This time last year I didn't think i'd ever get to write my journey to motherhood. I was onto my third endocrinologist and so frustrated. I feel for the women who have it far worse than I did. It completely consumes you. You don’t even remember what it was like before trying to have a baby. With all the blood tests, ovulation kits, doctors appointments, and failed cycles you lose yourself.
I will begin with my journey where it began just over 3 years ago. My husband and I were engaged and he was deployed in Afghanistan. I had always had this fear inside my head that I wouldn't be able to get pregnant easily. I'm not exactly sure where this fear came from other then being irregular all of my "womanhood" but it's like I knew something was wrong. I decided to go off of my birth control when my husband deployed because I wanted to give my body a break. We decided when he got home, after we got married we would start trying for a family. I had always wanted to be a mother. For as long as I can remember it's been my dream. After going off of my birth control my body was freaking out. I was having terribly painful periods and back to being irregular. I was having night sweats, acne along my jaw and chin, memory loss, anxiousness and a few other symptoms that were linked to hormonal imbalance. I decided to go to the doctors and see if they could figure out why my body was behaving the way it was. They ran ultrasounds, labs, and a few tests. They didn't seem like they could find anything wrong so they recommended going back on birth control until I wanted to start trying.
Fast forward about 6 months, my husband and I were finally married. I went off the birth control and we decided that we would try without trying. We would not put too much pressure on it and when it happened it would be a surprise. Several months went by and my body went back to a lot of the previous symptoms I had before. I decided to take some ovulation tests to see if I was even ovulating. It was the most frustrating thing looking back on it. The line tests always gave me a positive no matter what time of the month it was. The digitals would say I was about to ovulate but never turned positive. I just felt like something was wrong and I wanted answers. That's when I went to another doctor. She felt with my symptoms I had PCOS. For those of you unfamiliar with PCOS it stands for Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome ( I will get into what that is a little later into my story). But I wondered why they couldn’t see that I had PCOS the year before when I had all of those tests. It’s actually really common for birth control to mask symptoms of PCOS. That’s why a lot of women go on it when they have it. I must not have been off of it long enough. We did an ultrasound and some bloodwork. We booked an appointment to go over the results and if I had PCOS to start clomid. I felt like I needed to look into clomid before just jumping into it. I hadn’t heard very good things about it. A little bit of time went by and they cancelled my appointment. I thought that was strange to just have an automated call cancel my appointment and not try to reschedule.
I heard of another doctor that a family member recommended so I decided to get my test results and take them for a second opinion. When I went to pick up my results and copies it said they confirmed I had PCOS and a bicornuate uterus. No one bothered to tell me either of these things but I just so happened to see them on my copy of records. I was astounded that they wouldn't tell me something as serious as a bicornuate uterus. - For those of you who don’t know what a bicornuate uterus is it is when your uterus has a heart like shape and has two parts to it. Your baby would have half the amount of space to grow and it can be dangerous as they grow.
I went to my appointment for the second opinion with my records. The doctor went over my ultrasound and said I had the "string of pearl" effect of PCOS. Basically, in my situation my ovaries have an over abundance of follicles (or cysts they call them, misleading name in my opinion) that collect in my ovaries. It looked like I wasn't ovulating because of all of them collecting. After some blood tests we found out I had a couple hormones that were higher than they should be. We did progesterone tests a couple times in my cycle and started me on a steroid to lower my heightened hormones. He put me on the pill for one month to "restart" my body. After being on the pill we forced my body to have a period and I began my first fertility treatment called femara. I was gaining weight from the steroid and I felt awful. Because this was just an OBGYN office they didn't monitor me during my cycle like a lot of endocrinologists do. Unfortunately the closest endocrinologist was about 2 hours away so I decided to keep trying with my OBGYN. Another couple treatments went by and nothing was happening. We switched to another kind of treatment clomid and still no luck. I decided I wanted to see someone more specialized but they would not refer me. I was feeling so defeated. I did a ton of research. I felt like my body just wasn't releasing an egg. I was probably growing follicles but just needed an extra push.
After my doctor refusing my referral to an endocrinologist I decided to visit my family doctor to see if they would refer me. My family doctor listened to what I had to say. He felt like I did my research and felt there was no reason my OBGYN should have kept me from seeing a specialist. I tried to stay positive. They referred me to an endocrinologist in Pittsburgh but I would have an almost 5 month wait. I decided to make the appointment and if I could get into another endocrinologist before then I would.
After doing more research I found 2 other endocrinologist about two and a half hours away from me. They didn't need referrals so I decided to give the one with the best reviews a try first. I made an appointment and took the long drive to their office. After signing in they told me my insurance would not be accepted. I was furious. The girl over the phone told me they accepted it. I decided I was already there and to just finish my appointment. I am so glad I did. This is where I got answers. The doctor performed an ultrasound, some blood tests, and ordered a sperm analysis for my husband. I was also told that they couldn't find out if I had a bicornuate uterus through just an ultrasound, I would need an HSG (a more in depth and slightly painful test to find out the shape of my uterus). She was one of the best doctors I have met during this journey. She took the time to do each ultrasound and test herself. I loved that about her. I didn't get passed around from person to person. She found out that I had a over active thyroid along with my heightened hormone levels and started me on a thyroid medication that I am still on to this day. She also told me to get off of the steroid and it wasn’t necessary to even be on it for hormonal imbalance. I was sad my insurance didn't cover that facility because it really was nice..other then the lady giving me the wrong information over the phone.
I should mention this is about the time when I got off the steroid and started to feel better because I found some supplements and a diet that helped with my PCOS. I was able to lose the 15 pounds that I put on. I want to explain more in detail what it was that helped me. That will be a future post!
After my husband completed his tests, they came back fine. That was a big relief. I obviously didn't want us both to struggle with fertility. I did even more research (yes, I must have had way too much time on my hands..or maybe I just became addicted) and the next place I could go was the same company as my insurance so it was definitely covered. I would have no issues with that so I called and made the appointment. I drove the two and a half hours there and they ordered me more tests for my bicornuate uterus. I had the test done and they said I didn't have a bicornuate uterus or a blockage. WHAT A RELIEF! The problems that can happen with a bicornuate uterus are terrifying and that was amazing to be ruled out. They did say I had a slightly misshaped uterus but it was not bad at all. The doctor decided to start treatment after we found out I didn't have any blockage or if it was bicornuate. Nothing was happening though. They never called me when they were supposed to and it was so frustrating. I just wanted to start treatments but we were at a stand still.
My appointment was coming up with Pittsburgh that I had been waiting about 5 months for and I decided to just go and see what they thought I should do. I had my plan all ready. What would it hurt to hear opinions? I went in with a positive attitude. The doctor and staff seemed really nice. The doctor heard what I had to say. I told her I just felt like I need a little push. I needed monitoring. I wanted to try another cycle of femara but also try a trigger shot to force my body to release the egg. She ordered exactly what I asked after having blood work and making sure it was the right decision.
I started the femara and drove to their office to be monitored. My appointment didn't go quite the way I was hoping for. I had three follicles but they weren't quite as big as we hoped. I was on the highest dose of the fertility medicine because of trying it a few times prior, so if this didn’t work they wanted me to move on from femara. They told me to come back in a couple days to recheck. I was devastated and a little dramatic. I tried to stay positive. This was not over yet. I drove back to get rechecked and I had 3 HUGE follicles that were ready to trigger. I had the chance for triplets! This had me over the moon! I decided to have them do the trigger shot in the office so I wouldn't have to do it by myself at home. My husband doesn't do needles and I really didn't want him to pass out if we didn't need to lol. After we triggered I remember the nurse saying "I'll talk to ya when you call and tell us your pregnant!!". That just stuck with me. Her positivity might have been exactly what I needed at that very moment. I left feeling happier than ever.
The two week wait definitely tested my patience. I tried to stay as calm and stress free so I could get pregnant. I took hot baths with calming oils every single night. It helped me so much through all the nerves. I really thought being so nervous would keep it from happening. I felt symptoms but it's hard to know if they are in your head or not. A trigger shot can make it hard to test because it puts the pregnancy hormone HCG in your system. I decided to test it out to see the line fade. I started to notice it getting darker after fading. I probably should have just waited to test but I was far too excited. Christmas Eve I decided to use a First Response. I got a pretty visible line and I assumed the trigger was out of my system. I still had some doubt whether it was really a pregnancy or the trigger though. It was my very first positive. I have probably had a hundred negatives but this one positive made it all worth it.
Christmas day I face-timed a good friend that lives out of state to find out she was pregnant. If I was pregnant too it would be such a great experience to share with one of my best friends! Over FaceTime she convinced me to take a digital test. It said pregnant and I was so overjoyed! Our due dates were 4 days apart! The photo here is us at about 30 weeks along at my baby sprinkle!
The final test would make me feel a lot better and that was my two blood tests from the RE. I had to make sure the second test was doubled from my first. Thankfully it more than doubled and I finally started to believe I was pregnant.
At 8 weeks along we had our first ultrasound with the RE and I don't think I have ever been so nervous! We weren't allowed to see the screen and it killed me. After the ultrasound we had to wait in the waiting room and I swear it was the longest 15 minutes of my life. The doctor came out and we followed her to an exam room. I thought it wasn’t good if she's the one taking us back. As soon as she walked us inside the room she quickly handed me a picture and gave me a hug. We were definitely pregnant with ONE healthy baby. I walked out of that clinic the happiest mama!
Thanks so much for reading! This was an unforgettable journey and I wouldn’t change a thing. Sometimes I still can't believe I get to be a mom. It’s helped me to not take my sweet boy for granted.
Also SO important, advocate yourself!! No one else is going to for you. You know your body more than anyone else. I knew something was wrong and I’m so glad I ignored the people who told me “You’re young, I’m sure you’re fine!”.
I will be telling you all about about my birth story and also about the supplements I use to control my PCOS in future posts. See ya next week! Have a great weekend!