Our First (Spoiler Alert: Unsuccessful) IUI

I wrote this in April, just for reference! Doesn’t everyone have a sharps container by their coffee maker??

Two things my cervix was compared to today would be a.) a powdered sugar donut and b.) an eyeball.  What has two thumbs and will never eat a powdered sugar donut again? This girl! Three days ago, Chad gave me a double shot of Ovidrel which is basically straight up HCG to make you ovulate in order to do the procedure we did today at 11 am, the intrauterine insemination. This week has been the hardest week of our infertility journey as yet.  I have been at the clinic by 7 am 4 out the last 5 days and today we went back at 11 for the procedure.  That’s four days of blood draw, three shots, four ultrasounds, several crying meltdowns, one delayed IUI procedure waiting for progesterone to peak, one successful IUI procedure, and a whole lot of uncertainty over the next two weeks.

The first IUI procedure only carries about a 20% chance of success in the first cycle.  It’s success rate climbs with each cycle after that but there is an 80% chance that we will be doing this all over again next month.  It’s hard to think about the fact that we care closer than we have ever been but also possibly very far away.  In preparing for the IUI today, I did some research and gained perhaps a little perspective into why infertility seems to be such a lonesome journey for so many people.  I read the blogs, books, posts from other women and if anything, it only makes me frustrated and more anxious.  I read one woman’s blog about her four year, 4 IUI, 4 IVF cycle battle with infertility with no insurance coverage and thought, dear God, what if that is us? You never know.  You hear of people conceiving with IUI all the time but the details are unclear.  And it is assumed that if a couple does IVF and handles the $13,000 expense, they are going to have a baby.  But that was not this woman’s story and it’s so easy to hear her battle and make it your own.  It’s straddling the bridge between hope and realism.  And I have to confess, when reading a lot of these other people’s struggles, I feel inadequate.  They have these beautiful, prosaic things to say that are so true but seem so far out of the realm in which I live.

The way our clinic is structured, you check in on the second floor, and then typically move to the third floor for blood draw and labs.  Procedures are done on the first and second floors.  The third floor also houses what I dub “the sperm suite” for the male samples.  I have realized in the last 6 weeks that Chad are either the most immature people who have fought infertility or the only ones who have a sense of humor.

Chad has had to frequent the sperm suite three times.  It is off the blood lab so there’s no mystery at all what the men whose name get called are doing mere yards from you.  The funniest part to both of us is the mural on the wall in the blood lab that has a volcano with sperm coming out of it and eggs wearing coconut bras. It’s hysterical.

So we wait to get our respective labs done and neither of us can help but smirk when a man walks in and then out.  Today, Chad swore he heard a man “doing his business” to what sounded like clown porn!  Yesterday, a woman’s partner was called back when she was in the bathroom and she interrupted all the blood work (and other sample accumulation) to demand to see if he had her purse. If we can’t laugh about it, we wouldn’t be true to who we are!! Our doctor allows us and indulges our perversion or humor depending on how you look at it and we like her all the more for it.  This doesn’t have to be the Victorian era where a woman is put into confinement for three months and can come back into mixed company after she has been “churched”.  I don’t want to sit across from someone at dinner and talk about the catheter full of my husbands swimmers that was injected into my cervix today.  But I do want to tell you that we had an IUI and that we are trying and that it’s been hard.  I probably also want to tell you about the sperm volcano too but that is because I do border on inappropriate sometimes!

This last week in April is called Infertility Awareness Week.  Only one friend has spoken about her journey and it left me stymied.  She has had four IVF cycles. 4! She is the mother of two beautiful kids but I had no idea that she suffered so much.  I grew frustrated reading it because I wish so much she had been honest when it was happening.  She ended her post asking people to pray for their friends because “the journey is hard but it doesn’t have to be lonely!” Heart emoji.  But she never posted about it so we couldn’t pray for her.  And what’s more, I’m not posting about it either.  It will remain a lonely, scary journey if we don’t talk about it.  And I don’t mean talk about it how I often hear people talk about it with things like “God brought us through so much!” Or “believe that God is going to bless your efforts as He did ours.”  People only want to hear about it if it’s a success story.  And I would rather know how someone was feeling in the midst of it.  Not when it has been resolved or we know what is happening.  I want someone to preach to me about the difficulty of infertility and the faithfulness of God simultaneously.

One would think that I would be alone at the doctors office at 7am waiting for bloodwork and ultrasounds.  Guys, it is jam-packed, line out the door, people waiting for the doors to unlock busy.  Every morning, there are men and women standing outside the door in downtown Charlotte waiting for the doors to open at 7am.  As I learned this week, 1 in 6 couples will deal with infertility.  But how accurate is that statistic when so many of us don’t talk about our problems?  Undeniably, you know someone who has struggled to conceive and I hope that you better understand what they went through from our journey.  That’s my only hope greater than you drawing closer to Jesus during confusing complicated times.

Because I want to be honest, the IUI wasn’t painful.  It is a speculum situation again but it’s not painful.  Apparently, the cervix while also being like a powdered donut, is porous and there is an opening.  Didn’t know that. There is some cramping but I have had other biopsies done that hurt a lot more and won’t possibly result in a pregnancy so I didn’t find the IUI too bad.  The hormones and injections leading up to it are a bitch.  No way around it.  The trigger shot of Ovidril has made me feel 100% pregnant the last three days.  I am peeing all the time, four times a night.  I am slightly nauseous.  Pretty sweaty.  And also usually weepy.  But there is no way there is a baby in there and that sucks to feel that way before you conceive.

Once we were in the room today, my apprehension over it not being an organic way to make a baby sort of evaporated.  Without a doubt, I can look my baby in the eye and let them know how badly they were wanted.  The lengths and needles we went to to get them.  The things that we don’t talk about in polite conversation that became our routine were all for those precious lives we get to mold and love.  The agonizing two week wait to see if our procedure resulted in a life was all worth the wait.  So while our story will not be unique, or “normal”, or easy, it will be ours and it will be funny, true, authentic and full of awe in the One who made us.  And one day, we might even be able to take our child to see the sperm made out of construction paper that leads to a volcano.

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