National Infertility Awareness Week kicked off a few days ago. Anyone who has read this blog for any length of time knows infertility is something I feel passionate about. The fact that its the same week I start my maternity leave is just ironic.

Twelve percent.

On a normal basis inclusion in a somewhat special, different or elite group would excite me.

Graduating in the top 10% of my high school graduating class. And above a certain grade point average in college and grad school.

Percent of people in the US who have run a half marathon: 17% (though not 100% sure about this stat, it was harder to find) (source)

Percent of people in the US who have run a marathon: .05% (source)

Graduating at the top 10% of my high school class isn’t really as relevant anymore, but I have to say that it feels satisfying knowing I’ve done something that only .05% of others have done.

Percent of couples who suffer from infertility: 12%

I got included in this group, too.

I read back through several old blog posts I wrote during our IVF cycle, and doing so brought back many memories of worry, anxiety, hope and fear. And this was during a time where we were given the best odds of achieving a pregnancy, meaning that I had the most hope of any other attempt and yet still felt mostly fearful. It is difficult for someone who has not been there to understand, and I get that, because I remember some comments I made while younger and totally uninterested in children at the time, and just how insensitive they would have been to the wrong person. I, too, am guilty of saying stupid things. I won’t deny that.

We finished the nursery recently, and as it was being put together I spent a good deal of time resting, sitting in the glider and looking at everything in awe. I felt amazed and grateful, like I couldn’t believe it was in our house. That this monster belly houses two babies. That the constant jiggling I feel is their movement. I remembered what we went through to get here.

Around 90% of couples are able to get pregnant on their own within the first year. The rest who haven’t then usually begin to seek treatment. Many are unsure where to start. I got a bit of a jump on our situation because I had always had irregular cycles and asked for some testing during  a routine visit. My hormone levels were all normal, but it was discovered that I had a blocked tube. Nevertheless I was told “you only need one”. One didn’t work. We sought out a fertility specialist and discovered that due to testosterone replacement therapy, hubby had no sperm. And that the chances of recovery were not guaranteed. Several months of further testing lead to some sperm but only enough for the mack daddy: IVF. A VA hospital endocrinologist put him on a regimen of other hormones which did at one point raise his count to within normal limits nearly 8 months later. But then my blocked tube issue got in the way. We set up and postponed two IVF cycles before diving in, trying and hoping for a miracle naturally in the meantime.

It never happened.

There were hundreds of days counted, ovulation sticks used and prayers sent up. Hundreds of runs used to rid myself of the frustration. Many conversations about whether my desire to have children or my relationship was more important because it became such an obsession. Much bickering when not enough attempts were made during that critical window allowing us to have the best chance. Depression.  Tens of thousands of dollars. Damaged and nearly damaged friendships. 3 years. Jealousy. Lots of jealousy.

Thousands of tears.

And in the end we were lucky. We needed only one IVF cycle. So many attempt cycle after cycle without success and continue to push through. It is a feat that I cannot imagine. We may be nearing the light at the end of the tunnel  but it doesn’t mean we come out on the other side unscathed. This 12% is not a group I would have elected to add to my list and yet that is how it happened.

Pardon my mouth when I say this: this shit is no joke. And if you happen to know someone going through it, just keep that in mind.

We will never forget.

For more information (if you are going through infertility or just want to learn more), visit Resolve’s website. They can probably  manage to explain it without the use of curse words. 🙂

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