Blogging and Infertility

This is the second post in a short series on my changing identity as a blogger. Part 1.

How infertility impacted my blogging & social media journey, aka how I found the IF blogging community:

 

I’ve blogged a few times about infertility (IF) and PCOS, most often embedded in something else. It’s been a big part of my life even though I am one of the lucky ones in that it was relatively easy to resolve. Because the blog started as a family blog/scrapbook it is hard for me to change that purpose. A big part of the drive to share these not so publicly shared parts of my life is because of the community I’ve found in IF bloggers

 

Way back in 2008 when I first started blog hopping through links and finding new blogs to read I found two communities which ultimately led me to reading IF blogs. One friend had an international adoption blog on her blog roll leading me to the adoption community and a friend of a friend’s sister had a blog sharing the story of her pregnancy and loss of her one-month-old due to Trisomy 13 leading me into the loss community. I found the A & L in ALI, it was only a matter of time until I stumbled into the Infertility community. This was about a year before we even thought about TTC, but I had found my community.

 

I was diagnosed with PCOS in 2006, when I was 24. I hadn’t even met Rob yet, but I knew I wanted kids someday. My particular symptoms of PCOS are a crazy hormonal imbalance, ovarian cysts (which are thankfully not painful), irregular-to-non-existent periods & super heavy periods with lots of cramping when I do have them. I knew enough then to know you must ovulate to get pregnant. My doctor at the time gave me a few options to manage my cycles and said when I was ready to get pregnant I could take a pill and not to worry. (Oversimplifying A LOT, but at the time it was some reassurance)

 

Fast-forward to finding IF blogs and I read and read and read. The hardest part for me emotionally was the unknown. There was no way to know if the first cycle of Clomid would work or if we’d need to try IVF. I suddenly had access to all of these stories of TTC and so many different paths. I was pulled in by these stories and sometimes had to remind myself that this was real life – and the endings weren’t always happy. I lurked, I prayed, I hoped for these women. I was too scared to comment. Then, I went off the pill and then went on to 271 day cycle which ended with Provera.*

 

I thought many times during that nine months of waiting about starting an anonymous blog (as so many IF blogs are) to write through the feelings of fear that came with unknown. But I felt strange because we weren’t actually doing anything yet except for researching possibilities for when the time came. We were waiting because for school purposes, having a baby after my second year was the best option for our family. So, I kept quiet and posted about vacations and dates and cooking dinner.

 

After the first Clomid cycle, which failed, I almost started a new blog. But I was undecided and couldn’t come up with a good name and the second Clomid cycle worked. So I just kept blogging my normal family stuff now with pregnancy updates. But I kept reading because a part of me identified with these women. I followed their stories and learned from their research on parenting. It took me until Simon was one before I got the nerve to start commenting on blogs. (I have an irrational fear of leaving comments, no idea why).

 

But I now consider several of these IF bloggers friends. As I read their blogs they inspire me to write about feelings on IF, and parenting, and what will happen when I am parenting TWO! I want to write to be a part of the conversations in this community. I want to move beyond Twitter. I blog because I like it because it’s been a part of me for a long time and the IF community inspires me to be more.

 

This post is part of PAIL‘s monthly theme Why We Blog. Check out all of the posts on September 27.

 

*As much as I hated the new doc I had, he did say no need to wait, just come to me to start Clomid when you are ready, so trying to have a “normal” cycle was me wanting to give my body a chance and not jump straight to worst case scenario.

 

NIAW: My Story {part 3}

National Infertility Awareness Week, April 22-28. This week I’m going to be blogging about infertility.
My Story {part 1} which also has the short version
My Story {part 2}

We did the second Clomid cycle, and conceived, in a crazy month of travel – if you really want to think about it count back and figure out which trip/city/house where it happened…
This second cycle I ovulated! My chart (basal body temperature) left no question of that. For the first time I had a chart that looked “normal.” Five days after ovulation I met with the RE for the first time. Dr. C was awesome. She looked at my charts, rather than dismissing them. She looked at my records and validated my IF and my stress. I didn’t realize how much I just needed to hear “I know this is really stressful for you.” And then at the end of the visit she said, “I have no doubt that you will be parents.” Dr. C was the first doctor in 10 years who I felt took my concerns about my fertility seriously.  She didn’t dismiss my stress. She didn’t brush it off making it an “easy fix.”
Dr. C did a bit of blood work, including the genetic screening that is standard (I’m not a carrier for anything common!) and said that since I had the known problem (not ovulating) and that Clomid seemed to be working, that we should stick with a minimally invasive plan for the time being. I was given a refillable prescription for Clomid and told to come back in three months if not pregnant. – At that time we would discuss changing the meds, upping the dosage possibly adding Metformin, a couple of other things. And also discuss if running any tests on Rob should happen. I left that appointment knowing we were in good hands and at least for a couple of weeks relaxed that even if it took awhile we would be ok.
But instead of filling that prescription, I took a pregnancy test on October 25. It was a bit early to test, but it was a Tuesday. And Tuesday in 2010 meant kickball. So I took the test because I wanted to know if I could drink. I fully expected it to be negative. But I got out of the shower and there was the faintest of lines. I was a shocked. I woke up Rob and showed him the test and he didn’t believe me at first – but a line is a line. An aside here, he had been out late the night before, I can’t remember why, but I do remember he was not in a very good mood that Tuesday morning. So not the “yay we’re pregnant moment” I had imagined. I just really didn’t think I was pregnant this cycle.  Over the course of the day it started to sink in a bit that this could be real. So on the way to kickball, we bought another test – which I took the following morning. This one was a digital test, so no ambiguity. I asked Rob to look and he said “it doesn’t say not pregnant.”
I called Dr. C’s office and went in for a beta HCG test. I went in for 2 more, the numbers looked great and then for an early ultrasound at 5 weeks.  This was too early for a heartbeat but we saw the sac and confirmed a single uterine pregnancy. At 7 weeks Rob came with me for a second ultrasound. Here we saw our little tadpole with a strong heartbeat. Rob cried. Definitely one of the best moments of my life.
Now I was pregnant and moved to my OB. But although the stress of “can I get pregnant” was gone, it wasn’t perfect. I knew too much maybe, through all of my research and blog reading, I knew about miscarriage and early and late loss. Even though Dr. C said that chance of miscarriage had dropped to almost nothing, in the back of my mind I worried that it had been too easy. I knew women who suffered so much, so why did I deserve to have it so relatively easy, minimally invasive and 2 cycles. I worried I hadn’t suffered enough and didn’t deserve to be so happy. I know these thoughts are not rational. I prayed a lot and had to trust God that this would work out. And that infertility and pregnancy and loss aren’t about deserving anything. Sometimes life really sucks and sometimes we are able to just be happy.
Around 10 weeks I was able to finally let go of most of these intrusive parts and just enjoy being pregnant. I had a good pregnancy. Severe motion sickness wasn’t so awesome, but there was nothing abnormal, no bed rest, I enjoyed being pregnant.  My labor and delivery were traumatic and I had some bonding issues once Simon arrived.  This was a whole other kind of guilt, that I had wanted this baby so much, and worked to get him, and now I was second guessing my wish to be a mom and not head-over-heels in love. But that came. And I can hardly remember life without Simon, because he’s awesome.
Our future…I don’t know. I work really hard to let stress go. And if we had not gotten pregnant, I would have been ok. Simon’s birth was traumatic enough that afterward I said I would be ok with just one kid. And I still would be. But now that he’s 9 months old, I do want to be pregnant again someday. I was on the fence about if I would go to the RE again (twins really scares me) but we’ve talked. And since minimally invasive worked once, we are open to Clomid again. I’m still nursing so that has an impact, but I’m seeing the signs that my body is going to behave the same as always with crazy long cycles and spotting but no period. I have a couple of big school milestones that I need to put behind me before trying again. But when I’m ready back to Dr. C we go. Hopefully it will work. And if it doesn’t we’ll decide from there. It’s nice to have a plan.

NIAW: My Story {part 2}

National Infertility Awareness Week, April 22-28. This week I’m going to be blogging about infertility.
My Story {part one}, which also has the short version.

During this time I started researching. I found a lot of information and a lot of blogs of women with situations similar to mine and different, but all stories of IF and wanting a baby.  In February of 2010, a few months after going off the pill, I went to see and OB/Gyn at the office where my doctor once worked. She got married and moved away, so I went with whoever took my insurance. At first I thought I liked Dr. P ok. I think he ran some bloodwork (LH, FSH, testosterone, progesterone) and an ultrasound to check my ovaries, which were covered in tiny cysts. At any rate he gave me a prescription for Provera to start a period and Clomid (50 mg) to make me ovulate when I was ready.
So I waited and researched and tried not to stress to much as we weren’t really “trying” yet. How can you be trying when there is no cycle and I haven’t actually started IF treatment. But I was scared. Scared of all the eventualities that this wouldn’t work. Or that it would be difficult. Or take years. The only person I knew directly had had multiple miscarriages and two children after IVF.  Even though we weren’t trying, we were because weren’t preventing. There was a part of me – a big part maybe – that was hoping it was all in my head and we would get pregnant in this waiting time. Even though biologically this isn’t possible if you aren’t ovulating. And even though we weren’t trying every pregnancy announcement hurt a little. It’s not that I wasn’t happy for my friends. I was. Thrilled for them even. But it hurt knowing that it might not be me. I think I was scared of the unknown.
I talked to a friend who is an acupuncturist, who also used Clomid for her first. This was a relief to hear that sometimes, it does work on the first try. I started acupuncture and changed my diet. I cut as much sugar and carbs as I could. And then I took the Provera and we were officially TTC. I didn’t ovulate with 50 mg. I called Dr. P’s office and said as much, and got an appointment for the next week. He would not give me an ultrasound to check for ovulation, but said that based on my cervical mucus he was pretty sure I ovulated. I told him I was sure I didn’t and he needed to do something. So they drew blood for a progesterone check (it came back 2) and gave me a prescription for 100 mg of Clomid. Then said to me “your young, just relax, it will happen.” Never, never say to anyone TTC to just relax but especially not if you are the doctor who just prescribed fertility medication. Because relaxing really isn’t going to help. And yes I get that he was likely trying to help me stay calm and not stress too much and remind me that this was early in the game, but seriously, find a different phrase.
A few days later I met with a friend who has decided to live child-free. Isn’t it amazing how I now know three people who’ve suffered IF? It’s really more common than you might think. She asked me why I would ever go back and suggested I just call the RE. Which I had been putting off, again because I was scared of the unknown and scared of making this real, like it was fake at this point or something.
But I called the RE and made the appointment. The first opening was four weeks away. At some point Rob and I sat down and really talked about treatment. We were ok with Clomid. I wasn’t really excited about the idea of possibly having to inject myself with drugs, but we were ok with IUI. IVF however makes me really uncomfortable for a variety of reasons, so it was taken off the table. Rob is not interested in adoption so that was off the table. Rob is fine living child free, he never had the desire to have children until he met me, so while he’s on board with babies, he’s also ok with no children. I could be ok with living child free – I think, so we agreed that if Clomid and IUI did not work we would reevaluate. I had been putting off this conversation because I felt like we weren’t “there” yet and why talk about this until we’re ready to cross that bridge. But seriously, I felt so much calmer after really talking about the pros and cons of possible treatments and how we felt about them.
And what I want to say here to anyone who’s found this post because you are currently struggling with IF: Every decision about what treatment to pursue or not pursue is an individual decision to be made with you and your partner. You will have personal reasons that are your own. So our reasons for not wishing to pursue IVF or adoption are our own and right for us at the time of discussion. We hold the right to change our position on this in the future.

NIAW: My Story {part 1}

National Infertility Awareness Week, April 22-28. This week I’m going to be blogging about infertility and I’ve never really blogged about my infertility (IF) before. I talk about it, and when we were trying to conceive (TTC) I found a great community of IF bloggers, but this blog at the time was primarily read by family and IRL friends and I wasn’t comfortable sharing the nitty gritty of the details. Partly because it seemed a little weird to me, and partly because I wanted to be able to tell in my own time when we did finally become pregnant. So this is my story.
Here’s the short version. I’m infertile. I have an ovulation disorder. GYN said PCOS, RE said probably not rather PCOS like. It doesn’t really matter because I don’t ovulate. After a year of stress over “what if” while we waited to start treatment I did two cycles of Clo.mid (one 50 mg, one 100mg) with my Gyn, who told me after the first failed cycle “you’re your, just relax, it will happen.” I got the courage to call the RE the following week – it was a month before the appointment which was 5 days after ovulation. The RE validated my stress, made me feel comfortable, and talked to us about a plan starting non-invasive and where we could go if that didn’t work. But I was already pregnant. And now Simon is here.  When we’re ready to try again, we’ll go to the RE first.
***
The long version with details, possibly too many details, and in installments.
The first time I worried about my fertility I was in high school.  I had a long to non-existent cycle.  For awhile I had fairly consistent 6 week cycles that over time stretched to every 9 months or so. I asked the doctor, who was my pediatrician, about having kids some day. She told me not to worry and sent me to Plan.ned Par.enthood for a prescription for the pill. For the next seven years or so I was mostly on the pill, but when I was off, I rarely had a period. 
I saw a new doctor in 2006, after I’d moved to NYC and this was the first time I heard PCOS.  She didn’t make it sound like it was a big deal, and when I asked her about fertility she said “don’t worry about it, we can just give you a pill to make you ovulate when you’re ready for that.”  Like magic or something. Oh, how much I’ve learned since then.  I stayed on the pill. Dated some.  Met my husband.  Got married. Talked about having kids and when we thought we’d like to try.
Just before I started graduate school I thought I might be pregnant. I’m really, really horrible about remembering to take the pill, and since getting pregnant on our own would have been a happy surprise, I never stressed too much about it. But taking that test was scary, because the thought I might actually be pregnant was scary.  The test was negative. I breathed a sigh of relief, but at the same time was a little disappointed.  That’s how I knew I was about ready to start this journey.  I just had to get Rob on board and figure out if even trying to have a baby in grad school was feasible.
I went to see my nurse practitioner for my yearly exam and asked her when, if I wanted to get pregnant a year from now (which would be after the first year of school), I should go off the pill. I told her I didn’t have a cycle without the pill, and thought I would likely need some kind of IF treatment. Her response was to go off the pill now, because I don’t know what my body will do because I’ve been on the pill for so long. So I did, I knew what my body would do, but this way I would at least have proof, and that waiting period of 6 months to a year before a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) will see you out of the way. I had a 45 day cycle, ovulating on day 31 and then I went 187 days and nothing.