Clomid memes kill me. Actually, all infertility memes kill me. They’re so spot on.
I joined a few online fertility support groups around the time I was first prescribed Clomid and I initially found it very helpful. I think I’ll write a post sometime discussing the pros and cons of online infertility groups. I do appreciate the support they offer, but I do think they can also foster a bit of a culture of anxiety and guilt. I’ll write more on my thoughts in another post.
I read so many positive things about Clomid in these groups and I was so excited to try it out. We ended up trying 3 rounds of Clomid. I didn’t ovulate once. I’m hesitant to say that Clomid had zero effect on me because it definitely affected me. It really affected me. My hormones went crazy. I was crying all of the time, waking up all hours of the night soaked in my own sweat. I was beyond bloated, cramped, and tired. So naturally, I thought I was pregnant with every cycle. My doctor would send me for my cycle day 28 bloodwork and every time, it would come back negative. Another failed cycle, and another time to grieve.
I really struggled during those first few cycles on Clomid. I think I had really anticipated that it would work right away. That we would get pregnant on our first try. I remember when I would talk to my friends and family about us trying, I would always insist that we just needed to take Clomid and that I would probably get pregnant straight away after. I was naive, but it’s also nice to think about how hopeful I was back then. My hope has definitely waivered since then and it comes and goes. Some days it’s strong and it keeps me motivated to eat healthily and exercise, and other days it’s completely non-existent and it’s difficult to even appreciate how far I’ve come. Not just with my fertility, but also with my health. PCOS is an endocrine disorder and my diet can either help manage it or throw it completely out of whack.
After our failed Clomid cycles, I asked the doctor if we could try letrozole. I had read online (I read everything online at this point) that many women with PCOS had responded better to letrozole. He agreed, though I suspect he was humouring me and my desperation, and we did a round of letrozole while we were in Vegas for my sister’s 30th birthday. People probably think I was partying it up in Vegas last year, when in reality I was popping letrozole, avoiding sugar, and having timed intercourse with my husband. PAR-TAY.
When we got back from Vegas, I went for bloodwork, which determined that the letrozole hadn’t worked either and that my ovaries were basically stubborn assholes that didn’t want to ovulate. My doctor suggested that we move to injections and a fun little procedure called an IUI. Intrauterine insemination. Or more colloquially known as artificial insemination. It all sounded very science fiction-y.
I still remember our first appointment after all of the failed Clomid/Letrozole cycles. The nurse came in before the doctor with a paper that outlined all of the procedure prices – $600, $750, $900. *Medication not included. She was holding a black pouch on her lap, which she unzipped to reveal a needle. She pulled it out and started to explain how to set the dosage before I stopped her.
“Wait. What is this for?”
I’m certain she could see the mix of terror and confusion on my face and realized the doctor hadn’t fully explained just what was happening yet. All I knew was that our last medicated cycle hadn’t worked and that they wanted me to pay $900 for something called “Super ovary stimulation + IUI”. I didn’t know what any of that meant, and I wasn’t entirely sure if I was ready for my ovaries to be super anytime soon.
The doctor came in and stressed how resistant my ovaries were. He has stressed that A LOT to me since then. My ovaries are VERY resistant, as he has deemed them. That means I don’t respond well to a normal dose of medication, and so, I’ve had to pump my body full of hormones for weeks on end just to see any results.
He explained that I would give myself an injection every night for 5-10 days (Ha! This is funny to write now.) and that it would stimulate my eggs to grow. When they were finally big enough, I would inject a different type of hormone to make me ovulate at a very specific time to ensure the best possible chance of getting pregnant. Science is cool, huh?
Yeah, it’s cool, but it also wasn’t what I wanted to hear in that moment. I didn’t sign up for this! I didn’t ask to be artificially inseminated. I wasn’t a farm animal. I wanted to get things done the old-fashioned way. I expressed this to my doctor, and while he was understanding, he did stress that an IUI is so much more efficient because it gets the sperm to where it needs to go, at the exact moment it needs to be there. It was only an extra $200, so we agreed to try it.
We left the doctor’s office with the prescription for our new meds and drove to the drugstore. I remember asking him how much my medication would cost and he estimated around $900-$1000 per cycle. Well, that is if your cycle goes smoothly. But as I’ve stated before my ovaries were VERY resistant and required much more medication than the average ovary requires. I don’t want to discuss money here, but just know that we spent more than $1000 per cycle on medication.
My insurance is garbage and so we paid for everything ourselves. Our checkups and bloodwork were covered because we’re in Canada, but all monitoring appointments, medication, and the actual procedure were paid for out of pocket. For all of you ladies who got pregnant for free, please don’t ever take that for granted. Some of us have already shelled out thousands of dollars for even a small chance. Don’t take your health and fertility for granted.
We always had to wait for our meds. The pharmacy we went to was quite busy and also it was a special medication that was kept in the refrigerator, so they would always have to check to make sure they had some in stock. We’d sit and wait and I’d fret about how much money we were about to spend, and my husband would reassure me that that is why we have a savings account, for times like this. I always thought we’d be spending our savings on trips to Europe, not hormones to jack up my ovaries.
The cashier would call my name, scan my items, and always hesitantly give me the grand total. Grand total. It was always over a grand. I’d smile reassuringly as if to let them know I was okay with paying an obscene amount of money on medication, or sometimes I’d make a joke about how many Shopper’s optimum points I’d be racking up. We’d pay, leave, and make the hour drive home, finding something to laugh about. I had to laugh, if I didn’t laugh, I’d probably start crying over how tragic everything was. I really had to keep myself busy for fear of falling into a hole of self-wallowing. It’s really hard not to feel sorry for yourself when you’re doing fertility treatments. It’s hard not to be so self-aware of how much of a shitty deal you’ve been handed. I’d be shelling out thousands of dollars to basically make my body go crazy and I’d always seem to meet up with someone who just got pregnant by accident, or I’d get the dreaded, “we weren’t even trying!” I don’t think I’ve ever hated a phrase more in my life than I hate that one. Ever.
Still. This was what I had to do, so I was going to do it. I was always grateful for our little savings account, for my employment, and for having the means to pay for all of this. Even if it did drain our savings. I know there are so many couples out that that have to scrimp and save for YEARS to save up enough money to even do one cycle. We did three in a row. But I’ll save that for another post.
To be continued …