Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Fertility Challenged

I mentioned it took a year for us to get knocked up.

I thought many times maybe I should blog about it...infertility that is.

I wrote many posts about it. I'll probably start posting some of these old posts for posterity sake with the original date that I wrote them. Most are from just a mere 3 months ago when we finally sought help from a specialist and when this all became really...real.

Before that it was just too hard to write about. It was easier to not think about it than to write about it and be constantly surrounded by it.

(Half of this post was written May 16, 2011, 2 weeks shy of our 1 year mark since we'd began our journey, the rest I just finished as my infertility story has just come to a close...or at least a pause until the next kid.)

Infertility is such an ugly word.

It invokes feelings of inadequacy and disease.

I prefer to think of myself as fertility challenged.

As in I think I CAN have a baby, it's just not happening as quickly as I would prefer.

To me, infertility means you CANNOT have children, ie. you have no uterus, or no sperm, or some other condition that means you CANNOT.

I feel there should be another word that need help.

Subfertility is what many people have come up with. I like Fertility Challenged.

That's me. I'm Fertility Challenged.

My fertility history in a nutshell. Ok, it's a really big nutshell, put on your seatbelts, here's my story.

I was on birth control for 10 years. If there were breaks they were few and far between and they never lasted very long. My hormone of choice was the pill, but I was also on the Depo shot for a year somewhere in my early 20's.

I came off the pill in December of 2009, with the thought being in my pretty little unknowing unwordly head that if we wanted to start "trying" in June 2010 (this was the master plan!) it might be smart to let my body adjust and get back to it's own normal hormones for a bit.

If I could rewind my life and do it over again this is the one thing I would change.

I would either not go off my pills until we were ready to "try" (I'm sorry but that will always be in ""'s a stupid term, I'm sorry I'm using it but there's no better way to say...having sex for procreation purposes, so "trying" it will be) or we would just go with it and start "trying" in December when I went off the pill.

If you are ever in a similar position, here is my advice, come off your pills and IMMEDIATELY start "trying", do not wait, do not let your body adjust. Because...

I had a few normal periods. I will forever be plagued with the thought that had I not waited I could have gotten pregnant there in those few months that I was getting a period. It felt like things were adjusting, cycles were somewhere in the 30-50 day range...irregular but they were coming and relatively normal. And it's not abnormal to have irregular periods after coming off the pill. And then June comes along, we're ready to more time..."trying", that cycle I had an amazingly normal cycle, 29 days and I was convinced my body had finally done it, she had regulated herself and I was going to have normal easy to track, thus easy to tell if I was pregnant or not cycles.

We weren't pregnant that cycle but we thought nothing of it at this point, WHO GETS PREGNANT THE FIRST TIME? Oh right, just half the couples I know. But really, they're the freaks, not the ones that it takes a few months, right? So, onto the next month, and here, ladies and gen...I mean ladies, is why I've taken a million pregnancy tests, I quit getting my period. The damn thing just stopped.

I would like to blame the move to Australia, seeing as how the periods stopped in Australia...but I had that normal normal cycle right at the beginning...which when I think about it THAT is the period that should have been screwed up by the move, the crazy time difference and the ridiculous flight and all that jazz, but no, that was a normal cycle.

At the 3 month-ish mark with no period (and several pregnancy tests later, seriously guys what would you have done?!) I finally went and saw a Dr. as well as a naturopath, they both came up with the same thing.


Go ahead and google PCOS if you don't know what it is. It stands for Polycycstic Ovarian Syndrome. It means you don't ovulate, have irregular periods, have cysts on your ovaries, have acne, are fat, have facial hair, etc etc. and there's an underlying insulin resistance. I do not have any of these physical symptoms. I am not overweight, I don't have acne, I don't have facial hair BUT diabetes is prevalent in my family, the majority of relatives on one side of my family have diabetes THUS it made a certain amount of sense that maybe, just maybe I had this disorder that was stopping me from ovulating. I will dive into this in another post, but I do not believe I have PCOS. I do have cystics ovaries that clog the damn things up and don't allow me to ovulate, but I believe this is some leftover aftermath of being on the pill for so long.

So, here we are in Australia, no ovulation, no periods and a diagnosis of PCOS. Because I was unwilling to go the Clomid or Metformin route that the GP recommended at this point...mostly because I was only there for a short time, Metformin is a long term remedy that requires a certain amount of monitoring and Clomid...I just wasn't ready for the Clomid yet, but I ended up seeing a naturopath that specialized in fertility.

You may remember a few posts where I mentioned her here and here and she's also the reason I was going to the gym. I cut out carbs and started hitting the gym, all in an effort to help my body rid itself of extra glucose which in turn would let me ovulate (if I had PCOS anyway). I was also on what felt like a hundred different supplements and herbs. I lost 10 lbs almost immediately (just one of many reasons I do not believe I have PCOS, PCOSers DO NOT lose weight easily) but did not ovulate. I had a 94 day cycle and a 105 day cycle back to back with no ovulation just breakthrough bleeding. I had 2 periods the whole time I was in Australia. It sucked.

Fast forward to finally back in the good ole U S of A in January 2011. My period tricked me again, I got 2 in a row in the 30 day range. Unfortunately I was temping at this point and I knew I hadn't ovulated during either of these seemingly normal cycles, BUT my period made me think that maybe it was just all the moving and traveling and now that we were back things would regulate themselves again.

This is called denial people. I did not want to admit we needed help.

BUT as soon as we had a move to San Francisco date, regardless of my denial, I made an appt to see an RE (that's Reproductive Endocrinologist for all those folks who aren't versed in infertility speak) I knew we needed help at this point (and not help from a GP or GYN, I'd seen 3 of those at this point, they weren't helpful) and that I couldn't fix my body on my own. Or if I could it was going to take A LOT longer than I was willing to give it before I sought medical help.

The RE appt was just shy of 1 year of "trying". And if I ovulated at all in that time it was that very first month when I had a 29 day cycle, the rest of the year was a bust.

But just 2 Clomid cycles later, I'm pregnant.

Not infertile...

...just fertility challenged.


  1. I loved reading this. We've been trying for just over 10 months and in October I can go back to the doctor and have some tests done so I can finally have some answers. Crazy cycles for 5 months, followed by normal cycles for 5 months and then one irregular thrown in after. I know for sure I'm not ovulating every month and I'm ready to figure out why!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing. I *know* that being fertility challenged (much better term!) is more prevalent that anyone realizes.

    I went off the pill in Septemer 2007 and we began "trying" immediately even though we knew my body would need time to regulate.

    Fast forward to January 2009. I attended our company health fair at the insistence of my coworkers because they said it would be "fun". I had my blood drawn just as a normal test that they do. Turns out, I have a thyroid problem. How did I go 26+ years not knowing this? How did no one catch it before?

    Finally in July 2009, we were expecting. It took us almost two years to even get pregnant with our little bean.

  3. Thank you for sharing this.

    My friend has been 'trying' for almost 2 years and has had quite a few failed in vitro attempts. I was almost ready explore what to do after a year of trying, but then, hooray, we got pregnant a few months ago. Sadly, I lost the baby at 8 weeks. I haven't really shared that with too many people, but it feels good to talk about it. And regardless of how broken I felt, it was comforting to know that it meant we COULD get pregnant.

    Anyway, I get so down (and jealous) when I read other blogs and people seem to be pregnant left and right. It's so easy. It happened right away.

    Those people may not understand what the rest of us are going through. Stories like yours help us feel normal. Thanks for sharing.

  4. So happy for you! I always love a story from a fellow "fertility challenged" blogger :)

    Pleeeeease don't beat yourself up with the "what if" of those few periods you had when you came off the pill! I had regular, 28-day cycles every the WHOLE 2 years we were trying to conceive and I wasn't ovulating for the whole 2nd year! You'll just never know what WOULD have take comfort in knowing that THIS is the baby you were MEANT to have!

  5. Jes, I'm so thrilled for you that you're pregnant! I had no idea you were struggling. Because I have 3 children, most people have no idea, but I too am "fertility challenged". It's just not something people talk much about. Especially when like you said, it seems like half the world gets pregnant on the first month they even remotely half ass try. And God Bless the man that created Clomid- that's the only reason my Hannah is here! :)

  6. I like the term Fertility Challenged so much better too.. the whole getting pregnant thing is just a crap shoot. Yes, I'm one of the annoying freaks who got preggo the 2nd time we had unprotected sex, but who's to say that will happen for baby #2? or if anything will happen at all? I'm glad you are sharing this story, because no matter what every woman can relate I think. And we never know if this will be our situation down the road. :-) love you girlie!

  7. So glad you posted this. I really think that it is therapeutic on a personal level and also good for others to either learn more about challenges or realize how common fertility challenges are in general.

    I just posted about what I wish I would have done and of course will have more to add - but my biggest regret is not having come out sooner. I feel so relieved when I finally came out of the fertility challenged closet.

    That said, I am SO EXCITED you are pregnant!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. Oh man! I am the last to get this news!! Congratulations! I didn't know what a struggle you've had. :( did they do an ultrasound when they diagnosed you with PCOS? Of course would love to see any and all pictures you'd be willing to share. xx