Thursday, April 24, 2014

Amanda's Battle Against Infertility

Hi Luvs!

For those of you who may not know this week is National Infertility Awareness Week, and although I celebrate my blessing (Baby O) with you all daily I am aware that there are some couples who’d love to be blessed with a child of their own. This is why I reached out to a former co-peep/friend to see if she’d be willing to honor this week by sharing her battle with infertility. She graciously agreed so today and tomorrow I’ll be sharing her testimony, which I truly hope will be source of encouragement for some and educate others.

Her Testimony
Hi!  My name is Amanda E and I can normally be found blogging about vegetarian food over at DancingVeggies. Many moons ago I worked with Sheena and during that time I started opening up with her about the struggle my husband and I had been having conceiving.  In talking to Sheena, and a number of other awesome ladies, I started becoming more comfortable talking about our journey. This past week I have been sharing various infertility factoids on Facebook in honor of National Infertility Awareness Week which is why I quickly agreed to write this guest post when Sheena asked. Below is my story...

My husband and I were wed in April of 2012 and we knew pre-wedding that we wanted kids - the sooner the better!  We did the "not trying, not preventing" thing for a bit while I investigated the best "methods" to get pregnant. Luckily I was working with a number of moms and one of them told me all about temping and tracking.  The best part was that this method was free, and didn't involve any strange fruits!  All I needed to do was download one of the many fertility tracking apps, I went with Fertility Friend, and take my temperature immediately upon waking.  This temperature is known as a person's basal body temperature (bbt) and in women it varies based on where you are in your cycle.  In finding out where in the month I had an ovulation dip, we were better able to pinpoint exactly which days were the MUST HAVE SEX days.  In my case this was around the 20th day of my cycle, marked by a very clear dip in temperature and followed by a fast rise.  Two cycles later, in October of 2012, I was pregnant!  However within two days I started bleeding and experienced what I learned was called a chemical pregnancy (CP).  We took time to collect ourselves but resolved to keep going, knowing that 20% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage.  In late January of 2013 I had a very unusual period and after a blood test learned that I had experienced another chemical pregnancy.  At this time we had only been trying for 6 months but my OB/GYN realized that my husband and I needed help and sent us over to a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE), something that normally happens after a year of trying for people under the age of 34.  For folks 35+ a RE is normally recommended after 6 months of trying, while couples over 40 are told to go in ASAP.  So we went for our consultation and officially began our Infertility Journey on April 21, 2013 - the day before our 1st Anniversary.

The Beginning
Our first meeting easily ranks among the scariest most nerve wracking moments of my adult life.  We had no idea what to expect, and most importantly had no idea if they could help us.  After all, we had no problem getting pregnant; it was just staying that way.  To say that first meeting was eye-opening doesn't begin to cover it.  We learned that 1 in 6 couples suffer from infertility and that there is no one type of infertility.  We discussed all the types of treatment available, the (terrifying) costs associated with each, and the general timeline we were looking at.  From our first appointment it was made clear that as there is no one type of infertility, there is also no one treatment for infertility and that even if all known treatments were used there was still a chance that biological children wouldn't happen.  Eager to begin, we went from the consultation room to the lab where I had my first blood draw.  The first step was to figure out what was causing our infertility, in the hopes that it would be an "easy" fix.  My blood was sent off for kerotyping, to insure that I was chromosomally normal, and a full battery of genetic testing. The first sigh of relief came when my tests came back normal, outside of a known clotting issue, which doubled when my husband's blood test also came back clean. 

Getting Personal
Once the "easy" tests were done it was time to move on to the more intimate tests.  For my husband that meant a sperm analysis (SA), where his swimmers would be investigated to insure that they were the right quality and quantity.  We were beyond thrilled to learn that his swimmers were in the Michael Phelps category, acing the tests in quantity, mobility, and morphology.  I was up next, facing a test that I had read multiple horror stories about: the hysterosalpingogram (HSG).  I was sick to my stomach the morning of my apt, and instead of working up until my apt time, I was in the bathroom dry heaving with fear.  While most other tests are relatively painless to perform, the HSG test involves inserting dye in to the uterus and Fallopian tubes by threading a catheter up through the cervix.  There is no sedative, and unlike annual checkups there are generally no stirrups to help keep things were they should be - just a nurse (or two).  Even during my long drive to the apt I was debating cancelling it, or in the very least finding an open bar within walking distance of the clinic.  In the end I sucked it up, knowing that this test could eliminate/diagnosis a number of infertility issues including: misshapen uterus, blocked tubes, or endometriosis.  Since I had already had 2 CPs, though only the second one was officially counted by the RE as there was no clinical proof of the first one, it was suspected that my issue could be a poorly designed uterus.  In the end this test was like all the others - my reproductive system was practically perfect in every way. At this point we knew what it wasn't but still had no idea what it was, which is when we became part of the 20% of infertile couples that suffer from unexplained infertility.  The primary testing had ended, it was time for treatment.  

TI Time
After a much needed vacation, and some hardcore budgeting talks, we decided to start infertility treatments in early June of 2013.  Since we had no infertility coverage we elected to start with a medicated monitored Timed Intercourse (TI) protocol.  This treatment option meant we only had to pay out of pocket for the medications as the monitoring appointments were included under my standard ob/gyn coverage.  On days 3-9 of my cycle I took Clomid, going in for monitoring on days 3 and 7.  The side effects began on day 4, and it was at this point that I had to start opening up about what was going on.  From around the clock hot flashes to intense mood swings, it became apparent to those closest to me that something was up.  The slightest thing could set me off, including some idiot who didn't understand the concept of a maiden name.  Thankfully the mood swings stopped with the Clomid and the (self-administered) trigger shot on cycle day (CD) 10 was a walk in the park.  Since we were doing TI, there were no restrictions on being intimate - in fact it was HIGHLY encouraged!  I started taking progesterone supplements around CD 15 and quickly had to adjust my wardrobe to account for the water weight and breast growth.  We found out via a blood test (BETA) that our TI protocol did not work.  

We were devastated but after a few days of discussing our options, and further budget analysis, we decided to bite the bullet and try an Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) cycle. Yup! We finally accepted that we were going to need some form of medical intervention – and was praying that it would worth be the financial and emotional cost.  

Thanks for reading and don't forget to come back tomorrow to find out if IUI worked for Amanda

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