The good news was that based on his review there was no issue with my husband’s sperm at all. This was both a relief and cause for anxiety. If my husband was ok, then that meant the issue was not with him, but with me. The doctor scheduled additional blood tests used to identify hormone issues, referred to as day three blood draw, an HSG to evaluate my tubes and the uterus, and a saline sonogram to identify any issues with my uterus, or tube blockages.
On Cycle Day one, I called to schedule my HSG. Two days later I was at the lab for the first of several blood draws. I had also become a member of several infertility pages; to include my favorite one, a page specifically for women with spouses or women in the military themselves. These groups made me realize three things very quickly. The first was just how many couples had issues conceiving. The second thing I realized was how supportive many in the community were, and finally the amount of well-meaning individuals with HORRIBLE “advice”.
After the tests were conducted I returned to the RE and the doctor reviewed the protocol. The doctor explained that all of tests came back normal, with the exception of low levels of vitamin D. Given that I work in a windowless environment, this was not news to me. The plan was to start Clomid on CD3. I was also prescribed a vitamin D supplement, prenatal vitamins, and we would continue with timed intercourse (TI).
Clomid seems to be a fairly standard first course of action for couples with infertility. It is a pill taken usually for 3-7 days during a cycle to help follicle (Egg) development and ovulation. I finally had hope again. We were getting treatment, and while we were still unsure what was causing our issue, we at least were moving in the right direction and had a way forward. After 13 months of trying, I finally had hope. Finally we were making progress and able to start finding answers, we finally had help, REAL help, not just the crap advice well-meaning friends give you.
The month came and went. Then finally the moment of truth came. It was a day before I was due and I couldn’t wait any longer to find out if the treatments had worked. I took a pregnancy test that claimed to detect pregnancy prior to your period, and nothing. A big fat negative (BFN). The next day I tried again. Nothing, and the next day nothing. No positive pregnancy test and no period. I waited another two days without testing and still nothing. Finally I checked with my infertility groups. They suggested calling the RE office to prescribe a medication to start my cycle. The nurse scheduled lab work and I went to the lab the next day.
Most months I was disappointed when my period started, but this month I became annoyed that it hadn’t. Not only was I not pregnant, but I couldn’t even start trying again until it DID start. This was bullshit. I waited for what seemed like forever until the nurse returned my call with the results. I was ready to just go to the pharmacy and pick up my new prescription so we could start again. Finally the nurse called with the results. I was in the car with a co-worker on our way to lunch so of course the call came to the blue tooth in my vehicle. She informed me they could not prescribe the medication at this time because my results came back pregnant. I was ecstatic! What were the odds that after 13 months of trying, all I needed was a pill?
We arrived at the restaurant and were discussing the news at the counter; the women ringing up our food said congratulations and once again the excitement of the news filled me. That day I left work early to set up a surprise for my husband. That night when my husband returned home from work I broke the news to him in the nursery. He was just as shocked and excited as I was. To celebrate we went out to eat that night.
To this point, I was very open with everyone about our struggle to conceive. From the time we decided to start trying to the doctor’s appointments that followed, to the course of treatment we were undergoing, my family and friends were made aware, so it was not a big leap for me to announce that the treatment worked. After dinner I let both my real and social world know. The next day at work I informed my bosses that I would need to be removed from jump status because of the pregnancy. I could not believe I was finally exactly where I wanted to be in life. I had my degree, career, house, husband, I’d traveled the world and soon would have a baby. World domination here I come. It was a Friday and I was ready to bring on this weekend!
Saturday came and it just happened to be the day of my husband’s unit’s organization day, AKA the Army’s mandatory fun day. This is a day where a unit puts on an event for the whole family and your attendance is “highly encouraged”, i.e. Army speak for you better be there. I woke up that morning not feeling well, I shook the exhaustion off as a mild pregnancy symptom and went about my day. The odd thing was, I also noticed that my breasts were no longer in an insane amount of pain. A normal part of PMS for me had always been painful breasts that stopped the day of my period. I found it odd that not only was I no longer in pain but I felt nothing at all except some minor cramping. By this point in the process Dr.Google and I had become close. Any and every pregnancy symptom had been researched extensively so I figured this minor cramping wasn’t unusual nor was the exhaustion. I pushed it to the back of my mind and thought little about it. I contemplated staying home that day but decided that getting out a bit may make me feel better.
I regretted the decision almost immediately after arriving to the hanger. About 30 mins later I went to the restroom to find spots of blood, clear as day. I told my husband we needed to leave and by the time we made it home the cramps had gotten worst. I rushed to the restroom again to find the bleeding had gotten worst. We immediately left for the ER. After hours of waiting, blood work and an exam, the doctor came in to tell me what we already knew. He casually mentioned that this could be a good thing depending on if I wanted the baby or not. I could tell as he looked at my face and then the chart that he realized his fuck up. “Oh, I see you are one of Dr. Parker’s patients so I guess you wanted the baby.” ….WOW could you want to punch someone in the face any more than I did that day?!
That night we went home. I was crushed. The thing they don’t tell you is that not only does it hurt at the moment but all the moments that follow. Each person that congratulated me and I had to tell that I’d miscarried brought back the pain. I took the next few days off work to re-group. I had to continue to go to the lab to follow my levels back down to zero. Once my levels hit zero we could try again a following month.
A miscarriage is crushing no matter how early. They are made worst by the silence that often follows as many grieve alone. Each miscarriage creates a hole in the heart that is filled with questions. This was my first and even years later the questions what if, and who would you be now, haunt me. The real pain of what infertility truly meant began to hit me. Little did I know at the time just how familiar this pain would become to me and those close to me also facing fertility.
I was not the only one out there with a what if.