I am asked to introduce myself, my mind immediately goes to an image of women
all sitting around in a circle, a glass of wine in one hand, the other
nervously wrapped around their waist. Their eyes are trained on me as I stand,
take a swig of wine, and blurt out, “Hi my name is Risa, and I’m infertile.”
see no other way to start out with an introduction now without including this.
my name is Risa. I am a wife to an incredible man — married for six years
now. I am a sister, a daughter, a nurse.
I am a photographer (kind of), a gardener, a cook, a reader and a dreamer.
am infertile. I guess. At least, that’s
what’s the doctors tell me.
I wasn’t always this way.
husband Chris and I were married when I was in the middle of my nursing
education. I was on birth control the
first year of our marriage, terrified I was going to wind up pregnant in an
already stressful time in my life.
missed some pills this month,” I would huff to my husband tossing a condom at
him, “We need to use backup. I can’t be
pregnant this month, I have an anatomy test.”
hindsight, I realize how hilarious this all was.
agreed, responsibly, that I could go off my pills a month before I graduated,
in May of 2009.
a couple months of … well, nothing, I went out and bought some of those
ovulation predictor kits. The ones that
show you a little smiley face after you pee on them, giving you permission to
go and get lucky.
a year’s worth of digital faces mocking me, along with a whole lot of stark-white
pregnancy tests, I started thinking, “Hot damn, I think something is wrong.” I
made an appointment with my OB/GYN, who poked and prodded, hemmed and hawed and
asked me a lot of questions about my sex life and menstrual cycles. (I had some questions of my own, like: "Um, should I be doing it
more?" and "Well, I kept getting those smiley-faces on the
tests. That’s good, right?") He pronounced me relatively healthy with a bit of
low progesterone and sent me on my way with a prescription for Clomid, a
medication to make me ovulate, to be used with timed intercourse. Having spent
so much time researching side effects, I was disappointed when I couldn’t use
the medication as an excuse to be a raging lunatic to my husband.
to say, Clomid didn’t work. All eight cycles.
December of 2012, to my dismay, and the recommendation of my OB/GYN, we made an
appointment at a fertility clinic. I
will never forget the feeling I had, sitting in the waiting room, about to be
called in to face the fact that getting pregnant wasn’t going to be as easy as
everyone else made it look.
doctor reviewed my records, noting there was nothing glaringly obvious
preventing me from having a baby, and started us out with rounds of IUIs
(intrauterine insemination). “Man,” I
said gleefully to Chris, “We don’t even have to have sex anymore!” Each cycle, I
would take the pills, go in for ultrasounds as my follicles grew and, when
the optimal time came, I would self-inject a medication into my abdomen to
force ovulation. Chris would come into
the clinic to give his semen sample via masturbation or scare tactics, and we’d
go back several hours later to do the IUI.
the third round of IUIs failed, we once again found ourselves meeting with the
doctor in April of 2013 to discuss the next step. With tears in my eyes, he leaned toward us
from across the desk and, in a gentle voice, said, “I think we need to move on
I thought IUIs were intimidating, it was nothing compared to what we faced
next. IVF is not for the faint of heart. When the giant box full of syringes,
needles, patches and vials showed up at our house, I felt my mouth go dry.
Thousands of dollars worth of medications to help me do what my body just
wasn’t wanting to accomplish. We had fights with the insurance company on
coverage, we had several tears, mostly mine, when it came to the multiple daily
injections. I had to take a ton of time off work for all the monitoring
appointments. Through it all, I faithfully blogged about it every step of the
ended up retrieving 10 eggs, only one of which developed into an embryo which
was transferred to me June 30th, and resulted in the first and only pregnancy I
have had to this date. On July 8th, I watched the digital test read as pregnant and
on July 12th, our fifth wedding anniversary, we found out we lost him at four
weeks. Our Adam — too early for a heartbeat, let alone a gender, but
nevertheless, my baby, the baby in my heart I knew was a boy.
was the reason for us to start again in September for IVF #2. My doctor put me
on a different protocol and changed up the medications. At this retrieval, we
got 8 eggs and this time Chris’ sperm was actually injected straight into the
eggs, as there was the possibility my eggs were letting in more than one sperm.
Transfer day unfortunately only gave us one embryo to transplant once again.
This was the first time I really felt the depression start to sink in. This
cycle wasn’t like the first, and the optimism wasn’t there. I knew in my heart
this cycle wasn’t going to work.
of 2014 brought us the start of the third and final IVF. The last cycle where
my doctor would give my own eggs a chance. The new protocol gave me hope this
one would be successful. However, only 5 eggs were retrieved and only one
embryo was transferred. We found out at
the end of May that it didn’t work. I had to face the fact that having a biological child was not going to
happen for me.
is a grieving process I have to go through now. The loss of a child that is
genetically mine, a biological sibling for the baby I lost. As a woman who wanted to carry a child, it
is a crushing blow to face. Throughout all this, there was always a next step.
Clomid and timed intercourse led to IUI, which then led to IVF. But now there is a multi-pronged fork in the road. I stand
at a crossing and face numerous paths. There are
options, which I am thankful for. At this point in time, we are approaching
the unknown world of egg donation.
has changed me in ways I could never imagine. Have I become bitter? Maybe a
little. Perhaps the biggest change has been opening up our lives to the world,
connecting with those going through this same thing. I am now realizing after
all these years, that I can share my story. Not to be pitied, but to show what
it truly means when I say the words: I am infertile.