Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Fertility Journey | The Beginning

DISCLAIMER: This post has a lot of information about female fertility so if you are male or just simply un-interested you may want to tune out now. You have been warned.

This story starts a little over two years ago. It was October in 2013. It was only a few short months after my mom died which made me realize how very short life is. I remember this night so well. Richard and I were talking about babies as we did often, because I have known that I wanted kids from a very young age. We were standing in our bathroom in our West Monroe apartment. Richard was about to hop in the shower and we were talking about how we want kids. Richard says to me, "Lets just throw caution to the wind and try and get pregnant now." He was completely serious and thus began our real conversations about having kids. In that conversation, we decided, no, right this minute was probably not the best timing since we had a major vacation to Hawaii planned that spring and I did not want to miss it due to being too pregnant. Richard also had at least two years left in his Ph.D. program (which two years later we still have a good year left) so it would be too soon to have kids in 9 months. We decided that after the Hawaii trip, May 2014, we were going to start trying to have a baby. That meant that we could have a baby early in 2015, right? Wrong.

Between October of 2013 and May of 2014, I did all of the preparation that I could so that when the time came around, we would be ready. I stopped taking my sleeping pills the very night we decided to have a kid and have not looked back since. I did research on everything I should do to prepare, which included eating healthier and taking some prenatal vitamins. Richard also went back and forth a bit on whether May would really be a good time to start trying, but on my 24th birthday in April 2014, he bought me a few baby themed presents to show me that yes, he was on board.
^^Gifts from Richard. Definitely picked by him^^
^^Some of the very few things I let myself buy^^
I then stopped taking my birth control pills in April 2014 thinking that I would be pregnant within a few months. I mean my sister got pregnant after being off birth control for two weeks so of course that would happen for me too. Wrong again.

We officially started trying to get pregnant after our trip to Hawaii in May 2014. Trying to get pregnant looked much different then than it does now. I really knew nothing about my own body and I have since learned everything there is to know. For the first few month, I just sort of went with it and did a little tracking of my fertility, but I figured it would just happen anyway so there was no need to pay much attention. But, let's face it, I am a planner so I had to plan on some level. The first few months, everything seemed normal and I thought it was going well. Yet, I was still not pregnant. I took everything as a sign that I was, but I was not. My cycles were a little on the long side, around 33 days (normal is 28) but I did not think much of it. Then all of a sudden my cycles jumped to 45 days long, which was incredibly frustrating because for a solid 15 days I thought I was pregnant and took a million pregnancy test, but they were all negative. By the way, did I mention that all of this crazy was happening while my husband was completely absent since he was studying for his comprehensive exams? Yeah, that was a very lonely period in my life.

Then in September 2014, my cycle disappeared all together. I did not have a "normal" period for a solid three months. In December 2014, my period returned after a 99 day cycle. I had determined from all of my research that I had not been ovulating since coming off birth control and my body was just pretending it was ovulating. If you do not ovulate you are not supposed to get a period. Which explains the absence of my period. So it took my body 8 months to start ovulating after I stopped taking my birth control pills. I honestly never thought about the effects those pills would have on me in the long term and some days I really wish that I had never taken them at all.
Even my fertility app did not understand what was happening
By December of 2014, I had actually started ovulating and I had also become more serious about tracking when I was ovulating. If you are really interested in what the signs for ovulation are you can find them easily online, but I will not go into much detail here. I started charting and taking my temperature daily. I also knew that both my younger sister and my best friend were going to be getting married in about 9 months so I had to make sure that I was not too far along that I would miss their weddings. But, at this point I did not care how pregnant I ended up being at their wedding as long as I could still be there. So to ensure this was possible, we had to prevent for one month, but it ended up not mattering, because I did not ovulate that month. Since then, I have been ovulating and my cycles have been anywhere between 27 days to 42 days, with most being around 33 days. Which was a huge improvement compared to my 45 day cycles.

I spent the entire year of 2015 hoping to become pregnant, and yet I still am not. I bought my bridesmaid dresses for the weddings an entire size too big, just in case I ended up pregnant. Then it cost me a fortune in altering them to actually fit me. Month after month of heart break. I spent two weeks of every month hoping and wishing that this month would be the month that it would happen only to be disappointed. Some months hurt more than others did. Some months I could convince myself it was a good thing because this meant that I could do something fun I might not have been able to do had I been pregnant. Some months I would cry and not be able to stop when I would think about how something I want so bad was just out of reach. That I had no control. Other months I would not allow myself to get the least bit excited in order to prepare for the worst, only to still feel just as sad about it anyway.

In May of 2015, after we had officially been trying for a year, I made an appointment with an OB/GYN to discuss what could be going wrong. They started doing tests, and told me that I needed to start taking ovulation tests. I had not been taking them yet because I had been using more "natural" ways of determining ovulation and I knew exactly when I was ovulating. But, my doctor told me to take them because then we could use another indicator to show that I was ovulating. Because my body could be going through all the motions of ovulating, but not actually ovulating. She then wanted me to have some labs drawn in order to see if there were any hormone imbalances. She also had me schedule an appointment to have an ultrasound done to check on my ovaries and such. All of the hormone tests and the ultrasound came back normal. All my doctor could tell me was that everything was going as it should so she could see no reason why I was not getting pregnant. I waited a few months and used the ovulation predictor kits just to see if I would have any luck with them before making another appointment. Plus, summer of 2015 was already extremely crazy so I did not have a whole lot of extra time anyway. In November of 2015, I talked to the OB/GYN one more time before she told me that it came down to this last test. She wanted to make sure that I was actually ovulating and not just showing all the signs of ovulation. So I was told to have my blood drawn to check for ovulation one week after my ovulation predictor gave a positive. If I was not ovulating, then they would give me some medicine to help me ovulate and see if that led to pregnancy. If I was ovulating, that would mean that I had probably been ovulating all along and I would need to see a fertility specialist. So I left the appointment knowing that the likelihood of me not actually have been ovulating all along was very slim, but I needed to get the test done before I could go to a fertility specialist. I received the test results right after Thanksgiving and they said that yes I ovulated and yes I needed to go see a fertility specialist for further assistance.

So as of February of 2016, I have been through 10 full cycles where I have been ovulating that still have not led to a pregnancy. I know there are plenty of people out there who have been trying longer than I have to have a baby. I also know that there are plenty of people who never even tried to get pregnant, but did get pregnant. I know that I am just at the beginning of this very long road, but that does not make my journey thus far any easier. We have been trying for more than 20 months so its not exactly a short amount of time either. I know that I am young and we luckily have time on our side, but I don't think that takes away from my desire to have children. This journey has been tough so far, but I am still hopeful that some day I will have a baby in my arms to call my own.

We have recently visited a fertility specialist, but I will go into more detail about that at a later time since this post is already getting long. I have actually been in a better place about everything more recently and I have been able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I have a lot of faith in my doctors and I have been reading a bunch of success stories online that make me feel much better. Someday I will be pregnant. I have to keep that faith.

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