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.