Fertility: Its Not an Exact Science

…from a reader

I tried for a baby for 5 years. It’s a long process because there are so many steps you have to take to rule out various problems.

First and foremost, and by far the easiest procedure is testing the sperm. Although guys will never agree that it’s any easy thing to do because it is humiliating but they get bragging rights when the test reports active swimmers!

I had a laparoscope inserted through my belly button, to look for blockages and everything looked normal. There was no apparent reason for my infertility. Back then, we didn’t have ovulation testing, which would have made my wait much shorter because that was my problem. After 2 ½ years of trying on our own I started having Human Chorionic Gonadotropin (hCG) injections, to induce ovulation.

The one thing we missed, was talking about my cycle length. Ovulation occurs 14 days before the start of your monthly cycle, which in a 28 day cycle is on the 14th day after your period ends. It is commonly known that women ovulate on the 14th day. I had a 32 day cycle, so my ovulation occurred 4 days later, and for the year we were sent away to try on our own, me missed the mark every month.

One doctor told me that living below sea level, which I did, was a contributing factor. However, I have never read anything to support this. Eventually I fell pregnant and had my first child after 5 years. My second child took another year of hCG injections.

The whole process can cause much stress on your relationship and it can cause depression. For me, I felt guilty going into baby stores, I felt like a thief who had no right to be there because I wasn’t pregnant. I hated knowing that friends and family were reluctant to share news of their pregnancy, for fear of hurting my feelings, which it did. Most of all I hated reminding my husband that tonight was the night.

After two children I relocated from the UK to the USA, were I fell pregnant 3 more times with no intervention whatsoever…. go figure, it’s not an exact science.

A Fertility Story in Progress

…from a reader

My husband and I are trying to conceive our first child. We are both in our late twenties. About two or three years ago, I decided to stop using hormonal birth control, which for me was the Nuvaring.

Initially I had really liked using Nuvaring, but before I quit, I was experiencing terrible mood swings and acne. At that time, my husband and I were still not ready for a child, so we used condoms.

My cycles were very irregular with some of them over 60 days long. My cycles finally started normalizing about a year ago and now range from 30 to 45 days.

We began trying for a baby thirteen months ago after I received an okay from my doctor. She said that I was healthy and that she wouldn’t be surprised if it happened right away.

The first few months, I was very excited and couldn’t wait until the end of my cycle so that I could test for pregnancy. I was noticing that my breasts were sore or that I was having more cramping than normal. I would notice a little bit of spotting and wonder if it was implantation bleeding.

Unfortunately, I haven’t received a positive test yet. Now that I’ve passed the official 12-month infertility mark, my mood has changed. Instead of being excited to see the results, frankly, I’m depressed. I think back to all of the difficulty I experienced when I stopped using Nuvaring and wonder if I’m even ovulating at all.

Even though my cycle length is more normal, about a week before my period, I spot continuously. After crying to my wonderful husband, he convinced me to be more proactive. I decided to try the supplement Vitex and a more regular exercise schedule, walking alone three times a week and run-walking with my husband three times a week.

My husband is taking L-carnitine and L-arginine to improve sperm quality. I am trying to improve my diet, but the recommendations are varied. I’ve heard that full-fat dairy everyday helps, but then I’ve also read that a low-fat diet is best. I had been a vegetarian, but I decided to start consuming small amounts of meat from grass-fed animals, about four ounces or less, and wild-caught salmon every week. My thinking is that maybe I’m deficient in nutrients found in animal meat.

I found a copy of Toni Weschler’s Taking Charge of Your Fertility, and have started checking my cervical mucus daily to improve our timing. I’m on cycle day 19 and no fertile cervical mucus yet. Either I’m ovulating late this month or not at all.

I’ve been taking this very hard because my mom was able to get pregnant at my age, 29, one month after quitting birth control, and my sister got unexpectedly pregnant at 20 and has had two more children.

I’m not ready to go back to my doctor. I’m embarrassed that I haven’t been able to get pregnant on my own yet. I feel like less of a woman sometimes, like a woman without reproductive organs. I’m hoping that the Vitex will come around and work its magic. In the meantime, I’ve decided to allow myself to have a gigantic piece of cake every time I get my period to keep my spirits up.

I think that eventually I will see my doctor again after I’ve given my recent changes a few more months. I think that I would be willing to take medication, but would probably not be open to any invasive treatments such as IVF. If we get that far, we will probably try to embrace our situation or consider adoption.

I was Adopted, but I didn’t want to Adopt

…from a reader

I was adopted as a child, my parents decided to adopt because they were getting older and couldn’t afford expensive fertility treatments. When I started dating and finally met the right guy we we’re married with the hopes that we could later have children.

My husband has great job benefits and we wanted to have kids as soon as possible. So we started about a year after we got married, I was off birth control and having a great time with the intent to conceive. I got my hopes up each time I reached for a pregnancy test.

Each month that passed I felt more and more anxious. I never knew my birth mother so I wasn’t sure of her genetics or what problems she had that I could inherit. It seemed that everywhere I went there were babies – babies at the grocery store, the mall, strollers up and down every sidewalk. I would turn on the TV and see nothing but commercials about diapers or baby formula.

To make things worse it seemed that all of my friends were having kids or getting pregnant. One close friend of mine got pregnant on accident and was bragging about how pleasant of a surprise it was. I was jealous and had what I would call “Baby Fever”.

After a year and a half of futile efforts my husband and I were persuaded to visit a fertility doctor. After a few tests he determined that my body wasn’t producing enough eggs and my uterine lining was too thin to support the environment of a fetus.

I was crushed and found myself moping about the house. Of course I could still adopt kids if I wanted to, we were both stable and qualified to adopt. It’s just that I wanted my child to have a birth mother and father. I never had the chance to know mine and wanted to pass on my and my husband’s family heritage.

We had several treatments from the doctor. I was prodded, poked, injected, and had to take several pill “cocktails”. My family was concerned and thought that it wasn’t “natural” what I was doing. They assumed I was trying to fool “mother nature”. All I wanted was kids and I was willing to do anything to get them.

After a year and a half of expensive and draining treatment I had bothered to stop testing myself to see if I was pregnant. A month or two later I noticed I was sick in my stomach in the mornings and my period was late.

Nervousness and anticipation crawled around in the back of my head as I waited for that little stick to let me know if I could achieve my dream. In my excitement I gave the stick to my husband and waited for him to read me the results. With baited breath he announced that we were a positive. I could feel a relief rush through my body and my heart beating a thousand miles a minute.

Finally I was able to go shopping for little baby booties and participate in the great selection of a crib and baby toys. I’d be able to paint what would be the “babies” room. Little did I know my fertility treatment would bless me with twins considering I had started to release more than one egg. I didn’t mind though because I considered it to be a makeup for the three years I desperately tried to get pregnant.

I’m extremely happy with my decision to use fertility treatment to help me. I guess if the treatment didn’t end up working I’d eventually adopt or attempt surrogacy. I’ve always wanted children, and now I feel so blessed to have that gift.

From Hopelessness to Triplets – Our Infertility Story

…from a reader

I found out in my early 20’s that becoming pregnant was going to be difficult for me, and yet I still did not lose hope. I wish I could say my journey was easy, that there were not times that I wanted to give up and that it was no big deal. However, I can not say that.

After struggling with infertility for six years my first husband and I divorced, he wanted children and well we had done just about everything we could to become pregnant with no success. Once our divorce was final I moved from my home town to one of the larger cities in the states.

After many years of being single I met and married my current husband, I had always been upfront with him regarding my infertility and yet he wanted to marry me anyway. We were able to start treatments within a year of getting married, we started the process by doing injections and artificial insemination.

This was not an easy process, I had to give myself shots daily in my stomach and go to the doctor every other day. The hardest part was the fact that you could not get away from it, my entire life at the time, was scheduled around our treatments. It seemed to be all I could think about and do.

Our first cycle was a failure, which did not surprise me, second cycle and third cycle were canceled. My forth cycle was my second completed cycle and it as well was a failure, we discussed IVF and made the decision to give it one more try before moving on.

I had to sit out two months due to being overstimulated, then we started again, it was my third completed cycle. I was sure that like previous cycles this was a failure as well, I took a home pregnancy test and it was negative, I was testing early but you never know.

I became depressed and said the heck with it I am going to have a beer, I stopped at three. The next evening I went to dinner with my husband, I was famished and ate everything in sight, that is till they delivered my husbands steak. At which time I became ill and could not eat. I asked for my food to be boxed up and as soon as we got home I finished it off. That night while sleeping I wake up twice to go to the bathroom, again not something I do. The next day is Sunday and I am still four days away from needing to test, but I am sick yet again and decided to go for it.

To my surprise the test turned positive right away. I was filled with so many emotions, I was scared, nervous and did not believe it. So of course I tested again, it was still positive. The next day the doctors confirmed it with a blood test and I was on my way.

Two short weeks later I learned that I was not having a baby, but I was having three. I know have three healthy six year olds and would not change a thing.

If I were just starting down this road I would want a friend, someone I could speak with that would listen. As someone who has been there I would tell you to try not to let it be all you talk about, it will start to annoy people, to take breaks when needed and to never give up. I was told one day I would never have children, now I have three.

My Infertility Answer was Weight Loss

…from a reader

I never really thought that getting pregnant would be a problem. I joked with my mom that we came from a family of women that got pregnant by men looking at us. Not knowing any better, I wasn’t even concerned when my period stopped.

My husband was very forth coming about the fact he wanted children. I wanted children as well but I wasn’t in any type of hurry to become a mother. It wasn’t until after we got married that we got serious about our plans for the future. For better or worse, my husband didn’t quite understand that the fact I wasn’t having a period indicated that there was something wrong.

My husband tried to laugh the situation off saying that he thought it was funny that I wouldn’t have married someone that didn’t want to have kids and now I might not be able to. My husband’s words hurt me but I knew that in this day and age there were a lot of options for women that had difficulty conceiving.

I researched my options to better arm myself with more information for my doctor’s visit. It took a few weeks for me to be seen but eventually I made it in to my doctor’s office to discuss my issues. My doctor discussed my health concerns with me and determined that she felt I had weight induced polycystic ovarian syndrome. She assured me that if I just lost some weight that my body rhythms would return to normal and I’d be able to conceive. However, she advised me that if she was wrong she would be interested in trying some medication to see if she could force my body into ovulation.

Losing weight may seem like an easy task for most, but I have always struggled with my weight my entire life. I’ve been run through vigorous testing with no indication about why I didn’t lose weight. Compared to my friends, I ate well and worked out; but my weight remained the same without budging.

I knew that if I wanted to have a child than I would have to get serious about my weight. I began strictly restricting my caloric intake and signed up for a gym membership. My husband, ever supportive, joined me so that I didn’t feel like I was missing anything. I soon found that working out for 2-3 hours a day, combined with walking on my breaks and keeping myself on 1,200 calories a day, I began to lose weight. Slowly I shed the pounds. I even joined competitive weight loss activities at my place of employment.

Eventually, my body rhythms returned and I was ovulating on a regular schedule. My concerns were not completely alleviated and I worried that there may be further underlying issues. However, my husband and I decided to give it a try and started trying to conceive.

Despite the fact I knew that it took the average, “healthy” couple a year to conceive I worried each month I didn’t get pregnant. I didn’t have to worry long though, after only 3 months of trying I found out that I was pregnant. And though my family has a history of miscarriages as well, my pregnancy went off without a hitch and I was blessed with an amazing little girl. I’m just hoping that it’s a little easier the second time around.