Monday, September 17, 2012

Getting the Dirt on Infertility

So, back in December of 2010 I (or we rather) decided that it was finally time to start a family.  We were secure in our relationship, our finances, education, had done a bit of traveling... things seemed right.  I went off my birth control, and we embarked on our baby mission.  I've always felt pretty confident and knowing of my cycles, so I thought it wouldn't take that long to get pregnant.  However, month after month I experience the let down of old Aunt Flo coming to visit.  After a few months of being off birth control, I started to question my body.  My cycles, which have always been regular were starting to play tricks on me.  I started to spot before my period, around day 23, and bled until day 28, and then my period would really start.  Now, that just wasn't fun.  Also, I started to experience some irregularities.  My period would surprise me sometimes and come a week early!?  It also seemed really light, almost like a non-existant cycle.  This was weird for me, because I was so used to heavy bleeding and clotting.  When I was in high school, I used to bleed through both a tampon and a pad within 2 hours.  Something was not right.  However, according to everything I read on the internet, the standard wait time was a year.  So, I waited out the entire year, negative cycle after negative cycle until I called my doctor. 



My family doctor was really supportive of me, and she gave me a referral right away to a Fertility Clinic, and she also sent me off for some basic bloodwork.  I visited the Fertility Clinic for the first time in January 2012.  Yes, it did feel a little surreal.  But at the same time, it felt good to know that I was being proactive, and that it just wasn't all 'in my head' that I wasn't getting pregnant.  It was also comforting to see other younger women at the clinic, so it reasurred me that I wasn't a freak of nature being 33 and unable to conceive.  It's actually quite common for younger women to have issues as well. 

The initial appointment set me up for a slew of bloodwork that ended up being about 10 viles of blood (for hiv, thyroid, cbc... etc).  I also did a genetic test that needed to be sent off to Sick Kids hospital, and then a 3 day draw that would be the deciding factor on my fertility problem.  My RE also suspected Endometriosis, but we didn't look into that too much.  But she thought my early spotting was definitely related to that.  I also had a quick pap swab done on my first visit, which would be the beginning of many 'legs in the stirrups' visits.  Before we could go ahead with any fertility treatment, I was also required to do this test called an HSG.  This test was done at the clinic, and it involved a tube being fed through my cervix, and then a saline solution flowing through into my uterus and fallopian tubes.  Unfortunately, I was one of the woman who do not react nicely to this procedure.  During the HSG, my tube fell out once so it had to be reinserted, and I believe the fed 3 bottles of solution into the tube which made me very achey.  As they do this, an ultrasound tech watches the saline to see if it enters the tubes to make sure there is no blockage.  At this time, my right tube decided to hide.  They stopped the procedure, however, I ended up being at the clinic for another hour because my cramps were so intense that I had to go lay down.  I started to sweat profusely, and had hot and cold flashes, and then the vomit came.  During this time the nurse was attempting to get me to agree to do another HSG that following day at the hospital, but instead of using saline, they would use dye and do x-rays.  I refused-not able to see the end of the tunnel with my pain.  They eventually gave me a pain killer, and an hour later I was back on my feet.  Unfortuntely, I did have to go back a month later and do the test all over again.  But the 2nd time I did not throw up. 

So, my final diagnosis was that I have a high FSH, which also means I have a DOR-diminished overian reserve.  Whether or not I am going into premature menopause, they do not know.  But what they do know is that I am running out of time to produce eggs.  It was recommended that if I wanted a child, that I start an aggressive treatment that involved giving myself needles filled with fertility drugs, and getting daily transvaginal ultrasounds to keep an eye on how my ovaries and follicles were reacting to it.  We were to do a max of 3 medicated cycles with IUI (artificial insemination), and if that did not work we would move on to IVF.  So starting in May, on the 3rd day of my period I went in for a transvaginal ultrasound and got a tutorial on how to stick a needle in to my belly.  My first injection was a little scary, but I quickly got over it.  Throughout this cycle I felt like a total pin cushion.  In the evening I gave myself a needle, and on certain mornings I had blood taken to watch my estrogen and LH surge.  Secretly, I was hoping that I would react really well to the meds and conceive twins, but unfortunately my body did not react too strongly to the dose.  I ended up having only one dominant follicle-one egg, that would have the possibility to be fertilized.  I was a little disapointed, because I knew the chances of success were only around 15%, so I thought it was pretty much a bust.  However, we still went through with the IUI because my one follicle was a good size (aroun 22/23 mms).  The day before the IUI I had a round of bloodwork again, an HCG shot (to trigger ovulation), and gave myself 2 shots of Puregon (the fertility drug).  I went in the next day, a few hours after the sperm wash was done and completed the deal.  The IUI only took a few minutes and then I was released. 

After the IUI was the dreaded two week wait, where I tried to distract myself from thoughts of success or failure.  Was I pregnant or wasn't I?  I few days before I was to return back to the clinic for an HSG draw I bought some home pregnancy tests, 'just to see.'  Well, as you can see from my quick video, they were positive!  They also progressively got darker, which reassured me that something was happening and that I was not just getting a false positive from my HCG trigger shot. After that, I had 2 HCG blood tests, both showing that my levels were increasing, meaning I was pregnant! 


How did I feel?  I felt a little dumb founded.  Completely and utterly lucky!  I had such small odds-I thought for sure I would end up going through IVF.  It felt too easy-especially after witnessing other girls going through similar journeys, but who had multiple eggs waiting to be fertilized, and yet they did not become pregnant for some reason.  I nicknamed it the miracle baby in my head.

So, this is my story in a nutshell.  I am currently 17 weeks pregnant-with minimal problems so far in my pregnancy.  I am due in February 2013.  I wish every woman out there the best of luck with their infertility journey, because although I glossed over it, it is a taxing, tiring, and emotional journey to go through. 

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