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.
It was worse this time.
I don’t think I can write about it all, but they ended up putting a clip on my cervix to straighten it out so they could get the catheter in. It hurt like fuck. Afterwards, the nurse admitted that just looking at the clip (I’ve forgotten its technical name) brings tears to her eyes.
I’m sat here crying now. It’s not really about the pain, I’m willing to endure pain to become pregnant, and I’m sure childbirth will be worse… if I ever get there. It’s the fact that even though I’m apparently fertile and normal (a retroverted uterus is considered normal), everything seems to be going wrong with our TTC journey. It’s the way it’s becoming progressively more difficult to get that catheter in. It’s the fear of needing IVF, which will be even more invasive and where (I believe) embryo survival rates are affected by a difficult transfer. It’s the things I have to go through that most women – even some lesbians – never face. To be honest, it makes me feel as though someone up there is deliberately throwing obstacles in my path – which makes it very difficult to trust God at a time when I most need Him.
I really want a baby, and I’m not giving up. I’m a veteran at pulling myself back together when I’ve fallen apart. But I wonder how long I can go on waiting and hoping for things to get better, when there’s no sign of the light at the end of this tunnel.