Facing My Worst Fear: Hearing the “I” Word From a Doctor

doctor office
You're first fertility appointment can be scary... Credit: DoNotLick

So, I did it. The big, bad scary thing. After being off of the pill for one year and trying for six months, I finally went to the doctor and faced my big fear: infertility.

The “i” word alone is enough to freak me out. I’m not sure if I subconsciously knew my body wasn’t totally right—or just had a hunch since my cycles have never really returned to what’s considered “normal” post-pill—but I was terrified to go to the doctor. Terrified to have him poke and prode around on and up in me. Terrified for him to talk to my husband about having his spermies tested. Terrified to discuss fertility drugs and other less-natural means of getting pregnant. And I was really, really terrified to hear the word “infertility.” (Despite the fact that it plagues 10 to 15 percent of couples, according to recent estimates.)

It took me six weeks to get in to see my OB/GYN. So for six weeks, I pretty much stuck my head in the sand, pretending that everything was okay and keeping myself busy so that I wouldn’t think about (re: feel the terror). So the day of the appointment? Well, I was pretty much a mess. I had a general idea of what to expect (lots of questions, future tests), but again, I was so darn scared. Thankfully, my husband kept it together and the doctor had that kind of self-depracating humor that you can’t help but like. He cracked jokes, shared success stories and smiled a lot while answering all of our questions. He even shared him and his wife’s struggles with getting pregnant. I really couldn’t ask for much more.

After discussing our past health histories and sharing my fertility charts with him, he agreed with me that my luteul phase was simply too short and it was taking me way too long to ovulate. Plus, the fact that my cervical fluid wasn’t robust (oh, the things you say when trying to get pregnant…), was a sign that things were amiss. So that day, I did a blood and urine test, and scheduled my next appointment for a transvaginal ultrasound.

Two ultrasounds and more pee tests later, I found out that my anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) levels were low and that my body simply wasn’t producing quality eggs. While there were eggs a growin’, they weren’t big enough. On top of that, my endometrium lining was too thin. The only good news? I didn’t have PCOS and my lady parts weren’t mutant. (Dude, my doctor had tales of women with two vaginas and hidden peni—and, well, let’s just say stories that were a good distraction while you have an ultrasound wand up your vajayjay.)

So after months of worry, my worst fear was realized. I was—correction, I am—according to the medical peeps and researchers, infertile. In my current state, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll get pregnant without some help. Seeing that this “infertility” diagnosis was what I thought was about the worst thing that could ever happen to me, when my doctor actually said it, I was surprised when I reacted the way I did. I felt liberated—free, in fact.

The fear of being considered infertile was more scary than actually being called infertile. It’s as if the huge-ass band-aid had been ripped off. Like I’d jumped through the fire and lived to tell about it. The worst happened, and here I was, the same person going about my business.

And that business is about turning fear into hope—and next steps. My doctor gave us a few choices, and we have decided to try a low dose of Clomid for a few cycles to stimulate my follicles to ovulate and improve the quality of my eggs. I still have a few weeks before I start treatment (waiting for this cycle to wrap up), but you know I’ll be posting on how the Clomid goes. I’m hoping Clomid does the trick, but as I’ve learned, getting pregnant takes patience, and it’s best to settle in for the ride, rather than expect an outcome.

I can’t say that the everyone else in my life had the same liberated reaction as I did. My husband was pretty upset about it, and I could tell that my mom took it hard. I guess the “i” word affects everyone differently—and I certainly have had more time to be upset about it since I’ve been scared for months over it. But the good news is that my husband and I now have information. We know what the issue is with me, and we have a plan to hopefully correct it. (If we don’t get pregnant within a month or two, we will then get him checked out, too, just to be sure.)

As someone who prides herself on her health and taking care of her body, it does bother me (read: bruises my ego) to take a drug. But, I figure, if I take a pill to fight allergies in the spring or to ward off a headache, how is this really that different? We want our baby; and we’ll do what we need to do to get there. (Also, I haven’t ruled out trying more of this.)

I’ll admit that, on days when I’m feeling down, it’s easy for my thinking to spiral into thoughts of me not feeling like a full-fledged woman because of the “i” word, but I know deep-down that’s ridiculous. We’re all so much more than the roles we play in life. Not to mention that self-defeated thinking where you talk to yourself like your own worst enemy rather than your own best friend is a sure-fire recipe for feeling even more fear.

So, if you’re trying to get pregnant and it’s not happening as quickly as the literature tells you it should, take heart. The “i” word is terrible. But it’s not as terrible as the fearful unknown is. Promise.

Anyone else been through this? Gotten pregnant on Clomid? Please, please, please, share your experience with me. —Jenn

 

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17 Comments

  1. Hi Jenn, my husband and I had tried to get pregnant for 4 years, with a 2 year delay because I was being monitored for cervical cancer. Thankfully all results were negative and we were given the go ahead to continue trying again. I soon discovered I had PCOS and was put on metformin, after trying that for 3 months and no results my doctor put me on clomid. I had 3 months for it to work or we would have to try something different. After 2 months and nothing I started to get discouraged then after our last try I found out on Valentines day I was pregnant. I am now the mother of a beautiful 5 month old baby girl!! Infertility is a scary thing and unless you’ve gone through it, its hard to understand the hoplesness, fear and anger you sometimes feel when you take a pregnancy test and its negative!! As well as the little twinge of anger and resentment you have for a girlfriend when they announce their pregnant unexpectadly…don’t get me wrong your happy for them but you feel sad because of what your going through!! Its a long and trying road but so worth it when you get to hold that precious little miracle…hang in there and remember when that little stick or test result is negative your not alone!! Good luck on your journey!!!

  2. Thanks so much for sharing your story, Kendall! Hearing success stories really does help. And so does feeling understood. 🙂

    –Jenn

  3. I have been dealing with abnormal bleeding due to ovarian cysts/possible endometriosis since March 2009. I had been on continuous birth control since then, but decided to get off of it in April 2009 (two months before my wedding). I still had breakthrough bleeding, and finally, my gynecologist referred me to a specialist in August. Soon after, I had surgery for endometriosis (the cysts, as well as some spots near my colon), and, in October (after I had properly healed), the specialist put me on Clomid. It took two cycles, but we got a positive pregnancy test in December, and are now looking forward to meeting our little one in mid-August! I agree that the word “infertile” is hard to digest… no one actually said it to me, but I saw it written as my diagnosis on a lab request in early November. There was a lot of anger and tears over the years dealing first with endometriosis and then infertility, but we got our wish… and I’d go through it all over again to have this little one inside of me! Hang in there!

  4. After 3 years of trying to get pregnant and suffering 1 miscarriage I was finally diagnosed with PCOS. I had already decided that clomid was my last option before looking into adoption. I felt like I had put my body through enough and the cost of infertility treatments seemed staggering at the time. After two cylces of clomid I was pregnant with my first daughter. The second time around I was pregnant with my second daughter after only 1 cycle of clomid. Next month my oldest turns 7 and a month later my youngest turns 5. I feel very blessed that clomid worked for me. Good luck!!

  5. Jenn, Oh my heart goes out to you. My husband and I have had a 2 year infertility journey. I also had a long folicular phase (late ovulation) and short luteal phase – red head curse??? I worked with a naturopath and fertility acupuncturist to correct this. My husband has stuff going on on his end too – so the our journey has been full of “adventure”. One of the specialists he had to go to suggested we “fillet his testicles” to get more info. He said this within about 2 minutes of meeting us. Who the hell says that? I want to fillet HIS testicles. Back to you, though! I was scared to death to try Clomid and I’ve had a lot of success with other things my naturopath and acupuncturist have been recommended. Sending you strength, power and good juju, sister!!

  6. Hi Jenn,
    I am really glad you wrote this. It took alot of courage to write a personal article like this one. And I can say that because, I too am a part of the “I” group.

    Just like you, once I met with my RE doctor (whom I LOVE!) there was such a HUGE feeling of relief to know that someone was on my side and was going to help me navigate my way to my ultimate goal, having a family.

    My husband and I were married in April 2010 and were “not-not trying” for about a year and nothing happened. Then we actively tried for about 6 months and nothing still happened. And during that time, as you know, friend after friend got pregnant… some got pregnant and delivered their second before my first was even on the radar.

    After seeing my RE doctor for only 2 months, we got pregnant through IUI and Clomid, which proved that I could get pregnant. However, it ended in miscarriage. 🙁 (another post that could be thoughtful is to bring light to how common miscarriage really is. I had no idea. HOWEVER, MANY women go on to have healthy pregnancies).

    Anyway, fast forward 5 months and we did another IUI, this time with injectables (to produce more eggs). Success! I am now 8 weeks pregnant and things are going very well. We have heard a beautiful heartbeat and I have my next ultrasound tomorrow (Another good thing about RE’s is that you get amazing one-on-one attention, like ultrasounds every two weeks.) I don’t know what I am going to do when I get released to the RE and will be a “normal” patient.

    Anyway, my advice is keep your chin up and don’t make yourself feel like its a “curse.” Everyone has their own timeline. I have learned to not equate my journey with someone elses. In retrospect, I feel like there were some hurdles I needed to overcome before I could truly receive this blessing. Everything has its season.

    I am sure you are already a member, but http://www.fertilityfriend.com is a huge resource for people that are TTC. You learn sooo much from the site and the group of women who are also in the same boat as you are.

    On a separate note, whenever you do get down, remind yourself how many women you will be helping work through their infertility journey as you go on yours. Having a successful platform like FBG, the sky is the limit in helping those who are going through the same situation and having you guide them. It’s a lonely road at the beginning, but you will soon see there is really so much support out there.

    Sending lots of hugs and baby dust your way!!!
    Tracy

  7. And I also agree with Sara Dean, I also did acupuncture and it really helped lengthen my luteal phase in addition to getting my cycles back on track. (mine were very short, light and sorry, tmi – clotty). While I don’t know that it was THE sole reason for success, I do feel sure that it’s an important piece in the puzzle to get your body back to its natural state in preparation for pregnancy.

  8. Thanks for posting. My husband and i have been trying and no results. I was just thinking today i need to call my doc but just scared. Tomorrow i am going to make my appointment and get it done.

  9. Thanks to everyone for the kind words! It’s so great to hear other’s stories. There’s definitely support in numbers. 🙂

    And good luck, Jessica!

    –Jenn

  10. Jenn,
    Good luck with everything. You never realize how many other people have trouble getting pregnant until you are one of them. It always seems like the whole world can get pregnant at the drop of a hat. Everyone has their own story and all you can do is explore your options and do what is best for you. Hope everything goes well for you. Keep your head up!

  11. Thanks for posting this and your other post-pill TTC blogs. It really makes me feel less alone to have someone talk about this the way I THINK about it. I can’t stare at anymore serene mommy baby belly photos on sites for people with “normal” cycles and fertility.

  12. Heather — you are SO not alone. Tons of women are going through this, and I really do think that together we’re stronger — through honesty, patience and a whole lot of support and encouragement. 🙂

    –Jenn

  13. Jenn,

    Thank you for this article. My husband and I have been TTC for two years. We had an ectopic last September, but then no luck since then. It doesn’t feel like real life. Both of my sisters and my mom got pregnant really easily!

    I just called to make my first infertility appt today. I’m nervous and excited and I have this weird feeling like I want to cry. Anyways, your article really touched me today, so thank you for sharing it. And now I will be combing through the rest of your blog for more soul food.

    Peace,
    Melissa

  14. Your blog helps me feel brave about fertility testing. We began tests this week and I am terrified but I know we have to do it so we can grow our family! Cheers to you xoxo

  15. I’m going through this now. We have an appointment with the fertility doctor next week. I’m absolutely terrified. It’s all I can think about. My husband says everything will be fine but I’m not so sure. What if it’s completely impossible? What if we never have kids? I just don’t know what to think…Its comforting to hear your story and to know I’m not alone.