I always knew that being a mom I would have to make some sacrifices. I knew I'd have to give up the freedom to be able to meet with friends at the last minute, staying out late on a weekend (then again I don't do that now!), having the amount of "me" time I have now, sleep, among many many other things. I knew it wouldn't be easy but am still convinced that the rewards of parenting far outweigh all the negatives. I didn't bargain that trying to get pregnant for the past three years would require just as many sacrifices. While I don't think any new parent can truly grasp the difficulties of parenting, the past three years have really prepared me for my soon hope-to-be job as a mom.
Awhile ago someone said that they didn't see Chris and I sacrificing alot to be parents. Those that are close to us and know our struggles will likely tell you differently. This statement really shocked and bothered me because I know the hell we've been through for the past 35 months. Each couple that struggles with infertility has their own different struggles, but I bet and can guess by following others' blogs and chat rooms that our sacrifices are similar. I'd like to provide some insight on some of the things we have sacrificed.
Privacy: Letting a team of complete strangers (doctors, nurses, etc) into on our private life isn't exactly easy. They know everything about us....what we eat, how many partners we've had, how many times we have sex in a month, when I get my period, our entire medical history, not to mention "baring" all at appointments. Any woman will tell you gynecology appointments aren't a day at the amusement park. The best way to describe my appointments are like gynecology appointments on crack. They are much more invasive, more painful and much much more frequent.
Time: For us, trying to get pregnant is a BIG time commitment. Like most of you, we didn't just get to have sex a few times and end up pregnant. I've used ovulation kits for months, timed sex around ovulation, failed 3 IUIs and one IVF. During treatment cycles I have to go to the doctor around 3 to 5 times a week. Many are last minute and unpredictable since it depends on my body. Juggling my work schedule is stressful. To date, I've had at least 50 appointments. It's also a big time commitment in terms of being informed. I've spent countless hours reading books (about 8 total), researching the internet for information and researching clinics and doctors.
Sex life: As taboo as it is to talk about, I'm gonna do it. Yeah our sex life has suffered. Sex is no longer an intimate experience as a couple... it is strictly about baby making. When you have doctors telling you "when" and countless tests and instruments up that part of your body, you don't exactly feel sexy. I hate when people tell me that "practicing to have a baby is the best part" so we are lucky. Any good thing done long enough gets tedious. Chocolate ice cream is delicious, but when you eat it every day it gets old. What's worse is that for us it a futile effort, putting more pressure and stress on us when the doctors give us the green light. I can guess for most infertile couples, sex causes some stress and arguments.
Body: I feel like a piece of meat...like a science experiment. I can't count the number of times I've had blood taken, injections filled with hormones, and painful procedures. My body no longer feels like my own.
Indulgences: I've given up alcohol, all caffeine, have been trying to eat mostly organic, and am taking about a dozen supplements daily just to try to increase our chances. I LOVE coffee but haven't had any since January 26th. I don't cheat...even a little. When your desperate for something, you'll do anything. I've also been pretty diligent with taking care of myself by getting the right amount of sleep and exercising regularly. All these things take time to do well.
Sanity and state of mind: I will admit I'm depressed alot of times. I'm doing my part by acknowledging it and getting the proper help. I withdraw and isolate myself from people sometimes. I cry alot. I get angry alot. I am sad alot. I cried four days straight at a pregnancy announcement. It took everything I had to pull it together. I felt like a monster being so angry that it's not me too. Anyone that's been depressed will tell you it's something you can't help. While I have a good life and am blessed with may great things, it still doesn't fill the void I have. It makes me feel ungrateful for what I do have.
Self esteem: My body isn't doing what it's naturally been made to do. We fail month after month. I can tell you I feel less of a woman and strangely an adult as a result. I'm sure my husband will tell you the same thing about his masculinity. I see others getting pregnant and having families so easily. Why is it SO difficult for us?
Money: Assisted reproductive technology is expensive. The average IVF is about $15,000. We make a decent living, but we have school loans, car loans, and a mortgage like everyone else. Recently I tallied our bills since starting this journey. I stopped adding at $26,000. For us, that is ALOT of money. Because we were blessed with some donations we ended up paying about $21,000 of our own money thus far. That could have been saved for daycare, for our child's college fund, for needed baby gear. If I'm lucky enough to have our next IVF work I will be struggling to pay our IVF debt and buy baby gear at the same time. It won't be easy. I worked hard to have a good education so I could make a decent living and I feel it's been a waste of time. Most people are lucky enough to not have to deal with this. A year ago, before the doctors broke the news that IVF was a must, we went on vacation to Utah. We didn't plan on needing IVF...who does? Earlier that year we had just failed 3 IUIs and we needed a much needed get away. I am not ashamed we spent our money on that. Anyone in our shoes probably would have done the same for sanity sake. Vacations, clothes, and home repairs are a thing of the past.