It does. It really and truly does, and it is so much more common than you would ever imagine. About 1 in every 6 couples will struggle with infertility. On this page, at the time of me writing this, there are about 170 followers on the Burrito Buzz Facebook page, so statistically about 26 of the followers will struggle (my husband and I follow the page, so that leaves 24, which is crazy!). Infertility is generally defined as a couple trying to conceive for 1 year without medical help and not becoming pregnant. Infertility can also refer to women who struggle to carry babies to term, or who suffer from repeat miscarriages. It sucks.
I will tell you our story so far, and I will also try and keep this brief! I could write/talk for hours on this subject. I’m Chelsea! (Not the Chelsea that is a regular blogger here). I am a good friend of Katie, and she has been a HUGE support system for me! So when she mentioned me doing a guest blog, I was thrilled! If there is one positive to this whole infertility bull crap, it is that I have the opportunity to spread the word on this taboo (and not covered on most insurances, although it TOTALLY SHOULD BE, I DIDN’T CHOOSE THIS) subject!
My husband and I have been married for a little under 2 years. I’ve been off birth control since January 2014, and we’ve been actively trying to conceive (ttc) since April 2014. Right around the time we started actively trying, I noticed that I wasn’t getting my period (or a positive pregnancy test). Sounds like a dream, right? Except to get pregnant, you need to ovulate, and if you ovulate you will have a period (unless you get pregnant). I spent months tracking my basal body temperature; which involves needing to have at least 4 consecutive hours of sleep, and taking your temperature first thing in the morning, and tracking it on a graph to try and pinpoint when ovulation occurs, I kept a legal pad full of peed on cheapo ovulation strips from Amazon; to try and track when they would get darker, meaning I was close to ovulation, and tracking my cervical mucus (not going into details on this one… lol). We never had luck, and I was driving myself crazy. I vividly remember crying on my bed like a crazy person about my luteal phase not being long enough, and so on and so forth. It was normal for me to go 60+ days with no period, and it was torture… constantly taking tests… constantly getting negatives. I was in denial that I needed medical help, because this is what my body is made for! My husband finally convinced me that I should go see an OB/GYN, so I made an appt. It was more of a “family planning” “pre-pregnancy” type appointment. I can’t remember all the specifics and on what timeline (I’m really good at repressing things!) But the term PCOS was thrown around, we decided to get hubby’s sperm analyzed (which costs $150… crazy…) and we decided we wanted to try a fertility drug called Clomid, to see if it would help me ovulate on my own. I was never actually diagnosed with PCOS at this clinic. And they also told us that the sperm analysis wasn’t that bad… there were a few things a little low, but the count was fine, and even a small percent of millions and millions of sperm, is ok. Cool. We believed them and felt good. This Clomid should work fine for us! Each month you’re on these drugs involved multiple doctors’ visits… blood work, internal ultrasounds, fun! First month I was on a 50mg dosage. I went in for my first follicle study, to see if I had any eggs that might ovulate. NOTHING! I was told it wasn’t even worth our time to “try” that month, and I was given a prescription for a drug called Provera to make me start my period so we could up my dosage of Clomid and try again next month, and add in a ‘trigger’ shot to force me to ovulate ($120 a pop for a shot). Clomid is terrible and makes you a crazy person, btw. The hot flashes are seriously the worst, and if going through infertility won’t make you super emotional, Clomid will. We did three more rounds, 1- 100mg and 2- 150mg… each month sounded hopeful. I was responding to the drugs fine, and producing multiple nice sized follicles, but still no BFP (big fat positive). Somewhere in there I also had a tube test done to see if my tubes are open and clear ($900). From reading online about the tube test procedure, it seemed pretty easy. Similar to a pap, but they insert a tiny balloon and inflate it to open your cervix, then push dye through a catheter to flow into your tubes while your lay under an x-ray machine. I’d been though a lot already, so this seemed easy! WRONG! The typical test takes less than 5 min. This dude was all up in my business for AT LEAST 10, with a long probe, moving my insides around to try and get this balloon to my cervix… it was awful. Apparently I have a tipped uterus. He finally said that he couldn’t get the balloon where it needed to be, so he was going to do the best he could. Right tube looks great, left he couldn’t get the dye to flow correctly, SO WHO REALLY KNOWS. I cried… on the table, in front of this stranger who was just rooting around in my vagina for the last 10 min. I cried the whole way home. It didn’t seem fair to go through all of that and not have any real answers on one whole side of my tubes! It was at this point our doctor suggested us taking the next step and seeing a specialist, a Reproductive Endocrinologist. Taking Clomid for long periods of time can be very harmful to your body and start preventing pregnancy, and increasing your risk for different cancers, plus, we weren’t getting anywhere, so we decided to make an appointment.
I have a friend who went this same fertility clinic, Reproductive Gynecology, and she loved the doctors and ended up pregnant! So I was actually pretty excited. I had been doing plenty of research, and we both knew what we wanted our next step to be, and IUI (artificial insemination). We went to our first appointment and we were immediately crushed. It took everything in me to not break down in front of our doctor when she told us that the sperm analysis was actually pretty bad, and with my possible blocked tube, and possible PCOS, IVF was really our only option. We. Were. Crushed. This is not what we had planned, nor do we have that kind of money. IVF is crazy expensive. We aren’t that infertile. Life isn’t fair. I expressed to her that we really wanted to try an IUI first. They still cost $1000, but compared to the $15,000+ that IVF costs, we thought it was worth a try. 7 vials of blood, 5 days of a different fertility drug, another ‘trigger’ shot, and $1000 later, we were doing our first IUI! We felt so hopeful! It was exactly 1 year to the date that we started trying, and that had to be a sign! We got to the hospital SUPER early so hubs could do his thing with the cup in the room with the porn, and they could “wash” his sperm to remove any impurities/any of the bad disfigured sperm. We roamed the hospital and got some coffee. I had read that IUIs take better when you have a super full bladder! 2 hours later, I was inseminated and we were on our merry way. 2 weeks later, BFN (big fat negative) UGH! This same doctor then tells me she would like us to do 2 more IUIs before moving on to IVF, and we decided to get another opinion. This is the same doctor that told us an IUI wouldn’t likely work for us… now you want us to spend another $2k doing them when we could put that money towards IVF??
I LOVE OUR NEW DOCTOR. He is great and I love him. I hope he can get me pregnant! He informed me that I do indeed have PCOS. FINALLY someone actually bothers to actually diagnose me! He also gave us our odds, which no one else had bothered to do! They are in no means good odds, but it’s nice to hear! Only a 1-2% chance that we will ever conceive naturally, 5% with an IUI (ummm what? And this b*tch wanted us to do that 3 times?!?) and a 50-60% with IVF! We NEVER thought we would end up here, and we also NEVER thought we would be able to afford IVF. Before I have people commenting about adoption.. we know! I’ve actually already gotten info and been in contact with an agency. Our plan is to do 1 round of IVF (plus any FETs if we are blessed enough to have multiple embryos to freeze). Unfortunately adoption is also crazy expensive…and some days I still wonder if we should just skip the IVF and move on to adoption. But I really want to be able to experience pregnancy. And right now I am young and healthy. Adoption will always be an option for us, but IVF won’t be. So since about May of this year, we’ve just been taking it easy, and it is GREAT! Infertility sucks. It is hard on your body, your relationship, your social life, your wallet, your sex life. IT SUCKS! It’s nice to take some time off and be normal. Currently we are just working REALLY hard to raise money for our IVF (which is hopefully going to happen late spring of 2016!!) and doing our best to eat REALLY well, and take lots of vitamins that are suppose to help. We’re talking all organic, grass-fed, cage-free, (gluten and dairy free for me… YUCK), cutting back on caffeine and alcohol (until we completely cut out both at 3 months out) and about 8 vitamins a day. We want to be as physically/emotionally ready for IVF as we possibly can be to give it our best shot!
I’ve found an AWESOME (and I truly mean so awesome I could cry) support system in the form of an online Instagram community of other girls TTC all over the world. They are all so awesome and so dear to my heart. I am actually meeting some of them from Ohio this coming weekend! It’s so inspiring to see girls go through this and get to the other side! We have been SO BLESSED! I cannot even describe. We are passed the ‘poor us’ stage, and are making the best of the situation we are in! I love being able to be a spokesperson for this, and the love and support and connections we’ve made make us believe this is all happening for a reason. This is how it is suppose to go for us. I can only pray that IVF works for us and that it brings us our family that we are SO anxious to have! Katie started a GoFundMe for us (which is SO AWESOME and I’ll never be able to express to her and her husband how much it means to us), and my workplace (I’m a pastry chef) is doing a cookie fundraiser where all the proceeds will go directly to our clinic in our name to help pay our IVF bills. ❤ If you managed to read all this and are struggling with something similar, PLEASE feel free to contact me! I know how lonely it is. I know how every pregnancy announcement brings you to tears. I know that it isn’t fair. But you aren’t alone ❤ ❤ And if anyone wants more information on our GoFundMe, or “Baking for Baby Phares” fundraiser, let me or Katie know! Also, feel free to follow my journey on Instagram @making_baby_phares
-Chelsea Phares, Guest Blogger