Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Crap No One Tells You ... About Getting Pregnant

I am so thrilled to finally be able to share the news of a friend (and mom source we will call Carrie), who just gave birth to beautiful and healthy twin boys. I wouldn’t dare have talked about this before and possibly jinxed what was an incredibly healthy pregnancy with multiples. I am thankful to her for allowing me to talk about her story now.

Unfortunately, she and her husband were not able to get pregnant the traditional way, and “tried” for three years, including five fertility procedures. Somewhat surprisingly, though, among my group of mom sources, getting pregnant was not the romantic endeavor most dreamed it would be. The Crap No One Tells you about getting pregnant is that it will likely not happen on a romantic vacation or in your candle-lit room. It will not happen in the month you want so you will have the baby before your brother’s wedding in 11 months, or so you can be on maternity leave during the summer. It will not happen when you are 28, then again when you are 30, so you can achieve your “life plan.” Instead, in the least, it will probably include a basal thermometer, the “My Days” app on your phone at your bedside every morning, and peeing on ovulation tests for several months.

About half of my mom sources had a degree of difficulty getting pregnant. Coincidentally—or not—about half of my mom sources started “trying” after 30. Of those who faced difficulty, most people heard this from close friends or family, with whom they shared their plans, “once you stop thinking about it, you will get pregnant.”

One of my mom sources is very passionate about this so-called advice, “Because that’s SO easy. Okay, I’ve waited until I’m 30-something to have a baby, which I knew my whole life I have wanted. But, yes, I will stop thinking about it. Thank you for the sound advice. Why didn’t I think of that? 

The advice here is, if you don’t ever want to hear this, then don’t tell ANYONE you are trying to get pregnant. Hopefully, you will be able to “stop thinking about it” and be successful getting pregnant on your own. (Don’t forget your husband … oh, crap, was that Carrie’s problem?)

If you do, however, have to turn to fertility specialists, this will lead to questions you never thought you would have to answer like, “one embryo, or two?” I got a call from Carrie on her way to her first IVF procedure—this was early in the morning about 4 weeks after my third baby was born. I was in one of my very deep 3-hour sleep segments, but answered the phone because I knew it must have been important for her to call a mom with a newborn so early in the morning.

“One embryo, or two?” she asked me.
“Huh?” I grumbled. 

“I have to decide whether I want one embryo or two. I’m freaking out about twins, and you were the first person I thought of to help me through this decision,” she told the deliriously sleep deprived mother of 3-year-old twins and 4-week-old baby.

I, myself, after finding out I was pregnant with twins (the fun way), was completely terrified—terrified of pregnancy with multiples and terrified of what to do with them when they arrived. I read myself into a tizzy, as we often do now with information overload on the Internet. I was sure they would be premature and live in NICU for weeks, if not months. I was sure they would have developmental delays and other health problems, despite the fact that every twin I knew at the time was completely healthy—mind and body. Well, my twin brothers are still up for debate.

While I ended up with healthy twins and somehow survived their first 3 years at that point, how could I possibly give her advice on this very important life decision? I asked her what the doctor thought, which was that she was healthy and still fairly young, she had several good embryos, and she would be a good candidate for one if she wanted to go that route (apparently she did not go to “Octomom’s” fertility doctor). The only advice I could give her was for she and her husband to go with their guts.

In the end, they decided on one, which was a decision they ended up regretting a couple weeks later. But, they didn’t give up and went in for IVF – Round II. Keep in mind, these IVF procedures followed three unsuccessful IUI procedures. I can’t go into detail on what IUI is, except that it is not as intense as IVF, there is no egg harvesting, and it is essentially the “turkey baster” method.

Because Carrie and her husband’s embryos had now been frozen, the quality of the embryos were not as strong, so two looked pretty appealing. And, as Carrie said, “I really wanted to be done. Done with shots. Done with vaginal ultrasounds. Done with 2-hour trips to my fertility doctor. Done with disappointment.”

So, the next time, two it was. And TWO it WAS! And that is the story of how Carrie’s twins were conceived. Romantic, huh?

What impressed me so much through their difficult process is how positive they remained. They never seemed to feel sorry for themselves—even while many of their friends were getting pregnant by just looking at their husbands (sorry guys).

One of my other mom sources went through several years of fertility treatment, as well. As she said, “If we would have felt sorry for ourselves, it could have severely damaged our marriages.” She would say, “this sucks,” then move to the next step.

“We are lucky there are so many options for those of us who want children,” Carrie said. “It’s hard to say to what extremes my husband and I would have gone through to conceive a child of our own. We just kept going and figured we would know when it was too much, and give up. I guess then it would have been okay to feel a little sorry for ourselves.”

Some people look at using fertility treatments as some kind of choice hopeful parents are making these days. The only choice is the choice to have children. If anyone making this accusation knew the process, they would know that no sane person would ever choose the fertility option over the good old-fashioned way of getting pregnant.

But, just for fun, I took Carrie’s somewhat gory details and tried to make fertility sound like a “cool” choice (let me start by saying, I do not endorse the use of drugs, extreme use of alcohol, or careless sex) 

1.       You will drink a lot of wine (to drown your sorrows every time the nurse calls and says, “sorry, the pregnancy test was negative”).

2.       You will use a lot of drugs (2” needles in your ass every night and many more slightly smaller needles in your abdomen full of hormones and other crap, which turn you into raging bitches—Carrie’s words, not mine).

3.       With your legs spread, someone attempts to warm a device to stick … (forget it, there is really no possible way to make a vaginal ultrasound “cool.” Oh, and there are MANY of these).

4.       You get to use sleepy gas (when they pluck your eggs from your ovaries, which leads to severe cramping for several days and sometimes weeks).

5.       Your husbands get to go into a room by themselves with a dirty magazine and a cup … hold on … either way, I guess there’s no problem there.

6.       A couple hours before you are to attempt pregnancy, you get to chug a bunch of juice and not worry about the calories (and sit there without peeing until you feel like your bladder will explode all over the waiting room).

7.       You attempt to get pregnant with a whole room full of people participating--there’s another word for that, but I don’t want to get banned from FB (embryologists, nurses, doctors … oh, and your husband standing next to you WITH his clothes ON, of course. It’s super hot.)

I could go on, but do I need to? I’m sure anyone thinking about getting pregnant is already on the phone with a fertility doctor.

In all seriousness, there are so many reasons why couples have difficulty getting pregnant and schools are overrun with multiples. I’m not a doctor, and I won’t claim to know why fertility treatments are on the rise. But, the fact is, a fertility clinic gave several of my friends healthy children whom, chances are, they would not have been blessed with on their own.

Ginormous “THANK YOU” to my friend and mom source, Carrie (even though this is not your real name, you know who you are), and her devoted husband, for opening up about such a private and personal topic. If you can help just one reader get through their struggles with getting pregnant—even if it’s to make them smile for one day when they might be feeling just a little sorry for themselves—you have done a wonderfully selfless thing by sharing your story. You are meant to be parents and will be fabulous ones at that. And, you WILL survive twins. I promise. In the meantime, I will be there with all the Crap No One Tells You … About Raising Twins.


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