April Fool’s?

Holy Cow! It’s still sinking in and I just can’t believe it!

After receiving a negative result on Thursday and the beginning of what I thought were pre-period abdominal cramps, I just knew my period was coming. I decided to call my doctor on Friday to plan for the next IUI since knowing my luck, my period would happen at the worst time and the doctor’s office is closed on the weekend so I wouldn’t be able to get my baseline ultrasound by day 3. When I spoke with him I was told that I needed to take a test to see how many eggs I had (when taken two years ago, I had more than average) so he could put me on the IVF wait list which is currently 8-9 months long. He said I could continue to receive IUIs while I wait and the next cycle I would be using daily injectables instead of Clomid since prolonged use of clomid can cause issues with my uterine lining. He told me to start taking birth control on day 2 of my cycle and to schedule an ultrasound for the following week. He also had me take a beta hcg test just in case.

Fast forward to Saturday…April Fool’s Day…I woke up at 3 am and took a pregnancy test. I truly expected it to be negative but my luteal phase is always exactly 14 days so it was weird that my period hadn’t started. I did not allow myself to peek at the test until a full five minutes had passed and I saw the faint line below. I test multiple times each month and they are always negative so at first I thought I was just tired so I rubbed my eyes and looked again and sure enough, it was still positive! I immediately went to the bedroom and woke my husband to tell him the news. He sat up as I turned on the bright bedroom light and squinted to look at the test I shoved in front of his face. He was quick to point out that it was really faint but I told him that I was pretty sure any line is positive no matter how light it is and because it was so early the hcg levels probably weren’t high enough to provide a darker line. He said, “we will see” and promptly went back to sleep. Men! There was no way I was going back to sleep after that, plus I had been struggling with insomnia for the prior week but I just laid in bed trying to fall asleep anyway. I couldn’t turn my brain off. While I tried to keep myself from getting excited since my last pregnancy ended in a miscarriage, I was not having much luck. I drank a ton of water before I went to bed so when I took the test at 3 am, my urine was extremely diluted. At 4 am I got up and decided to take another test, hoping it would come in darker and the first wasn’t a fluke. Sure enough, still positive and the line was just a tad darker. Then I did what any normal person would do and woke my husband again. He looked at me and spoke a few words then went back to sleep again! Who can sleep at a time like that?

At about 7 am, I began calling the hospital lab to try to get my test results from my hcg test to confirm that I was pregnant, but I was told I had to get them from my health care provider. After a quick call to the office and getting their voicemail, I knew I would just have to wait until Monday. I was pleasantly surprised when I received a call from my doctor at about 11 am as my husband and I had just arrived at the mall to pick up my ring from the jewelers that I had sent off to be reduced 3/4 of a size the week before (It’s a nice little side effect from losing 30 pounds, but ironic that it may not fit for long). He confirmed that I was in fact pregnant and he wanted me to have another beta hcg test on Monday morning to confirm that my hcg was rising appropriately.

After a weekend filled with excitement and worry, I was waiting at the lab first thing Monday morning when they opened at 7 am. At about 10 am I received the call that I had been waiting for. I was so nervous since my hcg was monitored so closely with my first pregnancy in which everything was wrong from the very beginning. He assured my that my hcg was rising as it should be and currently it was at 413. He had me call and schedule my first ultrasound for April 18th, which will put me at 6 weeks + 5 days along. After my first pregnancy and research I know that I can expect to only see a fetal pole and will not likely hear the heartbeat that early. Seeing a fetal pole and not an empty gestational sac will be enough to relieve some of my concern. I still have slight abdominal cramping occasionally, but have read that it is common to experience this through week 7.  I’ve read that the pregnancy following a miscarriage has a 70-90% chance of being carried to full term and resulting in a live birth.  It helps that the odds are in my favor! I know the next 8 months will be full of fear and concern but I’m trying to remain cautiously optimistic and allowing myself to have a little excitement. With each new milestone, I can tell that my husband is allowing himself to get a little excited himself. Even though I didn’t think I could love him any more, hearing him talk about our child makes my heart feel like it will explode. The best part of (hopefully) becoming a mother is having an amazing partner to share it with (even if he doesn’t like his sleep interrupted)!

 

Another Big Fat Negative

I did everything right. I waited an entire two weeks to test. When I took the test, I let it sit out of eye sight for the full five minutes. This was unusual for me as I usually begin testing days before my missed peeiod, so if I waited patiently, I somehow thought the outcome would be different. It was not. Being familiar with this outcome did not mean the harsh lack of a second line was any less disappointing to see.

I try to remain optimistic and tell myself that I will probably get pregnant next cycle when we switch to daily injections instead of Clomid, but deep down I can’t help but fear that I will never have a biological child. While I am glad that we are working towards adoption, it is hard to think of it as a reality since it will be at least three years until we are placed with a child. We will give fostering a try once our license comes through. Maybe this will be enough to fill the emptiness in our lives.

I won’t give up on God or medicine even though every negative test just makes it that much harder to keep trying. All I can do now is hope my period comes quickly so I can call my doctor and begin the whole process again. There is something to be said for those medically-imduced 28-day cycles though….I don’t have to wait as long to try again!

Faux Symptoms

2wwI think any woman who is trying to get pregnant (or who has ever tried to get pregnant) would agree with me when I say the two week wait is the worst! It seems like the closer you get to the end of it, the worse it is. By the time my period is due I am absolutely convinced that I am pregnant! In the past 2 1/2 years, I was only right once, but that doesn’t keep me from using every normal premenstrual symptom as confirmation that I am pregnant.

Following ovulation, I always caution myself against getting carried away. I am on board and ready. I will not listen to my body and let the pregnancy test at the end of the two weeks let me know if I am actually pregnant. But then I will feel a small abdominal twinge, which let’s face it…is probably just gas, and then those little nagging “what-if” thoughts start to pop up in the back of my mind. Then when you add the tender breasts, change in bathroom habits and extreme fatigue to the mix, those little thoughts have turned into full blown pregnancy symptoms before I know it. It doesn’t matter how much I try to be level headed about this, the two week wait just builds up anticipation that leads me to a disappointing negative pregnancy test. Oh, but if only it ended there. I have to take a pregnancy test pretty much every day for the next week, you know, just in case…

Then the cycle just repeats itself. I’m currently only half way through my most recent two week wait so the real PMS symptoms have yet to begin. By now, I know what to expect and am trying to prepare myself, but who am I kidding, I know I will fall right back into the trap. Hopefully one day soon I will get that positive test I’ve been waiting for. I know that will make this entire emotional roller coaster worth it!

IUI #2

Wish me luck!


Well, here we go! I went to the infertility clinic on Tuesday for my cycle day (CD) 12 ultrasound. Keeping in mind that my last CD 12 ultrasound ended with my Reproductive Endocrinologist telling me that I’m not responding to the medicine and am no longer a candidate for Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) after having only one follicle develop.This time, it was a different doctor that performed my ultrasound. Everything was going as predicted, except when he was performing the ultrasound, he didn’t say a word! Even as I watched him measure the follicles, he was silent. When he was finished he told me to get dressed and meet him in his office. I was scared! I was so close to tears and thought for sure something was wrong because he had not said one word to us about the ultrasound. After dressing, we walked down to his office as instructed. He told me that I only had one follicle nearing maturity at 17.5 millimeters (18-22 is ideal). He told me to take my Ovidrel trigger shot on Wednesday morning and come back on Thursday for my IUI. What a relief! Yes, I was disappointed that there was only one follicle again and that it was a tad on the small side, but women get pregnant all the time with just one egg, right? Besides, I’m sure the doctor wouldn’t have wasted his time performing an IUI if there was no chance I’d get pregnant. I also did a quick consultation with Dr. Google to verify that there are women who have gotten pregnant from an IUI with just one developed follicle.

On Wednesday morning I took my Ovidrel shot (HCG trigger) and on Thursday we were back at the hospital. My husband had an 8 am appointment at the lab to provide a sample of his baby makers and then I had an appointment at 9:30 am to have them inserted for the IUI. We were taken to a small exam room with an ultrasound machine. In the corner was the “husband chair” and a small square box on a table in the corner. The small metal box had a glass door and through the door you could see a small vial with a label on it that had my husband’s name and social security number. This was the sperm remaining after my husband’s sample had been washed to remove the semen. There was only a little bit of fluid in the bottom of the tube. It’s crazy to think that just that little bit could get me pregnant. The UCSD fellow from our first visit came in and gave us information on what to expect for the upcoming procedure. While I had an IUI before, it was pretty clear to see that this one would be different and more thorough so I could throw out all my prior knowledge (this was unfortunately becoming a trend). The doctor looked at my chart and congratulated my husband on having a remaining motile count of 37 million sperm. Apparently that was 3.7 times more than what we needed. Things seemed to be off to a good start! A while later, the supervising doctor that I also saw at our first appointment came in with a nurse and a nursing student. Six was definitely a crowd for the small room we were in, but if one person was going to stare at my girl parts, then three more people weren’t going to bother me. While one doctor was inserting the speculum to prepare for the procedure, the other was placing the ultrasound transducer over my abdomen. I was going to get to see the IUI on the ultrasound machine! How cool is that? While watching the ultrasound screen, we could see the doctor on the business end of things struggling to get the catheter through my cervix. I don’t blame him at all since I have a severely retroverted uterus (tilted toward the back) and I remembered the trouble I went through when having the HSG done. After moving the catheter around a bit, he was able to get it through the cervix.I was fascinated at watching this all unfold right in front of me. It was mentioned that I have a long uterus as I watched the catheter move the last few millimeters towards the top right of my uterus. Then I watched as the white cloud of sperm was released from the catheter into my uterus. It was so amazing that I was able to watch my husband’s sperm enter my uterus, where it will hopefully continue through my Fallopian tubes to meet up with my egg. Even with one egg, my doctor told me my chance of conception was about 15-20%. While that number certainty isn’t overwhelming, it is the same chance a healthy 20 year old female has of conceiving under normal conditions. I’ll take it. This whole experience left me to ponder two things. First, if it was so difficult to place the catheter while being able to see it on the ultrasound, how on earth could my previous RE have correctly completed the IUI last May? Second, could my tilted uterus and long cervix be the reason that getting pregnant is so difficult for me? I’m not sure I’ll ever really get answers to either of these questions, but the IUI should certainly help me bypass any complications that came from my unconventional uterus.

Now, it’s on to the two week wait where I will take the slightest cramp or abdominal twinge to confirm that I am pregnant, just like I do every single month. Since my miscarriage, I have the worst PMS symptoms that mimic pregnancy symptoms. It is so frustrating. No matter how many times I tell myself it is just PMS, every time my breasts get sore or I feel anything unusual, I convince myself that I’m pregnant, only to be let down when my period comes. Well, maybe this time it won’t come. Only time will tell…

 

 

Ugh….Weight

3.12 Skinny Stef

My “skinny” Day

Weight is my least favorite topic to discuss but according to doctors, the most important factor of fertility and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Every one has their own method of addressing this and that’s okay. Each of us is different so there’s no such thing as one diet for everyone. After I have tried and failed with many diets, Weight Watchers is what I found to help me best. Since December 28th, I have lost 23 pounds and I feel great, even though I have 85 more pounds to go. I can eat whatever I want, though I try to limit simple carbs and gluten, and most of the time do not even feel like I’m on a diet. I exercise six days a week and have never felt stronger.

That picture on the left? Yep, that’s me! I clearly have a long way to go on my weight loss journey, but I felt great about myself and couldn’t wait to send a pic to my husband at work to show him how skinny I looked! My goal with weight loss is not to look aesthetically pleasing (though that’s a big bonus) but to be healthy and ultimately have a baby (or several).

If you google and research dietary needs for women with PCOS, you will find loads of advice (sometimes conflicting). They say to cut out all gluten and dairy and processed foods and be sure to add 50 vitamins to your diet….so on and so forth. I fully believe they are all correct and that following this advice will probably help with your PCOS symptoms and weight loss. In fact, I’ve tried many of these things myself. My problem (and I feel like I’m not alone in this) is that changing the entire way I live my life and giving up food I’ve eaten my whole life is just not sustainable. I’ve tried sooooo many different things, but they only last for a month or two. The key to sticking to any weight loss program is making sure it is something you can live with. If you are terrified at the very thought of following any one diet for the rest of your life, then it probably isn’t something you should be doing. I would love to be able to completely cut out all gluten, simple carbohydrates and dairy from my diet and perhaps some day I will be able to, but if I want to have long term success (again…everyone is different), then I need to take baby steps.If I feel too overwhelmed, I will just give up on everything. I wish I could say that my desire to get pregnant will always win over my desire to have a sandwich or a slice of pizza, but I cannot. Does that make me feel like a failure? Absolutely!  After all, having a baby is clearly the bigger priority, so shouldn’t it be an easy decision?  I know I have an unhealthy relationship with food and I suspect that I’m not alone. I’ve recently read that women with PCOS have a higher chance of developing eating disorders. Keeping in mind that anorexia and bulimia are not the only eating disorders, I wonder if I don’t see some evidence of that in myself. However, that is a different topic for a different day.

Women with PCOS clearly have unique needs when it comes to diet and exercise to manage symptoms. After all of the time I’ve spent testing new things, below are the two things that work for me. Maybe some variation of the following ideas will be able to help you too! Just a 10% decrease in your overall weight can kick-start ovulation!

  1. Decrease consumption of simple carbohydrates – I limit (not completely cut out) items such as white bread, russet potatoes, refined sugar and other items that cause my blood sugar to spike. Instead I try to replace them with items like whole wheat bread, sweet potatoes, honey or remove them from a meal altogether. I am the type of person who will immediately crave food I’m told not to eat, so I find limiting items to be easier to stick to in the long run. After all, the most important thing is finding a combination that you can stick to and still enjoy life.
  2. Increase exercise – Yes, I know how daunting and overwhelming this can be. I completely understand how little time we have to accomplish so much during the day and how hard it can be to make time to do something we dislike so much! Exercise does not have to be spending hours in a gym each day. I enjoy it the most when I combine it with things I love to do. I must admit, this is one area that a Fitbit really keeps me motivated. For instance, I love spring time and looking at flowers at the garden shop. I can get in so many steps from walking and just looking at flowers. That certainly doesn’t feel like exercise. Any form of movement helps! However, I do work out 6 days per week on my elliptical trainer. I wake up and immediately work out before I can think up any excuses. I began working out for 20 minutes at a time for a few weeks. I have increased my work by one minute each week to work my way up to an hour at a time (eventually). I know that it doesn’t sound all that appealing, but I’ve found a way to truly enjoy this time. I am an avid reader, but can never seem to find the time to read a book. I’ve downloaded the audibles app on my phone and listen to books while I work out. Not only does this make my work out seem to fly by but I feel like I am actually taking time to do something I enjoy. It feels amazing to carve out a little bit of time each day for just me. I spend so much time worrying about everyone else, that I forget to take care of me. I’m now up to 27 minutes a day and I really look forward to my time each morning.

So, that’s it! After everything I’ve tried, those two are the biggest changes that work for me (in addition to sticking to my daily and weekly points with Weight Watchers of course). Even a little change can have a huge impact on your health and weight loss! I don’t often see changes in the mirror, but I can feel them in my every day activities. I no longer have to stop and catch my breath from doing simple activities and I can see and feel some amazing definition in my legs. As I’ve said, I still have a long journey ahead of me, but the idea of continuing my current way of life forever, doesn’t scare me. I don’t remember ever feeling healthier and happier. Now, if only I could get pregnant…..

 

 

Here We Go Again

dr
Well, I finally went to the infertility clinic. I do have to say that my first impression had me wondering what kind of care I would be receiving. Perhaps I’m being a little too critical since I used to work as a receptionist, but it felt like the front staff had no idea what was going on and they weren’t communicating with one another. It was so frustrating for me to have to ask a question and be passed of to three different people….but now I’m drifting off topic. We were led back to our room, where I was told to prepare for my ultrasound. Then a doctor came in and introduced himself as a fellow from UCSD. He spent roughly 10 minutes talking with us and getting our history and going over tests that had been performed. We brought up that my husband had just had a semen analysis done and he left the room to grab the results for us. The minute he left, my husband and I looked at each other and said “Wow. This guy gets it!” With my former Reproductive Endocrinologist, I felt like he never listened to me or told me what he was doing and why he was doing it. All of the information I have is due to googling the procedures and medications he was using. I was instantly relieved to be dealing with someone who could potentially get me pregnant! (Well, with the help of my husband of course!) He returned with his supervising doctor and announced that my husband’s analysis was completely normal. He went on to perform the ultrasound and patiently took the time to explain each thing he was looking at and why (I even got my own monitor!) without even having to ask! After getting dressed, we discussed the next step. They wanted to have a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) completed to make sure my Fallopian tubes were open.  Why on Earth had this not been done before in the 2 1/2 years we have been trying to conceive? Shouldn’t the first step have been to do all the tests to rule out reasons I was not conceiving? I was told to expect a little discomfort when I had the procedure done and then to call the day after the procedure to discuss the results and plan moving forward.

Two days later I had the HSG done.Now, I really should have learned by now that nothing goes as planned, but I was about to get a big reminder. A quick layhsgmen’s rundown of the procedure is that a catheter is inserted into the uterus where dye is injected and an xray is performed to see whether the fallopian tubes are blocked. In the radiology room were a medical assistant that I had met at my visit to the infertility clinic, a resident and the doctor. There weren’t any stirrups so I had to awkwardly raise my hips while the catheter was inserted. The resident let me know that there would be pressure, but I think we all know when they say pressure, they really mean pain! There was a lot of intense cramping as the catheter was inserted, but fortunately it subsided once placed. The radiologist came in and positioned the X-ray machine above my abdomen and started taking images when he told us that the catheter had come out. I was definitely not looking forward to enduring the pain of going through that process all over again, but I did. The catheter was inserted again. I went through the pain again. When the radiologist positioned the X-ray machine over my abdomen, he announced that the catheter had to come out again. This time the catheter didn’t actually make it to my uterus, it got to my cervix and began to curve. Oh, boy…I didn’t know if I had it in me to go through the procedure a third time! The resident sent the medical assistant upstairs to the infertility clinic to grab another speculum because she had run out! While we waited for 10 minutes to get another one she kept apologizing to me and telling me that this never happens! When the MA returned, I geared up for try number three. This time, when she inserted that catheter, it was even more painful than the prior two times. It almost seemed like she used some time of clamp to keep it in place. The xray machine was positioned and it was actually in th
e right spot this time. I thought I was home free and done with the painful part. That is, until the die was injected. It was literally the most intense cramping I had ever felt in my life! The X-rays seemed to take forever to finish. I remember telling myself that if childbirth felt anything like this that maybe I should rethink the whole thing! After about a minute (it felt like 10 years), they were done and the catheter was removed. The cramping instantly stopped and I was extremely relieved. The procedure was finally complete and the resident announced that my tubes were clear. I should have been happy but I was a tad disappointed. After all, I felt that if a problem was found then it could be easily remedied and I’d be able to get pregnant again. Now, I know it is a silly thought and I should have been happy everything was good. I just wanted to blame my failure to get pregnant on a known cause. I realize that PCOS is a cause, but I’ve been ovulating, my husband’s sperm is good and my tubes were clear. Why wasn’t I getting pregnant?!?!

The next morning, I called the infertility clinic as instructed by my doctor to find out what the plan was for me going forward. I had to call and leave three different messages before the front staff understood why I was calling. I can’t have been the first patient instructed to call in like this. They kept trying to book my baseline ultrasound which I had already completed three days prior. Doesn’t anyone keep records of this sort of thing? Anyway, my doctor reiterated that my tubes were clear and he wanted me to stop taking the birth control. That’s right, stop the birth control. Now if you have read my previous post, you know I was a bit excited to get to take a whole month off from trying to conceive, however it ended up only being seven days. I’m not too disappointed as we now have a clear plan and I actually have hope again that I’ll be able to get pregnant. I was prescribed 100 mg of Clomid to take cylcle days 3-7, which is pretty standard, but this time instead of Gonal-F injections on Day 9, I will be using Menopur. I did a little googling and found that an average of 5% more women become pregnant each month on Menopur versus Gonal-F. Now, the study I read was based on women who were preparing for IVF, so I’m not sure how the statistics translate to IUI. My take-away was that I may have a better chance of conceiving.

I’ve now finished with the Clomid and will be taking my Menopur injection tomorrow. I’m anxious/nervous for my ultrasound Tuesday. For my only IUI, when I went in the first time, my follicles weren’t quite large enough so I had to take another injection and return two days later, but it was perfect at that time. My last cycle when I worked on getting an IUI with my RE, it didn’t happen because he said I wasn’t responding to the medicine, so I’m hoping that my body responds like it should and I have a successful IUI. After all, that puts me a huge step closer to finally having a baby!

 

Continued

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….