Tuesday, January 15, 2008


Remember my hundred things about me post?

66. I have experienced infertility and it is the worst pain I have ever known. I have numerous friends who have dealt with and are dealing with infertility and my heart breaks over and over for them.

I am constantly reminded of our struggle to have children. It really is everywhere. Not only do I thank the heavens everyday for my children but I, in turn, find myself praying for those that I love to also be able to conceive.

Infertility isn't talked about much. There is still a lot of shame around being infertile from both sides, men and women. In the past women were always to blame. The female reproductive system is very complicated. There are a lot of hormones and chemicals that play into getting pregnant. However, the male system is also complicated and the frustrating thing is that it is argueable that it is easier to "fix" women than men. There are medications one can take in order to help you ovulate. There are tests that can be peed on in order to get the timing right. But, with men if there is no sperm there is no sperm. No medicine will bring sperm. If they don't swim there is nothing you can take to get them to swim. If the sperm lack a chromosome you cannot put it back in.

Reproductive endocrinologists, the doctors specializing in infertility, consider a couple to be infertile if:
*the couple has not conceived after 12 months of contraceptive-free intercourse if the female is under the age of 34
*the couple has not conceived after 6 months of contraceptive-free intercourse if the female is over the age of 35 (declining egg quality of females over the age of 35 account for the age-based discrepancy as when to seek medical intervention)
*the female is incapable of carrying a pregnancy to term.

Infertility affects approximately 10% of people of reproductive age, and 15% of couples. Roughly 40% of cases involve a male contribution or factor, 40% involve a female factor, and the remainder involve both sexes.


In my life I know far too many people who have and are experiencing infertility. Because it isn't discussed openly I thought I may put it in perspective for my readers. I will not give identifying information and if you are one of the couples I discuss and you feel I have been too revealing please let me know asap and I will edit this post. Keep in mind that these are not people I have "heard of" these are people that I know either very well and consider them friends or acquaintences.

Couple A: unable to conceive on their own. Took Clomid and had same gendered fraternal twins.

Couple B: unable to conceive on their own. Took Clomid and had same gendered fraternal twins.

Couple C: Condeived first child without problem, could not get pregnant with their second took clomid, had miscarriage, took it again and have same gendered fraternal twins.

Couple D: Tried for years. Had tests done, did numerouls IUI (intrauterine insemination) got pregnant on their own after HSG (hysterio....)

Couple E: Pregnant with their first child after clomid. Unable to conceive the second after two IUIs and 1 IVF. Settled with having only one child.

Couple F: Male Factor Infertility. One IVF = one healthy child.

Couple G: Endometriosis and Male Factor Infertility. 2 IVFs, 1 FET = one healthy child

Couple H: Conceived first child with clomid. Second child came from 1 IVF.

Couple I: 1 IVF = one healthy child

Couple J: female ovarian failure. 1 failed IVF with Donor Eggs, 1 FET with Donor Eggs = 1 heathly child

Couple K: 2 miscarriages. 1 IVF = boy/girl twins

Couple L: 2 miscarriages. 1 IVF = one healthy baby

Couple M: female ovarian failure + MFI, multiple IVFs. Now 1 healthy baby.

Couple N: unable to conceive naturally. first IVF attempt failed. Second resulted in identical twins.

Couple O: MFI and endometriosis. 1 IVF = identical twins.

Couple P: MFI and endometriosis, 2 surgeries to correct. 3 failed IVF attmepts. On fourth try conceived same gendered fraternal twins.

Couple Q: unexplained infertility. 6 IUIs, 1 IVF, 2 FET, still trying

Couple R: unexplained infertility. several IUIs, 1 IVF, 1 FET, still trying

Couple S: MFI. 3 IVFs, several miscarriages. Using donor sperm.

Couple T: unable to conceive on their own. still trying after 3 years.

Couple U: 2 miscarriages. 2 years of not getting pregnant. Adopted baby at birth.

Couple V: 1 failed IVF using donor sperm and eggs. Adopted baby at birth.

nuff said.


AnnaK said...

Thanks for raising this as an issue on your blog. Infertility is one of the most challenging and horrible things I've ever experienced and I am extremely grateful that at long last we were lucky enough to have 2 beautiful children. That said, to this day I still get jealous when I see a pregnant woman as I assume (of course not always correctly) that she had no trouble conceiving and is having a perfectly "normal" pregnancy that does not include 9 weeks of hospital bedrest or weeks of visiting their preemie baby in the NICU due to complications from an early delivery. I know it's irrational and silly, but I really do feel envious - and then I feel guilty for having such negative feelings. I never would have expected to feel this way, but the experience of infertility is traumatic and has lingering effects.

Niki said...

Well said, Anna. Thank you for 'coming out'. It occurs far more frequently than many know.

Martha said...

I have to say that I am currently struggling with this issue and do not have children yet, which puts me into another category. I went through the phases of feeling jealous/resentful of pregnant people. Then I realized that if and when I become pregnant, I wouldn't want people feeling that way toward me. I also realized that no matter how they got there, it's such a blessing to be able to grow a child inside you (and believe me I feel this stronger and stronger each day that I am NOT pregnant) that I have to believe that having ill will toward pregnancy cannot be good for me in any way. Of course, I am sad, to the point of being destroyed sometimes, that I STILL don't have kids and that I have been trying FOREVER and that it truly, truly feels like it will never happen for me. That is something I may have to face. And it is nothing but horrible.
Martha (aka "couple R")

Niki said...

So, you could still figure out which couple you were?!

Martha, just so you know, it breaks my heart that you still do not have children after all you have been through. You, who is so loving and so deserving. I think it is very big of you to understand that a pregnancy is a blessing- that is a hard fact to realize when you are experiencing the loss of a dream.

I love you.

Winbrooke said...

Am I couple L?
wow, you know a lot of people. very eye opening.
Infertility and miscarriages hurt in ways that are unimaginable to those who are not affected by it.
It is a very dark place to be.

Melissa said...

Am I on your list? hehe.

Really though, prior to Brandon being so sick I had never experienced such despair and depression in my life, all those years of tests and failed IUI's and ectopics and watching all my friends become pregnant twice over really put me thru the ringer. I do sometimes still cringe on my local message boards when I hear someone complaining SO HARD about TTC for 3 months and even hearing preg announcements still don't make me feel all glowy and warm. I guess I am still just a jelouse bitch LOL

Katie said...

I found us!! ;) I'm still in the closet with most people -- maybe there's a bit of shame there, there certainly is jealousy of all the others who can look at their husbands and get pregnant ... but mainly it's due to the uneducated (let's just call them stupid) questions. Oh, and the fertile friend stories -- you know the ones ... they know someone who went through IUI or IVF ... blah, blah, blah-- I didn't want to hear anymore of those stories! Sometimes the closet is nice.

Shabana said...

I have a question. ONe of my old high school friends recently contacted me. Turns out, she is unable to conceive due to PCOS. She told me about this in an email and that she and her husband have now decided to adopt soon. What do you say to someone in this situation? I want to be sensitive and kind without inadvertantly being condescending or pitying.

Niki said...

I'm glad you asked. First off, let me tell you that PCOS is like a speed bump in infertility. Usually with PCOS you cannot ovulate or it is difficult to sustain pregnancy. There are medications and hormones for both those issues so PCOS alone is not necessarily reason to adopt.
With that said, I do not know your friend's situation and it may be 'worse' or she may be unwilling to go through hormonal treatments to get pregnant.
This is what you could say to her:
Dear ------,
Thank you for sharing something so personal with me. I'm so sorry that you have experienced disappointment in trying to conceive. I'm sure that has been very hard on the both of you. How exciting, however, that you are getting ready to welcome a child into your family. I cannot wait to meet the lucky baby! How fortunate he/she will be to have you as a mom.
Let me know if I can help,

Any others who have experienced infertility or are experiencing it want to chime in?

I didn't have to go through the adoption process but I will say that by the time you are ready for adoption you are probably pretty excited to get that baby. Be supportive and emapathetic to the infertility struggle.