Life is full of decisions. Most decisions are so inconsequential that we barely put thought into them. Like what to wear on a given day. Or what to have for dinner. Other decisions take a little bit more thought. Like which car to buy or where to go on vacation. Some decisions have a long-term impact on your life. Like which house to buy or retirement planning. But most of these things, even the big decisions, aren't particularly emotional. But there are some decisions that can rock you to your core. I made one of those decisions recently.
Our infertility journey has taken a much shorter road than most, both in terms of length of time and in terms of medical interventions. We started trying to have a baby in 2010 a couple of months before our wedding. The first two years we weren't particularly worried. We figured it would take time and we were busy with grad school (me) and working full time (both of us). In year three we stepped it up a notch, in year four we went through infertility testing and diagnosis, and at the dawn of year five we decided to stop the madness.
But stopping the madness wasn't quite so easy for us. You see, even though we began the process of mentally moving on and reshaping our lives to one without children, there was still a small chance that I could get pregnant. There were no longer ovulation tests or timed intercourse, but there were also no preventative measures taken. Admittedly the chance was really, really small (think lightening strike), but there was still a chance. Having a chance leads to hope, and hope is a vile bitch. I wanted to move on but there was that little voice in the back of my mind constantly whispering that it might happen.
The whispering was always there but for the most part I could ignore it. I'm pretty decent with statistics, and the logical part of my brain understood that the chances of me getting pregnant were slightly better than non existent. But what I couldn't ignore was my periods. I've always had terrible periods, but in the last 18 months or so they've kicked it up a notch to what I would describe has horrific and less predictable to top it off. Throw in some hot flashes, insomnia, and other things I won't put into print and life has been pretty great (sarcasm intended).
I couldn't deal with it anymore. I couldn't deal with cramps that prescription pain pills couldn't take the edge off of. I couldn't deal with the heavy bleeding. I decided that I shouldn't have to pack a spare set of clothes in my work bag for "just in case." I went to my annual gyn appointment in early February, on the heels of a particularly horrific period to discuss options. I was desperate. She recommended getting an IUD that would release a small amount of hormone directly into my uterus and would control the pain and bleeding.
But it wasn't that easy. Of course I knew that in all likelihood getting the IUD would make my periods (and life) so much better but the flip side of that coin was the prospect of eliminating the really small chance of getting pregnant that I did have. I took time to think about it and hubs and I talked about it a lot. And then my next period hit. Realistically it probably warranted a trip to the emergency room, but there was no way I could walk down the stairs and out of the house to the car so I just dealt with it. The decision was made. I called my insurance company to verify coverage and then scheduled the appointment. The appointment was yesterday.
I felt like I had two crappy choices. I could continue to deal with the periods and have a really small chance of getting pregnant. Or I could get the IUD and have much better periods but also have no chance of getting pregnant. This decision really did rock me to my core. It felt like giving up. It felt like admitting defeat. In the end I had to choose me. I chose my quality of life. But I also chose to formally let go of a dream, and that was no small thing.
I (we) began the process of moving past infertility to happiness with a life without children for the better part of eight months now, but now that there is absolutely no chance that I can get pregnant I feel like the true healing can begin. So today is the first day of the rest of my life. I am excited about that.
Since I can't write a post without a small bit of humor, I offer you this: Yesterday, before they inserted the IUD, they made me take a pregnancy test (spoiler alert: it was negative). I expected that I would have to do this, but what I thought was funny was that the nurse, who lacked in personality and general bedside manner, instructed me on how to pee in the cup. I was like "ummm I've taken enough pregnancy (and ovulation) tests that I mastered the art of peeing into a small cup years ago." As she let the test develop she made the comment "you never know, this might be a surprise." Since I was already a bit on edge emotionally and had already decided that I didn't like her my snarkiness came out a little bit and I said "ovarian asshattery aside, there is no chance that I am pregnant." To which she responded "how can you be so sure?" To which I responded "math." I thought this was funny because even a nurse at a large gyn practice didn't know it was physically impossible to be pregnant on the 12th day of your cycle (or at least not pregnant enough for it to show on a test). Which further proves my assumption that I know more about getting pregnant then most people who are parents.