I stepped on a piece of metal in college that pierced into my foot, curving as it went in and becoming stuck. I waited, face down on my living room floor, for nearly an hour until an old boyfriend got off work and could come wiggle it out. Once the initial shock wore off, I couldn’t shake the terrible sensation of something being where it shouldn’t — of my body wanting to flush it out but the hooked end keeping it in place. And that’s what this infertility medicine feels like at times: palpable, and some days I want to claw it out of my skin.
But I can’t. Someone recently asked us how long we’ve been “trying” and I wasn’t sure how to answer. “Since we got married,” Lance replied, which was an easy enough response since the person who asked had attended our wedding. And that’s true. I went off the pill a month or so after we tied the knot. It’s our simplest answer by far.
But when I think about trying in the sense of children, it doesn’t feel like a linear experience — even though it obviously has been. This morning’s progesterone pill feels connected to last year’s first progesterone in oil shot feels connected to the Plan B I apparently didn’t need to take on our first Christmas. The pills are jumbled up in my memory. The injections and the blood work blur. Sometimes I still feel the jolt that I forgot to take my birth control. I recently even found a condom, several years expired, tucked in a drawer. How did I go from buying Durex 12-packs to estrogen patches and ovulation predictor kits?
The side effects are starting to get to me, many of which mimic pregnancy without the actual benefit of having a baby. There’s the ones you’d expect: an array of stomach problems, skin issues, and weight changes. But then there’s the surprising, like my newfound “IVF gingivitis” — a term my entire dentist’s office has been sweet enough to use without request to avoid saying I have “pregnancy gingivitis,” which is what is happening. Who knew the drugs would increase blood flow to the head which could cause (largely untreatable, in this instance) gum issues that make it hurt to eat?
The last few months’ cycles have been a wash, and I assume that will continue. It’s looking more and more like we’ll have to return to IVF — in lieu of the medicated cycles we’re doing now — even though my hysterosalpingogram came back with promising tubal news. All I can do is continue on with my life, doing my best to not let it all revolve around infertility treatment. Easier said than done after several years of treatment, but it’s impossible to move forward with my personal, social, or business goals when I’m perpetually stuck in this uterine holding pattern.
I don’t have a solution today, but simply a reminder that you’re not alone in your wait.
More on my infertility: Feelings after multiple failed embryo transfers, details of my infertility cause, products that help with the pain, and tips for staying active during treatment.