Trying to get pregnant is an emotional, humbling and, well, bitter experience.
I wanted to go off topic today, and talk about my pregnancy journey. For something so common, fertility issues are still a hush-hush topic.
While my journey wasn’t as long and emotional as some, it still took a year of nonstop effort. I went off the pill in May 2010 and got my first positive pregnancy test this May.
Here’s my story, cycle-style.
My dedication to “the task at hand” started instantly (big surprise, right?) – aside from a daily prenatal pill and iron supplement, I started temping each morning. When the period waiting game started, I just knew I was pregnant, because I had all the “symptoms.” I wasted a lot of money on pregnancy tests that first time around, and when I started my period – it was a shock to the system.
To help make this cycle, “the cycle,” I borrowed a friend’s Clear Blue Easy Fertility Monitor, which is one amazing gadget and totally worth the hefty price tag if you can’t borrow one. While temping/charting let you know when you ovulate after the fact, the monitor gives you daily updates on your status.
So when this 6-week cycle wasn’t the one either, I formed a new game plan and stayed optimistic.
In addition to the temping and monitor, I added fertility acupuncture to my list to try to bring my cycles closer to 28 days. I signed on to a 12-week process – 2 times a week for the first 6 weeks, and once a week after that. While being poked with needles (and acquiring some nasty bruises), I just knew this would work. With the insane amount of money I was spending on all of this – it just had to.
While I maintained everything I was doing in cycle 3, something in me started to change this cycle – I started getting extremely emotional about my lack of pregnancy. It’d been 6 months and nothing. This is also the cycle that the annoying jabs family made about “wanting to be a grandparent, etc” started to really get to me. It got to the point where I stopped going to certain family events based on how I was feeling that day.
I had my yearly, with my amazing doctor. We talked about my 6-week cycles and several options. I also did my first progesterone blood test, which came back great. So my first possible issue was crossed off the list.
When I got my period, I wasn’t surprised. It got easier to expect nothing – that way it wouldn’t be so disappointing when nothing happened. Little did I know, this would be the last time I ovulated until the cycle I got pregnant.
I came into cycle 5 with new energy. I was now temping/charting, using the monitor, doing acupuncture and taking FertileCM, Mucinex and green tea. (TMI time – cervical mucus, aka CM, plays a big role in getting you pregnant, because it helps guide the sperm where they need to go. FertileCM, Mucinex and green tea all help build your CM supply).
When I didn’t ovulate on my usual day, I started getting worried. When CD50 hit, and still nothing – I called my doctor and we decided force-quitting this cycle and starting a fertility drug next cycle was the way to go. After 10 days on Provera, my cycle ended at 68 days.
It was now January – a new year, a new game plan. I took the fertility drug, Femara, for CD3-7 and just prayed something would work.
Education time – The 2 most popular fertility drugs are Clomid and Femara. While they both induce ovulation – they work in different ways. Clomid adds even more estrogen to your system, causing you to ovulate. Femara, does the opposite – it temporarily reduces your estrogen levels – causing your body to produce more, which also creates ovulation. The other 2 differences are that Femara doesn’t thin uterine lining and the risk for multiples isn’t as high (3% instead of 10%).
That being said, Femara still has a long list of side effects (but any drug originally designed for cancer patients, probably will), so I still had my fair share of fun (and hot flashes).
I also joined several fertility drug support groups to educate myself further, and then just waited.
Even though I knew I didn’t ovulate, I went back in for another CD21 progesterone test, which came back negative. At CD35 I started my period. I had experienced my first anovulatory cycle.
This time around my Femara dosage was twice a strong. When I failed another progesterone test, my doctor and I decided that Femara wasn’t for me and more testing needed to be done. By this point Brent had already had his "man" testing, so we knew the issue was me. After CD35 and still nothing I decided to force quit this cycle as well.
Back in December, I started thinking I might have PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome). So when my CD3 blood work came back, and I was officially diagnosed – I was not surprised.
I like referring to PCOS as being too fertile to function. You have all these eggs, but because of extra testosterone/insulin imbalances in your body – you get off course. For those unfamiliar with PCOS, let me start by saying it’s not diabetes (but if you are a diabetic female, you probably have PCOS) – it’s very much so the square and the rectangle.
PCOS isn’t something that goes away. It’s a condition I will have for the rest of my life.
My side effects include: irregular cycles, weight gain after going off the pill (and difficulty losing weight), dandruff, new hair growth, and oily skin. So yes, the most attractive and feminine condition to have. Basically, this means whenever I’m not pregnant or trying to get pregnant, I will be on birth control pills to keep my symptoms hidden.
Anyway, back to the story. I was put on Metformin to help manage my PCOS. Unlike the fertility drugs, this is something I take twice a day, every day. While the medicine made me super sick at first, I finally got used to it – and I’m excited to say it worked.
When I finally ovulated, it was a day of celebration. My 6-months of limbo was over. I was on the correct path! And then another cherry got added on top, because I got pregnant.
I wanted to share my story, because getting pregnant isn’t always easy. In high school you’re pretty much told if you have sex, you will get pregnant – the issue is that no one really corrects that lie. So it’s definitely a surprise to discover you really only have 3-5 days a cycle to get pregnant, and even if you’re doing everything right – you only have a 20% chance after that. With those odds it’s amazing women get pregnant at all. But they do, and they can. So if you’re trying, don’t give up hope.