Even to this day, I look at the clock at 7:00 AM and immediately think about women sitting anxiously in a doctor’s office waiting on the next steps of their treatment.
…the women battling infertility.
This 7:00 time will always hold a powerful place in my heart, as this is the time women who are battling infertility go in for their multiple-week checkups to, in hope, one day get pregnant to start (or continue) growing their family. The type of checkups these women go through during a two-week period at a time are not easy. It hurts, both mentally and physically, to get the results they have always dreamed of.
So, what types of things become second nature to women who are going through fertility treatments?
Before going through my fertility journey, getting blood drawn was anxiety-driven. And even in the beginning stages, before switching facilities, I had some blood drawing experiences that still make my body flinch. Women going in for appointments get blood taken multiple times a week to check hormone levels to check progress and see how the medications are working. And on top of the blood samples, women have to give themselves at least 2 injections daily in their stomach, which means more pokes.
That Goes Where?
The naïve person I was before treatments was completely thrown off at getting a pelvic ultrasound. A girl in her 20s and women with little to no gynecology issues would never even think about this type of device. But, women going through treatments get this type of ultrasound multiple times a week during a two-week span.
So. Many. Drugs.
The amount of medication that is prescribed, taken both orally and through injections, is intense. Not only is it time-consuming to make sure you’re taking the correct dosage at the correct time, but it can also be painful at times. You literally run out of places on your stomach to give yourself the shot, as your stomach becomes so tender that putting another needle in a bruised spot just makes you want to cringe in pain.
This was something that I continued to put in the back of my mind when I was going through my infertility journey. My husband and I chose to keep what we were going through a secret from all family and friends, as well as coworkers. This became awkward at times, as we were lying about leaving from family gatherings, weddings, and even vacations to make sure we made it back for those early morning appointments. On top of that, I had to be very vague when talking with my boss and fellow colleagues about why I was coming in late for work each day. The lying became another mental battle and pressure that I did not want to deal with on top of everything else.
Endless Google Searches
I hate this one, but we are all guilty of it, no matter what medical symptom you’re searching for. The amount of Google searches I would do about symptoms I was experiencing from the medications or of course looking for early stages of pregnancy would drive any doctor mad. The amount of stress, mixed with hope, would lead me constantly looking to the internet in search of some medical miracle that would tell me that treatments were working or that I would be pregnant soon.
All the Emotions
I am not the most emotional person on the block, but being on such intense hormone medication, as well as the constant worry that something would go wrong would lead to an array of emotions. I could go from leaving the doctor’s office with good predictions in treatment, and then get home 20 minutes later thinking something was off. The amount of tears between appointments, months between treatments, and sadness that the future you had always dreamed of, may not happen.
Show Me the Money!
Unless you live in one of the 17 unicorn states that actually make their insurers pay for fertility treatments, then it gets expensive! The IVF cycles (not including medication) can cost well over $10,000. So, cutting back on the weekly splurges at Target and cutting back on the restaurant bills is going to become common in hopes that the dream of making your family grow happens.
It’s a Waiting Game
Learning to wait for test results can honestly feel like weeks, if not months when waiting for the call about progress in treatment, how many eggs you got from a retrieval, how many embryos made it to Day 5, or even if your pregnancy blood tests came back with numbers that doubled. You become accustomed to the waiting game, and some days it just doesn’t seem fair.
To say it bluntly, it sucks that so many women have to go through these eight things and make them a normal part of their daily, weekly, monthly, or even yearly life. But to those still fighting for that dream family, know that there are so many women behind the scenes looking at that 7:00 AM time and rooting you on.