As a child, if you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up you would have gotten multiple answers. Some answers changed as I went through different stages: a doctor, a teacher, a princess, etc. However, there is one thing that was steadfast from the first time I played with a baby doll, I wanted to be a mom. The desire to be a mother was never a choice that I made, it was built into my DNA.
However, what is also a part of my genetic makeup is a reproductive system that is diseased.
When I got married in 2015 to my high school sweetheart, that desire was still present, but I knew it was not the right time. I did not yet know about my reproductive problems. We unwittingly worked to build our lives and prepare the perfect place to bring our children home to. After we purchased our home in 2017, we set our sights on becoming parents. The funny thing about plans is that, at least in my experience, they rarely work out the way you anticipate. Little did we know that as we picked a room for the nursery, talked about names, and spoke joyously about our future; our journey was only just beginning.
After more than two years, two doctors, countless negative pregnancy tests, one miscarriage, and one failed IUI treatment cycle, we are still waiting. Our plans have not become our reality. Now, our plans are indefinitely on hold because of a pandemic. A pandemic?!
Now that's a curveball that not even a seasoned infertility warrior could have seen coming, especially one that was two weeks away from starting IVF.
IVF is not a decision that we made lightly. It is a huge investment and we viewed it as a final shot to create the family that we so deeply desire. After our failed IUI cycle in January the comparison between a 15% chance with another IUI and the nearly 70% chance with IVF, made our choice clear. When coronavirus began to grow in the United States, so did my anxiety. I regularly monitor my cycles remotely because our clinic is a two hour drive from our home. "What if the clinic here closed? What if I started my medications and then they were forced to cancel?" A thousand thoughts filled my mind for days. The anxiety became too much in the end, and I chose to cancel before the clinic officially closed. Though, of course, it eventually did.
There is very little in this process that I have control over. I can do everything right every single time and yet, pregnancy is not guaranteed. It is gut-wrenching to think about for too long. This investment could result with no reward — no baby in our arms. Those thoughts were the ultimate determinant to cancel our cycle. I need to be in the best head space that I can possibly be in while we go through IVF. As we move forward in this pandemic my emotions ebb and flow. I feel thankful that I have such a strong support system, devastated that we have to keep waiting, angry that the pandemic had to happen and put a hold on our dream. Any emotion you can think of, I have felt in the past six weeks.
Fertility treatments are not elective for me. The reality is that while I feel so blessed to be able to continue to try naturally, we only have about a 1% chance without external assistance. Every month a roller coaster of emotions floods my body. Every cycle starts, of course, with intense heartbreak as my period inevitably arrives. As I move closer to ovulating, I switch up our plan and decide this is our month, then the two-week wait seems to go on forever before I finally muster up the courage to take another test. I look at them from every angle, take pictures and adjust them, just to make sure I am not missing that line, but each month ends just as before.
Luckily, there are many products on the market that allow me to be sure that I am doing all that I can while we wait. Proov test strips have allowed me to ensure when I am ovulating and that my progesterone is ideal for implantation. These test strips did exactly what they stated for me during our natural cycle last month. My progesterone was perfect each day that I tested, but the heartbreak was the same in the end.
Every month a roller coaster of emotions floods my body. Every cycle starts of course with intense heartbreak when my period comes.
I hope that in the coming weeks we can have a plan to get back on track with IVF. Our dreams have been put on hold for so long, and I am more than ready to take this next step. In the meantime, I am turning to social media as an outlet for these immense emotions. Connecting with other women on this journey has been my saving grace, their friendships mean the world to me. There is no replacement for the support systems my husband and I have. We could not do this without our family, friends, and each other. Navigating infertility in general, let alone through a global crisis, is not something that I would wish on anyone. I am proud to share my story and I hope that by bringing awareness to this common disease I am able to help even one person cope with their journey.
WRITTEN BYCassie Lando