Tuesday, May 12, 2009

More on becoming a Mother

I read one time someone describe going through fertility treatments being similar to being on crack and in a very real way, it is. It's that "one more time, just one more time and then I'll quit" syndrome. You start out saying, "Ok, I'm just taking a few pills to help nature along" and in the end you are shooting yourself up with hormones twice a day. You draw lines in the sand and then erase them or jump over them, all in a quest for a baby.

One regret I have....you see the media talking all the time about celebrities having children in their 40's...this one was 42, that one was 44 and you think it's normal and easy to have a baby well into your 40's. The truth is, that your fertility declines at 30 and that at 35, it has sharply declined and by the time you are 40, the chances of giving birth to a healthy baby has declined to 5%. Not great odds. I really wish I had known those odds when I was 34 and we were working on the house....but whatever.

So, we knew that Ralph had an issue . What I didn't know was that I was the one who would "pay" for that. See, if you increase the number of eggs each cycle, you increase your odds of getting pregnant. And that means that the woman has to take fertility drugs. So we started with clomid aka "the devils drug" because of the side effects. It makes you cry at the drop of a hat over nothing, gives you wicked hot flashes and basically turned me into a witch. Then it becomes all about timing. Time the ovulation, try to get pregnant. We went through 12 cycles of clomid, because I didn't want to move onto the "big guns", the injectables. Each cycle is a little death. You take drugs, you have ultrasounds to monitor your progress in your ovaries, you inseminate and you wait. And when you find out that it didn't work, you cry, you are heartbroken. Each cycle is not cheap, either, because insurance doesn't cover fertility treatments, so we were spending about a thousand dollars a cycle.

Finally we had to make a decision, give up or move on. I always said I wasn't going to do the injectables but when push came to shove, I shoved and we moved on to the big guns.

Now, the cycles cost more, too. The meds themselves cost a couple thousand dollars a cycle and you have more blood tests and ultrasounds monitoring your progress. Emotionally, it's very trying, too. I remember the first time, sitting in the kitchen, trying to inject myself. I would get very close and then I just couldn't do it. I think the first shot, it took about half an hour for me to build up my courage. Of course, in the end, I was a pro. After you give yourself an injection twice a day for however many days time and time again, well, it becomes easy, second nature.

I had to change my work schedule, so that I could go in, in the early morning for blood tests and ultrasounds. I started looking like a junkie, too. I have hard veins to draw from and sometimes it would take 3 pokes for the phlebotomist to get the vein. Three pokes and I'm getting blood drawn every day as we get close to ovulation and you can imagine what my arms looked like.

I was emotional as hell. Your emotions take a pounding....hope, wishes, dreams, dreams shattered, hope squashed, fear, failure, all wrapped up in a month and then, you have to do it again.

I was ready to stop, I'd had enough. Let's adopt. No, Ralph didn't want to adopt. God, so now I faced a decision....go on childless or go back to treatment. I hated treatment. I hated what it did to me physically and mentally. It was draining our bank account. It was harrowing emotionally. But, I couldn't imagine not being a mom. I wanted to be a mom so badly.

So, after a few months, we started the treatment up again. I did 2 more cycles, both a bust. I had all the meds for the 3rd cycle, it was the day that I should start the shots and I sat in the kitchen with the syringe and the medication and I couldn't, I just couldn't. I broke down, I sobbed, I was defeated. I just couldn't do it one more time. I just couldn't. And so ended our fertility treatments....me on the kitchen floor sobbing.

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