In our new Realtalk series, we're sharing personal stories about fertility and family planning. We hope they offer support and inspire honest conversation about an incredibly tough topic.
The day my husband asked me to marry him, four years ago, I stopped using contraception. We both wanted kids as soon as we were married. Plus, I had been on the Pill for more than 15 years and I knew it sometimes took a while for a woman's cycle to return.
But 12 months later, I still had yet to have a period. I was diagnosed with hypothalamic amenorrhea — due to overexercising and stress — and was instructed by my endocrinologist to stop exercising, increase my BMI, and decrease stress (hard to do in the lead-up to a wedding!). So I made those changes ... as soon as the wedding was over.
But after three months of eating whatever I wanted and drastically cutting back on exercise, my period was still MIA.
I was 35 and we were impatient, and so we saw a fertility specialist. Our first stop was SO-IUI (Super Ovulation and Intrauterine Insemination). This involved injecting myself daily with all the hormones my body was not producing naturally to grow follicles. Then, when ovulation occurred, the sperm was inserted manually by the nurse into just the right spot to meet up with the egg.
When this failed, we went straight to IVF with high hopes. It’s amazing how excited you get about a 40 percent chance of getting pregnant — when in reality, there’s more chance of it not working. That was the case with us: six IVF cycles (four fresh, two frozen) ... and so far nothing but big fat negatives.
Looking back, the first IVF failure was the hardest to comprehend. With every subsequent failure, you come to expect it more. It gets harder to hope. You get more numb. For the first few IVF cycles, I put on a positive front for my support crew and my husband; no doubt he did the same for me. But now, we’re more honest with each other — you need to release all the pain in order to be positive about the next step in the journey.