My Fertility Journey
For the last 2 years, my husband and I have been trying to conceive a second child and well…it’s been quite a bumpy ride. (If you haven’t already read it, please see my first miscarriage journey here.) In the past almost two years, we have sadly had two miscarriages and are currently undergoing my first fertility treatment session.
I would say it has been a really difficult journey to navigate because people don’t really talk about it, online forums are all from like 5 years ago, doctors visits can be frustrating, and just the amount of info available through google is overwhelming. I hope that sharing my own journey and breaking the confusing process down may help another mama/family. 🙂
They were unexplained. After the first one, they could not find anything wrong with the pregnancy or baby. The second one happened early (before week 8), so they said that was probably chromosomal.
Since I had one healthy pregnancy with no complications that resulted in a live birth~ the two miscarriages I had were really baffling to the 4+ doctors I saw. I fell into a weird category called “reoccurring pregnancy loss” and it felt like no man’s land. The doctors didn’t start treatment right away and just wanted to run tests and see how things went naturally. (My one regret in this process is that I should have asked for a fertility treatment plan sooner.)
My husband and I had to get a series of blood tests to eliminate chromosomal or genetic disorders. We did not get the extreme set of tests since it’s really pricey and we had one successful “live birth.” Our situation was labeled “reoccurring pregnancy loss”, so the first 6 months of office visits were based on what could be causing the miscarriages rather than getting pregnant.
I had to do an HSG X-ray where they take a look at the shape of your uterus and fill it with a liquid with blue dye. The dye fills up the uterus and the Fallopian tubes to show whether or not there are any abnormalities or blockages. My x-ray was fine and the pain was…minimal. They ask you to take antibiotics and Ibuprofen before the exam, which I thought helped with the pain.
I also had to do a saline ultrasound which is the same thing but without the x-ray machine and dye. A doctor fills your uterus with saline solution and then looks at every crevice inside of the uterus to eliminate polyps, cysts, scar tissue, etc. They also check your ovaries to see if you have a normal count of follicles.
Almost every office visit I did an ultrasound of my uterus/ovaries to make sure things were looking good (they always were).
The Office Visits & Test Results
This is the part I have found to be incredibly frustrating. My doctors were not concerned about me getting pregnant, only about how to properly support a pregnancy till birth. Every month, nothing would happen (after the second miscarriage) and I would voice my concerns over the ovulations tests (it looked like I didn’t ovulate each month) or about how I was not getting pregnant at all. 5 months passed and every time I asked to speak to a doctor over the phone or even email, the hospital would not allow it.
The only way I could come speak to a doctor was to PAY and get a 15 min rushed appointment. Not an ideal situation and something that prompted me to look into different hospitals/doctors/health care providers.
The test results revealed that I’m healthy, but some of my numbers were not within the “optimal fertility range.” So I’m taking a very small dosage of thyroid medication, one baby aspirin per day (thin my blood and bring more to my uterus), and an extra pre-natal vitamin called folgard (my blood test results showed I don’t absorb certain vitamins as well).
I was put on progesterone suppositories after ovulation so that if I was pregnant, the progesterone would help supplement my body/the baby for the first 10 weeks. This drug though…I didn’t like. Progesterone made me feel pregnant, gain weight, and messed with my ovulation/period cycles… I was not a fan. I stopped taking it for one month in July because I thought my body needed a break and then I had a very light, spotting only period. I’m not sure about other women’s experiences with progesterone, but I have not been a fan of it.
The Fertility Treatment Process
Round 1: After being frustrated for 5 months, I set an appointment up with my doctor for an in office visit. I felt like no one was worried about my situation except me, so if I was not proactive, then nothing would happen. I asked my friends who were undergoing different stages of treatment what their plans were so that I would know what to ask for. I wanted to start Clomid which stimulates the hormones to grow eggs/follicles. I had a few friends with successful Clomid cycles (aka pregnancies with live births) and this was the next step I wanted to take.
The doctor agreed to put me on Clomid for the next cycle but did an ultrasound to see where I was in my current cycle. The ultrasound revealed that my left ovary had an egg that was ready to release soon. She suggested giving me a shot of Ovidrel (a hormone that forces you to release an egg 36 hours from when you take the shot). That shot you have to do on your own (scary!) and then you have an intercourse planned laid out by your doctor for optimal conception. Unfortunately my husband, who travels a lot, was out of town until the 36 hour window was almost over. Needless to say, that cycle did not result in a pregnancy. This treatment (without Clomid) was called a “Natural Cycle with Timed Intercourse.”
Round 2: (My current cycle) I went in for an ultrasound on day 3 of my period. They gave me Clomid to take for days 3 to 7 of my cycle. Then on day 11 of my cycle I went in for another ultrasound. The ultrasound showed that I had reacted well to the drug (I had one follicle that was ready) and the doctor prescribed another Ovidrel shot to be taken immediately. I’m currently going through this cycle so I’m keeping my fingers crossed on the results.
Each cycle is hard. You go a little crazy over ovulation strips, pregnancy strips, counting days, taking hormones, etc. It’s not easy. But having friends who have gone through or are currently going through the same process is really comforting. It gives you a sense of normalcy and you get to lean on each other. If you don’t have that person or persons in your life, please feel to reach out to me! I’d love to chat and talk about each stage/month of the fertility process.
The hormones are hard on your body. Clomid made me really nauseous and gave me an upset stomach. Ovidrel makes me bloated and super tired. Progesterone makes me incredibly hungry and gain weight. The progesterone suppositories (taken vaginally) are very messy and that is also something to be prepared for.
You are your own advocate. That is the biggest lesson I’ve learned. The more knowledgeable and persistent I am, the better my treatments have been. I go into each appointment knowing what treatment I would like and then my doctor and I discuss the next few steps. It’s helped me to stay sane (to know there’s a plan) and propelled a treatment that I don’t think I would have gotten if I had just waited at home.
Give yourself a break. It is SOOO hard for me to say that, especially when I want to get pregnant as fast as possible. But the treatments, cycles, tests, and constant ultrasounds are exhausting (mentally and physically). It’s really hard to do, but if you find that you’re not getting pregnant, take a month off. It can be a long and disheartening journey (as I’ve experienced these last two years). Drink, travel, spend time with friends, do what you can to relax.
This post is a very condensed version of the last two years. If you are going through fertility treatments, recurrent pregnancy loss, or WHATEVER, please feel free to reach out to me. I could not have gotten here without the love and support of my friends who were undergoing the same thing. If you want to follow my journey, please check out my blog markelandme.com. 🙂