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Challenge: Infertility

The Roller-Coaster That Couples Never Want to Ride

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This roller coaster is gigantic. And unpredictable. And nobody wants to ride it.
In my attempt to uncover infertility, and following my previous post about unexplained infertility and miscarriages, in this post I'll try to explain the roller-coaster. The metaphoric internal roller-coaster of emotions during the fertility journey, that is. I'm no psychiatric expert, and I'm also not an expert of roller-coasters, but I have become quite the expert on myself. Also, I hate roller coasters, and I've reluctantly been on this one.

Ah, here we are at the amusement park of parenthood. Welcome. The Fertility Roller-Coaster of Emotions is the first ride in the park for many, it's a secret invisible ride many people will walk past without even noticing. Most people will need to pay extra to get on this ride. And the crazy bonus part is... You must get on, whether you want to or not. You weren't chosen because you couldn't meet some height requirement, in many respects, this was completely random. But not the good kind of random like winning the lottery. Many parts of this ride will feel like your safety or mental well-being were not really taken into consideration, you'll feel like you're dangling in mid-air, wondering about the many code violations taking place simultaneously. How exciting (not)! So strap in. EXCITEMENT.

So you're starting the ride, and once you figure out the ride you're on, you're SAD, maybe even EMBARRASSED.

Why did you have to go on this ride? You didn't want this ride! The ride begins anyway. You just finished some initial testing to hash out your fertility protocol. Yup, you can't just have sex and get pregnant as nature intended. BLAME. GUILT.

And everyone else seems to be pregnant by just walking past each other. ENVY. SHAME.

You're on this ride with your partner, probably sitting next to each other, even holding hands, but you'll each experience the ride as if you're the only one on it. In a completely dark and silent vacuum. ISOLATION.

There are a few initial exams right out the gate, like blood tests, vaginal ultrasounds (some DISCOMFORT), maybe a breast exam (AWKWARD and a bit DEMEANING),

The ride starts off completely stable and looks like it'll be a breeze. A kiddie ride, even. But you're wrong (cue the horrid "mwa-ha-ha" laughter from whoever designed this ride). You may start off with some information about this fertility process, looks fine on paper, you're gradually climbing uphill. The view is actually nice, you've got this. Up we go. CONFIDENCE!

Then you need to inject hormones into your body for an upcoming IUI or IVF. Probably self-injection. Of a foreign liquid. Into your body. With a needle. Will I ever know if I did it the right way? Who's there to tell me otherwise? I'm not a nurse! I wasn't trained in this field! Am I supposed to depend solely on the hormone kit paper instructions??!! Is that even reliable?? Roller-coaster dip downhill! Crazy PARANOIA and CONFUSION.

Keep your limbs in the cart at all times. But you can handle it. Suck it up. You've got this, it's for a good purpose, you'll supposedly forget this later. CALM and COLLECTED.

Baby is the goal, it'll all be worth it. HOPE.
You're climbing back up! With hope, the view is even more gorgeous.

The time may seem long and tedious, there may be that Two-Week Wait to see if there's a pregnancy, UNCERTAINTY. DOUBT. ANXIETY.

The ride rattles a bit, but you're moving on. You have no choice, remember? It's time for a pregnancy test. You take at least five, by different brands, just to be safe. You may even take a blood test. You're pregnant! Total JOY!

The ride is smooth, climbing even higher, with cheerful music and birds chirping! Smile for the in-ride camera! You're already planning things out, picturing a family, or an addition to your family. You're HAPPY.

And then you go for an initial ultrasound scan. You hear that tiny heartbeat for the first time. It's pure ELATION.

Can the ride be any smoother? Maybe you're not even on the ride anymore! It feels like you're floating on fluffy pastel cotton candy. The sweet smell...
The ride continues, a bit later there's a sharp turn. Something happened, there's pain or bleeding or something else and there's a miscarriage. Sudden drop from such a high point in the ride, it's fast and scary, screams everywhere and a horrible stench in the air. SHOCK. FEAR.

This was not fun! You didn't sign up for this! This is not how it's supposed to be! RAGE.

What happened? Was it something you did? Wrong food? Bad workout choice? Job stress? Not enough "baby dust"? What was it?!?! Why?!?! How?!?! FRUSTRATION.

You thought the downward dip on the ride couldn't go lower, but then you need to go in for a D & C to scrape out the aftermath from your insides. Sudden loop, upside-down twirl! HYSTERIA.

You recover, but a loss is a loss. The ride goes downward into cold darkness. GRIEF.

The ride moves on, seems like on an even plain this time. A zombie-like vibe, in a sad dark fog. And then a turn, and a dip, and another dip. Seems like anything you try to do to have a child just doesn't work. Another consultation. Dip. Another acupuncture session. Dip. Another article to read. Dip. Dip. Down the ride goes again. Not as steep, but downward. DEPRESSION.

And then you get to a little clearing, There's an opportunity to try something else, maybe a change in the hormones or protocol for the next attempt. It looks promising. There's some light! It's bright and warm, and the ride quickly starts its climb upwards. HOPE.

You can do this, you've been at the low of the lows, you can beat this ride. AMBITION.

You read some more information, maybe get some in-ride sweet treat, even find someone to talk to, you notice you're not the only one on the ride now. As you look ahead you'll see that you actually cannot see when this ride ends, you can't even see what's next. Probably more climbs, more dips, sharp turns, twists, loops, darkness, brightness, extreme temperatures, crazy surprises and other weird features. You're READY.
And the ride continues...

I've personally been off that ride for a while, but it never really leaves you. Every once in a while there are flashbacks, and that weird sort of "phantom" feeling of being on it like immediately after leaving a long elevator ride. There are lots of people that have been on this ride, or still are on it. They may be on other crazy rides not related to infertility. Most of these rides are secret and internal, and on a typical day you may never notice they're riding it. But those rides are rough. Be kind.

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