November 07, 2016 · Personal
Hey you. Yeah, you. I’m talking to the couples who are walking the road of infertility right now. I don’t know how many of you who read my posts have ever experienced what it is like to struggle having kids, so if you can’t quite “relate” to what I am about to say? It’s ok. I didn’t write this for you anyway.
But maybe…just maybe…if you DO read this, you can get a better understanding into my life and the lives of SO MANY around you who never speak of it. The reality that we live every single day that is woven into our daily routines. Oftentimes, spreading our legs for a doctors’ appointment before meeting you at Starbucks for that cup of coffee. Keeping the details of that appointment behind sealed lips as we try to go about a “normal” day. Normal for us, that is, knowing that we will be back in that office again the next day…and the next day.
I went in to have a hip lipoma removed a little over a week ago. I kinda figured that was all I was going to “get out” of that appointment, pun intended. Lying on that hospital gurney answering all the pre-surgery questions that come with being put under, I heard the phrase and the tone in which I was asked, “I see you are taking Letrozole…?”
Ahh. Here we go. Someone unfamiliar with that particular drug and what it is used for. Another part of my reality. Always having to explain myself to the fertile world. Or, more often, just keeping my mouth shut. I get tired of explaining all this to people who haven’t lived it. You gotta conserve energy any way you can in this.
I’m pretty good at knowing what is coming in these scenarios. I mean, we’ve been seeing the doctors at RGI for about a year and half now and I can’t remember ONE deep conversation I have had with ANYONE in my shoes walking the road of infertility, let alone the mystery of our case– Secondary Infertility.
Conversations I have within my marriage are the only conversations I have where I don’t have to start at the beginning. John is just as much in this as I am. He is the only other person in my life who UNDERSTANDS all this crap. It is literally…JUST US.
I prepared to start off slow, as I always do, where the conversation is more one where I am educating the general population about the drugs I take, when I take them, why I take them, what IUI is, etc., etc., freakin’ ETC. I had my lesson prepped and ready for her. School was in session.
“Letrozole is a fertility drug that helps you create extra follicles every month,” I began to explain.
This chick probably has no idea what a follicle is, what days in your cycle you take this drug, the fatigue you experience where you have to nap to make it through a single day not to MENTION the hair loss and alllllllll the other side effects you battle every month. The pain (oh the pain) I experience when I ovulate…she’s gonna have that clueless look on her face when I look over, I just know it. Here we go.
Her response COMPLETELY surprised me, and had I not been naked under that hospital gown I would have leapt up and hugged her. All she was waiting for was for me to say I was taking Letrozole for the sake of infertility treatments. That was the open window she was hoping for.
“I’m on Letrozole, too! Well, not right now. Today’s actually Day 1 of my cycle…definitely not pregnant, which stinks. So I need to call and get in for my initial ultrasound and bloodwork. Are you at RGI? Who do you see?”
Just like that. JUST LIKE THAT. I can’t tell you what it feels like to be understood when ALL you feel is misunderstood. All you deal with are people who WANT to help…WANT to understand…WANT so desperately to help us have a baby…and can’t. As much as they try, they can’t even wrap their minds around terms like Clomid, Letrozole, injectables, HCG trigger shots, follicles, lining, Progesterone or how nerve wracking it is as you wait to hear what number is in front of that million in your count.
This nurse and I connected. Instantly. We laughed about the funny parts of infertility, because OH MY WORD are there funny parts. It’s awkward. It’s not sexy. It takes you from “private and embarrassed” to saying things in the exam room like, “Come on, boys! We only need one Michael Phelps! Girls? You be good hosts in there.”
Infertility changes you in a way that makes you crave being SEEN in a world that frankly needs more awareness on the topic. This nurse was my breath of fresh air in the infertility smog. She helped me see that the connection can happen, I just need to be ready for it.
This past Friday, John and I already had plans (before ever meeting my new “nurse bestie”) to join some couples who have or still are struggling with infertility. I knew this group was in the works and was anxiously awaiting the launch. Had this group been formed a year ago, I am not sure I would have been ready to join. After my time in the hospital, I could not WAIT to walk into a room and be able to jump right into a conversation that did not require any backstory. I needed more fresh air in my life.
To walk into a room of strangers where you go right from “Hey, nice to meet you, I’m Nicole,” to talking about the specific details of where you are and what you are undergoing this month, felt like a weight was being lifted. I can’t tell you how natural the progression of that conversation was. Nothing forced about it.
These people were not weirdos who sat around in a circle and said, “Ok! Your turn! Tell us evvvvvvvverything!” I WANTED to share. It felt safe to share. Like I was sitting down with couples that I had known for years. The support in that room was evident and I felt like despite our struggle to find our fit in true community and deep, “I’m in this with you” friendships, I was finally home. Right there in the middle of a bowling alley.
Rooted in the familiar scenery and road blocks on this beaten down path of infertility, we connected. The ease at which we transitioned back and forth from hysterical laughter and having a BLAST to opening up about reproductive surgeries, cycles, treatments, miscarriages, infant loss, and what happens in a marriage that is strained by infertility…just blew me away.
The fact that the husbands were just as much involved in these talks was an aspect I did not expect, and was by far the biggest blessing of the night. Knowing John now has a space to share HIS thoughts and experiences…and connects with these guys enough to even WANT to, is worth the length of time it took us to find our fit.
Over bowling, Pizza Oven pizza, a few tears, brownies, Coke, and lots of laughter…we were being seen IN and IN SPITE OF our struggle. A perspective only offered by those who have shared experiences. After five loooooong years of life, loss and unexplained infertility, John and I made it. There is no going back.