Saturday, April 15, 2017

Our Infertility Story - Part 1 (Pre-IVF)

As promised here's the first part of our infertility story. Our journey was over 3 years so I thought it best to split it up into 2 different entries...part 1 will go over our journey before IVF and part 2 will delve into our IVF journey.

After hubs and I returned from our Singapore/Japan trip in spring of 2013 we agreed that we were ready to expand our family. I stopped taking my birth control and started tracking my basal temperatures to help determine when I was ovulating in order to make the most of our baby making efforts. Three months after I stopped taking the pill I still had not had a period or established a normal cycle. This scenario was not new to me, as a teenager without birth control I would only have 3-4 periods a year each lasting up to 14+ days.

I made an appointment with my OB/GYN at the time to discuss my concerns. After some blood work my doctor put me on a low dose of Synthroid to optimize my thyroid levels for fertility/pregnancy. And even given my history of only having a few periods a year she told me to give my body another few months to start cycling on it's own again. After another 3 months without a period my OB/GYN referred me to a fertility specialist.

We had to wait another frustrating 3 months (without any periods) until we were able to get an appointment to see the fertility specialist. The doctor took down a detailed family and self medical history. After an in-office ultrasound she confirmed a diagnosis of PCOS. I was prescribed Metformin which the doctor explained had been shown to help increase fertility in women with PCOS. I eagerly started my new medication which promptly proceeded to provide me with a constant feeling of nausea. I was never able to even get close to titrating my dose up to the recommended level because I simply couldn't tolerate the constant upset stomach.

I knew there had to be another way and started seeking out alternative options. In the spring of 2014 I started seeing a naturopathic doctor who agreed that there was no need for me to be on the Metformin given my normal blood sugar levels. After completing an extensive hormone panel the naturopathic doctor switched my Synthroid to Nature-throid in order to fine tune my thyroid levels and I started using a low dose progesterone suppository in an effort to help stimulate my body into having a cycle. I also adjusted my diet and switched from a morning cup of coffee to a green smoothie. However, after all these changes we still failed to get pregnant.

Near the end of 2014 my fertility specialist suggested that I undergo an HSG (hysterosalpingogram) to take a look at my fallopian tubes and uterus in order to determine if IUI (intrauterine insemination) or IVF (in-vitro fertilization) would be the next best course of action. I was extremely nervous for the procedure as I had read many online message boards detailing how painful it can be. As they injected the dye via catheter I remember experiencing the most intense cramping and I was so thankful when it was over. The results of my HSG were no less painful and heartbreaking. The doctor said that due to extensive inflammation in my fallopian tubes it would be next to impossible for me to have ever have gotten pregnant naturally and suggested IVF as the next step. The news was so overwhelming and I was so unbelievably frustrated knowing that we had wasted nearly 2 years trying this and that when it would've been a miracle for me to get pregnant without the help of IVF.

Throughout this first part of our journey I think the biggest lesson I learned was that I needed to be my own advocate. A lot of times it's easy to take what doctors are telling you as the end all and be all. I wish that I had been more assertive, asked more questions, and pushed to be referred to a fertility specialist sooner. I can't help but think that maybe if I had done those things we wouldn't have wasted so much time before discovering my need for IVF.

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