It’s been almost a year since I had the realization that I was going to need to go on fertility meds in order to get pregnant. The thought was slightly daunting, as my body has never responded well to my hormones being manipulated by medications. Seven months on birth control in college was one of the darkest and most emotional times of my life up to that point. My periods were more painful than ever, I couldn’t eat anything except Cheerios during them, often had to skip classes, and I fell into a clinical depression that had everyone around me, except David, avoiding me. But last summer, after 8 straight months of trying to conceive a baby (following a year on and off), I knew something was going on that needed to be dealt with.
Why was I not getting pregnant? Was it related to my endometriosis? After all, 30-50% of women with endo are infertile because of the damage the disease has done to their reproductive organs, often as a result of waiting the approximately 10 years it takes to get a diagnosis. But I knew that my reproductive organs in particular were clean as a whistle and my tubes were wide open. So what was the issue?
I had to take progesterone to bring on a period because (of course, why not?) my body had decided to pout because it was sick of all the fruitless attempts made thus far. This didn’t happen until October. But once I met with my OB/GYN and we agreed to try Clomid, he assured me, “Don’t worry, this will work.” In retrospect, something a physician should probably never say about anything, especially where fertility is concerned.
On my 30th birthday, a few days before starting my first cycle of Clomid, I reflected about my successes and failures of my 20s in my journal.
October 28, 2015: “I think the worst part is not having achieved the one goal I was always 100% certain I would. Of course, that’s having a baby. I never thought in a million years that I’d still be childless at 30…I just never thought it would actually happen that way. So that’s my biggest regret. It makes me sad. I feel unfulfilled. I know it’s coming and will happen when it’s supposed to, but that doesn’t make the failure any easier.”
The three rounds of Clomid were indeed absolute hell. I may have ovulated once, but we’re not certain. All I got for our efforts were four ovarian cysts named Eenie, Meenie, Mynie, and Moe. I was comforted by my OB/GYN after the first cycle failed:
November 12, 2015: “‘Laura, you’re only 30, you’re not 45. If it gets to be too much, you can take a break. You have plenty of time.’ And he asked me if I was getting pressured from family members, which thankfully I’m not. It was nice that he took the time to talk about the more emotional side of this whole thing that everyone seems to forget about. Especially since I had a minor meltdown last night…”
Little did I know then how long of a break was upcoming in 2016.
December 26, 2015: “It was hard when we were opening presents. I just remember last Christmas, being so sure that we would have a baby this Christmas or at the very least be pregnant. But alas, life has taken a slightly different direction. I’m sure a baby is coming eventually, but when I think of all the disappointments I’ve had this year, I can’t bear the thought of going through this again and again.”
I became more emotionally unstable as time passed and eventually I fell into major depressive disorder. It was around that time we realized we needed to see a fertility specialist, which we did in February 2016. That’s how I was diagnosed with a prolactinoma, a benign brain tumor that affects the hormones required to achieve pregnancy, hence the reason for the Clomid not working. As of now, I am counting down the days until September 8th, when I will have brain surgery to remove Mini, the brain tumor. After that, my prolactin level should immediately drop to normal and I should start having normal periods and ovulations and be able to get pregnant.
But of course, nothing is guaranteed. I’ve been through so many failures that I’m not counting on anything being certain until I see those two pink lines. And even then, I’m at a higher risk of miscarriage due to the adenomyosis, so I’ll be holding my breath all the way through the pregnancy.
A year ago, I never thought I’d still be without a baby now. I hope I’m not looking back on this in another year saying the same thing. My heart still aches every day for the one thing I don’t have. And the ache is painful. The ache is lonely. But it will be a long time yet before I have what is needed to ease the ache- a baby of my own.