Hitting the year mark – what’s the definition?

It’s been a year since I started this blog. One very long, mostly frustrating year. My first post was an indicator of just how clueless I really was going into TTC, because I thought I actually knew things. I take that back, though: I did know things, but it was information for people who simply have sex, and boom, they’re pregnant. You know, most people. I naively thought that would be me, which now I find almost comical.

But the real reason for my post lies with the definition of trying to conceive. This goes hand in hand with the definition of being infertile.

There has been much debate in many people’s blogs lately over the definitions of these things. It does seem we can all agree that most doctors want you to be “trying for a year” before “infertility” can be your unofficial diagnosis and you are sent off to a fertility specialist. It also seems that most of us agree that’s insane.

The differences in opinion come when we get down to the little details, and I will use myself as an example. One year ago, my husband and I started trying. I had already been off birth control since April, and I was noticing irregular periods, but I was hoping it would settle on its own. We still tried. Then, soon after starting this blog, I was told by my old endocrinologist my TSH level was too high, an 8, and I must stop trying immediately, until further notice. That’s when my blog started to focus more on diet and thyroid health than anything else. After a month or so, we continued trying, and got the official “okay” from a doctor a few months later. And from there, I had long, irregular cycles, including an 82-day cycle that wrapped up in November, when I was finally given Provera and put out of my misery. I was fortunate enough to be able to see a fertility specialist earlier than most people, and started on Clomid in late December. The rest is history.

Since N and I started trying one year ago, I have ovulated exactly 3 times, to my knowledge. Maybe there might have been one more in there, soon after going off the pill, because I did get my period on my own the first time. But I won’t ever know for sure. These three times have been in January, March, and May of 2012. That’s three chances to get pregnant. Does that mean I’ve only been officially “trying” since the first Clomid pills did their job? I would have to say no.

I think it’s interesting that people who aren’t going through infertility question what “trying” means. I get it – for most people, you get a chance every single month, which I can’t even imagine. So when you’ve been trying for a year, you’ve “tried” 12 times. But is that what trying means – it only counts when you actually ovulate? I don’t think so. I think it’s more mental, with an addition of a physical act. We’ve been physically trying, when we are able, for one solid year. That might have meant many a night of praying to the gods that regular sex with no IUI, plus a miracle of releasing an egg would do the trick. Many nights of thinking, this cycle could be the one. Countless days (more than I care to think about) of checking my CM, charting, temping, analyzing, Googling….and I’ve released 3 eggs. Most people think “trying” means sex, and only when it counts (as in, when you ovulate). I refuse to think of it that way, because it would negate everything I’ve gone through in a year.

So as I see it, yes, we’ve been trying for a year. I know some of you have tried for way longer, multiple years, and I hope my time comes sooner than that. However, hitting the year mark is kind of a big deal, to me at least. I just can’t help thinking about the way my feelings about trying to conceive have changed, and my emotions as well. I went from over-the-top hopeful (I guess everyone starts out that way) to so upset, disappointed, devastated, to angry, to numb, and in the last few months, my current feelings are pushed right out of my head. I try not to even think about it. It’s not numb, necessarily, but it’s – wow, this is so frustrating that it’s not even worth coherent thoughts. I’ve tried to move on with the rest of my life, while a healthy dose of bitterness lingers.

As for the definition of infertile – it’s a debate I don’t fully want to jump into, because I honestly believe we shouldn’t all have to adhere to one specific dictionary definition. I agree with others who find it irritating if someone tries for a while, and then it works, no problem, and they called it infertility. I think once you find out what’s wrong, then it’s okay to place the label on yourself. If you weren’t able to see a specialist for a long time and then you found out something was wrong – I’m not saying your infertility started then. It started when you started trying. But you wouldn’t have known why until a doctor told you, most likely. I didn’t know what was wrong until I saw the specialist, but now I know: my eggs don’t grow and release on their own. Anovulation. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and other auto-immune issues. I wouldn’t say that I’m “infertile”, because it sounds permanent. I will be fertile, but with the help of some major drugs. But it’s all how you define yourself. If you have a blog about trying to get pregnant, chances are, you’ve been through the ringer and you have enough to say about the topic to write about it on a regular basis. I’d say you have the right to claim infertility, for sure.

In the end, we write these posts because we’re looking for support, not judgement. I’ve had nothing but support since I started, but I know there are people out there who do judge. We all have different journeys, and I’m not sure putting “infertility” on a scale in severity from 1-10 will make anyone feel better. If anything, it’s a reminder that we’re all struggling, and it sucks.

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3 thoughts on “Hitting the year mark – what’s the definition?

  1. K.Smitty says:

    Great post. I agree with everything you said, even though my story is very different. I too struggle with the labels.
    In short, I charted for a year and that was frustrating. I was regular, and knew I was lucky to be regular, but we didnt try every month because I had some work stuff going on for a while and so we took a break. After the break, there were a few months of what my husband doesn’t consider to be trying because, even though we were “getting together when it counted” he doesn’t count it because I didn’t lay there for 20 minutes afterwards. So when people ask us how long we tried before we got pregnant, I say 8 months but he says 5 and it frustrates the hell out of me. I hate to whine about it here because I know I did make it past that point, and I never considered myself infertile because I never hit the year mark. I guess I’m just trying to validate your point that people have very different definitions of trying and it’s so frustrating to feel like people are questioning your validity. I say, YOU define your journey however you want to. I totally hear what you’re saying and support you when you say you have hit the year mark. Anyone who disagrees with you is either being incredibly insensitive or has their own issues to work through. Your journey is your own. And I hope it comes to an end for you very soon!

  2. Emily @ablanket2keep says:

    I try to not pay attention to the labels, but there are some things that do irk me. I remember hitting the 1 year mark. We were still trying on our own for a little longer before I saw a specialist as per my OBGYN. So even though it was a long time, not going to a specialist yet I still had hope we could do it on our own.

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