Our Fertility Journey, Part 1

Just in case, you are someone who just happens to come by this post without being a regular reader here or someone who follows me on Instagram, my husband and I are expecting our first child in June of 2022.

But getting to this point was far from an easy process.

Devon and I got married in June 2018 (after being together for 5 years and knowing each other for well over a decade) and we started trying not too long after we had gotten married. I was on birth control for several years prior to this and speaking with my doctor, she mentioned that while sometimes you can get pregnant immediately after coming off of birth control, it can also take awhile for your body to re-regulate without synthetic hormones.

So, we waited. Though, admittedly, while we were trying on our own during this time, most of it was casually trying. We were trying to not put a lot of stress on ourselves because we knew that typically didn’t help matters. We gave the hormones time to leave my body and for it to re-regulate, as well as just some time for us to settle into married life.

And it didn’t happen.

The year after we were married were also a time of immense professional stress for me as well, which I’m sure didn’t help.

For those who have been around awhile, you know that by the time I left my previous school, I was in an unhealthy headspace. My previous school took so much out of me; mentally and physically. The administration demanded absolute perfection and dedication from it’s faculty and almost none of us could ever reach that (no human can ever reach that) – which led to a dictatorship of an administration and a staff that walked around as if they were waiting in fear for the next time they would be called into the principal’s office.

By the time I resigned from that school in June 2019, I had high blood pressure, had gained 25 pounds (in about a year and a half) and was emotionally exhausted. So exhausted I thought I was done in my profession. I didn’t think I could work in a school again after that. I considered doing private practice, so that I could be my own boss and not have to answer to people who didn’t understand what my actual job was.

But, then I got a call from a colleague (who actually used to work for the dictators) and she mentioned a position in a local school district that she thought I should try to interview for. I was apprehensive – even into the second interview with the woman that would become my current principal – but I did it and it was probably the best decision I have made thus far. My current school has been so healing for me and a place that I can actually do my job without being told that I am doing it wrong. My school has allowed me to grow and recoup some of that confidence that I lost from my old school. Plus, they have been immensely supportive of my current pregnancy and the road we’ve been on to get here, which is more than I could have ever asked for.

All of that to say, I think the stress from my old school really factored into my inability to get pregnant and in the end, it was a good thing. I wasn’t mentally in a place to go through everything that is involved in pregnancy and considering my blood pressure, it would have been dangerous for the baby and I both very quickly and I wouldn’t have been able to deal with that. We actually stopped trying for awhile in all of this because I needed to give my mind and body time to heal in order for me to feel ready to be pregnant and have a healthy pregnancy. If it happened, that’s fine, but we didn’t actively try.

Not to mention during all of this work stress, Devon and I moved from our small apartment into our current house – which was another level of stress, especially since when I resigned, I did it without an immediate contract to another school (as I didn’t sign my new contract until August of 2019). So that additional layer of possible financial stress of going from 2 incomes to 1, was another reason to stop trying for a bit. So, we did.

I started my new (current) position in September of 2019 and within a few months, my brain finally started to calm down and I became a lot more comfortable in my new surroundings and with my new jovial, non-punitive administration.

In February of 2020, my normally very regular period, was a week late. In my whole life, it had never been a week late. I took an at-home test, which had a very faint positive, enough for me to go to my doctor for an actual blood test. She told me my HCG levels were slightly elevated, and sent me for an ultrasound. An embryo was seen in the ultrasound, but it was smaller than it should have been, even that early, so they told me to come back in a week for another blood test and scan. By that point, my HCG levels were back down and after the ultrasound, they knew it was a chemical pregnancy (not viable).

That was hard for me initially. Even though we weren’t actively trying, it felt like another set back. But it also made me realize that maybe Devon and I need to see what is going on with us. It was the first time that I thought that there may be something wrong that’s causing us to not get pregnant. So I spoke with my doctor and she told us to go to Shady Grove Fertility because they are the leading experts and if there was anything, they would be able to find it and come up with a plan that worked for us.

A week after this talk with my doctor, the world shut down for Covid, so Devon and I basically stayed home for 3 months. Then my Maya (my 20 year old cat) started having health issues to the point that her little body was just shutting down and we put her down in June of 2020 – which destroyed me for quite awhile (I still cry thinking about it). We wound up getting our tiny terror of a kitten, Krieger, in July 2020 because I couldn’t handle living in a house without a cat, which felt like having a newborn half the time. Then my brother moved in with us for a few months in August 2020 – which was also incredibly stressful for all involved.

It was a lot.

My Angel Kitty, Maya
Krieger’s adoption photo – the picture that made me say “we have to bring those big, curious eyes home”

It was October of 2020 before we actually made an appointment with Shady Grove and had our consultation with our doctor. Virtually, of course.

I love our doctor. She was so kind and had this very calm demeanor, which for me is essential. I’m naturally a little anxious, so I need someone who can keep my calm, especially for things like that. Our consultation was an hour where she really went into our histories, asked us questions about our marriage, what we’ve done to try, how we feel about becoming parents, etc. It was a really good conversation. At the end she recommended full testing for both of us, which as you can imagine takes time and isn’t the most pleasant experience (especially for me) and we made a follow-up appointment for 3 months later to go over the results.

It does actually take that long, yes.

We met with her virtually in January 2021 and she’s like, “I have good news, you’re both completely healthy!….Which is also bad news because we don’t have a definitive reason for your infertility.” The only possibility she could come to was the fact that I had Celiac Disease. There has been research over the years that has indicated a possible correlation with Celiac and infertility, especially when they Celiac goes undiagnosed (as mine likely did). So, that made me angry at my Celiac for the millionth time for a little bit. But, it was also nice to know that we were both healthy enough to begin fertility treatments to try and help us. She basically stated, that whenever we were ready, we could begin. We’re lucky and have really good insurance that covers 6 IUI treatments and 3 IVF treatments and we were hopeful that we wouldn’t have to surpass that.

Our doctor recommended IUI first, as it’s less intensive and since there isn’t a clinical reason, it should be effective and we could explore the possibility of IVF later, if needed.

We did our first IUI in March 2021, and it pretty much failed before we could actually do the actual IUI. When I went for the ultrasound to see if the IUI was feasible, they determined that the medication they put me on to stimulate my ovaries, did too much and if I would have continued with treatment, I would have had a pregnancy with multiples that may not have been viable. Anytime they have a pregnancy where they can see the likelihood of multiples in that way, they stop the cycle because it’s potentially dangerous to the mother and child(ren). So, that was a bummer for us.

But, we also get it. We don’t want to proceed with a potentially unhealthy pregnancy or put our future children’s health in jeopardy.

But, if you’ve never done a fertility treatment, it’s a lot of work, it’s a lot of very specific things that have to happen at very specific times, it’s also a lot of emotions (partially due to the large amount of hormones you’re on). So, to know that we put all that work in after trying for so long before this; it was just hard to initially deal with.

To be continued…..

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