Explanations By Desirae Listening to a doctor try to explain unexplained infertility is as futile as trying to find meaning in an episode of “Beavis and Butthead”. This is due to the simple fact that there isn’t much to explain, nor are there answers to give, nor is comfort anywhere to be found. To me it is just another word to add to my ever-expanding gynecological vocabulary. My husband and I have been “trying” for four years. By “trying,” I mean trying to get off of “Infertilitus,” the emotional roller coaster of infertility. It has been an arduous, time filled with trash bags of negative pregnancy tests, ovulation kits, and tear-stained tissues. I have had two hysterosalpingograms (gesundheit). This is an x-ray that looks inside the uterus and fallopian tubes by using a dye to highlight these innards, and yes, it is as enjoyable as it sounds. While there, everything – from the machines, to the table, to the bulky arching lights – reminded me less of a medical facility and more of an alien autopsy. This feeling was then confirmed and amplified as I laid down in the empty white room and proceeded to be poked, prodded, and probed with a variety of instruments. The results from the first death ray, I mean x-ray, showed that my uterus was not shaped the way it should be, and that I had only one fallopian tube. I, of course, knew that you’re supposed to have two, but thought maybe they were expendable – like a kidney or appendix. The proper term for this malformation is unicornate uterus. That’s right, it has the word unicorn in it… meaning I only had one fallopian tube, so it was shaped like a unicorn’s horn – very clever – disappointingly clever. I wasn’t thrilled to hear that I had a mythological creature inside me, and proceeded to drown myself in a river of tears. My doctor wanted to see what was “really” going on in my enchanted uterus, so a hysteroscopy and laparoscopy were scheduled. Before the surgery, I had already taken the liberty of jumping to outrageous and illogical conclusions. I dove, uterus first, into a depressed fallopian tube shaped shame spiral. Sanity aside, I went into the operating room with high hopes and unknown expectations. Post surgery, my doctor gave us a slideshow of his vacation into my uterus. Come to find out, I had a deviated septum, or that there was a wall of tissue dividing my uterus in half, and that I do in fact have two, yes two, fully functioning fallopian tubes. This also explained that when the alien serum was injected, it only illuminated one side, and my drug-induced joke of, “Dr. Fowler, tear down this wall!”, while doing a bad Ronald Reagan impersonation was my way of saying, “Thank goodness!” Although comparing my uterus to the once segregated city of Berlin had no real significance, I, nevertheless, enjoyed the reunion with my tubes and tried to have an optimistic outlook. Over the years, I have been on two types of fertility medication (Clomid and Femara), and prescribed enough folic acid to take down a rhino. I have had numerous ultrasounds – or $200 photo sessions of my ovaries, and been given the HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) shot to simulate ovulation. We also went through three rounds of intrauterine insemination (IUI). On the days of the procedure, we were told to make sure the cup sample was kept warm, so I placed it neatly in my cleavage. (This was actually the recommended technique, as I am not much accustomed to storing items in that location). When we arrived at the office, the troops were sent to boot camp where they were washed and spun. Only the best soldiers emerged and were now ready to go into battle. It was then my turn to get the turkey baster treatment – hello stirrups, my old friend. During the “pins and needles” weeks before my urine would produce a + or – sign, an Eeyore-like rain cloud loomed above my head – ready to downpour. I was pretty sure I was the only one who could see the cloud o’ gloom, since it was I who’d imagined it… yet it felt so real, so tangible. Also, while I waited, my one and only sibling, held a thirtieth birthday bash. As the younger sister, I always looked up to my older sister. Almost every decision in my life has been, in one way or another, influenced by her, and the prospects of motherhood were no exception, because she had her son… perfect, just like her. An almost mirror image with his wide, blue eyes, soft brown curls, round button nose, short little toes, and chewed-on fingernails. He was hers, always and forever, and I wanted that too. My sister’s “Dirty Thirty” blowout proved to be just that. A throng of fifty friends and family gathered to bask in her awesomeness. With her hot pink and black party dress, and even more vibrant personality, she commanded the room. I assumed my usual position at her flank – beneath her wing. This, however, was exactly where I wanted to be and where I’d always felt the most comfortable. I’d gotten used to going unobserved in my sister’s shadow, and preferred it that way. But my mom was the one person who knew how to make me feel special. Before the party started, Mom handed me a small gold box. Inside was a gold chain attached to a small gold pineapple. “It’s the Hawaiian symbol of fertility,” my mom said with a proud and endearing smile. I immediately strung it around my neck, and as my mom clasped the necklace, the Eeyore-like raincloud that had trekked all over with me silently vanished. Overwhelming gratitude spread across my face and welled up in my eyes… thanks for noticing me. The three rounds of IUI ended in a knock out score, 3-0, in favor of infertility. In an unnecessarily destructible “Kool-Aid” man fashion, discouragement came barreling through my heart. It seemed an appropriate time to be past disappointment and welcome my new friend dejection with open arms. I wasn’t surprised I felt this way – what with the amount of hormones that had been pumped into me. With all the fertility drugs coursing through my veins, you’d think I could just sneeze and get pregnant. Instead, I just wanted to sob needlessly and/or punch a puppy… otherwise known as the bawl and brawl. The hormones also had a less than desirable effect on my weight, nothing outrageous, but enough for me to notice. My clothes went from just right to just tight, and I then added wavering self-esteem to the array of emotions I was currently juggling. During the last four years, I’ve had my share of cynical thoughts of anger toward every pregnant woman, and it certainly didn’t help that every time I turned around I bumped into an expectant belly. My husband and I were also noticing that our relationships with our now child-having friends had changed. They were, of course, still the same people, but we were traveling down different paths. Although we desired to be stroller pushing right next to them on their road, we had to take the road less traveled. If waiting patiently was our only choice, than waiting it was… but waiting didn’t have to be a sedentary activity. As everyone had been moving down their road and following where their lives were leading them, we were watching longingly from our road – trying to glimpse what was being deprived and feeling lost without it. I had to accept that no matter how much I wish I had Nostradamic abilities, I could not predict nor control when, or if, I would ever conceive a child of my own. Our road, once a barren forest of dead, thorny trees lathered in a landscape swatch of gray and black, now had a sliver of sun peering through the tree tops and lighting our way. Our road to travel might not provide any explanations, but it still needs to be traveled. On our road we found comfort in the unknown, and that has made all the difference.

Desirae Goodwin