2022 year in review

Recap of 2022 – It Really Sucked (and it was really great)

This has been the most up and down year I’ve ever experienced emotionally! As I thought back over 2022, my initial reaction was, “it sucked.” (Infertility really colors your perception of life.)

Back in January of last year, I thought I was ready to give up on trying to get pregnant with a second child. I felt like I had gone through a lot of the grieving process already, and I wanted to move on. At that point, we had been trying for a year and a half. We had thought IVF was our only hope to get pregnant again, but then in February we got some updated test results that showed that we actually might have a good shot if we kept trying on our own (supposedly).

I remember feeling shocked, and honestly angry. It felt like a trick. And I was scared. I didn’t want to open myself up to hope again, only to be disappointed. I had plans for 2022. I was going to live life to the fullest and not be so obsessed with ovulation and pregnancy achievement. It was going to be “my year.” The day before we heard about the new test results, I had literally taken every baby item I had saved over the years and put it all in a big pile in the garage to donate (or trash). I had literally just emailed a friend about why I was feeling content with only having one child and being a family of three.

What a dangerous thing, to declare it to be “your year!”

I figured if we didn’t keep trying, I might regret it one day. What if I really could get pregnant?

But the months all passed, and here we are at the end of 2022, and there’s no baby in sight.

Obviously, that’s been the most sucky part of this year. But there were some other doozies too:

  • January 3rd I tested positive for COVID, less than a week before we were supposed to go on a big family trip.
  • In February I applied and interviewed for a job I really wanted, one for which I thought I was a shoo-in, and ended up not even getting called back for a second interview – a HUGE hit to my self-esteem.
  • In April I randomly had to go to the ER for pain from an ear infection because it was so bad I couldn’t sleep or wait until the morning to go to the regular (and much cheaper) doctor.
  • Month after month after month I didn’t get pregnant – my own hellish version of Groundhog’s Day

So yeah, 2022 really did kind of suck.

But it was also really great too.

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egg and sperm (depicted with cookie and frosting)

Some (not-so) Fun Infertility Facts

“While everyone experiences stress differently, you can’t underestimate it. The further you go [with fertility treatments], the more stressful it is if it doesn’t work. If it works, you’re done. Everyone is happy. If it doesn’t, some people have lost a major part of their self, what they believe to be their future, and that’s terrifying.”

Dr. William Hurd, chief medical officer for the American Society for Reproductive Medicine

Are you (or is someone you know) dealing with infertility right now? Chances are good you do know someone, even if they’ve never told you about their struggle. 1 in 8 couples (some sources say more like 1 in 5) are unable to pregnant after a year of trying, which technically means they qualify as “infertile.”

Here are a few (not-so-fun) facts I’ve learned about infertility over the past few years:

  • In infertile couples, there is an equal chance that the cause is from the man or the woman (this is not just a woman’s issue!)
  • In one third of infertile couples, the problem can’t be identified OR is a combination of factors from a man and woman.
  • Secondary infertility (not being able to get pregnant after the birth of one or more children) occurs at the same rate as primary infertility. 50% of infertility cases are secondary infertility.

Even-less-fun facts about infertility and mental health:

  • As many as 21-52% of women struggling with infertility experience depression.
  • “While infertility treatments are physically demanding, several studies suggest that the emotional stress of the ordeal is the primary reason many couples decide to give up.”
  • Anxiety and depression increased in couples who had failed ART (Assisted Reproductive Technology) treatments.
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flowers in the shape of a uterus

The Appointment that Finally Happened: Seeing a Reproductive Endocrinologist

One year ago I shared about my husband’s and my struggle with secondary infertility. At that point, we had been trying to have another child for about a year and a half.

Today we’re past the two year mark, right at 28 months.

28 months.

Also in my previous post, I had shared that we had been referred to see fertility specialists, but that the doctor I was needing to see had about a year-long waiting list.

Well, the year passed and the appointment finally happened – on August 26th of this year I had my initial appointment with a reproductive endocrinologist at The Center for Fertility and Reproductive Surgery at Texas Tech.

Entrance to Center for Fertility and Reproductive Surgery at Texas Tech

I had really been hoping that it wouldn’t come to this, that I would find myself pregnant before the dreaded appointment arrived. We had tried one intervention that we were hopeful would give us a better shot at getting pregnant, (a prescription medication), but still nothing had happened so far.

Usually at any kind of fertility appointment, I find myself very jittery and emotionally fragile overall. Also adding stress to the day was the fact that this appointment was three hours away (because there are no fertility specialists in Abilene, TX) and I was by myself (because the logistics of work and picking up our son from school didn’t really warrant both my husband and I being gone all day).

I didn’t really know what to expect at the appointment. I had Googled about initial fertility specialist appointments, but the not-knowing also added to the levels of anxiety I had that day.

The appointment started with me paying a $125 copay up front, which was not covered by insurance. (From what I’ve heard, most fertility services are not covered by insurance at all. So you’re potentially paying hundreds to thousands of dollars all out of pocket.)

After waiting a long time, I was finally called back so I could wait some more in the much smaller waiting room. At every appointment I always bring a book with me to read, and I never end up reading it. When I’m anxious, I find that I can’t concentrate enough to read. So I end up just staring at random objects in the room, like counting the ceiling tiles or reading the informational pamphlet about IUDs.

The two biggest concerns I had for my doctor at this appointment were:

1) the pharmacy we had previously been getting the medication from stopped providing it (and it had seemed like it was potentially increasing our odds of getting pregnant) so I wondered if they could figure out another way to get it?

2) I had major reservations about IVF, and was assuming the doctor was going to tell me that it was really the only feasible option I had left.

When my doctor finally arrived, she was great – she was so warm and kind, and it was obvious that she understood the toll that infertility takes on the patients she sees. (I had read great reviews about her, so I wasn’t surprised, and that was also why I decided to wait a year to see her – I figured if I was going to go to a reproductive endocrinologist, I wanted it to be a highly-recommended one.)

She reviewed my chart, and then proceeded to do a vaginal ultrasound (which was a new thing for me!) Honestly though, it was kind of amazing how much information the doctor could get via ultrasound. She measured how thick my uterine lining was (in millimeters) and was even able to see which ovary I had ovulated from (the ultrasound literally showed a little hole where the egg had come from!)

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