Clomid and Second Opinions

May-July 2016

So I started on the Clomid in April of 2016 and didn’t have any luck that month, so I decided I needed a second opinion about the endometriosis. I scheduled an appointment for May with an old OB/GYN that I had gone to for many years and only stopped going to when my insurance changed.

Most of what this second OB said was the same as the fertility specialist, with one exception. He would DEFINITELY do the laparoscopy on me before jumping to IVF. He said he’s had success with others in the past. Still was great news! Though for some reason I wanted to give it just a little more time before I decided on the surgery. (Now I am questioning why I was hesitant! Still I had two conflicting recommendations from different providers. So I had a lot to think about).

May was also our anniversary month and it just happened that our anniversary fell on the same weekend that I would be most fertile. So we decided to give ourselves the best chance possible and booked a romantic weekend at a hotel away from home. I was on round two of the Clomid and thought “this is it! this is the best chance we’ve given ourselves so far!” I really thought this would be our moment. We had also vowed to take it easy and stress free for the rest of the month during the dreaded Two Week Wait (TWW).

It is just not in my nature to sit around and wait for things to happen, so I started researching endometriosis and infertility. I work in research, so I only wanted to get information from reputable sources and scientific evidence. I started scouring the NIH research studies on the topic and found some great support for laparoscopy and increased fertility. So, when AF showed up in June after our anniversary getaway I was crushed, but I had a plan of action. I called my old OB and scheduled my laparoscopy for July 14th  – Just two weeks before our planned trip to Charleston to visit my half brother and half sister and their families.

We had to stop “trying” while leading up to my surgery, which was a bit of a nice respite actually. No roller coaster of hope and waiting and disappointment to look forward to. So there’s not much to say about the time between, but the surgery went well though apparently my endometriosis was worse than they thought. I was back at work in four days but certainly did not feel fully healed by then! We were also put on a two week “no sex” restriction right after surgery to let my body heal.

Two weeks later AF showed up right on time. I met with the OB for a follow-up and he said everything was healing nicely and I was allowed to have sex again, haha. He also said he expected me to be pregnant within 3 months. After everything else I couldn’t quite believe him, even though I wanted to. Two days after that appointment we flew to Charleston. It was drearily hot (I do not recommend Charleston in July!) and I still felt like I wasn’t fully healed from the surgery, I couldn’t lift and carry my adorable nephews. Still, I will take vacation over work any day! It was just what I needed.

 

 

 

 

Getting Desperate

Feb-March 2016

By February I was getting desperate for answers. I had all of my testing coming up but I am not the type to wait around for doctor appointments and test results. So I kept searching for things that may help my situation. I started meditating every day. I bought a book called “Sit Like A Buddha: A Pocket Guide to Meditation” and each morning I would read a small segment and then meditate for 7 minutes before getting ready for the rest of my day.

When I met with the fertility specialist she was very reassuring, and seemed so knowledgeable about my history (burst appendix at age 12) and what it might mean for fertility. She ordered Three tests:

  • Blood Test: I hate getting my blood drawn but of course I was going to comply with anything she asked. I passed out cold while they were taking the vials, but all the results came back normal.
  • Hysterosalpingogram (HSG): May be the most painful test I have ever endured. They basically inject dye into your cervix and then have you roll from side to side while they watch the dye under and x-ray to see if it flows feeling through your tubes. It is a test for blocked tubes. Something I was concerned about due to the appendectomy and the potential for scar tissue to be interfering. But I passed with flying colors. No blockages detected.
  • Ultrasound to check Ovarian Reserve: This one had to wait until my next period because it had to be performed between certain days in your cycle (I can’t quite remember when yet, but I think it’s been day 3 and 5). So when she showed up in early March I made the appointment. Ovarian reserve was good, but they did find an endometrioma!

It was a few more days before I had the follow-up with the fertility specialist. So of course I spent all of that time researching endometriosis and what it means for fertility. It was crazy because I didn’t even know I had endometriosis. I have had friends who have it and they have had HORRIBLE symptoms. So in some ways I consider myself lucky to not have all those terrible symptoms. But on the other hand, I didn’t know it was there and so didn’t do anything about it sooner.

In my random searches about the topic I stumbled on this amazing blog: The Secret Life of Emily Maine which I immediately fell in love with. She too had struggled with fertility (for longer than I had) and had even done multiple rounds of IVF without luck. But eventually she found a doctor who wanted to do a laparoscopy and test for endometriosis and once they had cleared that up she was able to get pregnant! This blog gave me so much hope in my most desperate time.

So when I met with the fertility specialist a few days later I was armed with Emily’s story and was sure she’d recommend surgery for me as well. However, I was wrong. She didn’t think my endometriosis was interfering, and besides “if we do IVF, we’d just bypass any endometriosis that was getting in the way anyway” were her words to me. And just like that I felt like IVF was my only option. I was crushed and scared and worried about the costs.

Luckily she didn’t want to start IVF right away (or else I may have done it). Instead she wanted to try a few months of Clomid (a drug that ensures ovulation) even though I was pretty damn confident that I was ovulating and that wasn’t my problem. But I was willing to try this before delving into the IVF stuff. I also wanted to do a bit more research on endometriosis and infertility….

Icing on the Cake

Let me back up a bit here…. I forgot to mention something that happened last December

Christmas 2015

Christmas Day last year my brother calls to let me know that they are expecting their second child! It’s been just over one year since their first child was born (her birthday is December 6th) and this one was a SURPRISE. Apparently my sweet sister in law did not think she could get pregnant while she was still breast feeding… Oops! Apparently she had suspected for a while she was pregnant, but didn’t tell my brother right away. She put a pregnancy test in his stocking for Christmas. Cute.

It’s difficult for me to explain my feeling about this. On one hand, I was happy for them. A baby is always exciting news. On the other, I was having my own struggles to get pregnant and to hear that someone got pregnant ‘accidentally’ was tough. On yet another hand (I had to grow a few extra hands for this scenario), aside from my own struggles with it, my brother was not exactly expecting to have another child so fast, and while he wasn’t upset, he was definitely stressed-out about finances and so I felt bad for him and this sudden unplanned pregnancy. On an additional hand, I thought my SIL was a bit of an idiot for believing that she couldn’t get pregnant, and I blamed her home-school education for her ignorance (though public school education is also severely lacking in sex-ed in a lot of places too). Also, part of  me was a bit suspicious that she wanted to get pregnant again so soon but knew my brother wouldn’t go for it, so perhaps this was a sneaky plot on her part more than a total accident. I also found it suspicious that when she told my brother on Christmas, she said that she had expected she might be pregnant for a while but wasn’t sure (turns out she was about 4 months in by then!!!!!). Wouldn’t you tell your husband if you thought you were pregnant for the last 4 months?? And wouldn’t you take a test immediately? It just didn’t totally make sense to me that this was a complete surprise.

So needless to say I had a lot of weird feelings floating around about the whole thing. I really did want the best for them. It was just hard for me to not compare myself to my sister in law. For one, she is quite a bit younger than me. She was 25 and I was 31 at the time. Not a huge difference, but she still seemed pretty young while I felt like the clock was ticking. Also, she’s not a terribly healthy person. She is thin, but she never exercises. I don’t know what kind of diet she follows but I think she pretty much eats what she wants (though definitely not in excess). I consider myself to be a pretty healthy person. I exercise regularly and definitely pay attention to my eating (sometimes better than others, of course). So again, it wasn’t adding up to me that she should be able to get pregnant so easily and me not.

In fact, this was a thing that would bother me ever so often. I wasn’t always upset when I’d see that other people were pregnant. Seeing most other people pregnant did not bother me at all, and I seemed to be seeing them everywhere. What did sometimes bother me was when I’d see a visibly unhealthy person pregnant or with their newborn baby. I am sure you’ve seen them too: very overweight, baby in one arm and giant soda in the other. When I’d see those moms I would get a bit agitated. Why do unhealthy people get to have a child and I don’t! In some ways, it still doesn’t totally make sense to me. But I guess our evolution hasn’t caught up with modern day unhealthy lifestyles to prevent the ability to procreate in unhealthy individuals (not that I would wish infertility on anyone!). In fact, having extra body fat and a sedentary life was probably at one point in our evolution as humans considered to be more ideal for carrying a child.

My sister in law does not have extra body fat, she’s quite thin. But she definitely leads a sedentary life of little activity. So I didn’t know what to think as I was gaining weight from my lack of activity (with my foot injury) and worried that gaining too much would decrease my fertility. So what I learned is that things sometimes just don’t make any sense, and the more we try to control every little aspect of our lives, the less control we actually have.

I would definitely not recommend giving up exercise and activity as a means of boosting fertility. I am convinced that there is very little we can do to change our personal fertility. There are no magic supplements, or levels of activity, or lifestyles that have much effect on our fertility at all. If you are struggling with fertility, it is not your fault. There is not something more or less you need to be doing to change your circumstances. I tried all of them, and felt no change. My only advice would be to seek answers from professionals. Sometimes the answer is right in front of us and we just need the proper tools to find it. Not everyone who meets with a fertility specialist will get answers, but it’s probably more effective than trying to figure everything out and control it on your own.

The More I Try to Control…

The More I Try to Control, the less in control I feel…

January 2016 (WARNING: this post may contain TMI about menstrual cycles for some)

Happy New Year? Once the holidays had passed and all the stress that comes along with them, I was convinced that NOW I would be able to get pregnant. But just to ensure things a bit I started taking any and all action I thought would give me an extra little boost.

A friend had lent me her copy of “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” by Toni Weschler. “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” was originally written about twenty years ago and is chock full of information about how women’s fertility cycles work, and what may interfere. I started charting my temperatures religiously every morning at the same time and recorded them in the OvuView App  that I downloaded at the advice of the same friend.

After reading a bit about luteal phases (the time between ovulation and menstruation), I was convinced that mine was one the short side. The body needs enough time from releasing the egg to conceive with the sperm and implant into the uterine lining. At this point I knew that ovulation was occurring and Beau and I were timing our intercourse correctly, so implantation must have been the element that was impaired! Also, looking back on my cycles, I did notice that I would start spotting 3-4 days before I actually started bleeding, and indication that the luteal phase is too short. So I began using over-the-counter progesterone cream. Sure enough, once I started using that I stopped spotting prior to my period. I felt like things were finally starting to work!

But…just in case they didn’t, I scheduled an appointment with a fertility specialist. Originally I was going to wait until after my first cycle in January and see what happened before I scheduled it, but I am glad I didn’t wait because she was booked out over a month anyway so it would have been TWO months of waiting, since we all know by now that I did not get pregnant in January as I had hoped.

 

Holidays and Ovulation Predictor Kits

OCT-DEC 2015

Ah, the holiday season. The most wonderful time of the year, or so the song goes. Really though, it can be the most stressful time of year for a lot of Americans. And stressed I was.

I started using Ovulation Predictor Kits in October. Kind of by accident really. I bought what I thought was a box of pregnancy tests. The box contained only one pregnancy test and 7 ovulation predictor kits. I didn’t read closely enough and just saw the “includes 8 tests!” on the box and thought that was the best deal and grabbed it. So once I had them I figured I might as well give them a try.

For those of you who are not familiar with ovulation predictor kits (OPK), they look and act very similar to a pregnancy test. When you are at a point in your cycle where you think you are ovulating based on your typical cycle length and what-not, you pee on the stick. It then tells you if you are ovulating! Or rather, if you’ve had the hormone spike that usually indicates that you have/are ovulating. The tricky part is that when the spike appears it means ovulation has already happened, so it would be best to have sex the day before you get the hormone spike. But it isn’t always easy to know when that is going to happen, still the tests can verify that you are having a hormone spike and sometimes it’s not too late to try to conceive that cycle if you get on it right away! So there’s a bit of guesswork and urgency when using the OPK.

My cycles had always been pretty darn predictable, so it wasn’t too hard to know when I was ovulating. According to the tests it was happening every month. And according to my charting we were having sex at the right times to become pregnant. Still, over those three months, NOTHING. UGH.

So of course the usual holiday stress was exacerbated  by trying to conceive (TCC). It was also exacerbated by my continued limitation in exercise. My foot was still not healed and so I was restricted from doing as much activity as I was used to. Since I wasn’t getting pregnant I was also reluctant to restrict my diet too much as some suggest that calorie restricting can interfere with TCC. But let’s be honest, it was the holidays and I was not at any risk of actually restricting my diet so much that it interfered with my cycle. Still, I was desperate to avoid anything that could even potentially cause an issue.

So all of that added up to a whopping 15 pound weight gain from the spring (prior to injuring my foot). What a fucking mess. When New Years finally rolled along I realized I was spiraling a bit from stress and filling my emotions with food. Too much yummy holiday food. I needed to get my ass in gear!

When It Rains

AUGUST – SEPTEMBER 2015

Looking back on those first few months of trying to conceive, it’s really no wonder that it didn’t work out. I had A LOT going on at the time and stress levels for both Beau and I were off the charts.

I had been working with a therapist over the last year or so to process my relationship with my own mother. I knew that Beau and I were gearing up to become parents and I didn’t want to repeat her unhealthy patterns. Not that she was a terrible mother, she was a single mother and did the best she could, but she has some major boundary issues. And as my brother and I got older she became more and more resentful that we didn’t “need” her anymore. Her way of getting us to behave was to lay on the guilt. These are things I struggled with for years. Always feeling guilty that I was letting my mother down, that I wasn’t spending enough time with her or was doing things that she wouldn’t like. Working with a therapist to talk through some of these things and get an outside perspective has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I totally feel confident now that I am not going to repeat old patterns and can have a healthy relationship with my children. (Though I also accept that everyone fucks their kids up a little bit)

But in July and August 2015 I was still working through some of it and at the same time my work was REALLY busy. I work in research and we were data collecting. I remember feeling like I could not get caught up at work. At the same time I was working my ass off I didn’t know if I would have a job past April because our grant funding was going to run out. We were scrambling to apply for more funding and the deadline for that grant application was September – and it was quickly approaching. But because there were no guarantees, I was searching for other jobs around that time. And if that wasn’t bad enough, Beau was also in the midst of uncertainty with his job. His company was going through a transition of ownership, but he didn’t know who the new owners were going to be and how safe his job was – so he was also looking at other job opportunities.

It gets better. I had also injured myself playing soccer the beginning of July. I got kicked in the side of the foot/big toe area when myself and another girl were both going for the ball. I got the ball, she got my foot :/  I did’t think it was that bad, but a month and a half later it was still hurting to walk on it (and my job had me on my feet a lot). So I was scheduled for an MRI mid-August that revealed a torn ligament and I was given a surgical boot to keep it stable in order to hopefully heal it. So by end of August I was walking around a lot with this heavy surgical boot that was hopefully healing my foot, but also causing other pains in my legs and hips since I was basically walking with a limp constantly. So I also couldn’t exercise properly (my go-to stress reliever).

And of course there’s more: My niece who lives near me was getting married in Sept. Right when the grant for work was due. So my Dad, Step-mom, Brother, Sister-in-Law, and their 9 month old baby were all coming to stay with me for about a week.

By the end of September, I was beyond stressed/exhausted/overtaxed/worn out/ drained/spent.

I was ready to take a month long vacation from everything. But I was also ready to be pregnant.

 

Sorry this turned into such a long post!

The Journey Begins

Our journey begins back in July of 2015. This is the month that we officially begin “trying to conceive” (TTC) (For a quick reference of our TTC timeline, there is a link on the main page, or you can click here).

This was two months after our 9 year wedding anniversary. YES, we were married for NINE YEARS before we started trying to get pregnant. I realize that sounds insane to some, but we married fairly young and I don’t regret that time we had with just the two of us. This was also two months after Beau turned 34 and one month before I turned 31. The time was right….or so we thought.

Prior to officially starting our journey, we took a nice “last hurrah” vacation to Europe (our first time there) in March. As soon as we got home we stopped “preventing” pregnancy but hadn’t officially started “trying” yet. Our method of prevention was the withdrawal method, so many may think we were playing with fire for years anyway, but as it turns out we may have not even needed to do that.

So by July, when I hadn’t spontaneously become pregnant, I started charting more closely. I had been keeping track of my cycles for years because I wasn’t on birth control to prevent my period and so I wanted to know when I could expect it to show up. It was a fairly normal, consistent cycle. So we started timing our intercourse to when I was supposedly ovulating to give ourselves the best chance.

I was so hopeful that first month of trying. I didn’t know anyone in either of our families that had any trouble with conception and was sure it would happen on the first real try. My mother got pregnant with me when she was 30 years old, and her mother got pregnant with her when she was 42! My half sister has two boys that were both “surprises” and to my knowledge there were no problems conceiving with any other female aunts or cousins. So when it didn’t happen right away, I admittedly was a bit surprised.