This post is an inevitable one on an infertility blog, isn’t it? The super long and rambly post recounting every single step we’ve taken to get to where we are today on our long, exhausting infertility journey. Some will have a happy ending, some will be filled with words of hope, and some will be absolutely heart-breaking. I don’t know what this one will be. I haven’t finished writing it yet. So, here it is. I’ll try and keep it to the essentials, but I’ve been known to run on a tangent from time to time. I will say that some of my dates might be a little fuzzy as I never wrote anything down and I will go ahead and blame my PCOS here, as it has the tendency to give me serious brain fog.
I decided to split this post up into a few posts after I sat down to write it and realized I was actually writing a small dissertation, versus a nice, succinct blog post. I can be quite long-winded when I write, but I really want to get it all it out. I want to be completely clear with myself on how things went. As I’m writing this post, I’m already amazed at how far we’ve come on this journey, and how incredibly naive we were when we first started out. Which I think is the way it should be. I think prospective parents should be a little naive. I mean, if we were all completely aware of everything that could possibly go wrong, or what hurdles may lay in our wait, would we even try and get pregnant in the first place? I don’t think we ever really ask ourselves these questions until we’re faced with the possibility of infertility. And like I said before, it kinda just sneaks up on you. I don’t think any of us really anticipate it at all.
So, let’s start from the beginning.
I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in February or March of 2014. My doctor told me I was diabetic, prescribed metformin to me and recommended that I go see a nutritionist. That was it. There was no mention of PCOS. No mention of insulin resistance. Just an indifferent, “You have diabetes, way to go for fucking up your body. Take these pills. Go see this nutritionist who is going to tell you to follow the Canada food guide (Even though you already are). Have a nice life. Smell ya later!”
I was devastated.
How could I have done this to myself? I had always thought I was a relatively healthy eater. Not perfect, but better than most people in my social circle. I took his advice and went to see the nutritionist, she, as I had predicted, told me to stick to the Canada food guide and to watch my sweet tooth. That was about it.
What does this have to do with my infertility, you ask? Well, one of the most serious side effects of PCOS is insulin resistance. Much like diabetics, women with PCOS require higher amounts of the hormone insulin to use up our body’s glucose and turn it into energy. Since my body is resistant to insulin, the result is that I end up with too much glucose in my bloodstream and my blood sugars can be very unpredictable. I can see why the doctor was very quick to diagnose me with type 2 diabetes, but obviously, my case is a bit more complicated. I believe I should have been diagnosed with insulin resistance, and not type 2 diabetes exclusively.
In the summer of 2014, we did the whole not trying but not preventing thing, as we were getting married the following June. We didn’t really take it too seriously because I had an inclination that it was going to take us awhile to conceive. I had had irregular menstrual cycles since I was 16. One doctor told me I had cysts on my ovaries, and that’s why they were so irregular. Another told me my hormones were imbalanced and my body didn’t create a sufficient amount of progesterone. They were technically both correct, but neither of them diagnosed me with PCOS.
A few months after our wedding in August of 2015, I went to see a new OBGYN. I live in a very small town, and it’s difficult to get in to see anyone, especially a gynaecologist. Good ones are pretty rare around here. I told him I was newly married and ready to start a family. (A phrase I have since reevaluated and no longer use) He sent me for a bunch of tests and diagnosed me with Polycystic ovarian syndrome.
I was told I didn’t have any cysts on my ovaries anymore. He informed me that you can, in fact, have PCOS and not have any cysts on your ovaries, that PCOS is primarily a hormone-related syndrome. While I was happy to finally have a diagnosis, I was really starting to worry about the state of my baby-making parts.
According to my calculations, they hadn’t been working properly for around a decade. I have let them do their own thing for 10 years. Selfishly too. I LOVED that I wasn’t getting a regular period. It was awesome. I saved so much money on tampons and pads, and I never had the same cramps or bloating that all of my friends complained about. It was like I got to experience all of the great things about being a woman, without the arguably unanimous worst part. Come on, we all know it’s the worst part. Never in my life did I ever think I would be hoping and wishing for my period to come back. But that day did come, and don’t worry, I definitely picked up on the hilarity of it all. It did not escape me!
The doctor told me to go on birth control for 3 months to reset my system. It sounded so counter-intuitive to me. But if you’ve ever experienced fertility problems, you’ve probably had a doctor recommend the pill to you. I did it anyway because I was scared and he was a doctor, and doctors know everything, right? It was not a pleasant experience. My periods were long, and heavy, and did I mention long? Like 2-3 weeks long. Which isn’t the longest period I’ve ever had, but this post is already TMI, so I’ll skip the gory details.
He planned on prescribing me Clomid when I finished my 3 rounds of the pill, which if you’re in the TTC community, you’ll know is touted as a magical little pill that will help you ovulate, and consequently, help you get pregnant. I wanted that shit so bad. I remember googling how to order it online without a doctor’s prescription. I was crazy, you guys. I’m not proud. But infertility can do that sometimes. When I finished my 3 rounds, I called his office to find out that he had left town and they were waiting for his replacement. I was already chomping at the bit to get my hands on that Clomid. I think this is when the googling happened. They assured me it wouldn’t be too long of a wait. I didn’t believe them and started looking into other doctors.
This was around the time that I started to really struggle emotionally with my infertility. And of course, being the private and proud person that I am, I didn’t really open up to anyone. Except for my husband. He went through every emotion with me. He let me cry when I needed to cry. He laid with me in bed when I couldn’t get myself up for the day. I honestly don’t know what I would have done without him. He was always there for me, and he never made me feel guilty or ashamed of the feelings I needed to feel. I obviously love him, I married him. But I will always love him just that extra bit more because of that.
It took us MONTHS to get in to see a new doctor. As I mentioned previously, we live in a small, remote area. There are no fertility clinics or reproductive endocrinologists. I was put on a few 8-12 month waiting lists, but no one ever called. In fact, I think I’m still on a few of those lists. Good thing I was pro-active. I’d probably still be waiting to see a doctor! A friend of mine recommended her gyno, who was about an hour away from where we live. I called to see if he was taking any new patients, and to my surprise he was and I was able to book an appointment for the next month.
In Spring of 2016, I went for my first appointment with this new gyno, ready to demand the magic pill Clomid. A pill I had googled for hours on end and watched a million youtube success stories about. I mean, I ONLY had PCOS. These other women had, like, a million different wrong with them. PCOS wasn’t that bad. Clomid would fix everything. Right? He ran some tests and prescribed me Clomid. I was so pumped. I took the Clomid and we did our thing every other night starting from the 10th day of your cycle. Yup, that’s right. When you’re undergoing fertility treatments, you’re told when and when not to have sex. Which is suuuuuper romantic.
It actually takes the fun out of everything and puts a lot of pressure on both partners. We gave it a go anyway. We had nothing to lose, and everything to gain. We were so excited and so incredibly naive, but I’ll save all of that for another post.