Infertility is not a topic I blog about all that often anymore, and I certainly could have reduced this to a single paragraph on my ‘About Me’ page. But this story is such a big part of who I am, I decided to leave it here for the world to see. If you arrived here hoping to read about frugality and mindful living, and don’t care to read this, I certainly won’t be offended. And if you do choose to read this, and don’t understand a damned thing I’ve written here, consider yourself one of the lucky ones. I wouldn’t wish infertility on my worst enemy.
I took my last BCP in October 2007, and we started TTC the following month. Because I was approaching the ripe old age of 35, and had been having night sweats for years, I started temping by December of that year. It appeared that I was ovulating consistently every month.
By April 2008, I knew something wasn’t right. Several months of perfectly timed baby dancing, and no BFP. So I made an appointment with my GP, and got a referral to a fertility specialist. As luck would have it, we got in to see him the very next month. By June, we had all the usual testing under our belts, and it appeared that I was in perfect health. We did find some moderate male factor issues, however- poor motility, and less-than-ideal sperm count. Due to our ages, we decided to dive right into IUI.
We had our first IUI in July 2008. I was on a low dose of clomid to improve our chances, however it thinned my uterine lining, and it gave me the most severe hot flashes and night sweats I had ever had! Horrible… and obviously, it resulted in a BFN. We switched to Gonal-F with a trigger shot for IUI #2. Again, BFN, despite having four good follicles at the time of trigger. Onward to IUI #3. Our FS was happy with my response to the Gonal-F, so we kept the same protocol. I had two IUI’s that month, 24 hours apart- one on September 11th, one on the 12th. On September 24th, I woke up early to pee- it was to be the day of my beta draw, so I decided to try a HPT. At last, we got our BFP!!! And at 6w5d, we say that perfect little heart beat!
The pregnancy progressed relatively smoothly- aside from the usual pregnancy discomforts, and I had a beautiful baby girl on June 13, 2009. I had been induced the day before for low fetal heart rate, and after 14 hours of labour, ended up having an emergency c-section- after I had gotten an epidural, her heart rate took another nose dive. It didn’t matter, though- she was here! I could hardly believe my good luck!
The next day, late in the evening, I noticed my little girl having episodes of cyanosis (turning blue). At first I was in denial- we worked so hard to conceive her, so there was no way anything could be wrong! But after a couple of these episodes, there was no denying something wasn’t right. After I finally got one of the nurses to witness an episode (this took a few hours- every time I called them to my room, she was fine by the time the nurse got there), my girl was admitted to the NICU. From what they could tell, she appeared to be having seizures, but the hospital we were in was not equipped to run all the necessary tests to figure out why, so she was sent to another hospital in the city, and admitted to the NICU there. After two days of testing- lumbar punctures, echocardiograms, EEG’s, lots of bloodwork, chest x-rays, and finally, an MRI- we were informed that she had had a large stroke.
I’ll spare you the details of that time, but I will say it was a dark time for us, filled with anger, sadness, and constantly wondering why this had happened to our little girl. We did find out that there was a whole host of problems that led to her stroke- late delivery, induction, emergency c-section, and the icing on the cake- prothrombin gene mutation, inherited from hubby. He never knew he had it, as he had no health issues. Because we had already had a negative pregnancy outcome and we now knew about this genetic issue, any subsequent children we decided to have would have to be delivered by planned cesarian, to eliminate all other risk factors. Fine by me! Little did I know at the time, I would never get the chance.
AF made her ugly return in November 2009 (despite the fact that I was still exclusively breastfeeding at the time… I feel like I totally got ripped off! But I digress….), and we decided that since we had trouble conceiving the first time, we would just ‘not try, not prevent’ further pregnancies, and see what happened. It took exactly a year, but in November 2010, I got a surprise BFP! We were shocked, and thrilled! But the happiness was short-lived. By mid-December, I was sent to the ER because I was having severe pain in my chest, severe abdominal bloating, dizziness to the point of almost blacking out in an education session at work. My pregnancy was ectopic. It was also a blighted ovum, so the diagnosis was tricky, but after multiple ultrasounds over 2 days, there was no doubting it. I started to miscarry naturally, and no intervention was required. Lucky again. Though I had no idea what kind of shape my tube was in.
I had another pregnancy in April of 2011. I was terrified, and when I started experiencing a bit of pain in May at 6w5d, I went to the ER and had a beta drawn and an ultrasound. Beta was low, and the gestational sac was measuring about 4w. I had another beta drawn two days later, and it was dropping. I took misoprostol, and had a complete miscarriage at home.
We asked for a referral to return to our FS at this point. We just wanted to make sure everything was still OK. We got in to see him in October of that year. On top of the two miscarriages I had had by then, I was 99.999% sure I had a couple of chemical pregnancies as well, but had no proof. I was very concerned, but all testing came back normal. We kept trying, and conceived again in December 2011. This pregnancy was closely monitored. My beta started out doubling normally, but then had a blip- it didn’t double in a five day period, but then started doubling again normally. We assumed it was a vanishing twin, but turned out to be a blighted ovum. Another round of misoprostol at 9w2d, and another complete miscarriage at home. Devastated.
We had our RPL testing at this point, but I was distraught and exhausted, and didn’t return to get the results until sometime in the summer of 2012. I wasn’t expecting to find anything anyway, as I had already had one normal pregnancy. Well, we did find something- I had elevated levels of anticardiolipin antibodies. A subsequent blood test confirmed that I had antiphospholipid syndrome. I was relieved to have a diagnosis, and treatment plan- baby aspirin every day, and fragmin injections with our next BFP.
It took a few months, but got that BFP in January 2013. I was so sure this one was it- after all, we were doing everything right! But once again, my betas started out doubling appropriately, but then had a blip- this one wasn’t as bad, though. Doubling times remained in the normal range, but just slowed quite a bit before speeding up again. I had an eerie feeling, but tried to stay positive. First ultrasound at 6w3d showed a slow heartbeat (80-90bpm) and the gestational sac was measuring five days behind. The next ultrasound at 7w6d showed baby measuring 10 days behind with a still slow heart beat. The final ultrasound at 9w1d showed no heart beat and no growth. It was our last shot. I was devastated. I went off my progesterone, aspirin and fragmin, and five days later, took another round of misoprostol.
We had decided that this pregnancy was to be our last shot, no matter what the outcome. We took steps to permanently end all possibility of pregnancy in the spring of 2014, and are now moving on with our lives. We are an insanely busy- but happy- family of three. And I’m here to share everything that is important to me with anyone who cares to read it. Welcome!