The Infertility Diaries | PCOS

If you’re currently dealing with infertility, you might have found this blog post from a random Google search on fertility treatments. Since first writing about infertility earlier this year, I’ve had so many women write in response that they found this blog in just that way, on their search for any and all information on the subject. I can relate – I was there. Twice. I devoured any article, blog post or study I could get my hands on – but I especially wanted to hear the stories. There was just something about reading a specific experience that was comforting – especially if it was a success story.

Our first bout with infertility was very short lived. After about half a year of trying, I'm lucky I had a doctor that was willing to test me at age 29 (some doctors require a year of trying if you're under thirty-five). The great team in Scottsdale diagnosed me right away with Polycystic Ovaries - basically, I'd never get pregnant on my own because I wasn't ovulating (instead the eggs just became ovarian cysts). The first round of the first drug they gave me (Clomid) worked! Simple as that. They had even set up several other tests (including the creepy dye one) that I just didn't have to do because I got pregnant right away.

It took several years after Parker was born before Max and I were ready for another baby - partly because we're both first-born Type A personalities and want to be perfect at everything, and partly because I still had anxiety about some traumatic parts of my labor and delivery with Parker. Once we were finally ready, I fully expected to follow in the footsteps of the several ladies I know who conceived naturally after having fertility treatments (remember, I know not just one but two different Mamas who had IVF twins followed by surprise babies less than a year later). When this didn't happen, I was certain that, once again, I'd just need one round of Clomid and I'd be done. 

I'm not sure if I just got lucky with my first pregnancy, or if age made things more difficult the second time around (I was now 35), but, month after month we had failed cycles. The Clomid was doing its job and causing ovulation, it just wasn't resulting in pregnancy. And while Clomid is the most mild of fertility drugs (it's oral and not injectable), the side effects seemed to accumulate. It's my personal belief (I have nothing medical to back this up) that the drug builds up in your system. The mood swings were not fun - if I wasn't crying, I'd be irrationally angry. And I stopped counting how much weight I gained, but by that sixth cycle, I had collected jeans in four different sizes (and that last size was getting snug). Obviously these are small prices to pay for a successful pregnancy, but when it's not successful, it just adds insult to injury. 

One morning after my 5th round of Clomid, I found myself at the McDonalds drive-through at eight in the morning because I had to have a sausage breakfast sandwich. I had never been to a McDonalds in Huntsville, mind you, and normally don't even eat breakfast, so I pretty much knew immediately that it was a pregnancy related symptom (something similar happened when I was pregnant with Parker) and a test later that day confirmed it. A couple weeks later after consistent McDonalds breakfasts, I woke up not hungry in the slightest and just knew that the pregnancy didn't stick. The miscarriage at least let us know that things were working - that it was still possible to get pregnant - but it also made me very wary of losing another pregnancy. I heard a woman speak on a podcast recently who had had two late miscarriages, and she explained that she couldn't connect at all to her current pregnancy, even though she was very far along. She said it was like she was saving herself from the pain, just in case it didn't work out again. 

With just one round of Clomid left, I committed to trying my very best to be the healthiest I could. Only six rounds are allowed since it causes uterine thinning and other adverse effects, and the only other options would be more invasive. We really wanted Clomid to be the answer. So the month prior to my last cycle, I gave up alcohol and caffeine. Being months into awful fertility drug symptoms, an Iced Venti Flat White from the Starbucks drive-through or a nice glass of California Pinot Noir were my best consolations, so taking them away was sad, but if it offered just a hint of success, I was going to do it. In another last ditch effort, I even tried the Keto diet for the week I was intended to ovulate because certain research showed it helped with PCOS. I ended up stopping after a week because a diet that allows bacon but forbids carrots just didn't feel that healthy to me (and really, though I technically have PCOS, my current doctor labels it "lean" PCOS since I don't have a lot of the accompanying symptoms including the issue with insulin which the Keto diet targets).

I'm not sure if it was those changes that I made, or if it was just meant to be this last cycle, but we got a positive test at three weeks one day, and were so thankful to see that heartbeat at six weeks! Looking back, we had another relatively short and easy infertility journey. I had a clear cut diagnosis, and I know that for those couples dealing with unexplained infertility, it must be so much more frustrating. I also didn't have to resort to anything injectable, and didn't have to go through the very extreme procedures of IVF like so many other women do. Wherever you are in your infertility journey, my heart goes out to you!

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