Infertility: When You Just Can’t Fix It
So much has happened since my last post, as those of you following Justine’s posts already know. 3 failed IUI cycles behind us and now we’re well into our first (and hopefully last!) IVF cycle, the one that we had hoped we would never need.
High Hopes & Low Lows
We were so hopeful that the IUI cycles would work and so disappointed each time they didn’t. The rollercoaster of emotions for both of us – hopeful, nervous, anxious, eager, and then, ultimately disappointment -took quite the toll. For me, and I would assume many people, these peaks and valleys of emotions were difficult to deal with- I felt constantly on edge. Throughout fertility treatment, I’ve tried to temper my excitement and hopefulness with realism so as not to feel overwhelming disappointment and frustration if the cycle didn’t work. However, that is easier said than done when what’s at stake is having a baby and expanding our family.
A few days before our first scheduled pregnancy test, Justine’s day one came... while I was away for work. In fertility lingo- it means she got her period- no pregnancy. I wasn’t overly disappointed as I had already beaten myself up for my less than optimal sample and subsequently written this cycle off in my head, but Justine? She was devastated. I didn’t realize how hard this hit her until we spoke on the phone later that night. To say that she was beside herself would be an understatement and I wasn’t there for her.
I should have known.
I should have been there for her.
And instead, here I was 4 hours away, unable to make it home to her before she went to sleep… this was the worst feeling I’ve had as her husband. I have the easy job in all of this and still managed to fail at everything I possibly could in this cycle…
I would not let this happen again.
Prior Planning & the Fertility Treatment Craze
I’ll continue with the results of the other two cycles in a moment, but first… a tangent. 2-3 nights a week, I am away for work. While this isn’t ideal for us even during the course of normal life, it’s become especially difficult since starting fertility treatment. There are so many appointments and while Justine doesn’t physically need me at every one of the routine checkups, I want to be there, and will be there, for every major step in this process.
I’m able to plan my work travel about 2 weeks in advance, but with the uncertainty of exact appointment dates that need to happen when Justine’s body dictates, prior planning is difficult. There are many appointments that can only be set a couple of days in advance based upon how the cycle is progressing, like the IUI procedure dates, that often my plans need to be changed.
For me, being by Justine’s side, physically and emotionally, throughout this process is my #1 priority.
We embarked on this journey as a team and I cannot and will not let her feel like she is going through this alone.
I learned from the first cycle that when a milestone or important appointment is coming, my schedule needs to stay open. I need to make sure I’m home within a certain window of time as cycles do not always progress like clockwork. For instance, the possibility of “day 1” arriving before our scheduled test day (that I had planned to be home for) hadn’t even crossed my mind.
Learn from us. This stuff happens…pretty regularly.
I Can’t Fix This
OK, back on track. Onto my recollections of our second IUI cycle and subsequent pregnancy test. This cycle was much better than the first –good vibes and excitement from everyone around us! Everything looked great, so I couldn’t help but fall in line-I was very hopeful and excited this time… and adding to that excitement was that two days before the scheduled test, Justine still hadn’t gotten her “day 1”. Talk about being nervous every time she went to the bathroom! With each moment that passed, becoming more and more excited that we had passed the threshold of the previous month and “day 1” wouldn’t come until after there was a baby in our arms. Going into the test we were both so excited and hopeful that this was it… but nope… another negative. Sh*t! Everything looked great going into it -why didn’t it work this time?!?!
Another Pregnancy Test that Said No
I was completely deflated after this negative test.
From the highest of highs, built up excitement going into the test, to the lowest of lows, when we got the results we were hoping not to see. We were both complete wrecks after this cycle, but luckily, this time, we were dealing with it together. We let our emotions flow out to each other until it seemed there was nothing left. Even with being as honest and open as we could be, feelings of helplessness, disappointment, frustration, and a general lack of control over my own life consumed me for the next few weeks. We did everything we could – just right – and still came up short. Worst of all, Justine spent another month on all those meds, in discomfort physically and emotionally, and it was again all for nothing… and there was nothing I could do to change that.
Back On Course
Going into the third IUI, we again did everything we could to prepare us for a great cycle and a (hopefully!) positive pregnancy test. Again, everything looked amazing on procedure day, but this time I couldn’t bring myself to get overly excited. The previous cycle drained so many of my hopeful emotions away, that there was little excitement left.
We left the second cycle deflated and began thinking and discussing the possibility of the need to move on to IVF before we even had the results of the third IUI procedure. IVF began to consume my thoughts. I was worried that while the IUI was no walk in the park for Justine, IVF was a whole other animal, closer to a wild beast. Daily shots, intense medications, discomfort, invasive procedures, anesthesia, surgery… my mind didn’t stop cycling through the steps and my fears.
IVF, Who Us?
How could I ask Justine to move on to this and endure all these things when all I had to do was aim and squirt into a cup? It wasn’t fair.
I didn’t want her to have to bear the brunt of this if we moved on to IVF. But how do I balance that- knowing that IVF gives us much higher possibilities of a successful pregnancy and how badly I want a child with Justine and how, I have, in my mind, completely written off IUI as a viable option for us. So, oh yeah, “day 1” showed up again a few days before the test… no surprise to me or huge wave of emotions this time. I had already mentally and emotionally moved on to IVF.
Taking the Leap
I left the decision up to Justine to make the enormous jump to IVF rather than undergo one more IUI. She was the one that would have to go through so much during that process, not me. Not surprisingly, given who she is, she decided to bite the bullet and do it.
It didn’t seem real. Surreal is the word that truly fits. We really had to go through IVF to start our family? Never did I think that would be us… it’s something other people have to go through… not us. Slowly, it became more and more real with each step forward we took - IVF consult, medication teach class, coming home to what looked like the spoils of a pharmacy robbery on our kitchen table… it’s all a blur.
It was watching Justine prep her medication and give herself her first shot that made IVF reality rock solid for me. Not only that IVF is our reality, but seeing, once again, that she is a strong and brave woman. A woman who will one day be the best, most caring, loving and selfless mother to our child. I’m truly amazed at what she is willing to put herself through (9 months of pregnancy and childbirth aside) in order to start our family. If the shoe were on the other foot, I can’t say for certain that I would be as selfless, agree to put my body through all of this… let alone handle it like the champ that she is. However, I can say for certain that I will gladly change as many stinky, poopy diapers as I can, without complaining, once we are through this…
That’s the goal. Stinky, poopy diapers - whatever it takes to get us there.
About Dan Houle - Where’s the F%&$#!ing Stork?!"
Dan Houle was born and raised in New Hampshire and, true to his roots, he is a lover of all things flannel. Dan moved to Connecticut in 2008, where he currently resides with his wife, Justine, and fur-baby, Ralphie. Dan works at Speciality Rolled Metals and is a General Manager of their distribution plant in Reading, PA. He enjoys spending his free time with his family, whether it's at the beach, hiking, cooking, or trying new restaurants - Dan is always up for having a good time with those he loves.