This is part two of my first IUI journey. For part one, please read this post: here.
DISCLAIMER: This post is medical in nature. I am not a doctor, only relaying information that I have been given by doctors and research. Your doctors may tell you different information, please listen to them and not me (they have medical degrees, I do not) for details regarding your own health. Due to the nature of fertility treatments, some people may find this post to be “graphic” or “sensitive” in nature, please do not read it if you do not want to be exposed to the nitty-gritty details of fertility treatments or if you are a minor. Proceed under your own judgment – I cannot be held liable for your decisions.
My first unmedicated IUI was performed on October 23rd. I explain the full process and why we chose to go ahead with an IUI in the first post about it (here). After the insemination, you have to wait for two weeks before you’ll know if it was successful or not. Successful means you’ve conceived and are now pregnant, unsuccessful means you start your menstrual cycle (period) and are not pregnant. About one week after an IUI, you may start to have early pregnancy symptoms; not all women experience early pregnancy symptoms (or they’re so subtle, women don’t notice).
Unfortunately, a few days after my IUI, I came down with some sort of virus (likely a rhinovirus – common cold) that wiped me out pretty bad. I had a horrific sore throat, could barely talk, was struggling to breathe through my nose, and would randomly have coughing fits. Thankfully, the worst of the symptoms cleared up quickly. Even after more than a full week, however, I was still having lingering symptoms: sinus congestion, sneezing, and sinus drainage. I couldn’t tell if it’s allergies (everyone around me has been struggling with allergies, too) or if it’s the lingering cold. Once I got to one week post IUI, I couldn’t take medications. Well, technically, I could have as no one has told me not to… However, one week post ovulation is the earliest a fertilized egg can implant into the uterine lining (making you officially pregnant) and I didn’t want to screw anything up by taking medications that weren’t safe for pregnancy. Technically, most doctors say that until you get a positive pregnancy test, you’re safe to carry on as if you’re not pregnant. (Talk to your doctor about this if you’re actively trying to conceive, as each doctor will have different opinions.)
Since I was sick, and feeling pretty crummy, I didn’t notice any early pregnancy symptoms. As I got closer to my two weeks, I was feeling much better from the cold, but still not noticing any symptoms. I was moody, but that happens when I’m struggling with strong emotions (trust me, I was feeling all the things all the time, and it was awful). My breasts also got incredibly sore about five days before my expected period. I no longer consider this as a possible “early pregnancy symptom” because it has been happening for the last four cycles.
Not noticing any symptoms was making me more emotional as I was trying to stay hopeful that the IUI was successful, while knowing I wasn’t pregnant (I could tell: my body wasn’t different, and my body reacts strongly to change).
My IUI was not successful, as you probably figured. My period started on Tuesday, November 6th. It was frustrating, because technically my period was a day late. I took a pregnancy test on the Friday (the 2nd) before, then again on Sunday (4th), Monday (5th), and Tuesday morning. All of them were negative, and glaringly so. There was no doubt: I was not pregnant. Technically, it can take up to a week after you miss your period before the levels are detectable in your urine, but that’s rare. I had also started spotting (I always spot before my period) a week before my period started.
I had a pad in because I was expecting my period (due to the negative tests). I was doing some work on my computer and felt the cramps – they were horrible. But, I chose to stay busy and ignore them as long as I could. After about an hour, I needed to use the restroom. When I went to the restroom, I was able to confirm that my period had indeed started.
I was sitting there, because the cramps were painful and it’s more comfortable to sit on the toilet during them, watching Instagram stories to distract myself. Suddenly, I couldn’t see the screen clearly and realized there was water all over the screen (and the inside of my glasses). I was crying. After I started crying, all the emotions hit me and I started crying even harder. I tried to calm myself down, and only succeeded in making it worse, so I called Dan at work. (Dan is my husband, if you somehow didn’t know that.)
When he answered the phone, I was crying so hard I couldn’t even say anything. I knew he would freak out if I couldn’t say something, so I was able to squeak out “my period started” then started bawling again. Dan sounded devastated to hear how broken I was. We had a short conversation, and it helped calm me down enough that I was able to finish in the restroom and go get my menstrual cup put in. But, I was a total mess, emotionally, after that.
When Dan got home, we needed to go vote (drop off our ballots) and get groceries. We did our errands, ignoring the elephant in the car. After we got back home, Dan made dinner, and I was doing my best to hold myself together. We had acquired Angry Orchard (my favorite hard cider) and I had two of them. Since I don’t drink often, it made me a bit tipsy. Thankfully, being a little tipsy makes me giggly, but then I started to fall apart as it started to wear off. I do not condone binge drinking, recognize how dangerous it is, and do not want people to think that I assume this is healthy – I know this is not a healthy behavior, but I’m an adult and can make my own decisions (and this is not a decision I make often). I had two large glasses of water, and then we went up to bed.
Unfortunately, we went to bed late, so poor Dan was exhausted the next day. My period was extremely heavy, far heavier than it normally is on my heaviest day (day two). Obviously, the pain and cramping with an excessively heavy period was making the emotional loss even more difficult to process. Every cramp was a reminder that my uterus was empty and I had failed to conceive yet again.
The cycle that started November 6th (cycle day one is the day your period starts) marks cycle number 19 since we started trying. We did take two cycles off for my arm surgery, so we had been actively trying for 16 cycles, moving on to our 17th.
After much discussion, we’re not going to try another IUI nor any medication until 2019. November and December are going to be extremely busy for us, so they’ll be stressful. Because the first IUI was stressful for me, I don’t want to do that on top of everything else. We’ll still try the “old fashioned way,” but I’m not expecting it to work. The cycle that started on November 6th included Thanksgiving, which we hosted, so we decided to not track, not have scheduled sex, and not think about getting pregnant.
I don’t want to take time off, because I really want to be a mother, but I know I need to. I’m stressed, I’m frayed, I’ve been overwhelmed for a long time (this on top of all the rest of my health concerns is too much), and I’m exhausted. I feel like I’m losing myself to this process, and I need to step back and try to reconnect to myself and to my husband. I was actually going through wedding photos for a project I’m working on, and it was great to relive that moment. It was also sad, because we’ve lost ourselves in the entire medical saga of our life that has unfolded since our wedding (5 years ago), so I want to focus on reconnecting as a couple and finding that relationship we had when we got married. I don’t expect it to be the same, and we actually have a great relationship still, but it will be nice to focus on “us” again and take the rest of the year off.
To me, this is a loss. I know I wasn’t actually pregnant, and I know I wasn’t transferring actual embryos into my uterus. However, I have, once again, lost the possibility of being a mother for one more cycle. One more cycle that my “maybe baby” is gone. These are low-level losses, but there have been so many of them. Even the cycles that we don’t try, it hurts when my period starts. I watch my friends’ children grow and develop, and it breaks my heart. Had I gotten pregnant when we started trying, one of my friend’s second child would be almost the same age as our baby. But, I’m still waiting while her little one is turning from a baby into a tiny person (she’s six months old).
For now, I have to process this grief. It gets harder every time, and the fact that we tried an IUI this cycle has made it even more difficult. I’m in a lot of emotional pain, and for now the healing process will involve copious amounts of cookie dough, and the occasional alcoholic beverage. Celebrating Dan’s 30th birthday in December is going to be difficult, because I wanted to have at least one child by now. (I will turn 29 in March 2019. I had wanted to have both of my children before I was 30, and that is now impossible to do unless multiples get involved.)
Please keep us in your thoughts and wishes. Dan is struggling too, just not in the same way as me – for him, the hardest part is watching me fall apart every month and knowing he’s unable to do anything to fix it.
Love you all! And thank you for all the support we have already received.