I’ve wanted to start a blog on our infertility journey since around month six of trying (we are just over 2.5 years now), but always came up with reasons not to. Now I’ve run out of excuses and have decided to share our story. I hope to primarily post the humorous stories that have come, and will undoubtedly continue to come, from our journey. What follows is an abridged version of how we’ve gotten to this point (just the facts, no funny business yet).
Before we were even married, we knew we wanted to try and have a baby right away. We had already been living together for over a year, we had a house, and we were financially ready. We had been very private about this desire, just in case we had trouble we didn’t want people constantly asking how things were going. For the first couple of months, we casually tried with no luck. As the months continued, my cycle kept getting longer and longer. Eventually, I wasn’t getting a period at all, so we decided it was time to go see the doctor.
I’d been seeing the nurse practitioner at my OBGYN and was comfortable with her already, so I started there. She suggested I try Clomid, as she herself had had a clomid baby. On my 3rd cycle of Clomid (and the 9th cycle we’d been trying) I got pregnant. I decided to surprise my husband and not tell him right away. I bought him a “So you’re going to be a daddy” book and got our dog a “I’m going to be a big brother shirt”. I took him out to dinner and told him that night. He made me take another pregnancy test so I could show him as he didn’t believe me. We were so excited and relieved that we were able to, and did, get pregnant. Less than a week later, I miscarried.
After that, I insisted on seeing a doctor rather than the nurse practitioner as I knew that I had PCOS (whenever I did an ovulation test, it was always positive, no matter where I was in my cycle) and the nurse practitioner didn’t seem to believe me. After some testing, my new doctor confirmed my PCOS diagnosis and started me on Metformin (1500 mg/day). She also suggested that we try Femara instead of Clomid as obviously Clomid didn’t truly ‘work’ for me. After 3 cycles on Femara, I got my second positive pregnancy test. Because of my previous miscarriage, they had me come in at 6 weeks for an ultrasound. I knew right away that something wasn’t right (the ultrasound tech did not have a good poker face). The egg sac was deflated, like a teardrop, and didn’t look like it could be a viable pregnancy. My doctor called me later that day and said we’d need to do another ultrasound in a week. I believe the ultrasound tech used the word “miracle”, somehow my teardrop-shaped egg sac had grown and become more round. She said in all her years, she’d never seen such a positive drastic change. We were thrilled, until my doctor called me later and told me not to be too optimistic. She was right, and a week later I miscarried.
At this point, people began asking us when we were going to start trying (I’ll never understand why people feel like this is an appropriate question). My standby answer was usually “we’ll see”. We had never told anyone of our previous pregnancies or miscarriages, with the one exception of my closest friend. Although it was a lonely and isolating way to go, it was right for us at the time. It was our burden to bear and I preferred not worrying everyone else.
We decided to stick it out with my OBGYN a little longer, as we knew how expensive it would get if we went to a fertility clinic. We added in a few more meds, estrogen mid cycle and progesterone after ovulation. I continued with Femara and again on the 3rd cycle, I got pregnant. This time, we were extremely cautious. We barely spoke of it and tried to just focus on other things. I think on our second ultrasound, we got to see the heartbeat. It was a big relief as we’d never been that far before. I believe the heart rate was around 90, which according to the internet is a bit slow (meaning a higher risk of miscarriage). My doctor reassured me this was completely normal, although it always was in the back of my head. Since I was constantly worried that I was miscarrying, I decided to buy a fetal heart doppler. That way we could check on our baby whenever we liked at home. Around week 10, I started to get a little optimistic. I even began working on the ways we would tell our parents. Finally, at our 12 week appointment, the doctor told us everything looked great and we could feel free to tell our friends and family. Still being gun-shy, we waited until week 14 to tell our parents. They were all elated, especially my mom who had no idea we were even trying. We waited another 2 weeks to tell our workplaces. My husband was going to skip my 18 week appointment as his work is not as flexible as mine, so the night before we decided to use the fetal heart monitor so he could hear the heartbeat (which was the main reason for the appointment). After a few minutes of looking, we weren’t able to pickup a heartbeat. I immediately began to panic. I found plenty of people on blogs that said they’d experienced this because the baby was in the wrong position, but I knew this wasn’t the case. I was hysterical, but my husband insisted I stay calm until the appointment (at this point, he knew he needed to come with me). My suspicions were confirmed, I’d lost the baby.
A few days later, I had my first D&C (the first two times, I miscarried at home with medication). I didn’t go to work for over a week, so grateful that my boss is so flexible and allowed me to work from home. We had a lot of nice gifts and cards delivered, we definitely felt very loved. Although it was hard for our loss to be so public, it was nice to have the support of friends and family.
About a week later, the cytogenics report came back. Our baby had trisomy 18, a rare and almost always deadly condition. Trisomy 18 is a condition which is caused by a error in cell division, known as meiotic disjunction. Trisomy 18 occurs in about 1 out of every 2500 pregnancies in the United States, about 1 in 6000 live births. My doctor said this was about as good of news as we could hope for, as this time the miscarriage was not my body’s fault. We simply were very unlucky. It brought me peace knowing that baby would have never had any quality of life had it survived.
Last October, we began going to a fertility specialist (at the recommendation of my doctor). They ran me through a battery of tests (sonohysterogram, chromosome bloodwork, etc) which came back with nothing. In my opinion, this was all a waste of time and money. The PCOS diagnosis is enough to cause the first two miscarriages (the PCOS miscarriage rate is thought to be around 40%). I was frustrated by the first RE I saw as she claimed PCOS as one of her specialty areas, yet she didn’t seem to think that was enough of a cause for the first two miscarriages. I requested a new doctor at the same clinic (there is only one fertility clinic within 100 miles of my home). As soon as we met with him, I felt much better. He was so knowledgeable and so eager to help us.
Since then, I’ve done 5 failed cycles of injectables (4 with follistm and timed intercourse, 1 with Gonal-F and an IUI). Currently I’m in the middle of the two week wait after my 2nd cycle with Gonal-F and an IUI. It is curious to me why now I’m having such a hard time even getting pregnant when I’m on the best possible medications. After this, I believe the doctor will push us towards IVF. Since we always got pregnant within 3 cycles of medication, I never thought we’d get to a point where IVF was our last option. But, I also never thought we’d be over 2.5 years into our marriage without a baby, but here we are!
Thanks for reading (I pledge to never do a post this long again) and happy baby-making!