Updated: Sep 28, 2022
My last birth control patch came off in October of 2004, but my story doesn’t really start until February of 2005, when we officially started “trying.” My husband and I had been married for nearly four years, and we had been living in San Juan, Puerto Rico for a year and a half. I was just starting a new job as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor at The Ritz-Carlton, and my husband had an awesome job with M&M/Mars.
Like all couples, we were optimistic that having a baby would be easy-peasy. And because no one had ever told me that you’ve only got a 20% shot each month, by May I was starting to wonder what was up.
The Fertility Problems Officially Begin
In November of that year, we finally did a fertility work-up. I had a hysterosalpingogram which showed that my left fallopian tube was partially blocked. In an epic doctoring fail, my ob/gyn told me she wouldn’t do anything to correct it because surgery always carries a risk of scaring which could make the problem worse. She thought I might still be able to get pregnant, and I was too uneducated to know any better.
I was also seeing her pretty regularly for what she kept diagnosing as vaginal infections. (Turns out it was probably vulvar dermatitis which is, indeed, as sexy as it sounds. But that’s another story for another time.) She got so frustrated with me that eventually she told me she didn’t want to see me again until I was pregnant. She gave me a referral to a fertility specialist and sent me on my way.
When I got to my appointment with said fertility specialist, I was immediately handed a stack of parenting and menopause magazines as a “welcome” packet. Oh. My. Gosh. I couldn’t even tell you what we discussed in that appointment; I was so angry. I never went back.
Fluid in Your Fallopian Tubes is a Bad Thing
After switching to another ob/gyn and trying several cycles with Clomid and Femara, I was finally referred to an amazing fertility doc who recognized immediately that the blocked tube was a huge problem and scheduled a laparoscopy in December of 2007, to take a closer look. The surgery revealed a few surprises: in addition to a completely fluid filled fallopian tube, I had huge amounts of endometriosis (I never had any symptoms!) and a rather sizable fibroid.
The doctor wanted to take the tube out then and there, but I had given my husband instructions not to let the doc remove any body parts without my knowledge. (A mistake, as you’ll see!). So the doc cleaned out all the endo, removed the fibroid, drained the tube and pinned it open.
We tried getting pregnant on our own for a couple of cycles, and then moved on to IUIs. We tried two rounds and the first one was a spectacular failure: I didn’t respond sufficiently to the drugs, so I didn’t produce a great number of eggs, my uterine lining was thin, and I even ovulated spontaneously before giving myself the trigger shot.
Six months after surgery, during our second round of IUI, I was at an appointment having an ultrasound to check the egg development of the current cycle. He was looking at the monitor and said, “Hmm—what’s that? Oh…your tube has filled up again.” I have never cried so spontaneously and uncontrollably at a doctor’s appointment before or since.
In September of 2008, I had my second laparoscopic surgery to remove the fluid filled fallopian tube. At this point I was told that there was a chance I could become pregnant naturally, but with only one tube it could be pretty hard.
Unexplained Infertility, Here I Come!
Again we tried on our own for a few months, but then went back for more IUIs. None of them came close to working. I either failed to respond to the drugs at all, or I spontaneously ovulated at the wrong time. Now I was officially conferred with the dreaded diagnosis of unexplained infertility.
The doctor gently encouraged us to try IVF, but my gut feeling was that if I wasn’t responding to the meds for the IUI, why would I respond any better to those meds. And we really weren’t sure we wanted to spend so much money on something that was definitely not a sure thing.
In November of 2009, my husband was working for Heineken (first candy, then beer—it really was a charmed existence!) He got word that his office would be moving us to New York in the summer of 2010. At that point I was mentally exhausted, and decided that all I really wanted was to simply enjoy the rest of our time in Puerto Rico. We bid a fond farewell to our fertility doctor and we took a break.
A Fresh Start
Shortly after we got to New York I decided I was ready to jump back in, but that I definitely needed a new path—traditional medicine just wasn’t working for me. One afternoon I walked into the Kipps Bay library and resting on the end-cap of a shelf just waiting for me was a book titled “Hypnosis for Fertility.” I checked it out, read it, and then found a practitioner of hypnosis and guided meditation. It was amazing. I had no idea if it was doing anything, but I sure could tell that I was more relaxed after a session with her. I also sucked it up and despite my total needle-phobia, started seeing an acupuncturist and herbalist. I got pregnant in February of 2011, six years to the month after we first started trying.
Now I have three children, all conceived naturally.
How the hell did that happen?
While it’s impossible to know any of this with complete certainty, here’s what I suspect: what began as a physical problem became a mental problem. I’ll explain. It took me nearly three years to get an actual diagnosis. In that time, I had already labeled myself as infertile and completely internalized it. Then when the physical problem was corrected, and the doctor told me that it would most likely still be difficult for me to get pregnant on my own, it reinforced everything that was already there. I mean, if the doctor tells you something, it must be true. He’s the expert, right?
So very wrong, and that, btw, has been one of my biggest takeaways from my fertility experience!!
In addition to everything I allowed myself to believe, I am also a very active, detail-oriented, type-A sort of person, and I sometimes struggle to be calm and in-the-moment, or see the forest for the trees. In short, I can be something of a head case. Hypnosis and guided me
ditation really helped me with that and also felt very empowering. I like to say that I had to figure out how to get out of my own way in order to have success!
What's Your Fertility Story?
Whether your story ended a long time ago, or you're still in the middle of it, I'd love to hear from you! Tell me about your struggles and triumphs in the comments.