People, I’ve noticed, are not comfortable talking about getting assistance of any kind. Whether it’s about your rise up the ladder of success or how your child was the product of scientific assistance rather than the purely traditional method of conception.
Assisted pregnancy refers to any type of artificial or non-natural method to improve and increase the odds of conceiving a baby.
The secrets we keep
I was hesitant to share my journey with anyone thinking that it was none of anybody’s business and I didn’t want further probing into my private life. Maybe, I didn’t want anyone to think my body was anything less than every other woman’s fully-functional body. The amount of unnecessary stress we take on ourselves is astounding. The amount of information we deprive each other because of this imagined shame is even more so.
When we started trying to get pregnant, I had never even been to a gynaecologist. Ever. I was 32 years old. The first step was, of course, getting a regular check-up. I went to a local clinic that had good doctors in our experience. The atmosphere was very business-like. I was an object on the table they had to probe – nothing more nothing less. I wanted some personal interaction, so I went to a big-name clinic that would also strive for customer experience apart from dealing with their jobs.
All the doctors I met
I was asked for a sonography report that showed some fibroids and a cyst. These would need to be surgically removed they said. I had been warned that big-name hospitals push people towards unnecessary procedures, so I went back to the clinic. I was told I could take a pill to reduce the fibroids. Could I still continue to try and get pregnant while I was taking these pills? Of course, said she.
I Googled to check what these magic pills were…birth control pills apparently regulate the blood flow reducing these fibroids. But the doctor just told me I should continue trying to get pregnant on these pills. Could it be she had no respect for her patient to explain the basics of the suggested treatment? The thought of it!
Dejected, I didn’t know where to look. Someone then suggested a great doctor who has helped deliver healthy babies and also has a clinic where he sees couples having difficulty trying to conceive. We went. Getting my husband tested was a 15-minute job. I was given a list of tests. One of it was an invasive HSG test that most places won’t perform unless you are accompanied by someone to take you home. It’s that painful.
The clinic I had gone to previously was closest to where we lived so we went there. The nurse was the only one in the room who knew there was a person attached to the machine. For the other two (lady) technicians it was routine machine maintenance. It was excruciating to go through it, heightened by the cold ambience of the room. A probe is thrust in the vagina and some liquid pushed in so that the scan can see if the liquid is getting blocked anywhere in the reproductive route. Not an ideal way to spend an afternoon.
All results were normal, so the doctor then suggested IUI treatments to help speed up the pregnancy project.
IUI Sessions can help you get pregnant through artificial insemination. It is a treatment that brings sperm and egg together in the woman’s uterus. It increases the possibilities of pregnancy considerably
What it entails is that a few days after your periods, a wand is thrust up your vagina to check for the most fertile period of your cycle. On this day, the semen is collected and ‘cleaned’ so that only the useful parts remain. This is then injected into the vagina giving the sperm a head start to get to the egg. After a week of waiting, the magic wand checks the status and then after another week if you get your periods you know it wasn’t successful. This time. So, you set up an appointment for another round because getting pregnant is not easy.
All I remember from that time is the bumpy auto ride to the clinic, the long wait in the waiting room (often on my own), and the invasive wand up my vagina. It was not easy going through this with no one to share it with. If you haven’t been through it, you cannot understand it. No matter how much you try. It felt lonely more than anything else.
The good doctor finally suggested a laparoscopy to eliminate the cyst that could be interfering with conception. I got it done. He said he would leave out the infertility treatment under reason for operation so that we could claim insurance citing endometriosis as the cause (truthfully). He didn’t. He insisted I need to stay in the clinic for a few days under observation. There was no need. He needed to pad up the bills. I never went back there. The smell of the place often haunts me.
I went to the infertility section of the big-name hospital. After looking at my reports and a fresh ultrasound, she said the good doctor only removed one cyst. There’s another fibroid infringing into the uterus that should’ve been removed as well since it could be the cause of the egg being bounced back from the uterus. I should prepare myself for another surgery if required. I didn’t know how to do that.
She said she will try one round of IUI before making the final decision. It had been two years since this process had begun and I was in for a final push before giving up. I agreed.
She closely monitored my cycle, especially the days after insemination. She realized that I was low on progesterone which is responsible for making the egg ‘stick’. I was put on the hormone via oral medication, injection, and vaginal suppositories. The oral medication and injections were tolerable. The vaginal supplements had to be taken three times a day that was reduced gradually over the first trimester and the smell of it was extremely off-putting.
Finally, the good news
This inconvenience meant that I would not need any further treatments and I finally had an egg that stuck. I was so disillusioned by the whole process by then that I didn’t recognise any of the early signs of pregnancy like suddenly hating the taste of wine. When my period was delayed a few days, I took the pregnancy test only as a matter of routine fully expecting it to fail. When I saw the second line on the stick, I stared at it for a few minutes to make sure I wasn’t imagining it. I was pregnant.
After the initial euphoria died down, I was angry. Angry at the incorrect and inadequate information I was given by doctors, angry that the good doctor didn’t think of rethinking his game plan after a few rounds of it didn’t work, angry that I almost spent more energy and money thinking about getting an IVF or another laparoscopy, and most of all angry that I had no one to share this anger with.
My husband couldn’t understand what it felt like to be sitting in hospitals rooms alone, probed and prodded constantly. He also had a job he had to get to so couldn’t make it to appointments where he wasn’t needed. Towards the end, on the verge of giving up, I broke down and said I felt like I was in this alone. He made sure he was with me at every appointment after that.
I had told a few people that I was undergoing IUI treatments but never shared the anxiety attached to it. Now if people ask if I had gotten pregnant naturally (yes, there are people who have no concept of personal space), I only say I had to take additional hormones. I wouldn’t mind telling people about the IUIs if it came up naturally in a conversation, but I don’t feel the need to explain anything to people who feel they have a right to know your story.