I was interviewed for a documentary on infertility

Not too long ago, I agreed to be interviewed by a journalism student for her documentary about “infertility in America.” She contacted me through my Brooklyn Resolve support group. I wanted to do it, knowing that her point in creating this project was to destigmatize, educate, and illuminate. So one day last month, she took the train from NYC out to me in LI to spend the day recording my story and taking photos (from behind, or just of my hands) for a slideshow that would accompany my voice.

She was young, energetic, sensitive, and good at her craft. I felt I was in very good hands.

I am glad I went through the experience, but I wanted to write a little bit about how difficult it was for me to tell my story. I felt vulnerable, exposed. I felt as though something unusually horrifically awful had happened in my life—which I know has happened, but I try not to think of myself, or my life, like that.

I started with the story before the story, going back to my decision to divorce my first husband, and it wasn’t long before I was crying. I talked about the feelings of being defective, inadequate. I talked about feelings of regret. These are all things that I strive each day to heal from, grow out of, and often succeed in doing so—with increasing strength and stability, these days, I am relieved to say! So it felt odd to go back there. I felt transported back to the old pain.

She asked to take photos of objects that might help in illustrating the story, and at one point, I pulled out my pregnancy books. One is a “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” diary, with mostly blank pages. I’d filled the early weeks with images of what I’d thought was, and would be, growing inside me. She took a photo of me pointing to the image of a fetus at 9 weeks. I had a D & C at 9 weeks for blighted ovum;  there was no fetus inside my gestational sac. It felt strange to point to the image of the fetus in the diary—the fetus that, unbeknownst to me up to about week 6, never actually existed, but that did exist with bright intensity in my mind and heart, during those early golden weeks of my first pregnancy.

I saw the words I’d written beside the images—little letters to my future child. Gah. “You’re the size of a pea today!”  I wrote. “You’re the size of a blueberry!”

She took photos of me walking to my car with my yoga mat slung over my shoulder. Of me typing in this blog. Of my mountains of supplements. Of the lists of “Do’s and Don’ts During IVF” pinned to the fridge with a magnet. But when she took a photo of me pointing to an image of 9-week-old fetus, I felt physically ill with sadness. I don’t know if I should have opened that diary. Then again, if it helps make her documentary more powerful, and if that documentary helps women in my situation in the future, and helps people in general to understand what women go through, then opening it was worth it.

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  • About Me

    Me: 41
    DH: 38

    Fertility issue:
    Recurrent Pregnancy Loss
    6 pregnancy losses
    All early
    5 with my own eggs
    1 with donor egg

    Abnormal embryos

    Factor V Leiden heterozygous
    MTHFR heterozygous

    AFC: 2 - 12
    AMH: 0.2
    FSH: 6.8
    E2: 40
    LH: 2.8


    April 2011 -
    Natural conception, first try. Blighted ovum (gestational sac only). D&C to remove products of conception at 9 weeks.

    Oct 2011 -
    Natural conception, first try. Blighted ovum (gestational sac & yolk sac). Took Cytotec to induce miscarriage at 9 weeks. PTSD, depression, anxiety, insomnia, night terrors followed.

    Winter 2012 -
    Two rounds of Femara/Clomid + IUIs at Columbia and RS of NY. The idea: to produce more eggs and increase chances of catching a good one. BFNs.

    April 2012 -
    Natural conception, first try. Ultrasound showed activity in the uterus, but no complete sac. Diagnosed with "missed abortion." Natural miscarriage at 5 weeks.

    June 2012 -
    Conception after 7 mg Femara for 5 days + IUI. Diagnosed with chemical pregnancy. Natural miscarriage at 4.5 weeks.

    August 2012 -
    Natural conception, without trying. Chemical pregnancy and natural miscarriage at 5 weeks.

    October 2012 -
    ODWU at Colorado Center for Reproductive Medicine (CCRM).

    January 2013 -
    IVF with Dr. Schoolcraft.
    Straight Antagonist protocol

    What he predicted:
    I will produce 11 eggs
    Good chance 1 will be normal
    30% chance 2 will be normal
    Transfer 1, then a 45% chance of success
    Transfer 2, then a 65% chance of success

    What happened:
    7 follicles stimulated
    6 mature eggs retrieved
    2 died during ICSI
    4 fertilized
    3 out of 4 embryos CCS-tested
    All abnormal

    Aug/Sept 2013-
    Frozen Donor Egg IVF at Reproductive Biology Associates (RBA)
    What Dr. Shapiro predicted:
    6 or 7 will fertilize
    1 we will transfer
    1 - 3 we will freeze

    Protocol: Lupron, Vivelle patches, Crinone

    8 frozen eggs from donor thawed
    6 fertilized
    1 Day-5 Grade A XBbb blastocyst transferred
    1 Day-5 Grade A EBbb blastocyst frozen
    1 Day-6 Grade A XBbb blastocyst frozen

    September 13, 2013: Pregnant

    Prenatal vitamins & baby aspirin,
    Vivelle patches & Crinone

    Beta #1: 171
    Beta #2: 706
    Beta #3: 7,437

    6 w 3 d: measured 6 w 1 d
    FHR: 80 bpm
    Fetus did not grow
    7 w: FHR 121 bpm
    8 w: heart stopped
    9 w: D and C

    Test results: We lost a normal karyotype male for unexplained reasons

    Quit stressful job
    Anti-inflammation diet
    Gluten-free diet
    Vit D, DHA/EPA
    Therapy/energy work
    Creative Visualization
    Art Therapy

    March 14, 2014:
    Double FET at RBA
    1 Day-5 Grade A EBbb blastocyst
    1 Day-6 Grade A XBbb blastocyst

    March 24, 2014:

    Prenatals, baby aspirin, Folgard, Vivelle, Crinone, Lovenox

    Beta #1: 295
    Beta #2: 942
    Beta #3: 12,153

    1 fetus implanted

    Measured on track

    Fetal heart rate:
    7 wk: 127 bpm, 8wk:159 bpm, 9wk: 172 bpm

    Due date: Dec, 4 2014!

    NatureMade (USP Seal) Prenatals and 4000 Vit D3
    Baby aspirin
    40 mg Lovenox
    DHA and EPA
    Folgard 2.2

    Born: One perfect baby boy 12.4.14

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