Betcha I got your attention now!
Hang on, this is going to be a long one. I’ve had this in my head and on my heart for a loonnggg time, but honestly hate talking about it. I figured this would be the place I could dump it all and release the weight off my shoulders. Not many people know the extent of things, some do. As I’ve spent the last almost 5 years on this journey, I’ve come to realize not a lot of women DO like to talk about it, I completely understand why, but I think bottling things up and keeping it from the people around you can make it worse. Infertility is more common than you think, they say 1 in every 6 couples are suffering from infertility.
I got spayed today. Sitting in the prep room at the hospital, the 5th specialist I’ve seen but had yet to meet walked in to introduce herself before I went into the OR. Dr. Sadeghi was very kind, and brought more paperwork for us to sign. The original plan, go in and remove my right tube that was completely blocked, and take a look at the left one, with intentions to leave it so we could try and have kids naturally. She had reviewed my file and looked at my most recent HSG (Hysterosalpingogram, I still can hardly say it even though I’ve had two of them. They basically shove a tube up your hoohaw, into your uterus, and pump you full of a dye that travels up your tubes and out the ends of them, showing if they are open and clear when an x-ray is taken, or if they are dilated and restricted. It sounds fun, right? I am refusing to sugar coat anything as I type this, so I'll be honest, it’s terrible. and I’ve had two.)
She talked with us and explained the poor prognosis of the left tube. Even though the HSG showed it was more “clear” than the right side, there was no sign that it was still functioning. Imagine an inch worm, that couldn’t inch. Sure my ovaries could drop eggs into the tubes but if the tubes couldn’t pulse and move the egg down the lane, that inch worm was broken and about to get run over. I signed my life away, like any 27 year old female has to when they are about to go in and remove important lady parts, changing the course of their future permanently. They hooked me up to all the machines and had me walk myself into the OR.
Fast forward 4 hours and one real good sleep, and I woke up to a nurse pulling those super sexy cotton underwear they give you down off my waist, checking my bandages and all the good stuff down there. I have 3 incisions into my abdomen, two where they pulled the tubes and one right through my belly button, where they pumped me full of gas raising my entire belly during the surgery, giving them breathing room to work. A lot of tylenol and advil had me pretty comfy, it was surprisingly not that bad when I woke up. Pretty sure the first thing I asked, might have asked a few times even, was if she took both. I needed to know if the surgeon went in and removed both my tubes. The nurse smiled as she pulled my underwear back up (you give ZERO F’s when you wake up from a surgery like that, you wanna pull my underwear up and down for me? Fly at it sister) and said “yes, she took both tubes”.
BAM. I’ve been spayed (how my ever loving but sometimes crude husband called it, giggling, which thankfully made me giggle too in my delerious state). I now can never have children naturally. Let that sink in for a moment.
After an afternoon in recovery I was released to go back to the hotel. The weirdest thing when you stand up after being pumped full of gases, is that all the gas that didn’t escape as they closed things up, starts to travel. I could feel it rise as I stood. My shoulders started to ache, which they tell you can happen. As I moved around the hotel room I’d get random pinched nerves firing angrily as the air bubbles moved while I walked, creating pain in the most random areas. Sometimes my hips hurt, sometimes it hurts to take deep breaths, sometimes my shoulders ache. It’s kind of weird. I currently look like I am about 6 months pregnant, and feel like I have arthritis that travels as I do, LOL. (I can’t really laugh out loud as it would hurt too much, but you get what I mean)
Over the past 4.5, almost 5 years, I have seen 5 different specialists. I’ve had well over 30 blood tests, many of them monthly, revolving around my cycle. I’ve now gone through 6 different surgical procedures. I’ve had ultrasounds of ALL kinds (ones on the outside, AND inside, ugh). We’ve travelled to Vancouver 6 times in the last year for various appointments, not including all the trips back in the beginning to see Jesse’s specialist, when we thought we were chasing the right rabbit down the right hole. I’ve been poked, prodded, and have had waayy too many people looking up my hoohaw with bright lights and instruments for my liking. Yet, every single step we have already been through has been a necessary one, to get where we are wanting, hoping, to go.
Infertility is no joke. It will make you question every ounce of your being, every decision in your life. When Jesse and I got married back in 2014, Paisley had just turned 4. I joked that I was going to chuck my birth control into the ocean (relax my earth loving friends, it went in the garbage), so we could start trying. After about 6 months of no luck, we started wondering why things weren’t happening. Then we hit the year mark, and we started looking into what could be causing it. At that point I was only 23/24 years old. What could possibly not be working? I was young, super healthy, we hit the gym regularly, ate well, stayed active, had the horses and dogs and were always on the go. There was no infertility history in my direct blood family. I had never been sick, or had any pain, or previous infections. I refused to believe it was me that was the hold up. It had to be Jesse, and the new epilepsy medication he had been on, it had to be. It wasn’t me. Fast forward another 8 or so months, and we put him through all the tests we possibly could. Everything was normal, and as his doctor frankly put it, he was already proven. (My husband was a proven stud, hah!)
When the attention turned to me and my body, EVERYTHING changed. I was in denial for a lonngg time. They weren’t going to find anything. How could I be in my early 20’s and INFERTILE? How was my body not able to do the ONE THING is was naturally BUILT to do?? When infertility introduces itself into your life, you start to analyze EVERYTHING. I often would think back and say, I did everything right. My life hasn’t strayed far outside the “lines” that society has set for us to “stay within”. I graduated high school with really good grades (short of math, I hate math). I played several sports all through my highschool years staying active, fit and healthy. I left highschool and went straight to college, and was working a full time job in my career of choice before half of my classmates had even decided what they wanted to do with their lives. I met the love of my life, we got married, we were ready. Where did I go wrong? I watched girls I went to highschool with whom drank, smoked, weren’t physically active, slept with every other guy on every other weekend, get pregnant with men they were newly dating. Or even worse, get pregnant with random men they had a weekend fling with. I’ll be honest, because I said I wasn’t going to sugar coat anything, I had terrible, angry emotions towards those people. Why were they blessed with a new baby, many unplanned, while people like Jesse and I were desperate to see those two pink lines. How can they deserve a baby, but we don’t? When you read about a couples’ fertility journey, WHY ME is always the recurring question. Why, me. It was HARD seeing pregnancy announcements daily. I counted 6, SIX announcements one day on Facebook. I threw my phone across the room and walked away from it for the day. At my last job, I worked alongside my boss through two of her pregnancies, and during her second one, both one of our receptionists and one of the other assistants conceived as well. I was working beside four pregnant people for nearly a year. Talk about a kick to the gut, emotionally. It was HARD. The April fools pregnancy jokes, the questions from your friends and family about when you are planning on having a baby, all your friends around you growing and welcoming their new babes into the world. It goes on, and on, and on. Hell, there were nights we would pick a new movie to watch on Netflix and the main characters had fertility struggles! It just WOULDN’T GO AWAY. Everywhere I looked it was babies, babies and more babies. I tried hard to smile and be happy for everyone, and genuinely I was, but it was hard to put a smile on my face and “look” happy. Unless you have travelled this path, or a similar one, I don’t think the average person can say they relate, even if they think they can understand how you feel. No one truly knows the pain that comes with infertility unless they have experienced it first hand.
Once I accepted that nothing from my past had anything to do with this struggle, I mistakingly turned inside of myself. When you are with someone who has a child, and you can’t have one of your own, you can easily start to sabotage your marriage in your own mind. Not sure if Jesse will ever read this, if he does, I LOVE YOU BABE, but this is honestly how I felt in moments of this journey. It’s hard not to look inwards, and question your relationship. Were we not meant to be together, to have babies together? Is there some greater power pushing us apart, not allowing this to happen? Is there something in my body that is rejecting him? I know in the horse breeding world, there have been instances of mares not catching when bred to a certain stud, then catching the first time they were crossed on another stallion (yup, I just compared us to breeding stock horses, hah). Was my body rejecting something about us? Is there some other plan? If I had met someone else would I have been able to get pregnant? Or did I meet him because maybe I WON’T be able to have children, and him having Paisley was the closest I was ever going to get to being a parent? I dreaded that being the truth. I want a child of my own. A child with him. A child to love as my own, because if I’m honest, the love for a step child is different than the love of your own blood. Take that as you wish, a step parent LOVES their step child but it’s a DIFFERENT love. She didn’t come out of my hoohaw, I didn’t grow her all those months and I wasn’t there when she was welcomed into the world. The questions that ran through my head daily were not only defeating, but tiring. It took a long time for me to shake the negative mentality I allowed myself to fall into. Cue excessive use of my “Out Of The Darkness” essential oil roller daily on my wrists and over my heart (a blend from the I Am Fabulous book, if you don’t have it, you need it).
What I want you to know, if you are reading this and have gone through or are going through infertility issues, is to do your best to not look behind you, looking for something or someone to blame. This will create a toxic space in your head that is hard to escape from. The path before you on your fertility journey is going to be hard enough, so don’t waste any extra energy questioning WHY. Dive into any form of emotional healing that calls to you, whether that be meditation, prayer, essential oils, yoga, therapy. I don’t know where I would be at today if it wasn’t for my essential oils, my husband, and self help books.
There will be tears, there will be screaming, there will be break downs and there will be struggles. There will be days you wish you could stay in bed all day, the days you think you are depressed. There are days you oh so wish your period wasn’t coming, and then the next day you wish it would just end already. The biggest reason why I stayed quiet about the struggle, is because I couldn’t handle the questions. I knew that if my family and friends all knew, it would be a constant topic of conversation every family gathering. “So how are things going? Any updates? When is your next test? Are you needing more procedures? Why don’t you guys try this technique? Have you stood on your head after sex? I heard if you drink this kind of herbal tea, it will help you ovulate, improving your chances! Don’t eat this, eat extra that. Are you taking prenatals? If you can’t conceive, are you going to adopt? Aren’t you worried about Paisley getting older the longer this takes?” All those questions cue SPONTANEOUS tears. So I avoided them.
If I can make ONE suggestion to anyone reading this whom ISN’T going through their own fertility struggle, it is this. SUPPORT your loved ones if they are suffering through this. Don’t poke, don’t prod, don’t ask all the questions. I know that sounds harsh, and it’s hard to do as we know it’s simply because you care. We get that, I get that. But it is hard enough on the receiving end to have questions constantly thrown your way when you already have so many questions of your own, often without answers. If someone you know or love has felt comfortable enough with sharing their journey with you, just support them. Love on them. Offer to be there at any moment they need a shoulder to cry on, or an ear to listen. Tell them you are there for them as a friend, or a sister, or a mother, or a neighbour, and wish them the best. We understand when someone cares, they want to throw all the suggestions our way if they think it can help. But I’m going to tell you right now, if that person has been struggling with fertility for long enough, THEY WILL HAVE TRIED IT ALL ALREADY. I have done hand stands after sex. I have stood on my head. I have tried all the essential oils, all the vitamins, all the tea’s, all the hocus pocus stuff that I could find on the internet. True infertility is not a mental or spiritual thing. PLEASE don’t tell us to “just relax”, or “just try getting really drunk one night”, because you heard it worked for another friend of yours. It’s not that simple. Chances are that friend wasn’t actually infertile, it just took them a few months to get the timing right. I’ve peed on so many damn sticks to get tuned into that timing, plugged in dates and numbers and temperatures into pregnancy tracker apps. Gone for blood tests on top of all the pee tests to make sure I am in fact ovulating and when to time things. It’s not a mental thing. Infertility is when something PHYSICALLY is not right in our bodies, whether it be blocked and twisted tubes like myself, hormone imbalances, hostile uterus environment, the list goes on. Heaven forbid they also find abnormal cells and start treating you for cervical cancer (yup, that happened to me in the midst of all of this. Currently waiting on another biopsy to hopefully come back clear).
I finally wanted to open up about this because at the end of the day, you never know what someone is going through. BE KIND. Be kind to strangers, be kind to your friends, be kind to your family. We are all fighting struggles on the inside, some bigger than others, but they are struggles all the same. Some of us can hide it more easily than others, some wear their hearts on their sleeves. The fertility journey is a tough, uphill battle. I am sitting here, healthy and 27 years old, now without my fallopian tubes, knowing that it’s going to cost my little family upwards of $20,000 to have A baby. I’ve gone through so many hurdles already, and have so many more to get through…but I will tell you right now, I haven’t come this far to quit! I am headed to sleep in my own bed tonight, with some fresh new battle scars that come with yet another story to tell, about this latest step in the journey Jesse and I have been, and continue, to be on.