Fertility Fight: I Had No Idea How Hard the Battle Is

None of this is anyone’s fault and the whole process of trying for a kid in the U.S. is just awful.

Kenneth Dressler
Feb 13, 2020 · 9 min read

My wife and I have been trying, like really, really trying, to have a baby for a while now. This is our story of failures. Please bear with the length but it is years in the making.

Our Blip

I am still utterly shocked at having baby-fever. I never thought I would have to want to have a kid due to my naivete in thinking that when we pull the goalie and try, it would just happen.

Instead, about 10 months after being married and really beginning to “try,” an ectopic pregnancy happened. Shortly after a celebration of a positive pregnancy test, my wife (the eternal hero of our story) had the wherewithal to recognize that something was not right. The pregnancy was a non-viable, tubal pregnancy which thankfully did not have to involve surgery.

Instead it involved methotrexate.

And it meant no sex on our first anniversary.

It meant no trying for a child for a few months.

It meant that the excitement of a positive test got sucked out of us and a part of the hopefulness in ourselves died.

With that said, it was a pregnancy. Hypothetically, her eggs are there. My sperm got there. The first steps to a pregnancy can be completed by us. That is a good thing, right? That day, it was tough to keep this perspective.

It’s a day I will never forget. We thought we were in the process of making a child. Egg successfully fertilized. Excitement galore. Hearing it was “non-viable” was mind boggling because we had thought we’d done it. Then, after an ultrasound confirmed my wife’s tubal complications, we were shipped across the street to the ER where she immediately received treatment to make sure the thing, a nonliving but still growing fetus which could hurt my wife if left in the tube so yes a “thing,” we had tried so hard to produce would stop growing inside of her. If it didn’t the possible results would be so terrible that I won’t entertain them. Thank god she’s a superhero and caught this.

Trust the Process

Now, well over two years later, and that is the only blip on the radar of having a child.

But the process has not been just a blip in our lives. It’s been life changing, eye opening, and something we revolve our whole worlds around.

And hospital sterility, is not an aphrodisiac.

Step one meant testing my ability to produce a baby. Ejaculating in a cup was no problem and the doctor who read the results to my wife said I was “superman.” Hooray! What a wonderful thing for me to hear. Maybe I will pin the test results to my shirt. But what a truly dumbass thing, to say to my wife.

Thankfully, then came confirming my wife’s viability and health post tubal pregnancy through ultrasounds and hormone tests which basically showed nothing. You know it’s the only thing we have generally gotten from doctors; Nothing.

Oh but the tests did tell us one thing. She has a smaller egg supply than the doctor would like to see for her age. All of a sudden the clock was ticking much louder.

This bit of drama was made much worse by the fact the “clomid crazies,” are a real thing, as with all the “crazies” caused by these wacked-out hormones drugs.

My wife has said these hormone drugs made her insane. I would not go that far but I can say, I saw her at some high, highs and some incredibly low, lows. Clomid and these other drugs meant getting yelled at for breathing. Also it led to the now infamous and currently laughed about quote in our home of, “Why am I even crying,” being stated regularly by her, while smiling and laughing, during this time. Mainly though the drugs were just frustration, and lots more sex of the “do it quick,” “hurry up,” and the “okay, get off me” variety. Three more months of no success.

Step two was then IUI, or intrauterine insemination. First, I got to stab my wife with a needle of ovidrel, which is a trigger shot leading to ovulation. I hate needles and it turns out I hate giving shots more than just looking away and receiving them. The first time I did it, she said I looked like a “psycho stabbing her.” Did I say she is a champ? So she was never phased but I tried to get better. After the shot, I got to ejaculate in a cup again, and again, and again, and again. My sperm would be washed and then uncomfortably, but painlessly, inserted into my wife, hopefully fertilizing an egg. We took four chances at IUI and no dice.

My wife has always had discomfort during her periods and I suspect she is tougher than she is giving herself credit for. Proof of this is during the struggle with IUI, in order to check out her tubes, she had an HSG test which is also affectionately known as getting her “tubes blown.” The test is known for being painful. It did not even phase her. There were not any big post procedure cramps. There was not extreme pain during the procedure, or any real pain at all. Like I said, she is a champ. And the test basically showed there is nothing wrong, so the doc, once again, had nothing to add.

As the doctor hemmed and hawed, we have brought up the possibility of endometriosis because of her discomfort. The response we got for that is a laparoscopy, a surgical procedure to get a better look at her insides and clean out the endometriosis, is not really necessary after the HSG showed no blockages. With that said, the surgery maybe something we look at in the near future.

After the four misses at IUI, the doctor made the push for IVF, and that is where my insurance coverage stops. We chose instead to back off everything for a couple month break during the holidays. Which a “break” would be wonderful from all this stress if it was not already confirmed that my wife has a low egg supply, leading to a constant hum of anxiety in every moment of my life.

The Stress Is Real

I love to procrastinate about every single aspect in my life except one. When someone I care about is mad at me for something, I have to fix it right then. I hate giving someone space. I must be in their face and try to fix it instantaneously. This creates some real conflict with my wife.

When my wife, hopped up on hormones and full of emotion, screams at me due to short comings in my life, that I can’t fix immediately, it takes everything in me not to respond. Not to make it worse. Not to turn it into a fight.

I am far from the perfect partner. Hell, I just hope I am mediocre sometimes. I wish I wasn’t functionally poor due to being a public school teacher and having student loans. I wish my wife did not have to work, to focus on being stress free during this baby making effort. I wish we could afford the next steps. Our reality for this process sucks.

This experience of trying to get pregnant is the absolute worst.

It is turning me into a new person.

Oh and have I mentioned the emotions? If not, then let me confirm, yes there are emotions. In fact, lots and lots. Who knew what hormones could do to them? Frustration, and anger or rage, always coming with a dose of general shock about the random “unfairness” of life.

Guilt arises just about every time I see myself in the mirror to brush my teeth. Why didn’t I have a different calling that made more money? Being a broke teacher sucks. Or, why didn’t we start trying earlier? My wife has been ready for the better part of our nearly decade long relationship, and it’s my dumbass who spent the years before our wedding saying, “Wait, there will be a better time or a time when we are more ready.”

This guilt leads to absolutely irrational things like asking myself, “Why the hell did she marry?” Or having her ask me, “Why did I marry you?”

These hormones make sure that this guilt is verbalized to me at every turn.

However, the emotion that trumps all, is the sadness. A sadness that sits so heavy on my chest, it makes me want to actually vomit. It is just sad that things are not going as once talked about or generally planned. It is the sadness as to why she is crying.

“I would love to be finished having kids by the time I am 30.” “Now that we are married, I am ready for a kid.” “Wouldn’t it be great to have a kid by the time I’m 30?” “Yeah two kids by 32, would be awesome and then we can maybe look at having a third.” “If we get pregnant now, we can still finish up having them by 35.”

Now, after years of trying, the “plans” are gone.

All of it has become an exasperated, “We just want a child.”

Now? We are still figuring it out.

I am the eternal optimist much to the chagrin of my wife’s understandable style of alternating optimism and self-loathing. I will always be optimistic due to being born with some sort of positivity/affability disease. Look at my smile.

In my heart of hearts, I just know it is going to happen. Not being able to control it and make it happen sooner has absolutely begun creating a wedge in our relationship. However as time has gone on, in our best moments, we have grown closer as we have fought this battle together instead of against each other. I truly feel more united with my wife than ever before. We are growing stronger.

And if the problem is our lack of timing, or waiting to try has caused us to miss our shot (as I type through tears just thinking about this)… then yes it is my fault, and I actually want the blame. I am tired of seeing her take burden after burden.

In fact, I wish I could carry the brunt of the whole load. I wish I was the person taking the crazy drugs making me feel all sorts of different and confusing ways.

It is bullshit she has to carry this.

I just want her, need her, to know it is not all on her. Though I am by her side at every appointment and every procedure, when she is exposed on that table, no matter what I do, she looks alone and worried. It is garbage that in those moments there is only a shared helplessness between us while we are at the whims of the fertility gods and the ways of the human body.

But, I can’t fucking wait until she gets what she deserves. It will all be worth it. She is the greatest mother in waiting. Sorry to everyone else.

At the moment, we are trying IUI again, all the while trying to scrounge up the money to do at least one round of IVF. Cashing in my retirement or borrowing from family or taking out a loan. Basically the exact opposite of what we should be doing when trying to build a family but it may be necessary to add to actually have a family.

After a few holiday months off and “no longer stressing over it,” we are ready to begin again.

In fact, today, it was quite a surprise that our fertility clinic, in the 3 months since we have been in, has been gutted and renovated. It is so beautiful and warm, as they make it obvious they are making money hand over fist by pushing a dream of children to people at their lowest without providing many answers. They are always booked solid with a full waiting room. Fertility and capitalism are quite the bedfellows.

Anyway, I am just venting now. I want to share my journey and not be a “negative Nancy.” I guess it is good the office is busy. It must mean they get results and every review online shows this place and its doctors as more than competent, or maybe even the best.

In fact, I know I have bitched and moaned too much. I guess it is the best time in human history to have the issues we are having. Also, I am blessed as a public school teacher with some great health insurance that covers everything up to the point of IVF (though I do pay my fair share to have this insurance).

At some point, I petulantly called this whole thing “unfair” but the reality is, what in life is fair? What does not kill us makes us stronger, or at least a bit more complex.

I really wish I could end this by sharing the good news of being pregnant, or even just something a bit more hopeful than we are going to keep trying. The reality is, just like I tell everyone close to me who asks, “It hasn’t happened,” but in my mind I always finish it with a “Yet.”

Age of Awareness

Medium’s largest publication dedicated to education reform | Listen to our podcast at aoapodcast.com

Kenneth Dressler

Written by

Trying to do the best I can, you know, like everyone else. I’m a Husband. Teacher. Hoops Coach. Life long learner.

Age of Awareness

Stories providing creative, innovative, and sustainable changes to the ways we learn | Tune in at aoapodcast.com | Connecting 500k+ monthly readers with 1,200+ authors

Kenneth Dressler

Written by

Trying to do the best I can, you know, like everyone else. I’m a Husband. Teacher. Hoops Coach. Life long learner.

Age of Awareness

Stories providing creative, innovative, and sustainable changes to the ways we learn | Tune in at aoapodcast.com | Connecting 500k+ monthly readers with 1,200+ authors

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