This story is about the challenges I faced with my husband to become a Mom. The one thing I wish a knew at the time was more people to talk to about fertility, and so I hope I can share this story for someone who is also struggling.
My husband and I knew before we were married that we wanted children. We also knew there was a very real possibility that we would not be able to. My husband was his parent’s only biological child, and they ended up adopting when they were unable to get pregnant again. So, before we even started trying we discussed what it would look like if we did end up going through fertility treatment or adopting.
When we finally did start trying, I was off my birth control pill for 3 months prior to make sure it was out of my body. We both did full physicals with our family doctor, and openly discussed with him that we wanted to start trying and that we were concerned. He assured us that 85% off couple get pregnant in the first year, so not to worry right away.
For the first 5 months, we tried without any aids. That did not work out. After that I started tracking my ovulation. Taking my basal body temperature was somewhat accurate, but it really just confirmed that I had had an ovulation after the fact. The ovulation predictor kits turned out to be the easiest to read, and they confirmed that my ovulation lined up regularly in my menstrual cycle. And so, we would “schedule” when we had sex between a positive on the ovulation predictor and my basal body temperature increasing.
This continued for another 7 months until we hit one year since we started trying and we decided to go see our doctor again. He made a referral to the Regional Fertility Program (RFP), and gave us a blood requisition to do initial testing of hormone levels in both my husband and I, as well as semen analysis for my husband.
It was about 2 months to get an appointment with the RFP. They called within a few weeks to set it up, and sent us a 5 page intake form that included family and personal medical history. On our first appointment, we were given further blood tests, and ultrasound for each of us, semen analysis test for my husband, and a dye test (known as HSG or hysterosalpingogram) for me. We would return in about another 2 months.
The testing took a lot more time for me than my husband. Because fertility in a women is dependent on her menstrual cycle, the testing had to be booked at certain points in my cycle to be effective. Since I also travel for work, it was a challenge to ensure I had all the testing done in time for our doctor to get the results.
Some details on the testing in case you are concerned:
- The man’s ultrasound was of the testicles, so fairly simple. The women’s was both an external (similar to pregnancy) and internal exam with a wand inserted into the vagina. It didn’t hurt, was just slightly uncomfortable.
- The semen test, according to my husband, was more just awkward than anything else. Because they have to test a live sample, they set up all the patients to come in at the start of the day. The men avoided eye contact, and did their business as quick as possible!
- The HSG dye test is potentially painful for women. I had a twinge of pain as the dye went in, but nothing afterwards. I also did not have much discharge, but some women do so they do give you a pad at the hospital just in case. There were x-ray technicians operating the machine, but it’s a doctor from the fertility clinic who inserts the dye. Again, it’s done at the start of the day, and there’s a large group of women doing the testing around the same time.
When we were referred to the RFP, we also told our parents what was happening. Besides that we kept it quiet, as we thought the constant questions about how it was going would increase our already high stress level. Each month was tougher and tougher. I did find out later that I was not hiding my stress very well; my manager thought I was going to quit, and a colleague thought I had a miscarriage! I think it is a stressful situation for anyone though, and would just encourage anyone going through it to be mindful of managing your stress.
After all this, the same month I had the dye test done I finally got pregnant. It was completely unexpected. I actually started my normal spotting before my period was due, and told my husband we were not successful that month. In the days following the spotting subsided and I started to get excited. One day after my missed period I took a pregnancy test and confirmed that we were finally having a baby.
We did keep our appointment to follow up with the RFP, and they did confirm that we have a diagnosed fertility problem that may prevent future pregnancies but should not impact the current pregnancy. Luckily it was something we could take actions to mitigate, and given that we had time now we chose to do that. We are still waiting on the results to know if it worked, hence we are keeping things private until we know more.
I hope this does encourage parents dealing with infertility to keep trying. It took us 15 months for a spontaneous pregnancy – and for my husband’s parents it took 5 years. You can’t give up on that hope, just make sure you are taking care of yourself in the process.