Before you read on, be prepared for maybe a little TMI. This is the story of our infertility journey and while I have become quite comfortable talking about my uterus and sperm and the steps we have had to take to conceive--your ears and your brain may not want to peek into that side of our lives (If that is the case, just stand by idly until the next post). But, infertility is all too common in today's world and more couples are going through what we went through (and more difficult challenges) so I might as well share my story as it may comfort, educate, enlighten or amuse someone out there...
short story: unexplained infertility, 5 IUI's, thousands of dollars, lots of drugs, & 1 beautiful baby girl
long story: So, today is the day we conceived. Well, between now and 24 hours from now. Yep, I know the exact date of conception. Not because we were vacationing in some exotic land or had some especially steamy romp in the sack, but because I was sitting on the cold table in the doctor's office waiting for her to "prepare" the sperm that would eventually become this little ball of chubbiness and smiles that is our baby girl.
We all know how the story ends, so I will go back to the beginning...
We met in 2004, fell in love and got married in 2007. Before we were married we talked extensively about marriage, family and children and we were both excited to take the next "big" steps in our lives. We got married in July of 2007 and were ready to get busy and grow our family. It all started out innocently. First it was "whatever happens, happens". Nothing. Then it moved on to tracking periods. Nothing. Then it became a bit more obsessive--tracking periods, intercourse and ovulation. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing.
About 8 months into it, I was ready to head to the doctor to find out what was "wrong" with me. I expressed my intense desire to have children, soon. She ordered some preliminary tests to see if anything could be easily ruled out. OK, GREAT! Let's get started. I now felt like I had a little more control over this midly frustrating situation.
So starts the barage of tests. Blood test (looks great!). Thyroid test (perfectly normal!). Hormone test (typical woman!) Sperm Analysis (fabulous specimen!). HSG--which is a hysterosalpinogram where they inject a dye into your fallobian tubes to make sure there is no blockage (all clear!)
The doctor was less than helpful, only telling me to come back after I had tried for a year. Really? I have to wait that long? I've already waited my whole life. What difference is a few months going to make? Ugh. So I waited, 3 months (not the 4 I was told to wait). I called that doctor and talked her receptionist. Me: "I've been trying to conceive for 1 year now and have done all the preliminary tests and I would like to take the next step, whatever that may be." Recepcionist: "Call Dr. Schmidt. Her number is blah, blah, blah ... Good luck." REALLY? You made me wait 4 extra months just to give me a phone number?? We're just wasting eggs at this point. Fine.
So off I went with my renewed sense of "control" over my childbearing prospects. This was in August, but I didn't call right away. Suddenly, I was a little nervous. Maybe, because I was afraid they would tell me that I would never have children. I waited out that cycle, holding out hope that that was the one that worked. It wasn't. I got my period and decided I had to call and get things moving. Now it is September of 2008.
This is the start of my life revolving around my menstrual cycle. Even in calling to make my appointment, they wanted to know what cycle day I was on. What? I don't know 4? 5? 6? I haven't really been paying attention. Receptionist: "Oh, honey, we HAVE to see you on cycle day 3. So call me next month as soon as you start your period and we will make you an appointment. UGH!!!! There goes another month.
Finally, I got an appointment and the doctor wanted to do a few more tests. Turns out Dad's side of things is (in her words) phenomenal. Mine, not so much. I was apparently killing off his swimmers before they even had a chance. I think the term "hostile host" was used. The doctor told us that our first step would be to start IUI's, yes, I'm pretty sure she said plural right from the start. IUI is intrauterine insemination. Basically, the doctor takes the part of his stuff and injects it right into my uterus and then we all cross our fingers and hope that an egg is fertilized before my evil uterus has the chance to kill it off. So we continued on our journey.
Our round of IUI's happened on New Year's Eve & New Year's Day 2009-2010. Yes, that is a testament to our fabulous our doctor was. She came in to do the procedures on not only her day off but essentially two days worth of holidays. I think most doctor's would have cancelled the cycle and tried again next time.
In the meantime, I was trying to do ANYTHING that would increase our odds. I changed my deoderant because I read somewhere that the aluminum in regular deoderant can effect fertility, I wore a St. Girard's metal pinned to my bra everyday, I started going to acupuncture every week, I drank room temperature water (to warm my cold uterus--that was from a book, more on that later), I stopped drinking milk and tried to eat only organic, I went vegan (for a week) but stuck to a nearly vegetarian diet for awhile (until the pregnancy cravings kicked in), cut out caffiene, positive thinking, wished on the new moon, started learning about the adoptions process, started taking USANA vitamins upon my doctors request, drank herb teas, used chinese herbs (don't do this unless you are under the care of a professional -some herbs have an unknown effect on fertility). Not to mention I was charting my basal body temperature every morning before getting out of bed and using home ovulation predictor kits. Phew, it was a lot of work!
Five, it took us five cycles to get it right!
Round #1-- 50 mg clomid, back to back IUI's (Dec/Jan)
Round #2--100 mg clomid, back to back IUI's (Jan)
Round #3--150 mg clomid, HCG trigger shot, back to back IUI's (Mar)
Round #4--150 mg clomid, HCG trigger shot, back to back IUI's (May)
Four rounds with no positive results. I think that therapy should come for free to women doing fertility treatments. It is absolutely agonizing! Putting so much hope, money and time into something that is SO desperately wanted and not easily attainable is one of the hardest things I have gone through. Note to yourself, if you know someone that is having difficulty conceiving DO NOT tell them "try not to think about it so much", "just relax and it will happen", "you're too stressed about it", "forget about it and you'll get pregnant", "think positively". Really, if someone is at the point where they have to seek help to get pregnant they --won't forget about, --can't stop thinking about it, and --are already thinking as positively as humanly possible. You will only annoy them and they won't want to talk to you about it anymore.
Round #5--(AKA the miracle round) 10 days of birth control pills, 6 days of lupron shots in the thigh, 5 days of 150mg clomid, HCG trigger shot, back to back IUI's, progesterone oil shots for 4 months. (July)
On a fluke, I had to go in for an appointment two days earlier than normally schedule. From that blood test the doctor learned that my progesterone was rising too early, which was essentially ruining any chance of fertilization. She put me on the lupron to supress the hormones and the birth control pills because I had developed ovarian cysts. That was going to be our last cycle and we had decided that if it didn't work, we would stop trying IUI's and begin saving the $12,000 it would cost to do IVF treatments. Mind you, none of our IUI treatments were covered by insurance either so our savings was non-existence at this point.
Okay, so we start the crazy cycle--birth control pills, giving my self shots everyday, my short stint as a vegan, and the realization that if this didn't work, it could be a very, very long time before we might conceive. We did the back to back IUI's on July 14-15 and then there is the dreaded 2ww (two week wait). Those two weeks are the absolute worst! You are filled with hope and positive thoughts, but also have to keep in mind that it might not have worked, just like in the past. You do a lot of soul seraching during the 2ww. There are lots of converstions with yourself--trying to prep yourself for what might come. It is a time full of tremendous hope and anxiety.
Stay tuned to find out what happens in our next episode...
(really this is already too long, will be continued next week)
Oh, but the most wonderful book that I found was The Infertility Cure. My acupuncturist, Beth Peckham lent it to me and it was extremely informative, gave reccomendations on steps to take to increase your fertility naturally based on your personal "symptoms". It kept me motivated and positive in a time that could have become very dark. It made me feel like I had some control, that there was something I could do to help "fix" what was "broken".
and now some eye candy after all that reading...