I’ve honestly never been a very maternal person. There was a point in time where I thought that I wouldn’t be a mother because I just didn’t see myself in that light. I was the product of a mother that shouldn’t have been a mother so I think the fear was embedded in me from a young age but after I met my now husband, that quickly changed. When we met, we both admitted that something just felt so different, good different. We wanted to spend every second together, we couldn’t stop smiling around each other, and that phase wasn’t ending after months of dating. We moved in together about six months into our relationship and have been together ever since. We’ve grown so much together, we went from a crappy small apartment and having no money to buying our first house and still not being the richest couple but having some spare money to do things that we love to do. One of the things on this list was start a family. We have always had the “one day” and “when we have kids” conversations, especially when we were shopping for houses. Fast forward to July 2017, we decided that we were as ready as we could be and took the leap into trying to conceive. Little did we know that it wouldn’t be that easy.
Our first six months trying were not stressful. Of course we were disappointed when it didn’t happen but all of the research that I did online showed that some people just take longer to get pregnant. This was something that I wasn’t aware of before we actually started trying. I always thought that if you don’t use protection, boom you get pregnant. Boy, was I wrong.
We started to get concerned during my seventh cycle when my period came about 12-13 days early. I’ve been very fortunate in my life to always have a regular period, so this was just off to me. The blood was very heavy for two days, then light for a day, then non-existent, then heavy again, and this lasted on and off for a whole week. It was just the craziest thing! So, I went to a new OBGYN (I had recently changed insurance and had to change doctors around this time anyway) and she basically explained to me that our period can be late or early for no reason. It could have been stress (I swear that I wasn’t stressed) or could just be bad luck. Since we were already there, discussing our fertility concerns, she was really helpful and told me to purchase a fertility-friendly lubricant, to start using OPKs (I had only done this 2 out of the 7 months prior and felt it really stressed me out) and to just stay positive.
Once I started using OPKs, I realized that I ovulated late. Learn from my mistakes, use OPKs from the beginning! I always thought that because I had a regular cycle, that my ovulation would be timed “regular” at day 14 but I was pretty wrong. I actually ovulate anywhere from day 16-18 and my cycle is only 27 days long. That luteal phase is just too short to easily fertilize and implant an egg. It’s not impossible, but it does make it much more difficult.
I’m sure that you can relate to this, but after that appointment, I started to buy and try anything that worked for someone else. I was getting desperate to conceive because honestly, I didn’t want to make it to the year mark. I am someone who has very severe anxiety at times and I was terribly anxious about the year mark, as many couples are. I tried using a menstrual cup like SoftCup to keep the swimmers in there, I drank FertiliTea which has nutrients and herbs that doctors believe your body craves when it wants to get pregnant, I took mucinex for 5 days leading up to ovulation to thin out my cervical mucus, I used two different brands of fertility-friendly lubricant, I think it’s safe to assume that cervical mucus is not our issue. And during my 11th cycle of trying to conceive, I gave acupuncture a try and really enjoyed it. I continued that treatment for two cycles and through acupuncture I learned that there was a chance that I had Endometriosis. My acupuncturist mainly sees patients that are trying to conceive and struggling to do so. She said that a good portion of her patients have Endometriosis and she felt that my symptoms aligned with theirs. Of course I spoke with my OBGYN about this possibility and she agreed. My OBGYN actually has Endometriosis and struggled to conceive herself so she not only had a medical opinion, but a personal opinion too which was something that I appreciated.
Because of the potential Endometriosis, I did an anti-inflammatory diet for three cycles and felt no change. Actually, my periods seemed more painful during those cycles. However, by doing this diet, I did find that a trigger for me is dairy. Dairy is what makes me feel bloated, hurts my stomach, gives me unpleasant bowel movements, you get the point.
In July 2018, we were referred to a Reproductive Endocrinologist who we are currently seeing to help us figure out why we aren’t pregnant after a full year of trying. When you reach that year mark, the normal thing to do is start fertility testing. This part of the process looks different for men and women. As a woman, I had a few vials of blood taken to test my hormone levels (ovarian reserve, thyroid) and for genetic screening. I also had an HSG performed which is where the RE puts an X-ray machine over your uterus and using a catheter, injects dye into your uterine cavity and fallopian tubes to check for blockages. Luckily, this procedure was very easy for me and I experienced hardly any discomfort plus, everything looked great! Next was my husband’s turn, he also did genetic testing and then had to perform an in-office semen analysis. I felt so terrible for him because I know that was uncomfortable and he had to do it at 7:45 a.m. but he completed the task and his motility looked great, our RE was so impressed with his numbers. We received his morphology (shape and size of semen) report back a few days later and the word abnormal was on the results. We had to wait an entire month to see our RE again and find out what his results meant. We made the mistake of Googling “amorphous morphology results” and all that would show up online was “headless sperm” - my poor husband was pretty down in the dumps for a few days. Luckily, when we met with our RE to discuss everything, he said that he wasn’t worried about the morphology results because my husband had enough of a percentage of normal sperm. Needless to say, my husband was so happy to hear that!
As of August 2018, our plan is to do a metricated cycle using Letrozole, Ovidrel (a shot to trigger ovulation), and TIC (timed intercourse). Our doctor seems really positive about this course of action, which helps me stay positive.
All I keep thinking about is our end goal, a baby.
I used to look back at my journey so far and feel bad that it hasn’t been as traumatic as others. That I haven’t experienced loss, had any bad test results, been told that IVF is my only option (yet). I consider my journey the waiting game that is testing my patience. But I also consider my journey to be my biggest lesson. Just to name a few of the things that I’ve learned through infertility, that no journey looks like the last or the one next to you, that you can experience infertility when trying for your second+ child, that the world views infertility as a scary topic because it’s not widely talked about, that insurance companies label infertility as “unnecessary”, and that women are even stronger than I thought they were. Although I’d love to get my baby, I am thankful for the lessons that I’ve learned so far, and I can’t wait to continue to learn, grow, and help myself and others in this journey.