Some background about me:
When my son was about 20 months old, we were ready for another child. Because I had been so fertile in the past, I had been on the pill until we decided we wanted to try again. I got off the pill assuming I would get pregnant right away. It didn’t happen. Month after month after month went by and I didn’t get pregnant. About a year later, I finally conceived only to lose it at about 8 weeks. We tried again. Several months later I got pregnant again only to lose it almost immediately. We tried again. I got on Clomid for several months, had my doses messed with occasionally, went on progesterone to keep a pregnancy should I actually GET pregnant and did daily basal body temperature charting along with ovulation kits so I knew when I ovulated and when my fertile days would be. I was taken off Clomid for a while and then put back on Clomid and then sent to a Reproductive Endocrinologist for further testing. About this exact same time, my husband was diagnosed with stage three Metastatic Melanoma Cancer. He needed surgery right away to move the cancer and then another surgery to remove the infected lymph node area.
Following my daughter’s birth, I knew I didn’t want to prevent any sort of pregnancy even if that meant I might have two children close in age. I’d take it. Month after month went by again and I never became pregnant. I was wondering if it had something to do with my husband’s chemotherapy but I wasn’t sure because we hadn’t had him retested. When my daughter was a year old, we decided to pursue fertility treatments once again. We first had my husband retested. Thankfully, his sperm counts returned to normal. Better than normal even. I knew that the problem was mine. After another costly appt. with my specialist, he recommended IUI again like last time. I did one unsuccessful round of IUI without Clomid, two unsuccessful rounds of IUI WITH Clomid and then we saw the specialist again. He recommended we either move straight to IVF (invitro fertilization) or try a couple rounds of IUI with injectable fertility drugs. We decided we could only afford ONE cycle of injectable fertility drugs and went for it. Injectable cycles are extremely costly because you have several ultrasounds and expensive medications through the course of one cycle. Nearly every other day I would drive about an hour away to my appt. for an ultrasound and get council on what to do next, what dosage of drugs to take, etc. Daily I’d give myself injections in the stomach and then when my follicles measured just right, they’d handed me a shot of HCG hormone that my husband would give to me which releases the follicles and forced my body into ovulation. 36 hours after the injection, I’d go in for an IUI and cross my fingers. Three days after that, I started progesterone supplements that not only help sustain a pregnancy but thicken the lining of the uterus which help the embryo implant. Sadly, we were unsuccessful. Since I had an HSG before getting pregnant with my daughter, I was hopeful that having another one might help my chances. There are studies (that my R.E. disagrees with, by the way) that suggest the injection of the contrast dye into the fallopian tubes help clear things out thereby increasing your chances of conception. Unlike most fertility treatments, HSG’s are covered by most insurances. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try one last time. I had the HSG and though we decided we would only do the ONE injectable cycle, we decided we would give it one last try before letting go of our dream for another child. We went for it. Sadly, once again we were unsuccessful.
I slowly started accepting the fact that we may never have another child. It’s a hard pill to swallow especially when you feel like someone’s missing and your family isn’t quite complete yet.
We had some plans to possibly look into IVF through a type of grant come January, but even if we were successful in that, the application process would be a taxing one and it takes several months just to find out if you are accepted. And then come thoughts of ‘what if I get accepted only to have another failed cycle’ into your head. I decided to put off anything for a while and just be happy I at least wasn’t putting my body through the @#!*% of fertility treatments at least for a few months. That very month I became pregnant. Now, before you all go thinking the oh-so-standard it’s because ‘I relaxed and it finally happened’ thoughts, be assured that my body was still hyper-stimulated from not only four IUI cycles but two injectable IUI cycles. I got lucky. I’m due this summer and of course we are beyond thrilled at having another child in our family.
- Talk to your OB. A lot of obstetricians can prescribe fertility drugs and give you advice on what you should do next.
- Basal Body Temperature charting is a wonderful and inexpensive way to calculate ovulation and find out more about what your body is doing. There is a book I highly recommend reading titled ‘Taking Charge of Your Fertility’ by Toni Weschler. You might think you know all there is to know about your body and your cycles, but I promise you this book will teach you even more and also answers MANY of the questions infertiles have. Also, you can buy the software online and download it to your computer so all you have to do is enter in your first morning temperature and it does the rest of the work. www.ovusoft.com
- Ovulation tests are a great way to find out when you’re ovulating. You can get them for pretty cheap at the dollar store, but my fertility specialist recommended using Clearblue Easy. The Clearblue Easy pack comes with 7 tests plus one pregnancy test. If you aren’t sure of when you ovulate and you’re just starting out this process, the best thing to do is basal body temp. charting FIRST before combining it with ovulation tests. This way you get a roundabout idea of when you’re most likely to ovulate before wasting money on testing the wrong day.
- If you’re looking to pursue fertility treatments with a local Reproductive Endocrinologist in your area, ask around and do your research. Some of them have different success rates, etc. Try to find one as close as possible to you. You’ll be traveling there a lot.
- Usually with your first appt. with your specialist, you’ll have a better idea of what your options are and what you should pursue next. You’re going to be spending some money. And it’s most likely going to be more than what you thought you were going to have to spend. Unfortunately, being infertile isn’t cheap and in most cases, it’s not covered by insurance. Know what you can and can’t afford to do.
- Also, I feel I HAVE to mention how important it is to have your spouse tested. SO many times we, as women, feel like it must be our bodies that are failing us without even giving a second thought to the possibility that it could be a combined problem or a sperm motility/morphology problem. The best place to have your spouse tested is at the Andrology lab of your Reproductive Endocrinology office and NOT a hospital. You don’t have to be seeing an R.E. to have your spouse tested. Typically the test runs between $100-$150 dollars. Encourage your spouse to have this test done before wasting your money on anything else. That way you can start ruling things out and moving forward.
- Many people don’t realize that many lubes used for intercourse actually kill sperm. Yes, even KY. Preseed is a wonderful alternative that does NOT kill sperm. You can read about the benefits of using preseed here: http://www.preseed.com/
- Going through infertility makes you feel like your body has failed you and even moreso that YOU have failed. It’s so easy to blame yourself and wonder what you DID to let such a heartache infiltrate your life. Though these feelings are completely normal, try to remember that MANY couples go through this horrific trial and you’re not alone. Blaming yourself isn’t going to help your situation. Instead, make sure you and your husband are on the same page, explore your options, love each other and MOVE FORWARD.