As promised, I will talk about our hope to adopt through San Diego County. My husband and I have always wanted to adopt whether we are able to conceive a biological child or not. We’ve been very passionate about doing so through the county. There are many steps that we had to take in order to be considered as adoptive parents. San Diego county requires you to become a licensed foster home before moving to the adoption step. We have completed all of our requirements, including California background check, a 27 hour class on how to raise children who have gone through traumatic experiences, CPR/First Aid certification and home inspections. We are currently waiting for our Colorado background check to come back to receive our Foster license. After that we go on the wait list for the extensive interview process to enter our waiting period for an adoption placement.

For the longest time, we were pretty set on adoption only. The longer it takes me to become a parent, the more I fear I will never have that chance. My husband and I discussed it and we want to try fostering. We just want to foster one child and see what it is like. Worst case we don’t like it and will never try it again, but at least we will know what it is like to be a parent, even for a short while. After all, we have a crib and a whole room set up for a baby (courtesy of obtaining a foster license), so why not use it?

Well, that is it…my short and brief explanation of where we are in the foster/adoption process…

As for the fertility journey, the infertility clinic wanted me to come in for a baseline ultrasound on Tuesday, which is supposed to be in the first three days of your cycle…..but, my cycle (as usual) had other plans and my period came early. I called the clinic to see what they wanted to do about it and they prescribed me birth control pills! At first, I thought it seemed extremely counter-productive to take birth control pills when trying to conceive. After a little research and a visit to Dr. Google, I found that it is actually a common practice. In fact, I actually got excited! For the first time in two and a half years, I don’t have to worry about trying to get pregnant! I would feel guilty for even thinking about taking a break, but when it’s doctor’s orders…that’s a whole new ball game. A  whole entire month of not peeing on those pesky OPK sticks! A whole month of not worrying about my heart rate rising above 140 in case I am pregnant! A whole month of not worrying about when to perfectly time sex to get pregnant! Heck, I don’t even have to have sex the entire month if I don’t want to! What will I do with myself?!?! Well, more than likely, I should use this time to exercise harder and work harder to drop some weight…

Speaking of weight loss, as most people know, the majority (not all) of women who have PCOS struggle with weight loss and I am no different. Since gaining 100 pounds when I was 22, I have tried everything to get it off. Atkins, calorie restriction, extreme exercising, you name it…I hit my highest weight 3 years ago and was disgusted with myself. Over the years, I tried using My Fitness Pal to track calories as well as trying to cut back on gluten, since I’ve read about the negative effects of gluten on PCOS. In fact, I follow an amazing page on Facebook, that I highly recommend to anyone that suffers from PCOS: Click here to check out PCOS Diet Support! Of course I have done my research but there are so many foreign terms describing the symptoms of PCOS that I ended up totally confused. Taryn does an amazing job of spelling it out easily and telling us how to change our diet to take control. Now, do I follow all of her advice? Nope. But I do try to avoid gluten as much as possible to prevent my insulin spike. I also try to incorporate more protein and fiber into all my meals to avoid that irritating Hypoglycemia!  Anyway, I have been gaining and losing the same 20-30 pounds over the last three years. Now, I have had approximately 100 pounds to lose, so this yo-yo dieting was getting me absolutely no where! On top of that, I always felt so guilty when I went over my calorie allowance or gained weight back. After Christmas, I knew I needed to try something new, something that would allow me to change my habits for life, not just until I lost the weight. This will make me sound incredibly gullible, but I was watching a weight watchers commercial with Oprah at Christmas time and I felt inspired. After all, who hasn’t watched her publicly struggle with her weight for years? That’s the push I needed! After Christmas, I signed up for Weight Watchers with meetings. I felt like the meetings would be the key for holding myself accountable and staying on track. I was right! I love it! If I eat correctly, I never feel deprived! Best of all, I’m re-programming myself to feel better about who I am and not be disgusted if I go over points for one day. My largest challenge is resetting my expectations for slow weight loss. Whenever I start a new diet (and only stay on it a month or two), I see rapid weight loss. In fact, when I did Atkins just before my wedding, I lost 60 pounds in 3 months! However, that is not a way of life that is sustainable for me, so I promptly gained it all back and then some… Since December 28th, I have lost just over 17 pounds. While, that leaves me with 92 pounds left to lose, I just have to keep reminding myself that any loss is a win and the best part is that the idea of doing this the rest of my life doesn’t scare me at all! I’ve got this and I  can do it! If I fall off the horse, I just need to remind myself that I can jump back on!

The Beginning

So, how does someone begin a new blog on a new topic? Should I start at the beginning of my journey when I was first diagnosed with PCOS or begin with today and make references to the past? Or….begin with a discussion on how I should begin?

Perhaps a little back story is in order to explain how this blog came about…

I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) at the age of 22 after gaining 100 pounds in a year! My mother is the one who actually suggested I might have it after struggling with my weight. I went to the doctor to confirm the diagnosis. The only information I received was that I would have trouble conceiving.   Fast forward 7 years to when my husband and I decided to start trying to have children. During those 7 years, I continued to struggle with my weight, got married, finished college, started a career…so on and so forth. I got married to my husband at 24 but like many couples these days, we decided to wait to have children. This is a decision that I have questioned over and over again since we started trying to get pregnant. At 29, we finally decided to start trying and so our obligatory year of attempting to conceive naturally began. One year later after no success, my OB/Gyn prescribed Clomid and then sent me on to a Reproductive Endocrinologist. My first actual appointment with the RE was while my husband was deployed  and my doctor raised a concern with my weight and the higher possibility of my contracting Ovarian HyperStimulation Syndrome (OHSS). He said even a 10% weight reduction would help substantially to allow me to take the fertility medication needed for an Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). Because my hubby made me promise to take care of myself while he was away, I decided to hold off for a couple of months to lose weight.

A week later after a period that lasted longer than usual, I noticed large clots. The idea that it seemed similar to what I have read about a miscarriage popped into my head. Even though I thought it was crazy, I googled miscarriage symptoms to investigate. The symptoms seemed to fit! I was sure that it was just coincidence, after all, I’d been trying to conceive for over a year, there is no way I could have gotten pregnant without realizing it, right? Wrong. I took a pregnancy test and it was surprisingly positive! I couldn’t believe my eyes! I didn’t know what to do. I was so excited to finally get that positive test, but also devastated because it was pretty obvious I was miscarrying. I was baffled and had no idea what to do, so I called a friend and asked. She told me to get my butt to the hospital, duh! Since my husband was deployed, I couldn’t let him know what was happening nor did I want to explain it to him in an email, especially since I wasn’t exactly clear on what was going on myself. I called my mom in Denver to let her know what was happening as I was driving to the hospital. She let me know that she had experienced the same thing before I was born, going into detail on her experience and the conversation was oddly reassuring. A blood test quickly confirmed I was approximately 6 weeks pregnant, but subsequent exams and tests led to the diagnosis of a threatened miscarriage, which just means I was probably miscarrying.

Two days later, I received a call from my RE (The Emergency Room let him know what happened) and he wanted me to get blood drawn for an HCG test and go see him. He let me know that my HCG dropped substantially and it was pretty clear that I was miscarrying. To be on the safe side, he had me continue to get an HCG test once a week for the next few weeks. My levels dropped slowly, but then on the third week it doubled! My doctor told me that it looked indicative of a new pregnancy (He was well aware my husband was deployed, so he was accusing me of cheating, but it’s not exactly unheard of in the military, so I let it slide). After reassuring him that there is no way it could be a new pregnancy, he told me that sometimes there are twins where one is attached to the uterus but the other is ectopic and then a miscarriage occurs and one remains either in the uterus or Fallopian tube. His next instructions were for me to go see him while he was on call in Labor & Delivery on the weekend…(I know, right? Adding insult to injury!). He did another HCG test and said that while my HCG levels rose slightly it wasn’t enough to confirm a viable pregnancy. He said it was most likely ectopic. He wanted an ultrasound to confirm. During the ultrasound, I kept begging the technician to give me information, but she told me that she couldn’t tell me anything. After confirming the results with her supervising doctor, I begged her again and she told me that there was a gestational sac in my uterus but it didn’t look normal. It was completely empty and oddly shaped. After returning to labor & delivery, my doctor told me to treat it like a normal healthy pregnancy, but to go back and see him in three days. When I mentioned the concerning information I received from the ultrasound technician, he told me he had fired people for less and blew off the rest of my concern. He continued to give me information on what to avoid while pregnant, like a heart rate over 140 and to not lose any more weight. I should have listened to my gut instinct to be concerned, but I wanted a healthy pregnancy so bad that I ignored it!

I was over the moon! It looked like I was actually getting the chance to be a mother after all! I immediately went to the grocery store and bought all healthy and organic food to eat. After all, I wanted my baby to have the best nutrition possible. I even called my husband’s command ombudsman to have my husband woken up so I could tell him he was going to be a father! Unfortunately, I regretted that decision after my next doctor’s visit. As requested I returned to the doctor three days later for a follow-up ultrasound. My doctor turned the screen towards me and showed me where the gestational sac was beginning to collapse. He apologized and suggested a D&C for the following day. Unwilling to believe this news, I told him I wanted to wait a bit for the sac to pass on its own. He told me he didn’t want to wait too long because it could lead to infection and cause problems with future children. Holding out hope, I did not back down and scheduled a follow-up appointment for two days later. At the next appointment, the sac had completely collapsed and after seeing this on the screen, I was ready to proceed with the D&C. I was devastated. Once was bad enough but two miscarriages? I scheduled the D&C for the following week and flew my mom to San Diego to be with me since I was alone. It should be noted that I may not have been pregnant with twins. The tissue from the D&C was sent to pathology and my doctor told me that the results confirmed it was fetal tissue (well, duh!). He said that it may have just been retained tissue from the first miscarriage and there was no way to know. Either way, it sure felt like two whole miscarriages to me!

Two months later after I completed a full cycle post-D&C, I was ready to attempt another IUI. (With frozen sperm since my husband was still deployed at this time). My husband wasn’t crazy about this idea since he didn’t want me to have another miscarriage while he was gone, but I was eager to take advantage of my perfect post-miscarriage cycles to try and conceive again. Unfortunately, this IUI was unsuccessful. I followed my husbands wishes and held off from trying again until after my husband returned from deployment in August. I hadn’t lost as much weight as I wanted to so I held off on returning to my doctor for another IUI. After all, I had conceived naturally already so I felt there was a good chance I may be able to do it on my own again….but again, I was wrong. When visiting my OB/Gyn for an annual checkup in December, she let me know that my RE was being transferred to Japan and she went out to get him. She told me that even though losing weight will help me conceive, that I shouldn’t put off my fertility treatments to do so. I wish I could have heard that sooner instead of constantly thinking that my RE would continue to judge me and cause me to body shame myself. Once she brought him in he told me he was moving in March and I had time to do one or two IUI attempts prior to that. He said they didn’t really have a replacement for him in the OB/Gyn clinic but his patients were being referred to the Infertility Clinic (on a side note…I HATE the term Infertility Clinic..Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive children. If that were the case there would be no point in having a clinic!) The down side to that is there is a wait to get into the clinic.

At the beginning of my next cycle, I went to my doctor on day 3. He saw no signs of cysts so prescribed Clomid and Gonal-F for me. Instead of taking the Clomid on the usual CD 3-7, he had me take it from CD 5-9. Then on Day 11, I took my Gonal-F injections. Two days later, I returned for my follow-up ultrasound to see if my follicles were ready to be released with the HCG trigger shot. First, he took a look at my right ovary and found one follicle that was too small at a mere 11 mm (18-22 is ideal), then the left ovary had a follicle measuring at 15 mm. He mumbled a few insincere apologies and said they weren’t big enough and left the room so i could get dressed. Now, for my previous IUI, I had the same issue so I wasn’t worried, because he had just had me take another injection of Gonal-F and then return two days later for the trigger shot. When  he came back in he said he could try that to get the left follicle to release the egg, but he had never seen an IUI work on only one egg before. Knowing that most people get pregnant with just one egg, I decided to forego the irritating side effects of the injection and opted to try naturally with the medicine I had already taken. He also told me these words that I will never forget, “You are not responding to the medication and are no longer a candidate for IUI. I am referring you to the infertility clinic for IVF.” While that statement seemed so cut and dry, he was essentially telling me that although I expected to be able to do a few more IUIs that I now only have one more hope of conceiving naturally and its with IVF. The infertility clinic currently has a wait list of up to 2 years to get IVF done. Now, I could go to a civilian doctor and have IVF done much quicker, but it is $15,000 to do that! If I go to a military doctor, it is only about $4-7,000.

Now, if you’re noticing a theme of my Reproductive Endocrinologist telling me the wrong things then you are correct. Two days later the infertility clinic called me to schedule an appointment. The person I spoke with told me that I was scheduled to continue IUI treatments. I knew it! I knew there had to be other medicine and combinations that I could try to get pregnant without resorting to IVF just yet. After all, I did conceive naturally just one year ago, right?

Well, that brings us current with my journey to obtain that delayed baby carriage. Incidentally, my husband and I are also trying to adopt through the county, but that is another story for another day….