Amy is back today to share Part II of her story. If you missed the first portion, you can catch up and read it here: The Loss Nobody Talks About.
Admitting There Is a Problem
After still not ovulating months after my miscarriage, with the maximum dosage of Clomid, in October 2013, my OBGYN referred me to a fertility specialist, Dr. Barry Witten. I researched him and he sounded very experienced, professional, and caring. I was nervous about going to see a fertility specialist. It seemed like a huge deal and an admission that something was wrong. Looking back, I want to tell myself, “DUH! Something was wrong!” and I wish I had pushed to go to a specialist sooner!
Fertility Doctor and IUI’s
At first, I simply met with Dr. Witten, and he looked at my records. I wanted a plan right away, but he wanted to perform another ultrasound to look at my ovaries and look at blood work while we waited for the right point in my cycle. As soon as the information came together, Dr. Witten put me on a medication called Femara to help my eggs grow. Then, Dr. Witten suggested that in addition to the medication, that he do IUI’s (read about what these are on Lindsay’s IUI entry). Again, I was hesitant. I didn’t like thinking that Tyler and I would conceive a baby through a medical procedure. But it wasn’t that bad, and I know that if I hadn’t done them, that each following month that passed that we didn’t conceive, we would be wondering if the IUI would have made the difference and we would be regretting not getting them.
A Diagnosis: PCOS
During the initial cycle with Dr. Witten, he had done an ultrasound of my ovaries and told me I was “a little egg lady”. LOL – what on Earth?! He told me that instead of having one big egg each cycle, that I had lots of little eggs. Unfortunately, these eggs weren’t big enough to ovulate.
I cannot speak more highly of my fertility doctor, but in hindsight, I wish that he had told me there was a name for this at that early point – Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). After the second round of IUI’s not working, Dr. Witten mentioned this term, saying it was the number one hormonal reason for infertility. Tyler (a.k.a. “The Learner”) did research on this ‘little egg lady’ syndrome, and found a study that showed that women with PCOS who struggled with infertility and followed a low-GI diet had much higher fertility rates. Finally! I had something I could do in a situation I was feeling powerless to stop! But what on Earth was a low GI diet?!?
I learned that having PCOS means that my body doesn’t do the best job of processing sugars, thus messing with my hormones, kind of similar to someone with diabetes. I quickly picked up Low GI Diet for Dummies from the library and learned about how different foods (and even cooking methods!) mess up my hormones. Most High-GI foods are high in starches, carbs, and/or sugars, so, for the first time in my life, I started paying close attention to carbs! I had always sought out low-fat foods, but never really stopped to consider the damage that carbs and sugars were doing. Who knew that these ‘staple’ foods were not only turning into fat, but that they were messing up my hormones so much that it was lowering my fertility! Good-bye, bread! Good-bye cocktails! Good-bye, pasta! Good-bye, potatoes! By my next IUI, I had tried out lots of new, yummy recipes, greatly reduced my intake of carbs and sugars, and lost a few pounds. I was very hopeful that the next and third IUI would be the one!
Losing Faith/ Other Options
Well, you would think I would be used to disappointment by this point in time, but each let down was still a crushing blow. When my third IUI was supposed to roll around in January 2014, my doctor did an ultrasound to confirm that an egg was ready to be released, only to find that my body was not ready to ovulate. Despite my efforts over the last couple of weeks, for the first time since being on Femara, no eggs had increased in size. My doctor said that instead of doing the IUI, we would start the cycle over with a stronger dosage of Femara. I felt like I was entering the post-miscarriage months all over again. Some initial success followed by mysterious failure after failure. Despite this, I kept up the low-GI diet. After another couple of weeks, the stronger dosage did produce an egg that ovulated and we were able to do an IUI… but still no conception. Yet another let down as Tyler and I were nearing the 2 year mark.
By my fourth IUI, Tyler and I had increased our research in InVitro Fertilization (IVF), as well as some other alternatives to becoming parents the ‘traditional’ way. I was feeling like this infertility struggle wasn’t ending anytime soon. I also knew that even if I was blessed enough to become pregnant, that miscarriage was a very real possibility.
What we were finding ourselves most called to was domestic infant adoption. We attended an adoption informational meeting put on by a local agency. We had begun filling out the initial application, trying to prepare ourselves for the possible complications, legal issues, and waiting time for getting to adopt a baby, not to mention the responsibility of raising a baby that might not look like us.
By this point in my low-GI journey, I had lost over 10 pounds, and was feeling the most physically fit I had since I started dating Tyler back in my early college years. I was really seeing the results of my diet kicking in, but starting to feel pulled away from pregnancy and wanting to invest myself more into pursuing adoption. We think it’s because of the low-GI diet that, before the IUI, my doctor even told me that this month, I had TWO big eggs that were ready to ovulate.
The night of March 3, 2014, after our fourth round of IUI and two years after getting off birth control, Tyler and I got another positive pregnancy test! In the weeks to come, we found out that we were having twins!
Later, we found out that our babies would be a boy and a girl! We’d like to say that we were as confident about these babies as we were about BunBun, but there’s something about going through infertility and miscarriage that a) makes you hesitant to be fully excited (but thankfully that’s getting easier with each OB appointment) and b) makes you realize how fragile life is, and really makes you value it and be thankful for it. We are due in November, have gone from lamenting our circumstances to feeling extremely blessed, and are anxiously looking forward to holding our twins in our arms!
To You, The Reader
For me, I think what helped me conceive in the end was finding a great fertility specialist, fully understanding my PCOS diagnosis, limiting high GI foods, and time. I do feel, as with going through any difficult life experience, forever changed by this struggle (in negative and positive ways), I am believing more and more that, while I might not understand why I had to go through this, that it was for a reason, or maybe several reasons:
1. During this time in my life, I became a lot closer with my aunt, who tried for 10 years to have children, and never did. 2. While I’m sure that I still say and do things out of ignorance towards others’ situations, I feel a lot more genuine empathy to others. 3. I also developed a strong heart for fostering and adoption, and, while no one knows what the future will bring, Tyler and I see ourselves possibly fostering to adopt a sibling set after the twins are ‘big kids’.
For those of you wishing for a baby: Your feelings are valid. Infertility truly does suck. Miscarriage does suck. No one talks about it. Those two years created the worst times and feelings in my life thus far. I hope that you can share your struggle with friends that are going through it, or that have gone through it. I hope the journey doesn’t take you as long as it’s taking / has taken me, but unfortunately I know that many women spend longer amounts of time waiting; often with more heartbreak.
I do believe there is a plan for you. It may be InVitro, it may be adoption, it may be waiting, it may be IUI’s, or it may be, like my aunt, discovering lots of happiness and fulfillment without having her own children. Just know, you are not alone in this struggle!
Major thanks to Amy for sharing her struggle, her story, and her absolutely marvelous news with us! I’m so excited to meet your littles when they enter this world!