You and your spouse were married when you were in your early 30s, and even though you weren’t in a rush, you both knew it was right to think about starting a family.
All your friends and contemporaries were already having babies, and you too started to really want one because you believed that the time was right. Your job was going well, and so was your spouse’s, so you could afford a baby, and it would be great.
Of course, you both knew what to do to make a baby, that is, have unprotected sex, often. You were both enthusiastic about that, especially at first even though neither of you really knew how long it might take for pregnancy to occur, but you thought it wouldn’t take long.
After the first three months of trying and not getting pregnant, you did some researching. You were shocked to find out that even fertile couples who don’t have any fertility problems have only a 20 percent chance of getting pregnant in any given month.
Now you were determined to beat those odds. You began using an ovulation calendar to help figure out when your fertile periods were so you and your spouse could be sure to have sex at the optimal time to get pregnant. But after a while of no success, you began to get worried that something was wrong.
Each month, you were filled with grief when your period happened, and you started to envy your friends who had gotten pregnant easily. You began to feel depressed. Why was it so easy for your friends to get pregnant, and so hard for you? You dreaded going to baby showers and family gatherings where someone was bound to ask, “When are you two going to start your family?” your husband began to feel angry about the thoughtless comments and questions. You both started to feel isolated from friends and even family. You felt that knowing more about fertility problems would help you get some control over the situation, so you did much more research about fertility treatment.
You both agree you did not want to wait and see if things got better and you agreed that you should look into why you were having trouble conceiving. . You visit your gynecologist and ask for a referral to a fertility specialist. You both concluded that the best thing was for you both to get some testing done, so you consult a reproductive endocrinologist who has extensive training in finding the issues that cause fertility problems and helping people have a baby.
You made an appointment at the fertility clinic, gave your medical histories and went for testing. His tests were a semen analysis to determine the quality and quantity of his sperm, and a physical examination. You had a physical examination, an ultrasound and a number of blood tests to determine your hormone levels and whether you were ovulating. When the test results were ready, you had an appointment together with the fertility specialist. Both of you were nervous but hopeful. Maybe there would be a problem with an easy fix, although you weren’t exactly sure what that would be. The answer was both good news and bad news.
As the fertility specialist explained, the cause for your infertility was “unexplained”. What that meant was that the available testings and investigations did not find a reason you were not getting pregnant. It was good news because it meant neither of you had any major, obvious reasons for infertility.
However, people diagnosed with unexplained infertility often have other, more subtle issues which the current diagnostic testing couldn’t detect, such as poor egg quality. The specialist advised that you tried Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) for a few rounds, with ovulation induction drugs and if not successful, you were to consider IVF. Many times, problems are found and treated through the IVF process.
But for you, it was really hard to see this as good news. If you didn’t have major problems, why can’t you have a baby without treatment? You don’t know what to do. You feel the clock ticking and you still don’t have a baby. You felt depressed and guilty that maybe this was your fault, because your spouse’s test results were fine.
They advised that you needed to have treatment together. You agreed to meet with the fertility clinic’s financial counselor and figure out how you could afford treatment. After a lot of discussion, you decided that you could afford the treatment, and opted to begin right away.
But after three cycles of IUI, none of which resulted in a pregnancy, you remained on a roller coaster of emotion with each cycle, filled with hope and excitement and then sad and grieving when you didn’t get pregnant.
Like most infertile couples, having a baby had taken over your lives. Your fertility specialist suggested counseling, so you met with a counselor at the fertility clinic who helped you to feel you weren’t alone with your emotions and offered support as you made treatment decisions.
The fertility specialist talked to you about moving on to IVF treatment with Pre=implantation Genetic Screening (PGS). He explained that your eggs would be fertilized with the sperm in the lab and that when the embryos started to develop, a few cells from them would be tested to make sure they had the correct number of chromosomes, and only the best ones would be transferred.
After much thought and discussion, you agreed to have an IVF cycle with PGS. The doctor said the odds were in your favour with IVF, so you went ahead.
After about two weeks of hormone injections, harvesting of eggs, and fertilization of the eggs in the lab, your embryos were tested and the best ones were transferred into your uterus. Following two weeks of anxious waiting, you went to the fertility clinic for the pregnancy test and returned home to await the results.
The result was positive, you were pregnant. Your dream was going to come true. You carried the pregnancy to term and delivered a healthy baby girl. All the waiting, all the effort, all the worry was worth it to have your daughter.
No matter how many tricks you know and practice, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to how long it takes to get pregnant. Nevertheless, there is nothing that can make you feel more alone, or stressed out, than trying to conceive. While you might have spent the better part of your youth doing all that you could to not get pregnant, when you’re ready to build your family and the going gets tough, it’s normal to be anxious.
But the good thing is that there is always hope. Although trying to conceive can feel exhausting, frustrating and lonely at the beginning, the good news is that several infertile couples succeed in their quest to be parents. Your own story should not be different.