More than two years had passed since we had finally agreed to stop contraception, and about a year of monthly temperature charting, examinations and investigations had been endured. I had tested ALL the ovulation kits and early pregnancy tests available in the market, and I could give expert reviews of the various colors and symbols of disappointment. There was nothing wrong with either of us; we went into Infertility Treatment with the dubious label of Unexplained Infertility. Clomid, the magical drug, would most probably solve all our problems, we were told, tiny white pills crammed full of hope, hormones and rage. And to be sure, the second month in, after the seventh straight day of crying for two hours at a stretch, five early pregnancy tests showed positive!!!!

Astounded, for we had never seen that positive symbol before, we rushed to get the blood test done. And God be praised, that was positive too. It was all worth it, we tearfully held each other tight, all the effort and the emotions, we were finally pregnant. Just to be cautious, we were advised to return every three days for blood tests, and also to start daily progesterone injections just as a bit of extra support. The Beta HCG level, the pregnancy hormone, typically doubles every three days, which it sort of did for the second and third reading, but on the fourth test, we watched the graph flatten considerably.
A blighted ovum is a pregnancy that never was, that didn’t really contain an embryo. There is a sac, you get to see it at the fun ultrasound visit that confirms the condition, but no baby. There is a placenta which grows and secretes the HCG till it finally realized, oops, all this is pretty pointless (which is when I realized the exact readiness and intelligence level of my body). It is a pretty common cause of early pregnancy termination, and most women don’t even get to know they were non-pregnant, just the ones who are so eager that they start testing the thirteenth day after ovulation (another event most women stay pretty unaware of).
So we get to know about these automatic rejections, and then because we have been taking the wonderful progesterone injections, we stay ‘pregnant’ and end up needing a procedure. All Fun all the way!
There is very little anyone can say to an infertile couple that does not offend because by the time they have to admit their failure to the world, they have already been suffering for two years. I know folks meant well, but I got tired of being told to relax, and hearing of miracles where the couple stopped treatment, and then voila – conceived and delivered two, nay three healthy babies (they didn’t stop treatment, I wanted to yell at the fatuously grinning story teller, they just stopped telling you about it and probably had IVF, hence the multiples!!)
Anyway, we gritted our teeth and went through another three or five cycles of Clomid, twenty or thirty more pregnancy tests, fifty or hundred more vicious arguments before that magical symbol appeared once again. This time was not that special, but we still got cautiously excited. Nobody had been disappointed twice by blighted ovums, no stories from friends, no tales on the internet, it had been four years, we were due some luck!
This time the graph stayed pretty flat from the very beginning. It did slant upwards rather sluggishly, but then began a definite slide to the grave of our expectations. And at the ultrasound, even though I knew it was doomed, that pathetic empty oval sac was the most wretched thing I had every seen. I couldn’t stop crying, and begged my doctors to test for chromosomal abnormalities. I was told that the insurance provider approved the tests only for the THIRD blighted ovum, since I had only two, I would just have to have another such episode before I could qualify. Maybe next time!! Yeay!!
It was time to move to injectables, a variety of hormones that are punched into your body, swim through your wonderland, making every day that special PMS day you love and your husband adores. You also get to have frequent ultrasounds (that go up that extra fun place) to count all the eggs in your basket, and see which ones may hatch (or not – nobody really seems to know). We also had an IUI, which is basically a turkey baster method which changes your attitude towards adult movies forever!
The second month of injectables and IUI, the third time the plus sign showed up, we just could not get our hearts to get much higher than our knees. We had discussed IVF vs. adoption, and just knew that this was our last time. I almost hated that positive, because it meant another crushing blow, another procedure, and another bit of my heart buried in some hospital pail somewhere.
Five and a half years in, the HCG levels doubled, nay tripled!! At the fifth reading, they didn’t rise as expected, and my heart split once more. But I was told that was normal after a certain level. It couldn’t be, I was sure God had chosen to not make us parents, and was relieved that my journey with infertility was over. This would be my last D&C, I vowed, if I had to live a celibate life forever. At the ultrasound, I could not even look at the monitor, my eyes were already blurred, my mind closed, and I loathed the ceiling of that examination room.
My husband tells me that the doctor showed him the little flashing light that was my daughter’s heartbeat. A couple of pixels blinked and winked at him, his child greeting him for the very first time. I didn’t see it. Even though both my husband and the doctor assured me it was there, not just another empty sac, I couldn’t get my eyes to cooperate enough, my heart to be courageous enough to take a chance. After an hour of coaxing, I got dressed and we headed home. I sat curled up in my seat, my tears finally drying up, when the car stopped far too early for us to have reached home. I looked out to see where we were, and fell apart again, because my husband had brought me to the Baby Store at the corner of Grimmer and AutoMall (no longer at the location). We bought a small yellow baby blanket, even though we had been told not to buy anything for the baby till we passed the three month mark. For us, this was a milestone, and that is why Priya’s first blanket was yellow!!!
First posted 18th April 2013

Tales of Infertility: A Yellow Blanket on an Old Oak Tree
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