Thank you so much for all of your support after announcing our baby news!
I was so overwhelmed by the amount of comments, emails, and texts I received. Thank you!!!
What follows is a long post about our journey to pregnancy while overcoming a luteal phase defect.
We are so unbelievably excited and as you can imagine, it’s the biggest thing occupying my mind and heart right now. I’ve also been extremely sick and tired, so blogging has sometimes been the furthest thing from my mind. But thankfully I’m turning around the bend now and getting some new-found energy and less vomiting as I enter the second trimester.
It was so hard to keep this secret for the past two months. Almost has hard as it was to keep my mouth shut during our entire trying to conceive journey.
I hate how secretive this has to be for women. I truly think that if more of us felt able to open up about our experiences we would all be more educated and be able to support each other as a community.
So at this time I feel it is important for me to share our journey to pregnancy. For others to learn from or relate to and for me to have a way of documenting it.
I can’t tell you how many drafts or posts I wrote explaining our situation, but then got too scared to hit publish. Scared that it was too private, too scared, to whiny sounding, and too minuscule to those who have suffered through MUCH much more. Meanwhile I was scouring the web, reading other women’s’ journeys and stories, trying to relate, find peace, and someone to share the tears with.
It took us a year to get pregnant. I know that for some people who have been trying to conceive for many years, this seems like nothing. It is even very normal. But it was a very hard year.
We went into TTC (trying to conceive for this not down with the pregnancy lingo) very naively. I looked at the statistics for how long it took women to fall pregnant and thought, “we got this!”
Studies show the following breakdown of how soon women get pregnant while actively trying:
38 percent were pregnant after 1 month.
68 percent were pregnant after 3 months.
81 percent were pregnant after 6 months.
92 percent were pregnant after 12 months.
After years of trying NOT to get pregnant and being pretty healthy and young(ish) (30 at the time) I never thought we’d ever be throwing around the word infertility.
I wrote the below post only one week before discovering I was finally pregnant.As I said above, I was going back and forth deciding if I should post it.
Here is my story:
On New Years Eve 2013, Ryan and I chose to stay home and have a cozy and private celebration because what we were celebrating was very much between just the two of us.
As we toasted over champagne, we naively declared 2014 the year of Baby MacDonald and ceremoniously threw away my birth control pills.
Almost a year later, here we are celebrating the holidays, still just the two of us.
It’s been a difficult year. Every month I go through a mourning period. There is nothing else in the world that I have wanted more than being a mother.
The weight of infertility makes it hard to breathe and live a normal life. It’s a silent burden that feels shameful. It’s ridiculous that we live in a society that is so overly saturated with sex, yet we cannot talk about the process of conceiving, our bodies, or babies until women are twelve weeks pregnant. I can share intimate details about my sex life to girlfriend over cocktails, but as soon as the words, “trying to get pregnant” comes up everyone gets a little nervous.
I stopped taking the birth control pill Necon on that New Year’s Eve after being on it for 16 years. (I was put on the pill when I was 14 to help regulate bad cramps and cysts.) I started to get my body baby ready by taking pre-natal vitamins, cutting down on caffeine, and eating the right foods. I purchased all of the right tools, a basal body thermometer, ovulation predictor tests, pregnancy tests, and a copy of “Taking Charge of Your Fertility”. I downloaded apps (Glow is my favorite) to chart my cycles and was ready to go!
Well, it took my body a whole two months to get “sorted out” after discontinuing the pill. I anxiously waited, and in March I finally had my first charted ovulation and “normal” cycle. So then I began obsessively charting, temping, and perfectly timing everything. That’s what causes most of the pain. We were doing everything right. We had a plan, we were following the rules, we really really wanted this, why weren’t we having any luck?
After two more months, I began to notice a pattern. Something with my cycle wasn’t right. I did what any nervous woman would do and turned to Google. After some research I discovered that I have an infertility problem called Luteal Phase Defect.
Basically, there isn’t enough time in between when I ovulate and when my body preps to have a period for an egg to be fertilized and implant. Even if it does get fertilized, my body goes into menstruation mode and washes away the fertilized egg before it even has a chance.
The average luteal phase (time between ovulation and menstruation) is 14 days. Mine was averaging around 6-7 days, making it impossible to maintain a pregnancy.
Normally, a doctor will not see you if you’re having trouble conceiving until after one year of trying. However, if you have noted cycle troubles they will see you after six months. So at the six month mark in June, I made a nervous appointment to see my OBGYN.
She was extremely sweet and understanding and treated my worries like they were special (when I know she deals with countless women like me every week). She agreed with my diagnosis of a Luteal Phase Defect and decided to put me on progesterone suppositories. Progesterone is the hormone your body creates during the luteal phase and then throughout the first trimester of pregnancy. By taking the suppositories my body is supposed to delay starting a period, therefore lengthening my luteal phase.
I left the appointment excited and hopeful. A little too hopeful. I really thought the pills would work the first time around. Instead what they did was mimic the signs of pregnancy. Yes, they did lengthen my luteal phase from 6-7 days to 15-16 days but they also brought along a lost of nasty side effects like moodiness, weight gain, over emotional, water retention and overall made me feel crazy. And even though my cycle was now long enough to maintain a healthy pregnancy, I was still getting my period after ending the progesterone after the prescribed 13 day dosage.
The tricky thing about the progesterone suppositories is that they gave you hope. Here I was on day 31 of my cycle with no period in sight. With a high sense of hope I’d take a pregnancy test every day. Only to be met with a punch in the gut every day the test would be negative. (I became slightly obsessed with peeing on sticks, highly unhealthy addiction.)
This went on for another five months. The pills were making me crazier and every month I went through a depressed period. Usually this would last a day or two. I’d cry, become hysterical, and feel so isolated. So alone. I’d cry until I was empty and had no choice but to move forward and embrace the next cycle.
Somehow I always found a new hope, thinking this month was going to be our month.
People tell me to stop worrying. That this is normal. That some people go through so much more. But that doesn’t lessen the pain at all. I hurt so much, my work and relationships suffer. It is all I can think about.
In December, after another depressing period, I went back to my doctor to discuss next steps. She was setting up an appointment with a fertility doctor for later in the month, but in the meantime wanted me to have the HSG (hysterosalpingogram) procedure. I had heard horror stories about this procedure, about how painful it was. But I also heard that some women are extra fertile following the procedure. Basically it’s a test that checks to see if there are any blockages in your fallopian tubes and flushes them out. I casually refer to it as an oil change.
So on December 18 I had the HSG done. It wasn’t too bad! Just mildly uncomfortable with a bit of pain and over in 20 minutes. The next week during ovulation time we stayed hopeful. It was the holidays after all! But I also had that January fertility appointment in the back of my head to. I looked at that appointment like a late Christmas gift. A hope for the new year.
And what do you know? We got a different, much much much better, later Christmas present! The HSG combine with progesterone worked like a miracle and we fell pregnant that cycle!
Unbelievable! And after so much hope, worry, and tears I couldn’t believe it. Almost exactly a year after we toasted to a baby, we received the news that a baby would be joining our family in 2015!
I know that what I’ve gone through is not much compared to those suffering through years of IVF treatment, miscarriages, and other traumas. But it did give me my own heartache and shaped my year.
I hope that if you are trying to conceive and are having a little trouble that you find this hopeful or helpful. Stay strong and don’t give up that hope of a baby.