pregnant so special for us as a couple.
Boy have these last 13 weeks flown by! We are a third of the way which feels so surreal. Since we kept pretty much our entire first trimester under wraps, I thought I'd share how it went for me!
Week four for me was a breeze. I had zero inkling that I was pregnant until we got our positive test during a routine doctors appointment around 4 weeks 5 days. Weeks 5-9 were essentially the same repetitive symptoms and boy were they unpleasant. By week five, nausea hit in HARDCORE. Like debilitating nausea. Thankfully, I never experienced any vomiting episodes, but I combated the nausea in a terrible way! It seemed the only thing that made me feel better was eating something every two hours. That's a good amount of food. I don't recommend it! Along with the nausea came my first food aversion... coffee. It wasn't the smell or taste, but the mere thought of coffee made me want to hurl. During my first trimester I think I drank a Starbucks decaf Americano with cream and vanilla MAYBE three times, which if you know me is super unusual. I love my coffee! As far as cravings go, I've really craved a lot of comfort type foods... soups and mashed potatoes... carbs! Again, I don't recommend my eating habits!
As far as physical activity goes, I was active most days of the week up until week five when the nausea hit. Since then I've stepped foot in the gym maybe five times. I'm a little disappointed in myself, but it's something I'm hoping to get back into as these symptoms fade in the second trimester (I'm already feeling a million times better). Weeks 5-7 I started experiencing a really stuffy nose, especially at night. At first, I attributed it to allergies but it's been a persistent thing since. I read that stuffy noses are common during pregnancy because of blood flow changes. As far as body changes, I started experiencing some serious abdominal bloat starting around week 6. I was so uncomfortable during the evenings. The extreme bloat ended week 12. One word, constipation. End of topic, lol. Oh and I almost forgot about this symptom and I have no clue how. I'm reminded every time I look in the mirror that I'm pregnant. Acne! I am not one to usually have more than one random pimple at a time, but holy cow! Pretty much my entire first trimester was spent looking like a pizza instead of a glowing, mom to be. Week 10 I began to have trouble buttoning my pre-pregnancy jeans by the evening, so I used the ole rubber band trick.
Around week 10 I also started experiencing sciatica in the right side of my hindend/tailbone. It seems to have gone away as time went on. Frequent urination is also improving. I'm down from getting up six times a night to three times during the night. Feels like winning the lottery! Aside from the nausea, pregnancy has pretty much gone as I expected it too. My outlook during week 12 is far different than that of week 9 and I'm sure as time goes on I will forget all the not so pleasant moments of the first trimester!
Brent's biggest pregnancy complaint would be how loud I breathe now. He doesn't understand the struggle of all your organs shifting lol. But I totally empathize for him! I sound like I've been running on a hampster wheel for hours just from walking up the stairs! Also, week 9 I had to buy a new bra before vacation. Essentially NONE of my regular bras fit so I've been living in sports bras and will be until right before I deliver, at which point I'll purchase bras that I won't outgrow... because there is no sign of them stopping anytime soon *insert embarrassed emoji*. I'm already a D cup 13 weeks in and can't fathom them any larger!
Well now that you know all the unpleasant details, here's to hoping the second trimester treats me nicer!
Baby Smith is a sweet little girl! You may be curious how we know so early. We found out her gender when we did genetic testing (Natera Panorama to be exact) at 11 weeks and found out the results by 11 weeks 6 days. If you're curious what genetic testing is, it's a series of maternal blood tests that determine fetal risk for chromosomal disorders such as trisomy 13,18 and 21 (Down syndrome). While Down syndrome was/is the least of our concerns, trisomy 13 and 18 are much more severe conditions and often these effected babies don't survive but a few days after birth.
You may be wondering why we would decide to do genetic testing, especially with no family history of these conditions. When you find yourself in a situation that's taken so long, things feel too good to be true. You feel like you're just waiting for the rug to be pulled out from under your feet. We asked for genetic testing purely for peace of mind. Pregnancy is stressful enough, but a first pregnancy after Infertility brings a whole other level of stress and fears.
By the time we had announced the news, we had had two ultrasounds and genetic testing that yielded our pregnancy low risk. Praise God! If our testing had yielded inconclusive or high risk results, we would have approached our announcement very differently and much more privately. You may be wondering if we would have taken action or done anything differently as far as our pregnancy goes. Not a chance. This child was no mistake, no matter what the results were. Our love for this little girl is beyond words and she was hand picked just for us at just the right time.
You might be wondering if she has a name! As of right now, we have a few names picked and plan to see what suites her best when she makes her arrival! Some think we're crazy and some totally get it, but this is how we're approaching our pregnancy and what works for us. Our moto this pregnancy has been that sometimes God gives you things that you should keep close to your heart and sacred and when the timing is right, you'll know. We have no doubts the moment we look at her, we will know her name.