I must admit, the decision to set forth and procreate made me a little uneasy. What if I wasn’t ready to be a Mom? What if I was no good at it? I’m a planner by nature and wanted all the details to be perfect. I needed a little push, and it went something like this:
DH (a little over a year into our marriage): Hey, when are we going to have kids?
Me: I don’t know. Do you think we are ready yet?
DH: I don’t think we’ll ever be ready. Might as well bite the bullet.
And so, in January of 2009 we began trying to conceive- abbreviated TTC from here on out. Also, in case you were wondering, DH refers to “Dear Husband.” I’ve discovered that one must quickly learn a new code language when TTC. Not sure if its tantamount to being in a special club or if all the extra friendlies leave little time for anything else, including full pronunciation of vocabulary. Anyways, I promise to keep you up to speed.
DH and I went on a ski trip to France in February of 2009 and had romantic notions of conceiving while on vacation. After all, vacation extra friendlies are quite extraordinary, don’t you think? Sadly, when we returned to the States, I joined the Bump and discovered this thing called an ovulation calculator. The calculator tends to assume that all women have set cycle lengths with ovulation occurring smack dab in the middle. This is not exactly true, but still a good tool for beginners or those who don’t have too much trouble TTC. The ovulation calculator told me that my fertile window actually took place when we arrived back in the US and DH had the flu. It was only our first month of trying, but already, I felt the pang of missed opportunity.
By the second and third month, I had the ovulation calculator down pat, and had somewhat customized it to my own cycle. I was able to feel ovulation pain, called mittelschmerz, so felt like my body was on the right track. My period, referred to in the TTC world as AF (Aunt Flo), came every 28 days like clockwork. I had read that it is best to have extra friendlies, a.k.a. BD (the Big Deed), every other day during your fertile days. Naturally, this was exactly what we did. In retrospect, I approached it like an important job- which it definitely was- while sacrificing the usual romance. This determination is not unique to me. I had other friends who were TTC, and we were all completely baffled as to why our respective DHs were not always on board with this schedule. Is this not every man’s dream? Or is it really the chase?
By the forth month, at DH’s suggestion, I resorted to peeing on ovulation detection tests. These track your LH surge. Luteinizing Hormone, or LH, is what triggers the ripening egg to mature and break through the follicle leading to ovulation. This surge is detected 24-36 hours prior to ovulation and helps pinpoint the two most important days on which to BD. We were sure this was going to work!
By month 5, I consulted with a coworker, who I knew had also been struggling to conceive, and she helped me to begin charting. I purchased a basal thermometer, which you stick in your mouth at the very moment of waking, all the while trying not to make too much movement so as to accurately capture your lowest daily body temperature (BBT). It is the most accurate way to detect ovulation, as the BBT will rise on the day following ovulation and then drop off when AF arrives. I charted for a total of 6 months. I will hold off on going into the craziness that this caused me. It is a topic for a whole other blog post. Given how type A I am, I can guarantee that my charts were perfect and full of encouraging pregnancy signs until my period inevitably arrived 28 days later.
By month 8, I visited my OB-GYN, who assured me that I would get pregnant, and it was too early to panic. I was feeling really discouraged at this point, and didn’t really have anyone to talk to about it. It is one of those things people don’t tend to discuss. Just the fact that you are TTC is TMI. DH was encouraging, but did not share my worry, and I was starting to feel very lonely in all this. By months 10-12, I slowly started to open up about it and discovered a whole secret club of gals struggling to conceive. They did not simply tell me to relax and let it happen. They acknowledged my fears, shared with me their insight, and I was eternally grateful for the company. While, on the inside, I wept as friend after friend got pregnant with no problem, I really rallied for the girls in my club and rejoiced at their successes. It gave me hope.
On month 12, I revisited the OB-GYN who was no longer lighthearted about my lack of success. She ordered a hystersalpingogram (HSG),which is an X-ray in which they insert a catheter into your uterus and inject saline with dye in order to visualize your fallopian tubes. The radiology tech thought my uterus was locked down tighter than Fort Knox. After much trying and a lot of pain on my end, she was successful in inserting the catheter. My fallopian tubes looked flawless. With a negative HSG, I was started on a first round of Clomid on cycles day 5-9 and referred out to a reproductive endocrinologist (RE). Clomid is a fertility drug which stimulates the ovaries in order to induce ovulation in those who don’t ovulate naturally or to enhance maturation of the follicles in those that do. There is a small chance of multiples, as it may encourage more than one egg to be released during a cycle. The Clomid gave me hot flashes and made me want to rip DH’s head off. I did not like it one bit, and it did not result in success, so I was a little bitter about the whole experience.
By month 14, I made it in to see the reproductive endocrinologist. He was charming and cocky and made fast friends with my DH. They talked baseball and business until I tapped my fingers on the desk and reminded them that the fate of my fertility lie in their hands. DH was sent for a semen analysis, and we both were put on an antibiotic Z-pack just in case. As we were at least $1000 out of pocket at this point with no clear diagnosis, we held off on scheduling my follow-up with the RE until after my next AF.
Except, it never arrived! At month 15, I actually waited a whole five days until after it was due to discover that glorious + sign known as the BFP or Big Fat Positive. My hands were trembling while I presented DH with a card and envelope containing the test. Except, I made the mistake of presenting it to him while he was working from home and had to wait an agonizing ten minutes before he opened it.
We held our breaths for nine weeks, suffered through two incidences of bleeding, and then finally saw our beautiful bean, beating heartbeat and all. At 37 wks, our perfect angel arrived, and all was forgotten. My unexplained infertility seemed a minute detail on the road to parenthood. Stress? First baby jitters? Who cares. I was a Mom and never happier.