Still no baby

Yet again it’s been a while inbetween drinks. But I have a couple of blog posts written and ready to go, so we should start seeing some consistency again.

Since my last post I’ve been busy – I’ve started a new job, done a number of rounds of clomid and ovulation induction, and started a fitness challenge. But still no baby.

After my laparoscopy in January my doctor started me on a low dose of clomid and ovidrel ovulation triggers.

This is the first cycle in about five months that I haven’t taken clomid or done an ovulation trigger. I’m currently half way through my two week wait, and the waiting feels endless!

For a change my cycles on clomid were 28 days or less. This is the first time this has happened since I can remember, or at least since I started tracking my cycles.

My doctor was really happy with how I responded to clomid. Good follicle growth and minimal side affects. I think taking the pills just before I went to bed helped , as I didn’t really have any hot flushes or mood swings.

But fuck me did I get acne, especially along my jawline. You don’t really expect to be stocking up on pimple gels in your thirties…

Not missing the pimples this month, that’s for sure!

Now that I’m off clomid I’m fairly certain that I’ve gone back to my late ovulation. So there’ll be no getting excited when I get to day 30 and my period hasn’t arrived.

I’ve really tried to make a conscious effort this cycle to focus on other things apart from conceiving. I’ve started an 8-week challenge at my gym to get back into exercising, and I’ve started doing a weekly yoga class as well.

I’ve been temping for the last 9 months or so, but this month stopped as soon as my app had estimated when ovulation had occurred, and I won’t start again until I get my period or a positive pregnancy test.

I had found that in the last couple of months I was getting anxious every morning as to whether or not my body basal temperature had started to drop, and when it invariably did would frantically Google whether or not it was possible to still be pregnant. Turns out it is possible, just not for me.

As our next step is IVF I just want to take some time not being hyper aware of my body and my cycle. While I’m at peace with the possibility of needing to do IVF I still hope this cycle is the one. Fingers crossed!

Until next time,

Tash xo

Finally some answers: Our infertility journey so far part 2

January 30 2018 was the day we finally started getting some answers about our fertility struggles.

After changing fertility specialists I was scheduled in for a laparoscopy to see if there was endometriosis, and at the same time to check out my tubes again and also do a D&C to clean out my uterus.

Image with nine full blood test vials
Before my laparoscopy I had a heap of blood tests done, including AMH and MTHFR. The poor nurses had to write a list for all the vials needed to make sure they didn’t miss anything!

Usually I try and find out as much as possible about any procedure or test beforehand. Partly so I’m mentally prepared, but also because I just like to know as much as possible. But I actually avoided doing that before my laparoscopy. I also told hardly anyone I was going in for surgery. A couple of people at work who needed to know, my husband of course, and my family – but I only told them the week before my surgery. Looking back I think this was actually a way of minimising the fact that I was having surgery. If I didn’t tell anyone it was happening or read anything about it being serious, or having serious side effects it couldn’t actually be bad. Not quite how it works I know.

The day before my surgery I did end up reading this great blog entry from Michelle at Endohope about preparing for your laparoscopy and recovery, which was really useful for me and helped me get in the right headspace for my procedure. I still freaked out big time as I was sitting in my hospital gown waiting to go into surgery. But no amount of pre-reading would have stopped that happening.

Surgery.

The surgery went well.

I have endometriosis.

It was all on the left side of my uterus, and I had an endometriosis cyst on my left ovary. My fertility specialist removed all of the endometriosis, and also flushed my tubes. Even though he said my tubes were all fine, apparently it did take the a bit of time to flush them out. 

I felt very lucky that in the post-op recovery room the nurse looking after me had also undergone a laparoscopy. She was so lovely and went out of her way to look after me, and offered advice and tips for my recovery.

I was just desperate to get home. They won’t discharge you until you have had a pee, so I was skolling water and ended up having the tap running while I was in the bathroom and just willing myself to pee.

Cat sleeping
Garfunkel kept me company while I was recovering. We had lots of lovely snuggles together.
Post laparoscopy, incisions
My three incisions.

Next steps

Since my surgery I’ve had two appointments with my fertility specialist. Apparently the six months following a laparoscopy is when you have a greater chance of falling pregnant. But we’re not just waiting for it to happen. We’re taking control and doing ovulation induction. It finally feels like we’re being proactive in trying to get pregnant, and not just hoping for the best.

This month I went in for a pelvic ultrasound on day 11 to measure my follicles. My biggest was 12mm, and my fertility specialist said that we could do another scan and then trigger ovulation but there was not much point. Instead if we don’t fall pregnant this cycle then I’ll start clomid and we’ll do a scan between day 10 and 12 to see if we should trigger ovulation. I am a little freaked out by the thought of having to inject myself. Fingers crossed it happens naturally before then!

As well as having endometriosis, I also found out that I have a MTHFR (Methylene-TetraHydroFolate Reductase) gene mutation. (The only way I can remember the acronym is by thinking of motherfucker). The one I have causes clotting so there’s potentially a greater risk for miscarriage. I also need to avoid folic acid, the synthetic version of folate, as my body doesn’t process it properly. So I’m taking preconception vitamins with methylfolate, as most of the preconception vitamins on the market have folic acid in them.

After desperately wanting some sort of answer for at least a year now, I finally have one and I feel a mix of relief and sadness. 

I’m still trying to process what it all means, especially the endometriosis diagnosis as I’m now living with a chronic illness. (I think, but does it count as a chronic illness if you can still go about your daily life without being impacted by your illness?)

I have been incredibly lucky that my endometriosis has not caused me the extreme pain you often hear about. But I do wonder what other symptoms I have experienced that are caused by my endometriosis. Apart from my infertility of course.

I’m off to continue reading up on all of this.

Until next time,

Tash xo

Read part one of our infertility journey here.

Everything seems to be fine: our infertility journey so far

Make yourself a (fertility) tea and get comfortable. Here’s the low down on our last two years – including all tests I’ve done so far and my diagnosis, or lack thereof.

After an unplanned and unexpected break I’m back. It’s been a combination of being very busy at work , a well overdue holiday, and the two year anniversary of starting to try to conceive. At Christmas time 😐

That’s right we timed it really well and started trying Christmas 2015. To be fair most people start trying for a baby thinking it’s going to be fairly straight forward, maybe take a few months but not years. 

Our journey so far

Hubby and I have been together for over 16 years now, but we only actively started trying to conceive two years ago, just before we got married. We never felt that we needed to be married before having kids it just worked out that we started trying around the same time.

Before that we’d been concentrating on work and study, we were finally at a point where we felt we were as ready as we would ever be.

A couple of months after we started trying I went to my GP (family doctor for any non-Aussie readers) for an initial TTC check up, in part because in my twenties I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), but also just to make sure everything was ok. As my periods are pretty regular, my GP didn’t think I still had PCOS. So I had a few pre-conception blood tests that showed that everything seemed to be ok.

Around the same time Hubby had also went to the GP for a general check up and they did a sperm analysis, which came back good.

I went back to my GP in October as I’d been having some mid-cycle bleeding which I was a bit freaked out. I was sent off for a pelvic ultrasound – or as I like to call it a dildo camera – and some additional blood tests to make sure I was ovulating. The pelvic ultrasounds showed that I had polycystic ovaries, no surprise there, but nothing else seemed out of the ordinary. And according to the blood tests I was ovulating.

At this point we had been trying to conceive for less than a year, and as I was in my early thirties my GP didn’t think there was any reason to be concerned. But to help my peace of mind she wrote a referral to a specialist so I could make an appointment once it passed a year.

Our first specialist

Fast forward to February 2017 and we had our first specialist appointment. Looking back I was a bit surprised at how short the appointment was. He had a quick look over my tests to date, said that without making any promises we should have a good chance of getting pregnant, and suggested that the next step should be having a HSG (hysterosalpingogram – a test where they essentially flush your tubes while they take x-ray images to make sure there are no blockages).

Because there is an increased chance of falling pregnant in the three months following a HSG, we didn’t need to come back for a follow up appointment until three months after the procedure if  we didn’t fall pregnant.

So we left our very first specialist appointment full of hope that all things going well, some time in the next three months we should be pregnant.

Spoiler, it didn’t happen.

For anyone who has had the fortune of not needing to see if your tubes are blocked Lake Imaging have a very useful and easy to understand explainer of the procedure. I didn’t have my procedure done with them, I just found their description of the procedure clear and useful. 

When I had my HSG done I had a support nurse assigned to me, which was so lovely. She explained the procedure, and the risks, before we went in and then stayed by my side during the procedure. 

You’re awake the whole time, and the radiologist explained what she was doing throughout. I didn’t find the procedure too bad, but it was a bit uncomfortable. Especially when they inflate the tiny balloon which holds the catheter in place. 

I did have a moment where I freaked out a bit, and I think my support nurse got a bit worried too. After taking some images the radiologist called in her supervisor to have a look – which automatically makes you think there’s something really wrong. 

There I am lying down, with my legs up in stirrups waiting for bad news when the supervisor comes in, has a look at my tubes and says they look fantastic. What a relief!

So at this point my tubes are fine, I appear to be ovulating, Hubby’s sperm is good, but I have polycystic ovaries. 

We continue trying for three months.

Still no luck.

Back to the specialist.

He suggests more blood tests for me, again to make sure I’m ovulating. Another round with the dildo camera for me, and another sperm test for Hubby.

Everything comes back ‘normal’. Again I’m told I have polycystic ovaries. Specialist tells us there’s no reason we shouldn’t be getting pregnant, and the ultrasound didn’t pick up any signs of endometriosis so no point doing a laparoscopy. He recommends trying for another three months and if we still aren’t pregnant come back and then we should start thinking about IVF.

For me the most frustrating part of struggling to conceive, apart from not being able to get pregnant, has been not finding anything wrong. There’s no problem to fix, it’s just not happening and no-one can say why.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that some couples face massive problems in trying to conceive. But for me the unknown and not having something to focus on is really hard to deal with. Being told that everything appears to be fine, when clearly it’s not because if it was we would have been pregnant by now is just frustrating. 

Our second specialist

Not long after my HSG I started seeing a local acupuncturist as part of an effort to do everything possible to conceive. I’ve found that to be a massive help, especially for my mental health. But it was also through her we found our second specialist.

She had been saying for some time that she thought I had endometriosis, and when it was coming towards the end of the final three month wait and still no pregnancy I decided we should at least get a second opinion. I didn’t want to start IVF and then later on find out that I did have endometriosis. 

November 2017 we had our first appointment with our second specialist.

He suggested we do a laparoscopy to see if there was endometriosis, and at the same time to check out my tubes again and also do a D&C to clean out my uterus. He also said that because I have a roughly 30 day cycle that after the laparoscopy we would start ovulation stimulation to try and get me to ovulate around the 14 day mark.

After being told by multiple doctors that  a 30 day cycle was fine (and it is in the range of being ok) there was a kind of relief in being told it wasn’t ideal. The feeling I had had that something wasn’t quite right with me was being validated.

We booked in my laparoscopy for the end of January after my holiday. But that’s part two of our journey so far.

Thanks for sticking with me. Let me know in the comments what you think, and tell me about your TTC journey.

Tash.

Not quite a mummy blogger

Just what the world needs another white middle class woman blogging about her fertility issues.

I know I feel like a cliché, but here we are. To make matters worse my reasons for starting the blog are fairly selfish. Turns out trying to conceive brings up a lot of feelings and thoughts. And for someone who doesn’t like to talk about her feelings that’s hard. Writing is my therapy, so this blog is my outlet for all these thoughts and feelings. So many feelings. Ugh.

I had actually started thinking about starting a blog before our fertility issues became apparent. We made a sea change* roughly 11 months ago and so I had vague ideas about writing about that. I even got around to setting up this blog but I never actually got around to writing anything. Not long after we moved I started a new job so was suddenly much busier, and while we love our new life by the coast it didn’t really seem remarkable enough to be sharing with the internet.

We started seeing a fertility specialist this year and that sort of took over my life. It definitely took over my thoughts. So it made sense to change the direction of my not quite existent blog. And suddenly I had lots of things to write about. Some of it kinda gross and weird, and some of it more serious.

This blog won’t just be about our fertility journey, but will cover other things I’m passionate about and other things happening in my life. 

Black and white floofy cat lying in the sun
Garfunkel enjoying the sun.

Like our cat Garfunkel. I imagine she’ll make frequent appearances because she’s the greatest.

And there will be lots of posts on women’s rights and women’s health issues aside from fertility. I work for a women’s rights organisation and am a proudly out feminist. My fertility struggles have also made me more aware of taboos around women’s health like periods, and even fertility and I’m interested in starting a broader conversation about this.

There will probably also be a fair bit of swearing.

Essentially I’m writing the type of blog I would like to read in the hope that it will resonate with other people. This blog will also hopefully also bring a fresh, or at least different, perspective on infertility and all the shit that goes along with that.

Thanks for sticking through my first blog post. The aim is to make them weekly, but we’ll see how we go.

Tash.

*An actual SeaChange – we live in the place where the classic late 90s Australian TV show SeaChange was filmed. Diver Dan be still my beating heart!