Infertilty. I’ve taken the plunge and finally decided to start a blog to document my infertility journey. Though it started long before today, I am finally putting pen to paper…? Keystroke to computer? Anyways, I’m not a writer, just a girl whose been struggling (unsuccessfully) for 16 months to create a baby of my very own. I’ve spent a lot of time lurking on other people’s blogs (Stupid Stork, Mine to Command, Sweetest in the Gale, Dreaming of Dimples, Where the Bleep Is Our Stork, and Who Shot Down My Stork, to name a few). I’ve also spent a lot of time in TTC websites chatting with others, but I start to feel like I am going in a circle in those and I want a place of my own to just vent, ask questions, celebrate (for others or myself) and not have to fight through the idle chatter to be heard. That may sound a little narcissistic, but it’s more for me than anyone else. I feel like I might explode if I don’t let it all out, which has led me to the here and now. But not unselfishly, I know there is support to be had out here in blogger land.
I feel like I have so much to say, but I guess the best place to start is to introduce myself. I’m Cassie, 26 years old (almost 27), been married to J (33 years old) for 3.5 years and together for 7.5 in total. We have very much enjoyed our time of just the two of us, we have travelled extensively, and generally do as we please in our childless DINK (double income, no kids) state. But for the past 16 months we’ve been trying to change that status. My dear friend had her first child Aug. 2012, right around the time J and I had decided it was time to ditch the birth control.
I had been on birth control since I was 15 (started out on it because of my terrible acne) and was excited to finally ditch it. I apparently have amnesia and don’t remember what a b*tch Aunt Flo is. So first month out, and I was late (OMG) and thinking I was pregnant. I gotta tell ya I was really naive to this whole TTC thing. I was having all sorts of weird symptoms, sore boobs, bloat, back ache. Of course I had to be pregnant! A few days past my usually dead on 28 day cycle AF finally decided to show. I have to say the first few cycles that this happened I was a tiny bit relieved. Even though the goal was to get pregnant, I didn’t think it would happen immediately (because it took my friend a few months, and of course that’s what I went off of) and I was a bit freaked out. Fast forward to today and I laugh at my idiot self back then.
So I tried to be patient for the first 5 or so months, in January of 2013 I joined a TTC support website and trolled around for a bit before dipping my toe in and speaking up. I have met (in the online sense of the word) some amazing people through this site, which I am very thankful for, but 95% of the people just bug me. This is where I learned all sorts of new things though, like all the lingo, wow was that a learning curve! I learned all about BBT, and figured out that I probably had Luteal Phase Defect. I also realized that I was missing a key TTC ingredient, cervical mucus (sorry, this is going to be one of those TMI blogs). I started taking vitamins and supplements, and using PreSeed (as I didn’t realize that my other lubes…and saliva were hurting our chances). So overall this website was a good experience, but I feel I’ve outgrown it a bit.
After 11 or so months, I schedule an appointment with my GP for a yearly physical and PAP, and also so I could discuss our lack of pregnancy. Like no BFP, at all, ever. She didn’t seem overly concerned (she just had a baby not terrible long ago), suggested I should gain a few pounds (I am on the very bottom of the healthy BMI chart, but have always been a very small person) and come back in 6 months. She did however give me a requisition for some bloodwork, just in case I wasn’t just another overly concerned woman trying to make a baby.
The bloodwork came back showing elevated thyroid levels, which led to a whole gambit of testing to see if I had hyperthyroidism, from what cause, and what should be done about it. I was very stressed at this point because it was suggested to me that I would have to kill off part of my thyroid with radioactive iodine which would prevent me from TTC for another 12 months. I was devastated, but also was not keen on their recommended course of action. Not just because it would interrupt our TTC, but there was a possibility of using meds to get it under control and possibly into remission. But it could be the reason for us not being able to conceive, so although I was very worried, I was almost relieved to have an answer. All moot points because it turned I just had thyroiditis, a temporary inflammation of the thyroid caused by a virus or bacteria. Back to square one. (Though my RE did later put me on Synthroid, a drug to treat the opposite condition, hypothyroidism, as I had very high antibodies for it, and it was only a matter of time)
At this point I was finally able to convince J to get a sperm analysis. And it was not good. The results went back to his GP, who forwarded them on to us. He said it is not his area of expertise, but that he doubted J would be able to get me pregnant. I didn’t entirely understand the results, but they did have normal ranges next to his values, so I was able to get the gist of it. Good motility, good count (I thought), I’m reading, and finally I get to the bottom. He had 0/100 normal morphology. I was heartbroken, even though I didn’t really understand. Of course Dr. Google confirmed my fears, that this was not good. We were very lucky to get referred to a Fertility Clinic, and got in on a cancellation a few short days later, when normally the wait list is 6 – 9 months.
We saw Dr. M who had a charming accent (that I still can’t place) and he was very reassuring. He said we would have to have another SA done, just to confirm that it wasn’t just flukey numbers, and he also explained that it most definitely was not impossible for J to get me pregnant, but it would just take a very long time. We scheduled another appointment to see him a few months down the road to go over our next SA results, and go from there. He left us feeling as though all wasn’t lost, though we were a bit scared to even have had to be going down this road.
Fast forward to our next appointment, and I still hadn’t gotten pregnant. I was hoping it would be a Murphy’s Law kind of thing, seek help and you’ll no longer need it. No such luck. Dr. M didn’t seem as charming as the last time. We waited well past our scheduled appointment (all the while being away from work), then sat in the exam room for another good stretch of time. Dr. M was very busy, and didn’t mince words. The next SA was better, 4% normal forms but he also said J’s count was on the low side of normal (45 million), which was strange for a “young” man. I didn’t realize we were dealing with a low-ish count as well as morphology issues, so that sucked. He advised we try 3 rounds of IUI and if that didn’t work then we would meet again to discuss. At which point I made a face, he agreed, he did not want to have that conversation either. He left an RX for Clomid for me, and told us the nurse would be in to go over the finer details. DH was devastated, he blamed himself and hated that I had to go through what was about to come. I had to open my big mouth before Dr. M came in saying how I hoped we didn’t have to do IUI, blah blah blah, just making it worse without realizing it.
The nurse came in, explained how the IUI would work, that I was to take the 50mg Clomid CD3 – 7, then use OPK’s on the days advised based on my cycle length. Once I got my positive, we would come in for the IUI the next day. All sounded simple enough. The Clomid was easy, to take at least. The headaches were a fun little side effect. The clinic suggested a particular brand of OPK’s to use, as they are supposed to be one of the most accurate. I used to use the smiley face ones, made for Dummies who don’t want to be squinting at two lines trying to decide which is darker. Which is exactly what happened to me when I used the recommended brand. So then I stressed about it, and doubted the result, but went ahead with the IUI the next day anyways. In hindsight, I should have waited one more day.
The day of the IUI was a bit of a nightmare, it was a Saturday, that I was supposed to be working so I had to call and give some lame excuse of why I was going to be in late. J and I got snippy with each other just before we were about to leave and then we both had a bit of a meltdown, the whole situation was a bit much for J. We managed to get out the door, and headed to the clinic in separate cars as I still had to go to work afterwards. We check in and J gave his “specimen” and got an A+ for getting it all in the cup. Then we had some time to kill in the cafeteria as there were 2 couples ahead of us and his baby juice had to be processed. We had some time to apologize to each other for the freakout, and discuss our future. We were much calmer when we went back up to the clinic.
We were taken back to an exam room, and the nurse? (lady who washed and handles the sperm) brought us J’s sample in a test tube in a bag. She went over the stats, 45% motility (I think…a lot of the whole situation is a bit of a blur) and around 49 million sperm, before being washed and the sample halved, so around 25 million post wash. She left us there until the nurse, and then the Dr. were to come. J seemed pretty please about the results, and asked me what I was thinking. I told him I didn’t want to say because I was having negative thoughts, but he pressed. I told him 25 million isn’t that much. I know I am terrible cow who loves to put my foot in my mouth. That dropped his mood. The nurse came in, gave us a requisition for progesterone testing, and the Beta (if AF didn’t show first). Then the Dr. came in (not Dr. M this time), did the procedure, set the timer for 10 minutes that I was to stay lying down. After that, done and dusted.
I headed off to work for the rest of the day, and the next day I had to fly out of town for 9 days on a work trip. That was a blessing in disguise because it was a busy trip and kept me distracted until I got home. By the time I got home I was almost done my TWW. I managed to hold off testing until 13 DPO, which resulted in a BFN, and AF followed the next morning.
I have to admit, I wasn’t overly surprised. I had been having my typical PMS symptoms, and I just felt the whole IUI process didn’t go very smoothly so I didn’t have a lot of hope. So that was the end of cycle 18. This all happened in November, and we decided to take December off. A couple reasons behind this, one being if we were to have another unsuccessful cycle it would land just before Christmas. Miserable. Another reason is both of our nieces were born on the same day (both by C-section, yup my SIL allowed the second one to be scheduled on the first ones birthday) at the end of August, and if we did an IUI in December my due date would be their birthday. Not gonna happen, even if it means sacrificing a cycle. So we are on a break, not trying, not preventing.
It’s been nice not stressing about timing, and tracking, and temping. I’ll start Clomid again just before Christmas (oh joy) and our 2nd IUI should be the first week of January. I will be going back to my smiley OPK’s, and not stressing so much about the IUI as I will be about the result. My RE does not monitor my cycles, so I don’t do a trigger, or have any follicle ultra sounds, which I was kind of surprised about, but because we are treating male factor infertility and I ovulate on my own, I suppose he’s not too worried about me. I would think more monitoring would give us better accuracy though, and then I wouldn’t have to deal with those damn OPK’s.
In any case, if this IUI doesn’t work, and the next one either, we are done. For now at least. We’re exhausted (and I know, we haven’t even been through the half of it). We’ve had other struggles in our life and marriage, and it just feels like the straw that breaks the camel’s back. We’ve talked a lot about moving abroad (we live in Canada now) but this whole TTC situation has kind of put that on hold. We discussed that if we were to get pregnant we would stay put throughout the pregnancy and probably for about a year afterwards. But if don’t get pregnant then there’s nothing holding us back (well besides our families sobbing if we leave them). So it’s nice to have an end in sight, even if it could mean the end of our dream for now.
Neither one of us is willing to pursue IVF at this point, though we will surely have to revisit it at a later time if the IUI’s fail. So this process, if it takes all three IUI’s, will lead us to February. My 27th birthday is in mid February, and we will have an answer/decision by then, either way. It will be a nice gift. I’m tired of our life being on hold.
Phew, thanks for holding on, that was a long one. I’ve been waiting a long time to get it off my chest. I’m glad I decided to join the world of IF bloggers, and I look forward to getting to know some of you along the way. Celebrating the triumph, and mourning the losses.