For the past two and a half years I’ve kept a big part of our life off of my blog. I’ve thought a LONG time about this post and exactly what I was going to say (this actually has been in draft for a year to post). Since Kelly’s Korner is spotlighting infertility (those currently going through it but I'm linking up because I hope to be able to help anyone experiencing what I went through) with her Show Us Your Life series I’ve decided to share the story of how we got here and our struggles with infertility. I’ve been asked many times if I’m going to share what’s been going on with us on the blog and I’ve said the same thing from day one – I will share the whole story once it’s a success story, not a “trying” story. We definitely have our success story! FYI, this will probably be very boring to anyone who isn't going/gone through infertility so you might want to pass these posts up.
I want to start off by saying that through the entire year of struggling to conceive my most useful resource for information was through reading other peoples blogs. Obviously, my doctor knew more than anyone what to do but when I wanted to see what other women went through during the same stages I relied on what they wrote on their blogs. It helped me get through what was the hardest year of my life just knowing I wasn’t alone in everything and that even when you’re going through such a hard time, it all CAN work! When I decided I was going to share this on my blog I knew there was only one reason for that and that was in case anyone ever wanted advice and/or information on what happened to other women, not just themselves. Part of me felt guilty for not sharing this earlier because I was using other people’s blogs to help me and I wasn’t sharing my story as well. There are several people who I met through this whole process and we emailed back and forth all the time but I wasn’t sharing publicly. A few of them I consider great "blog friends" still and one of them we went through infertility together and ended up having our babies just a day apart so we're experiencing the whole baby world together too!
I’m going to post our journey but I’m not going to share all the details because after all, this is the internet, but if you have any questions you’d like to ask me privately, please feel free to email me and I’ll be more than happy to answer anything I can. Please keep in mind that this is OUR story and I am not a medical expert by any means and I’m only sharing MY opinions and no one else’s. What I believe may not be what you believe and what worked for me may not work for someone else and please respect that.
2009 - In September 2009 Austin and I decided it was time to start a family. For some reason I think I always knew it wouldn’t be right away or really easy but I had NO idea what we were in for. I went to visit my OB for my yearly appointment in November and mentioned a few things to her that I was concerned with and she said she wanted to run some tests. A week later she called me back in and said I had a hypo-thyroid and I also have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). I had never heard of this at the time but she said my blood work showed that it was more than she was comfortable dealing with and advised me to see a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) right away. I am SO grateful to her for telling me this when she did and not wasting my time trying to “fix me” herself. I still remember that day like it was yesterday. I walked out of her office on the 2nd floor, put my sunglasses on and was crying before I hit the elevators. I remember calling my sister and my mom just devastated thinking that I might not be able to have a baby. Tracy mentioned to me that Kate Gosselin had PCOS and she had lots of babies! Ha, not exactly what I was hoping for but true, she was successful getting pregnant.
January 2010 - In January I had my first appointment with Dr. H, the RE. I was treated for my thyroid and immediately tested and examined and he said “Oh yes, you are VERY polycystic!”. Awesome. My ovaries were each surrounded with 18-25 cysts and they basically looked like honeycombs, it was crazy looking. My problem in a nutshell was that I don’t ovulate. If it’s not forced then nothing will happen. He was very positive and said he WILL get me pregnant; it just may take some time. By January 15th I was getting injections in my abdomen to help things along.
Here is what one cycle of medication looked like on my door step!
February – I started taking 50mg of Clomid to get my ovaries to ovulate. I also started taking Provera. Nothing happened. On February 22nd, (my 9th visit to the RE since my initial appointment on January 13th) the valet guy said “Welcome home” to me. Yeah, I was there a LOT. I started 100mg of Clomid and estrogen daily. Nothing happened. Dr. H determined I’m one of the 10% of women who are resistant to Clomid. Go figure. Later on in the process Dr H, Austin and I found it funny to say I’m the “TOP 10%” because I swear, I was included in the 10% of everything it seemed (resistant to medications, side effects, etc), not exactly the best spot but it is what it is, right?
March – I start taking Femara and the dreaded Menopur injections start. I start with single doses and move onto double doses because nothing was happening. Like, NOTHING. At all. Once I got to quadruple doses things got moving. When I say that I mean really moving! I went from having zero follicles to many follicles. Dr. H said that’s the problem with me, I respond to nothing and then BAM I respond way too much. Two days before our three year wedding anniversary I start experiencing pain around my left ovary. I left work early and barely made it home before it was so intense I got back in the car and headed to the emergency clinic. I still remember calling Austin crying like I had never cried before and standing outside of my car because it hurt too much to sit any longer. Poor guy was at work, 30 mins away and had no idea what to do. By the end of the day it was determined that the follicles not only grew like they were supposed to but unfortunately all 18-25 of my cysts grew as well. And they grew LARGE. Most of them were about 2.5 inches in size. All surrounding each ovary. So, on our anniversary I got to have a surgical procedure done to aspirate the cysts, basically drain them to relieve the pain and shrink the size. After going through all of that it was determined I wasn’t pregnant for that cycle.
April – April was a slow month due to the events of March. Austin was tested and his results came back good luckily.
May – I start taking triple doses of Menopur then followed by quadruple doses a few weeks later along with some other medications. I had five mature follicles ready to be fertilized through our 1st attempt of intrauterine insemination (IUI). Two days after the IUI I start experiencing major swelling in the abdominal area that made me look like I was about five months pregnant. Not good. I specifically remember going to dinner one night with our entire family with my pants buttoned (like a normal person) and by the end of the meal I couldn’t even keep them zipped anymore because of the swelling . Luckily I had on a long enough shirt…. We were in another state celebrating a cousin’s graduation and I was in pain and trying not to cry at the table hoping no one noticed. I was scared and very far from my doctor and nervous about what was happening but after a few days the swelling went down. I now know it was hyper stimulation from everything that had happened the week before. Not surprisingly, the blood pregnancy test was negative that month and I got back on birth control to try to get my ovaries back to a normal size for a month.
June - We try for IUI #2 at the end of the month with two mature follicles (MUCH more ideal that the five I had produced previously) after taking rounds of Menopur and other fertility enhancing medications. At this point I learned that I was Dr H’s VIP and most seen patient according to him and his staff. Always nice to get the good treatment when you’re at the Dr almost the same amount of time that you are at work. ;)
July – We find out that IUI #2 was unsuccessful and start cycle all over again to prepare for IUI #3. In the mean time I have a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) procedure done. It’s basically where a dye is injected into your fallopian tubes to make sure they are clear. My Dr was at a loss for why the previous IUI procedures hadn’t been working and wanted to make sure I didn’t have blocked fallopian tubes. Turns out I did have one side blocked and during the HSG procedure he cleared it. Oh. My. Gosh. OUCH! During the procedure you are awake so once the dye was in and he noticed the blocked tube he tried to naturally unblock it without having to go in later for a surgical procedure. He had me moving around trying to get the dye to break through the blockage and I swear to you, I HEARD it break through. There was a POP (which I felt, OUCH!) and then the dye went through like it should. Not a great day physically but it cleared both my fallopian tubes and gave myself and Dr H more hope for IUI #3. July was a big milestone for me and my mom during this process; I started giving myself my own injections! Up until this point I had been going to my parents’ house almost daily so my mom, who is an RN and gives really good shots, could shoot me up. There was a weekend I was going out of town and I still needed my injections so she coached me on what to do and from there on out I did it every time! I actually started to prefer it over others giving me the shots, it was just easier. I start the quadruple Menopur again along with various pills and patches for IUI #3. We go in on a Sunday for the IUI procedure and I later experience some severe cramping which was unusual. A few days later it’s determined that my ovaries are larger than my uterus which wasn’t good.
August – IUI #3 results are negative. After an ultrasound the Dr notices my cysts are all very large and full of blood and fluid so we have to coast this cycle with birth control again to try to calm everything down. After my 1st IUI my Dr sat us down and said our best bet was going to be In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Well, the difference between IUI and IVF could be compared (just cost wise) to buying a four wheeler instead of a BMW. They aren’t even in the same ballpark. Or in any surrounding area to the ballpark financially. Not only was the cost a major factor of our decision to continue to try with the IUIs but the toll IVF takes on your body is very tough. I had no idea the difference I was going to endure between IUI and IVF. So, that being said, Austin, myself and Dr H decided to try one last time with IUI #4. I started multiple different injections, pills and patches in August. I also started acupuncture once a week to assist with my treatments by the recommendation of Dr H that continued until I was in my 2nd trimester of pregnancy.