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Infertility Awareness

So, it's Infertility Awareness Week, I hear. I am never quite sure what 'awareness' day/week/etc is supposed to accomplish because, usually, I think most people are 'aware' of the existence of the thing. Kind of like those 'Got Milk?' ads - who hasn't heard of milk?! Who hasn't heard of infertility? But maybe the point is for people to be open about their own personal stories, so that those within their circle of friends and acquaintances start to see it affects more people than they first thought, or in different ways than they assumed. (Infertility I mean, not milk.)

Infertility is defined differently depending on your age, so I would say we have fallen into the 'infertile' category three times in our married life (including right now). If you are under 35, you are considered infertile after 12 months of trying to conceive; over 35, you get that label after only six months of trying.

So in brief, our fertility experience:

April 1999 - married. No desire for children right away, or possibly ever. I never really wanted to be married, but Dave was so awesome I changed my mind. I needed more time to change my mind on the baby issue.

February 2002 - ok, let's give it a go. Stopped using birth control.

June 2002 - got queasy while using dry erase markers at my teaching job, vomited. Took pregnancy test next day - positive. I remember this was also the day Al Qaeda published a video of a beheading of an American and that poor Elizabeth Smart was still missing. Funny how you remember the sad news on that day. I got pretty sick pretty quickly and had to withdraw from my summer practicum. I did it in the fall. Lucy was born in February 2003.

June 2004 - we decided to try again. It only took a few months the first time so we figured it would be about the same, and the kids would be roughly two years apart. At this time in my life I stupidly felt it was important that children be about two years apart. I was an idiot. Month after month after month... nothing. I half-heartedly attempted taking my temperature to figure out my ovulation but never took it too seriously. At my annual GYN checkup, they said I was healthy and there was no reason I wouldn't be able to get pregnant. Finally in June 2005, my doctor said after one more month, they would let me try Clomid. I got pregnant that last cycle of trying before Clomid, and Truman was born (a month early) in February 2006. He and Lucy are 5 days shy of three years apart, and so for five days every year I have kids who are that 'perfect' two years apart. That year of trying for Truman was long and hard. In comparison to other things I've been through, I won't say it was the hardest thing, but it was a long, drawn-out event.

August 2006 - Truman was six months old, and SURPRISE! Pregnant again. We were not trying, although after it had taken so long to get pregnant with him and we knew we wanted a third, we had decided to start trying sooner rather than later. Still, it was hard having a little baby and being pregnant - Penny was born in March 2007, exactly 13 months (or 12 months, 4 weeks since it includes February) after Truman.

Then, as everyone knows, we were DONE. A few months after Penny's birth, Dave had a vasectomy, and that was that. For seven years anyway.

In May 2014, he had a reversal. And it worked. But from May 2014 to December 2014, nothing happened. And I was past 35 by this point, so that 7 month mark made us for the second time 'infertile.' We went to a reproductive endocrinologist, did a medicated (Clomid=bitchy, mean, and migraines) cycle with IUI, and ta-da, JACINDA! On the first try. She was born in August 2015.

And as history repeats itself - we weren't sure we were done but we were leaning that way - when again, surprise! In March 2016 I found out I was pregnant again. My due date was exactly 15 months after Jacinda's birth date. Ok, I had been there, done that before with the Irish Twins, so while we weren't initially thrilled (Jacinda still wasn't sleeping all night), we knew we could handle it, and as we passed milestones - seeing his heartbeat at 8 weeks, hearing it at home on a doppler, getting a clear genetic screen at 12 weeks - we became more excited and attached. In May he started moving around a lot. We decided, ok 5 children is definitely enough for us (we really did not want to have to move to a bigger house!), and we thought since the vasectomy worked so well for Dave the first time why not go that route again? We also thought it would be better for him to have it done during the pregnancy than after while trying to help care for a newborn baby, and we didn't want to take any 'chances.' So he had that done.

Then, of course, the unthinkable and statistically improbable happened, and our baby Desmond died in July 2016 at 19 weeks' gestation. His umbilical cord was long and he got tangled and it knotted and he died.

In our sadness and grief, we additionally felt guilt for the vasectomy. We felt like by doing that we were saying we hadn't wanted him, when we really did. Grief makes you think in strange ways.

September 2016 - two months after Desmond's delivery, Dave had a second vasectomy reversal. It was again a success (Dr Sommers in St Louis is amazing!), his counts are great, yet here we are at seven months since the surgery, and no pregnancy. I have taken Clomid (bitchiness again), Femara (less bitchy), and even done trigger shots (instant migraines, and the pain of having to 'test out' the shot because it gives you positive pregnancy tests until it's out of your system). Nothing.
So here we are in that 'infertile' category a third time.
Next month, we go back to the reproductive endocrinologist. My eggs are 2.5 years older than last time we went there. But we feel like we have to try. It's hard on our marriage. Timing marital relations around a calendar, dealing with side effects of medications, having extra doctor visits and extra medical bills, it all adds up to extra stress on us. But we will keep trying until we can't try anymore.


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