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Coping with Infertility

One family's struggle and ultimate success
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There’s nothing more heartbreaking than trying to have a baby when it’s not happening as quickly or easily as you expected.

According to the National Infertility Association, infertility affects 10 percent of the population today. For me, infertility was truly a life crisis. It affected all areas of my life, including my self-esteem.

No one likes to fail and that’s what I felt like, a big failure. All around me everyone seemed to be getting pregnant. My well-meaning friends told my husband and me to take a vacation and relax and then we’ll get pregnant. But after 12 months of ovulation kits and taking my temperature, it still wasn’t happening.

Already discouraged, I started thinking it was God’s way of telling us we weren’t meant to be parents. Slowly, I lost interest in my business, hobbies and family until a 30-second conversation with a colleague changed everything.

A colleague confided that her daughter was conceived via in vitro fertilization. She advised if I was over 30 years old and had been trying to conceive for six months without any luck to contact a fertility specialist regarding the variety of options available.

That day, I made an appointment with the Northern California Fertility Center in Roseville, one of the top fertility centers in the country. After some initial web surfing, I learned some surprising statistics. Infertility is a female problem in 35 percent of cases, a male problem in 35 percent of cases, a combined problem in 20 percent of cases, with the remaining 10 percent of cases unexplained.

After months of tests, my husband and I fell into the last category. Physically, we should have been able to conceive, but for whatever reason we could not. The good news is that infertility is a medical problem and 50 percent of cases will respond to treatment, with a successful pregnancy resulting.

We were very lucky. The first procedure we tried, intrauterine insemination, resulted in the conception of our son. Intrauterine insemination involves injecting sperm, via a catheter, into the uterine cavity during a woman’s natural ovulation cycle. Many women also take Clomid, a drug to ramp up egg production, releasing more than one egg during a cycle. I had three viable eggs that released during my cycle, but only one fertilized.

Was the process worth the result? You bet! However, it was difficult. The tests are invasive and I fainted a total of three times, threw up twice and ended up on Valium for the final procedure. My husband fared better and was incredibly supportive, comforting me after tests with pizza and ice cream.

Sometimes I wish I could tell my son that he was conceived on an anniversary vacation in Hawaii, but, as my Mom says, a baby is the bottom line and it really doesn’t matter how he was conceived because he’s here and very much loved.

~ Pettit Gilwee is president of Lake Tahoe-based Pettit Gilwee Public Relations and mother to nine-month-old Tavis James Turner.

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The Opinion Page is your place to spout off. This section contains letters to the editor and longer My Shot pieces. Also, the Spout features two bimonthly perspectives — In the Past, delving into Tahoe Truckee history, and In the Moment, an artistic musing of a moment today.

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March 14, 2019