June – August 2008
We attempted IUI again. It was exactly like last time — except for being dreadfully painful. I had read stories on the message boards about cramping during and after the procedure and had thought those women must be kind of wimpy to be complaining about something sooooo easy. As the minutes ticked by, the nurse tried catheter after catheter, failing to get it into place, which is to say through my cervix. When she finally made it through, my uterus immediately had a seizure, or at least felt like it did. It was ungodly painful. The rest of the day was spent recovering and searching for “cramping after IUI” on the message boards and making mental apologies to all the good women I had slandered.
Right after that, we went on a good long vacation.The vacation was going to be the magic key to the whole thing. The soothing motion of our kayaks on the water in the Apostle Islands would help the embryo implant. The fresh air of the Upper Peninsula would keep it safe.
We were on the lovely Bruce Peninsula in Ontario on the first day we could test. I woke up really early and couldn’t go back to sleep. You’re supposed to use your first morning urine because the pregnancy hormone can concentrate in it over night, and you’ll get the most accurate early results that way. I woke Sandy up when I couldn’t hold my first morning urine any longer.
It was negative.
I’ve struggled with depression for many years, and I always find that when I’m depressed I develop very strong anxieties that I never have any other time. Fears develop that my plane’s going to go down or my car’s going to crash. On this day, I was suddenly very scared of heights. We were walking these amazing bluffs over Lake Huron and every time I got near the edge, I would have a surge of terror.
Then we returned from the trip, and everyone I knew got pregnant.
This is the secret worst part of infertility, the part that you don’t think about until it happens. Turns out, fertility is kind of competitive. As soon as you start trying to get pregnant, you realize that all around you there are women trying to do the same thing, and lots of them are going to succeed, and quickly. There’s no line for them to stand at the back of, and even if you’ve been trying way harder for way longer, they’re going to go ahead and walk right by you.
First, it was just my coworker. She and I had had conversations for years about starting our families, but she had only started trying a few months before, after I’d been trying for over a year. One day we went to our favorite udon noodle shop for lunch, and she refused the sushi sample they were handing out and I just knew. It was really early, she was just five or six weeks pregnant, and I thought, perfect! I’ll be like a month behind her. And then the months kept passing.
Then, all three cousins on my dad’s side of the family, all due within a month of each other. A friend who had said she wasn’t going to start trying for at least a year but changed her mind and just got super-lucky on the first or second try. Some other people. An old friend who had just moved back from Michigan. Someone Sandy knew from work. I lost track.
Being happy for someone who has the one thing you want in the world is not easy. Not even exactly possible. You don’t feel happy. You feel jealous and kind of angry. I mean, not angry at your friends, of course. They didn’t get pregnant on purpose because they knew it would hurt you. Just hurt. Sad. Angry at your body for betraying you. And it sucks to be angry, hurt, and sad when your friend is delivering incredibly happy news, because it makes you act like a crappy friend. It makes you break lunch dates and skip events and cry uncontrollably.
It turns out that your good friends understand. My pregnant coworker found me secretly sobbing in my office on a day when I found out that two more friends were expecting. She gave me a big hug and said, “Of course you’re sad! It would be incredibly weird if you weren’t.”
[Next: Part VI]