Blood. A thin layer of blood on her underpants was all it took to know that another unsuccessful month passed by.
The waiting was slow and painful. We questioned every symptom and change in her body and mood, wishing and hoping that this was the month it was going to work. Two weeks isn’t really a long time, but when you spend two weeks of every month just waiting for a sign of blood, or better yet, no sign of blood, it can feel like an eternity.
We started the process of intrauterine insemination 8 months ago, and it has been an exhilarating, but completely gut-wrenching journey. The worst part of it all is that it still isn’t over, and we have no idea when this emotional rollercoaster is going to end.
The process is meticulous and always timed to perfection. If it isn’t timed and controlled, we would be disadvantaging ourselves, and we want to give ourselves the best possible outcome.
Intrauterine insemination is relatively simple. It’s like having sex without the thrill and excitement of actually having sex. The simplified version goes like this – each month, my wife sits in a chair, and sperm is released into her uterus through a catheter. In order for our doctor to know exactly when to do this, and to leave no room for error, we have to control the release of my wife’s eggs. To do this, I inject my wife in the stomach with a drug that stimulates the ovulation. The doctor, now knowing the exact time of ovulation, is then able to perform the insemination at a specific time.
Our last try was particularly difficult for us. As two full-time employees, it’s rare that we are able to get an appointment outside of working hours, and rarer that we are both able get time off work to be at the “having sex without really having sex” appointment. This time was different. We were given an appointment after working-hours and I could actually be there in the room.
On insemination day, we walked into the medical room together, and made ourselves comfortable – my wife in the stirrups, with me beside her, an arms-length distance separating us. Our doctor followed shortly afterwards with a nurse, and they began preparing for the procedure. My wife was so nervous even though she had been through this process before, but I couldn’t contain my excitement. An awkward silence filled the room as the long catheter became visible.
Our doctor inserted the catheter, and I looked towards my wife to see the expression on her face. She describes the feeling as being uncomfortable, but not painful. I guess it’s nothing like having sex after all.
Suddenly, our doctor starts talking and I’m too busy looking at my wife to notice what he’s saying. I ask him to repeat what he just said, and he asks if I would like to do the honour of releasing the sperm into my wife’s uterus. I am so surprised and excited about actually being part of the process that I immediately jump up to push the syringe before my wife can utter a word.
After the short procedure, we are given some time alone in the room, and my wife sits in the same position for 15 minutes. During these 15 minutes, we laugh about the whole experience, and this positive feeling overwhelms me and I truly believe that this time it’s going to work.
Two-weeks of wishing and hoping later, and blood appears.
At this moment in time, my heart is breaking. It’s breaking for my wife who puts her body through this every month and has to face disappoint each and every time. It’s breaking for our future baby who hasn’t even been conceived yet. But more selfishly, my heart is breaking because I honestly don’t know what to do or how I can help anymore. My hopes that have been building up for two weeks, imagining what it would be like for us to be expecting our first child, come crashing down in an instant.
I try to understand, but I really can’t understand what it’s like for my wife to go through this every month. It’s her body and her emotions that are constantly under pressure. Is it selfish for me to also feel sorry for myself?
Where do we go from here? Do we just move forward and forget the past disappointments? It’s so cliché, but what other choice do we have?