Warning: This post contains words such as, “intercourse” “mucous” and “semen”. If any of these words send you into a corner rocking in the fetal postion, skip this post.
This is a post I have been putting off for a very long time. This is something I haven’t wanted to write about, put on the blog, or accept is my reality. Every month I think it’s not going to take another month and every month I think that I won’t actually have to live with the reality that we’re infertile.
But, today, when I started my period for the 16th time since we started trying to make Baby Spena #2 I just decided that I needed to get all of this off of my chest. I need to write out our entire journey thus far somewhere. I need to remember what I’m feeling and I think I need to force myself to embrace my current situation. This blog has pretty much been the Abigail show since I started it, but there are a lot of other things going on in our life right now too. And I think it’s only fair to myself and to others that I start opening up a bit more about those things.
I saw this on Pinterest a while ago and I’ve been reflecting on it a lot. I don’t know why I have been chosen to have to deal with this diagnosis. I don’t know why I have to suffer it. But, I have been chosen and I think I’m realizing that I need to do something about that. Infertility isn’t really something you just talk about and a lot of women never do. And it’s mostly because people say A LOT OF REALLY STUPID STUFF. So, if I’m here and I’m going through it and *hopefully* someday maybe will be on the other side of it, I can minister and help other people dealing with it too.
So. With that. Let’s back this whole bad boy up. This is going to be a whopper of a saga.
Jim and I decided to grow our family in April of 2009. I had taken birth control pills for the 2 years we had been married at that point and we figured that as soon as I went off the pills we would be pregnant. February 2010 due date here we come!! We had no reason to suspect any differently. Everyone we knew got pregnant the first time they tried. Basically, we had been told that the first time we had unprotected/birth control free sex we would make a baby. Of course, I had some weird side effects from going off of my birth control. Long cycles, hot flashes, headaches. All of it was my body regulating itself back to normal. Every month was painful. I knew it was my fault we weren’t pregnant because my body wasn’t being normal and it was because I had chosen to take birth control pills(that’s what I thought, anyway). 10 months went by. Still no baby. So, I went to talk to my OB. She agreed to go ahead and start some testing for us. I had some preliminary blood work done and Jim did a sperm analysis. They called me to let me know that my blood work was great but that his sperm sample was not. He would need to see a urologist and that this was the reason we had not gotten pregnant yet. Devastating. I had spent 10 months thinking it was all my fault and then all of a sudden it wasn’t anymore. And it was worse. I didn’t want Jim to have to experience any of the feelings I had been, but he was. And it was horrible.
And then a week or two later, I got a positive pregnancy test. I got pregnant the cycle Jim had his poor sperm analysis. WHOA. Abigail was born on November 5th, 2010.
We knew as soon as we got pregnant, but even more so once Abigail arrived, that we never wanted to use birth control again. Ever. We always knew that we wanted to have a large family. From the time we were dating we knew we wanted lots of kiddos. But, as soon as we were pregnant and fully grasped that God was truly the creator of life. That it was solely by His hand that we could have children. We committed to letting Him determine the size of our family. We were completely at peace with popping out 25 kids. I was ready to have babies back to back until I went through menopause. And I’m not kidding or exaggerating(and I had 16 weeks of throwing up morning sickness and a medfree delivery. It wasn’t a cakewalk). This is seriously where we were at and it is still where we are right now.
I realized that the last time we had tried to conceive I basically had no idea what was going on with my body. I could have been ovulating, or maybe I wasn’t. I could have been ovulating on day 10 and we were having sex on day 14, or vice versa. I decided to educate myself more on how fertility works and to be better prepared for the next time(if we needed to try). I read and read, I chatted on message boards, I joined fertilityfriend.com(great resource, totally use it). I was prepared!! So, when my period finally showed up the day Abigail turned 9 months old, we officially started ttc again. I charted my temperature, tracked my cervical mucous, we didn’t use lube, we had well timed sex, I used ovulation predictor kits, I was taking prenatal vitamins, I took a b6 supplement to help extend my luteal phase. I mean, really, we were doing everything possible. And then a month went by. And then another. And another. I attributed it to the fact that I was still breastfeeding. Once I’m done breastfeeding then it will happen! We weaned in December 2011. Then another month went by. And another. And another. And I attributed it to the fact that my body was still adjusting from breastfeeding. Once my hormones regulate completely back to normal it will happen! And then another month passed. And another.
I called my OBGYN and we talked about it and made a plan. I had bloodwork done to check my thyroid and my prolactin levels in June. It all came back perfect. Jim had a sperm analysis done around that time too. It came back amazing. I had a hsg, which is a procedure where they inject dye via a catheter into your fallopian tubes to make sure there isn’t any blockage(yeah, that was super fun). There wasn’t.
My doctor cheerfully told me, “Lots of women get pregnant the cycle or two after a HSG so give it another few months and then we’ll refer you to a fertility doctor”
Another few months passed.
We looked over all of our insurance options, called a few different clinics, and settled on an office in Overland Park, KS. We had our first appointment the day after my 24th birthday.
They did a general physical on me, we met with Dr. Riggs to discuss our medical history, I had an internal ultrasound, we met with Dr. Riggs nurse Marge, we met with the insurance lady to talk over benefits and coverage, we both had bloodwork done. Our initial diagnosis was “Unexplained Secondary Infertility”. Anyone under the age of 35 who has been trying for over a year without success and they can’t find a reason why gets the label of Unexplained Infertility. Because we have Abigail already, they throw in the Secondary part. Our options based on this information were: Oral medication with monitoring, oral medication and IUI, or oral medication with injectable medication and IUI.
We weren’t sure that we actually wanted to pursue treatment. We were hoping that with more extensive bloodwork we could find a “problem” and then decide if it needed to be fixed. We had to wait a few weeks between our first appointment and my Cd3 b/w. That gave us plenty of time to talk through treatment plans and come to a decision. It was really cool because at the beginning neither of us wanted to do treatment. Jim figured if things were simply “unexplained” then we should just keep trying on our own. I didn’t want to pursue treatment because I didn’t want to take any medication or put anything into my body to make it do what it was already doing. I was clearly ovulating on my own and everything looked good. I didn’t want to risk messing that up. We didn’t talk about it a ton. I thought about it all of the time, definitely. But, we didn’t discuss it much. I’d occasionally ask what his thoughts were about it and they’d stay the same. Gradually, over days I started softening to the idea of some treatment. I started thinking we’ve waited this long, and we’ve come this far, and we’ve done all of this testing, I just don’t think we can stop here. I couldn’t live with the “what if’s”. I started feeling very ready to pursue treatment. One evening shortly before my period started, I asked Jim where he was at about treatment. And he said, “I think we should go for it”. And his explanation was the same as my own reasoning. Amazing. Neither of us had shared it with the other, but our hearts were led together to the same conclusion. I was convinved this was the right path to take for this reason. I know it worked that way because we have so many people praying for us and because we have been praying fervently over this as well.
Our first blood tests came back fine. Infectious disease screenings and my amh. We had to wait for the next cycle to finish up testing because they needed me to do bloodwork on cycle day 3. After this test came back, and we were positive it would come back fine since everything else had, we would officially have Unexplained Infertility and could proceed with the treatment of our choice.
Except my bloodwork didn’t come back fine. It came back “within the range of normal” but elevated. My fsh levels were 9.9. The highest within “normal” is 10.2. Coupled with my amh of 1.79 and apparently “small ovaries” from the internal ultrasound, it indicates that I have mild to moderate diminished ovarian reserve. That means, at 24 years old I may have less eggs, poor quality eggs, or both. It means that my biological clock has already been loudly ticking away. It means that time is of the essence. It means that we need help. And it means we have a different diagnosis and an altered treatment plan. And it means it’s back to being my body’s fault that we haven’t been able to have another baby.
We can no longer use injectable drugs because they aren’t compatible with my diagnosis. They want to get a move on with treatment because no one knows how fast or slow something like this will change. But then, as if it wasn’t unfair enough for me to have old and crusty eggs at 24 years old, my period randomly was a week late last cycle. Which threw off my days completely and placed my next two fertile windows at Thanksgiving and Christmas. We will be in Phoenix for Thanksgiving and RRC’s office will be closed on Christmas. Which means, we can’t do IUI right off the bat.
So, for now, we will simply be doing oral medication. A pill called Letrozole. It will help me develop a better quality egg and hopefully produce stronger ovulation. We are obviously hoping that maybe this is all we will need. Maybe just a few pills the next two cycles will be enough to help us make a baby(and the point isn’t to try and have multiples. We have to have treatment because we can’t even make one baby on our own, not because it’d be so cool and I’d be soooo fertile that I could have twins!) If we don’t get pregnant while taking the Letrozole over the next two months, in January we will start the IUI process. Let me briefly explain what that is. I take oral meds to stimulate high quality egg(s), I give myself a shot called Ovidrel to force myself to ovulate at a specific time, we then go to RRC where Jim gives a sperm sample, they “wash” his sample to take the strongest, fastest, best swimmers and inject them via a catheter into my tubes. Wait two weeks for results. They allow you to try IUI 2-3 times. And for now, that will be the end of the treatment road for us. We can’t afford something like IVF, we can’t afford adoption, we’re lucky we can afford to even do this. So, while helpful people excitedly say “It’s so great you have a plan!” I kind of feel like it’s merely our last resort.
I’m in this really weird category of infertility that makes it so hard for anyone to understand. The girls who are struggling with infertility and haven’t had a baby yet think, “Well, at least you already have ONE. Just be grateful for that”. And that’s very true. And I am. But, it doesn’t change that my entire plan for my family, my hopes, dreams, and the life I thought I’d be living may never actually happen. And that isn’t something that having ONE baby already can ever heal. And the people who are older and are having a hard time getting pregnant look at me and think, “Well, you’re so young, you still have plenty of time to get pregnant”. And based on my diagnosis that actually isn’t true either.
I have kept from joining in on Secondary Infertility, Trouble Trying to Conceive, and Trying to get pregnant boards because I’ve worried that I’d be that annoying girl who jumps in and introduces herself and then gets a + test a few weeks later. Now all I want is to be that annoying girl. I hope in a few weeks I can say, hey look at that giant blog post I made that was so whiny and sad and now I’m pregnant! WOOHOO! But, I suppose, either way, this is what we’ve had to deal with. It’s what I’ve had to deal with and whether I get pregnant soon or not it won’t change what we have had to go through to get there.
I can’t think of a super happy or high way to end this, because today I don’t feel very happy or high about it at all. But, I think I can end it with this.
I was busy texting all sorts of different people this morning. And my mom was actually talking about something completely different, but when I opened up my phone to reply to someone else I saw her most recent text and it hit me in an entirely new way. “No need to have anxiety or worry“.
All of a sudden I knew that my mom wasn’t speaking that to me. The God of the entire universe was. He was telling me,
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life,….., nor about your body, …..26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you(and any future babies) not of more value than they?31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’(What about my eggs?!!)32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.”
And then there were hot, ugly, mid morning tears, and a 2 year old looking at me like “What’s your prob?” and a vaguebooking tweet/status that were lyrics to a song, (I really was out of my mind at that point) and then Abigail and I went to Target and I got a venti latte and we’ve had a wonderful day playing together and I’m going to choose to be joyful about today to the best of my ability(but mostly just Lord willing).
And now, since ALL of this is out in the open I will try to keep updates going as far as treatment and such. I start my pills on Saturday and I’m really nervous about it. So, prayers would be much appreciated.