Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Road to Pregnancy

Of course when you try to plan life nothing goes according to your plan. My husband & I started trying for our second child in July. Keegan had just turned 1yr old and we didn't want any more than 2yrs between our children. I was also hoping to conceive in those first few months so that I would be on maternity at a better time for work reasons. Almost 7 months later I am finally pregnant and due in October. The WORST possible time for work, of course. All our state reporting starts after the first Wednesday in October. Usually November & December I am super busy. This year it appears I will be off work part of October and probably won't be back until January 2012.

I already knew that you can't really plan life but this is definitely more proof of that.

I know that there are a lot of women out there that may suffer from fertility problems and some may not even really know it. I didn't know it the first time around. I was too stubborn and scared to go to the doctor. I felt that whatever was going to happen was going to happen. It worked out great for me the first time but I knew I needed some extra help this time around. I know a ton of people that actually are pregnant right now but I also have a few friends that have been trying for years and not gotten anywhere. They've been curious about my journey with fertility treatments.

So....boys, feel free to stop reading now if you don't want too much information.

I knew I wanted to get pregnant asap when we started in July so I did a little research on ovulation kits and how they work etc. So I decided to buy one and see how things went. Now of course, I am by habit, a cheap person, so I bought the cheapest ovulation kit that I could find. You pee in a cup & stick the little strips in it every morning & wait to see if the test strip gets as dark as the control strip. WHAT A PAIN IN THE ......!!!

A week or so after I supposedly ovulated I was getting really nauseous and sick after eating and had really bad heartburn and stuff. I thought well maybe I am pregnant. When my period didn't start on time I was all excited and took a test. I was crushed because it was negative. I waited several more days and thought it had to be wrong so I went and got a blood test. Again negative. I made an appointment to go see my OB and find out what was going on. The day I went in I started my period, 2 weeks late. We talked about what had happened, he said to go ahead and try again and if anything strange happened again to come back and see him and we'd figure something out.

Next cycle I was on day 52 (maximum 32 days in a normal cycle) when I went and saw him again, still with no period. We talked and it was decided that I would go on a low dose birth control for 6 weeks to regulate my hormones and then start fertility treatments. He gave me some medication to take for a few days that would force a period so then I could start the birth control. A day or two later, thanks to some tests my orthopedic surgeon ordered, we found out that my testosterone levels were high and my thyroid was slightly off. I made sure that my OB saw a copy of the information, he said that the birth control would help get my testosterone back to normal and the orthopedic surgeon had ordered some thyroid medication for me to take for 30 days.

I did all that stuff and fast forward the 6 weeks and it was the beginning of November. I saw my OB the day after I had my Celiac test & went gluten free. I started my first round of fertility treatments then.

I should probably explain the way you go about counting a cycle and what's normal etc. Women generally have a 28-32 day cycle. Day 1 starts the first day of "heavy flow". Most women ovulate around day 14-17.

So starting treatments I had to closely count and monitor every day. I love the Calendar in my iPhone. It was great for this!

First cycle the doctor started me on 50mg of clomid. You take it for 5 days in the first week of your cycle. The interesting thing with clomid are the raised risks. You run at least a 10% of miscarriage or multiple pregnancies.

Ok so I took the clomid, fast forwarded a few days to day 10 when I started testing for ovulation. By this point I had taken a friend's advice and bought the more expensive Clear Blue Digital ovulation tests. If you're about to ovulate you see a smiley face, if not it's just an empty circle. Soo much easier to read. It was $40 for the box and the cheap person inside me freaked but by time I ovulated on my 3rd cycle I still had 1 test left. Definitely worth it in the long run.

Once my test said I was going to ovulate soon my doctor's orders were to have sex 3 days in a row. Then comes the waiting game. Fast forward to day 22-24 which calls for a trip to the lab to check my progesterone levels. According to what the doctor told me the level should come back with at least a 10 in order to mean that you ovulated.

So my first cycle my progesterone level came back at 1. Also I was obviously not pregnant so for cycle 2 I went up to 100mg of clomid and added 850mg of metformin. Metformin is generally used to treat diabetes so my husband & I were a bit puzzled by him putting me on metformin. Apparently it's used for fertility treatments now because doctors started to notice that a lot of women were becoming pregnant on high doses of metformin. The fertility cycle is a lot more complicated than you might think, if one little thing is out of whack with your body it can cause a tidal wave of effects.

2nd cycle my progesterone level came back at 11 but still no pregnant. My doctor wasn't quite sure if we should go up another dose or not. He said ideally my progesterone level should come back at about 22. He decided that we would try 150mg but cautioned me that this would seriously overstimulate my ovaries so I would probably have a lot more tenderness & pain. He cautioned me to not run into anything. When I told this to a friend she had a rather amusing comment "You mean other than the penis you're supposed to run into?"

He was not kidding about the pain either. During my first 2 cycles on clomid I noticed more pain on the day I ovulated and then once my period came it was not fun. Luckily I've never had bad periods generally, just minor cramps etc. First cycle I noticed it was worse, the 2nd cycle it was really bad. Thankfully I didn't have to experience a period on 150mg because I probably would have died from the pain. Starting a little over a week before I ovulated this time I started to become very tender & sore. I hurt and it felt worse than my normal period, it felt kind of like my period on my first cycle of clomid. I was hoping so bad that I got pregnant this time because I was scared to death of having a period after that.

This actually surprised us. Yes, we were trying to get pregnant, hoping to get pregnant but the Tuesday before I took my pregnancy test I got my progesterone results back. They said it was only 5.5 and I was crushed. I was sure that I had ovulated because the day after I got my smiley face I was in soo much pain. I was feeling extremely frustrated by this point. More and more people that I knew were popping up pregnant, some of them with no real trouble at all. One friend is seriously a "fertile myrtle" her oldest daughter is a few months older than Keegan and she's a little over 4 months pregnant with her 3rd child already!

Now obviously those test results were wrong. I actually have started to wonder how accurate the test really is because of this simple fact. Only once out of the three times did I ovulate during the "expected" window of day 14-17, yet I always went to the lab between the same day 22-24. Now I believe that I probably did ovulate the first cycle. I ovulated day 11 so it was a week and a half to two weeks before I went for my test. 2nd cycle I ovulated right in the window & my test results showed 11. This time I didn't ovulate until day 21 & had my blood test 3 days later for a 5.5. I figure that has to be why it's wrong because the timing of the tests have not always been right for me since I seem to ovulate all over the board.

I've learned a lot of very interesting things about the fertility process, let me tell you. Did you know that on average 250 million sperm begin the journey to the egg? It takes around 10hrs for the sperm to get to the egg & by that time usually only about 400 sperm remain. Kind of crazy. Maybe I learned this in school & I just don't remember, then again back then you weren't "trying" to get pregnant, it was more like what do I need to know to make sure I don't get pregnant! haha

So now the question is what is this mystery baby. We all really hope that it's a girl but we'll be happy with whatever we end up having of course. I'm hoping that if the Shettles method proves true that perhaps our chances are higher at having a girl. Shettles method follows the belief that male sperm are quicker than female sperm but they aren't as strong & tend to die easier. So if you want a girl that method says you should have sex several days before ovulation & then none around the exact time of ovulation. That way more of the male sperm will have died & the female sperm will have had time to reach the egg. We didn't "really" try this method, we were just trying to get one in general, but because of the severe pain I had this time, especially right at ovulation there was only sex before ovulation. So we'll see if it works that way for us or not.

This has been a very interesting learning experience to say the least. We had our first ultrasound this last Friday and it looks like it's only one. If you remember they say that taking the fertility drugs raises your chance of multiples by at least 10%. We were curious if that percentage went up with higher doses and this time I was on a very high dose. We felt comfortable with the idea of twins but not anymore than that. Since we were cursed at our wedding by a lady we'd never met "Congratulations, I hope you have triplets" we were a little worried. In a way I'm a little sad it's not twins but I'm sure that once the baby is born I'll be thankful again that it's just one haha.

The neatest thing though is that this ultrasound was so early that I was able to see exactly the picture from week 5. It was very cool. We go back again this next Friday and by then hopefully we'll be able to see the heartbeat.

I know that I am lucky in that we discovered right away this time that I had a problem. I know that I'm also lucky that it happened as fast as it did. I know for some women it doesn't always work out that way. There are other fertility options out there but I think that once you move beyond the pills the costs start to go up and not everyone can afford that. Some women are extremely lucky that they can get pregnant with no problems. Many of them don't realize how blessed they are and how hard it is for others. A lot of women struggle with this. As I've been on this journey I've found out about more and more of my friends that struggled or are still struggling. All I can do is send baby dust your way and tell you not to give up.


  1. Congrats!! I really enjoyed reading about your journey, and only wish you happiness and a healthy baby. Can't wait to see how Gluten-Free helps your health in your pregnancy. :)

  2. Thanks Kristen! The best thing is that so far, most of the gluten rich food I ate a lot when I was pregnant last time sound disgusting to me. I've forced myself to eat cereal some mornings, even though I don't want to eat it, & then end up feeling so sick. I decided this morning that I'd rather not eat a real breakfast than eat cereal lol. This morning breakfast was ham, cheese & crackers