Do I need to write this post, or can you infer what has happened?
Image courtesy of winnond / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Our sixth and final cycle of IUI went smoothly (no injection issues, ultrasound-guided insemination, no tenaculum) but it wasn’t a success. I’m not pregnant… again. Instead, I have the somewhat dubious honour of being crowned officially infertile.
I have very mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, I’m pleased to be moving on to IVF. Depending on which statistics you look at, it at least doubles our chances of becoming parents, and OH and I both have hope that it could actually work. She lost faith in IUI a long time ago, and I’d have been ready to stop after attempt #5, if it weren’t for the fact that one more failed cycle would qualify us for free IVF on the NHS. Even the ‘infertile’ label has come as something of a relief to me, as although you could argue our local NHS has set the barrier too low (are six IUIs really equivalent to a straight couple trying for a year?) it seems to give meaning to the devastating year of miscarriages and BFNs and a cancelled cycle that we’ve just been through.
On the other hand, not being able to have a child semi-naturally feels like a big loss. I’m grieving no longer being that girl who got pregnant first time (well, I still did, but…) I’m grieving a year of unsuccessful procedures and heartache. I’m grieving the loss of an easy and straightforward relationship with God: I cry every time I go to church now, sometimes able to hide it, sometimes not. I cried on Sunday because the hymn we were singing happened to contain the words ‘conceived’ and ‘period’… yes, really. And most of all, I grieve for my babies. Every time I see my youngest niece – who looks like me – she reminds me of what my own son or daughter would have been like. Of what should have happened.
I’m coping mostly by throwing myself into Plan B. I have books on IVF, a big long list of questions for our next appointment on 10 September, and I’ve started a healthier diet, cutting back on processed foods and simple carbs. Sometimes this gives me focus and drive but at other times I just need time and space to fall apart. I think in a way it’s harder for my OH, as there’s little she can do to prepare for IVF and she just feels powerless. I know some of you are lesbian couples who’ve experienced pregnancy loss or infertility – do you have any suggestions or know of any resources for the non-bio potential parent?
IUI #5 hasn’t worked.
I didn’t really expect it to, but it still feels shit. This whole process is getting harder and harder. The injections, the traumatic inseminations, the progesterone making me feel pregnant… it’s a lot to go through for a 20%-ish chance of success. I’m really wishing we’d gone with IVF from the start, because it’s been almost a whole year now. Wednesday marks the anniversary of the start of our first cycle. A whole year of heartbreak… three BFNs, three months waiting for appointments before we could try again, two miscarriages, two months pregnant with a baby that would never be born, one month when the lab was closed, and one cancelled cycle. I never knew how hard it would be to get a lesbian pregnant.
We’re hoping to try again in August, if the timing is right (no way am I cancelling our trip to Cardiff to see my baby niece). But it feels as though there’s a lot of pressure for it to work. It will be my last IUI, and although it’s wonderful that after this we can access free IVF, if I don’t have a viable pregnancy from the next attempt I will be labelled officially infertile. Yes, I know this is a line drawn arbitrarily by my local NHS. The NICE guidelines actually say we should try for twice as long (12 IUIs) before IVF is considered. But I feel I’ve fallen a long way from the girl who got pregnant first time. And I do fear never being able to have a child.
Please pray for me and hope that our next year of trying to conceive is a better one.
I didn’t blog about our third cycle. Perhaps because it felt as though it never really happened – there was only one pre-treatment scan (we’d been visiting family in Wales), the procedure took place in a normal scan room with no need to gown up, and I didn’t have any side effects from the Pregnyl. OH was encouraged by all the things that were different; my gut feeling from the start was that it wouldn’t work. Yet somewhere along the line, I must have allowed myself to get my hopes up, because I’m devastated that my body has responded as though treatment never really happened either.
It’s so hard. I’m trying to trust in God’s timing and accept that, no matter how desperate I am for a baby, now may just not be when it’s meant to happen. I’m trying not to read anything into the magpies I see on my walk to the supermarket or imagine I know what God has planned for me. I’m trying to focus on the good things in my life (my career, my health – still sane despite nine months off antidepressants and a miscarriage! – my wonderful OH) and enjoy spending time with my nieces and nephew. I know that taking longer to conceive means more time to prepare physically, mentally and possibly financially for a child (depending on the ratio of failed treatments to months where I can’t have treatment). In some ways, this makes the ordeal a lot easier – I’m grieving, but I can turn to God for support and comfort rather than getting angry with him. On the other hand, I’m still grieving.
It was a huge shock to get my period eleven days after treatment. My luteal phase has always been 13 days before, so I didn’t think that could happen. Maybe I ovulated right after that scan, with no chance of treatment ever working… If so, at least that will be addressed by the fact we’re moving on to superovulation next. With fertility drugs controlling my cycle, we won’t have to worry so much about timing.
I phoned the clinic this morning, and they said I don’t have to come in for a blood test (hurrah!) Apparently, peeing on a stick is good enough. But they also said we can’t start superovulation until we’ve had a review with one of the doctors, which means more waiting. Sometimes it feels as though my whole life has been reduced to a series of waits.