Hey there late 20’s to mid 30’s married person with no children. You look a bit confused and stressed. Your eyes are red (have you been crying?). Are you ILL? No, I know you feel fine. Are you ILL, like me? An Infertility Language Learner? You don’t have to be infertile to be an ILL, though. The fact that you’re reading this means that you are either aboard the USS Fruitless or you care about someone who was conscripted into her service.
If you are in the field of education you have no doubt heard the term English Language Learner (or ELL) used with students for whom English is not their first language. When C and I began this journey we, like so many others, were just innocent recently-weds who wanted to wait until “the time was right” to have kids. We went from Not Trying, to Not NOT Trying (what does that even mean?), to Trying…and trying…and trying….to INFERTILITY! Suddenly we were cruelly tossed into a restless sea of acronyms and abbreviations, mucus and morphology, hormones and heartbreak, analyses and…alliteration, apparently.
As with any medical condition, the universe presented us with a new vocabulary to quickly absorb and allow to dominate our lives; we became Infertility Language Learners. In short order we mastered terms like endometriosis, Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), sperm counts, motility & morphology…and these were just the infertility issues with which we were both diagnosed! We hadn’t even started talking about ART yet…oh, sorry…Assisted Reproductive Technology. So we were referred to an RE (reproductive endocrinologist) who quickly ruled out IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) and drugs like clomid and we were sent down the merry road of IVF (in vitro fertilization) which has its own set of terms and procedures; IMI (intramuscular injections), ICSI (intracytoplasmic sperm injection), egg retrievals, embryo transfers, and all the medications to keep straight; how much of which medication? When? Injection? Oral? Other?! Without a doubt it can be overwhelming for any couple.
As for C and me…we’re just here waiting. After months and months of studying we just had our final exams. I hope they post the results soon!