I have gone back about whether I wanted to share my fertility struggles on here. I feel like infertility is such a secret issue. One that people stay so hush-hush about. And up until I actually had to start dealing with fertility issues I didn’t get how much it sucks that people don’t talk about it. The thing with infertility is that it’s so hard and so vague and so unknown. And the thing that’s been so helpful to me in all of this is being able to talk to people who have experiences with it.
So now that we’ve told our family what’s going on, I felt like it was time to share it on here. I mean, this is the story of my life right? Seems strange to pass over such a big part of it. So here you go…
Chris and I are on our 13th month of trying to have a baby. I’ve actually been off birth control for longer than that but we used the fertility awareness method (temp tracking your fertile days) prior to officially starting so I’m super familiar with my cycle. I’ve known when I ovulate, when my fertile days were etc. I also knew that I had a short cycle (23-26 days) and a 9-10 day luteal phase (phase after you ovulate). All of this meant we knew when we should “try” and by the time my annual appt with my OBGYN rolled around in February I knew that we’d been trying long enough that something was wrong. Even though my OB said we didn’t need to worry about anything she humored me and started running some tests.
21 day progesterone: Good
Day 3 estrogen and FSH: Good
Chris: Good (actually good++)
My tubes: Good
My cervix: not so good. Narrow and bent at a weird angle
Ovaries: Left – good. 10 follicles. Right – not so much. It has a cyst and only 3 follicles.
I lumped it all together because it was easier but these tests were actually performed between February and last week with multiple drs in multiple locations. After the cervix discovery I was sent to Oregon Reproductive Medicine where I’m currently a patient of Dr. Barbieri. I love her. My “official” diagnosis is unexplained infertility because none of those things above should cause infertility but somehow in my case, they are. She actually thinks it all maps back to hormones – my short cycles along with my androgenic alopecia (Long story. l was diagnosed last year. It’s believed to be related to hormones. But I only have enough for one medical issue today so we’ll save that story for another time).
So I have unexplained infertility and less than a 5% chance of having a baby naturally (FYI most normal couples have only a 20-30% chance of conceiving each month). What do I do about it? Well, last Wednesday I started clomid – a drug to help me have a better/stronger ovulation (hopefully help level out whatever is causing my cycle to be so short). I took clomid for 5 days and on Thursday I start testing for the ovulation/LH surge. Once I get that, I go back to ORM and I get another ultrasound to check my follicles/eggs. If I responded well to Clomid I should have 1 or 2 good eggs and from there Dr. Barbieri would perform an IUI (basically using a catheter to put Chris’ guys directly into my uterus thus bypassing my cervix). If I didn’t respond well to clomid or I don’t ovulate before we leave for Nashville on Wednesday we try to have a baby the old-fashioned way. Either way, two weeks later we’ll find out if we’re pregnant or not.
If I get my period we do the clomid/IUI 3 more times. If none of those work we move on to IVF. With clomid/IUI we have a 20-30% success rate. With IVF we have 70%. I really, really don’t want to do IVF but we’re going to cross that bridge when we get there. My dr does feel very strongly that we’ll be pregnant by December so here’s hoping that I can’t ring in the new year with champagne :)
Besides all the drugs and science there are a few natural things I’m working on as well…for starters, cutting way back on working out. In fact, at least 2 days a week I am not allowed to work out at all. Apparently they’ve seen the short cycle issue in women who workout/run a lot. This is going to be the hardest for me. It’s already been hard and it wasn’t only a week ago that Dr. Barbieri told me to stop…. And I need to eat more fat. Thankfully I’ve always had lower body fat which has been a big bonus until now. Now I need more fat. Healthy fats. Hello avocados.
And acupuncture. I’ve been going to a great acupuncturist for over a year for my knees and about 6 months ago I started talking to her about fertility treatments and did a couple of sessions with her but didn’t have much success so I switched to a new clinic. Blossom acupuncture and Liz Richards are extremely well-known in the infertility community and work closely with Oregon Reproductive Medicine to treat women going through infertility treatments. Liz also comes to ORM and does acupuncture treatments on women the day of their IVF/embryo transfers. Basically there is a ton of research that supports higher pregnancy rates when acupuncture is involved. So I’ve added weekly acupuncture treatments with Liz to my fertility “program.”
So there you have it. The abridged version of the story. Infertility totally sucks. And I have had my fair share of tearful, sad, why-me, mopy days. I mean, you think you fall in love, get married, have a baby. Easy right? And you make your baby in some romantic way and then you’re suppose to get that super exciting moment where you run into the bathroom with a pregnancy test and start crying together… Or not. Or you take a bunch of drugs, feel a little sick, make your husband bring his specimen to the lab and then have a random dr try to impregnate you by sticking a really big needle type thing up your lady parts.
But in the end you get the same result. You get a baby. And that’s what we’re aiming for. And to be honest, the best thing I did was going to ORM. Dr. Barbieri said that so many times women feel like there is this “rule” that you have to wait a year before you can go to a fertility clinic and that’s absolutely not true. I’m so glad I trusted my gut and pushed my OBGYN to start testing things because if I had relied on her I would still be stuck in that unknown waiting phase. Now we have a plan. I know what steps come next and the order that we’ll do things. Hopefully it works the 1st time but if it doesn’t I know that we’re strong enough to try again. I completely believe that everything happens for a reason and our baby is out there, we just need to wait for the the rest of our story to fall into place before we meet them.
And to anyone out there who might be struggling with this – I’m an open book. I will do my best to answer any question you might have and tell you about all the tests and treatment options we’ve tried. Infertility should not be something that people talk about secretly. It’s not something shameful that women should be embarrassed about.
So get ready, besides my dinners, my weekend adventures, my workouts (and how I’m toning them down) you’ll also get to join me on our journey for a baby. Thanks for coming along.
And because every post needs to have a picture – here’s a good one from the weekend.