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My sub-fertility journey so far

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#1 EBeditor

Posted 11 May 2010 - 11:38 PM

Please welcome our new blogger Prue who has kindly offered to share her conception journey. - Ed.

Hello and welcome to the intimate details of my life. I am Essential Baby's blogger-in-residence for the conception section, but the irony is, I won't be giving any advice on getting pregnant the old-fashioned way.

The problem is, my husband and I have been trying to get pregnant for more than three years now, all to no avail save a positive pregnancy test last December that lasted all of three days before fading to nothing. The blood test at the end of the week showed I "did not achieve clinical pregnancy", according to my doctor's notes.

We are infertile. Actually I prefer the term sub-fertile. There is something so permanent about infertile and if I get to menopause without having a child then I will accept the infertile tag, but until then, I insist on sub-fertile.

Where to begin? In early 2006 I was editing a parenting magazine and knew absolutely bugger-all about kids, pregnancy, birth and babies. Despite having a midwife for a sister, I had no idea how to get pregnant, other than the basic logistics. I thought that all it took was a bottle of shiraz, a Dolce & Gabanna balconette bra and matching knickers and hey presto, nine months later, a bouncing baby boy or girl would emerge from my nether regions.

If only it was that easy. I started researching all things birth and baby related for my job and came upon Essential Baby, which provided me with many lightbulb moments. I was 29 and thought that I had loads of time to get knocked up. I was all about career, travel and good times. But the more I read, the more alarmed I became.

I decided to stop taking the pill and made an appointment with my GP who discovered I had a condition called polycystic ovaries (PCO) which can cause issues with ovulation and is one of the leading, but easily rectified causes of sub-fertility. I started to use a chart to plot the stages of my menstrual cycle by taking my temperature each day and marking it on a graph. It's a pretty accurate way of tracking ovulation and the good news was that the charts combined with blood tests ordered by my doctor showed I was ovulating normally. A perfect specimen and a great prospect for achieving a pregnancy.

About 8 months after stopping the pill, my partner and I took a long trip to Europe and having so far successfully avoided pregnancy by using the chart method, decided to go for gold. I invested in a bunch of little sticks that measure lutenising hormone in urine. If you get two strong lines on the sticks, ovulation is imminent, and the deed should be done.

So we threw caution to the wind, and I imagined telling our first-born they were conceived in a Munich backpacker hostel. But it didn't happen. No worries, we weren't in any rush. But the months dragged on and finally my GP referred me to a specialist who ordered a bunch of tests to check me out. Loads of blood was taken, I endured a form of torture called a HysteroSalpingoContrastSonography (HyCoSy) in which a contrast medium is pumped into the the fallopian tubes to test they are clear, and my partner was instructed to have his semen analysed more than once, but everything came back normal.

It was then the specialist decided to try me on what many women trying to conceive (or TTC as we call it in the community) believe to be a miracle drug. It was discovered when the contraceptive pill was being developed, but has the opposite effect. Rather than stopping ovulation, it encourages it, so in women with PCOS it can regulate ovulation and help them to conceive. I have a friend who has two gorgeous kids after successful Clomid cycles.

But four months on Clomid resulted in nothing but a couple of extra kilos. My specialist said there was nothing more he could do for us and referred us to a major IVF clinic in Sydney. By this stage it was almost two years since we had really started trying.

The first thing my new doctor did was order a complete workup on me, including a bunch of tests to check whether I had any auto-immune issues. This is a possible cause of recurrent miscarriage or failure for the embryo to implant in the uterine wall and as I have Crohn's Disease - an auto-immune condition - he thought it could be the cause for our lack of conception. More blood was taken - I counted 17 vials before passing out - and my partner was instructed to have another semen analysis, despite his previous good results, but I was convinced I was the one with the issues.

One month before we were due to get married we got the news. I had no problems. I was perfect. Ovulating regularly, a lovely looking uterus, clear fallopian tubes, no apparent auto-immune problems. I heard the same thing my GP originally said - I was a perfect specimen to achieve a pregnancy.

The news for my partner wasn't so good. His sperm count was fine, if a little sluggish, but the bad news was that he only had three percent normally shaped swimmers. 14 percent is considered normal, and with only three percent, the odds of us becoming pregnant naturally were exceptionally slim. And compounding the shape issue, he had something called anti-sperm antibodies, meaning the sperm were clumping together and couldn't move. It was like a rugby scrum in there. They were more interested in sticking together than swimming up to my lovely, fresh and fertile eggs. The good news was that the good sperm he had were of "high fertility potential" according to the Sperm Chromatin Structure Assay (SCSA) which is used to measure DNA fragmentation. This meant that all wasn't completely lost.

Hopefully we can get there, we just need a bit of help. And hopefully, this will be the shortest lasting blog on Essential Baby!

- Prue

#2 GeraniumQueen

Posted 12 May 2010 - 01:22 AM

Hi Prue and welcome to the EB family original.gif

I have linked your blog in the AC section!

Good Luck with it all, hope your blog is a short one (I mean this in the nicest kind of ways wink.gif )


#3 Mariamsmum

Posted 12 May 2010 - 06:41 PM

Good luck on your AC journey...it's one hell of an emotional rollercoaster so strap yourself in tightly for the ride.

One thing I've noticed in my journey, is that the "blame" can't be put on one partner, you are both in it together. Also be prepared for the fact that IVF might not work first go. I was told that because I was young, had good lining, had been pregnant before that I was an "easy". Who guessed it would take 5 cycles and a lot of experimentation with drug protocol before we were successful?

All the best in your AC efforts.

Edited by Mariamsmum, 12 May 2010 - 06:42 PM.

#4 Lifesgood

Posted 12 May 2010 - 06:47 PM

It's such a creeping, insidious kind of shock when you slowly begin to realise you are failing to get pregnant month after month, year after year. Especially when the rest of the world seems to do it so easily. And even more so if you are a mega-organised control freak and career person who is used to putting in an effort and getting a result.

Take heart Prue - you are what is known in the AC world as a very young woman, and your odds are quite good original.gif I wish you all the best in your journey.

Edited by LifesGood, 12 May 2010 - 06:47 PM.

#5 ToddlerWrangler

Posted 12 May 2010 - 06:50 PM

Hi Prue,
Welcome to EB, I wish you well on your adventure and hope to see some good news soon!
p.s. Isnt Prue a great name  wink.gif

#6 *LG*

Posted 12 May 2010 - 08:53 PM

hi Prue,
thanks for sharing your journey. When you look at it, you wonder how you don't become pregnant (especially with monitored cycles). I guess at the end of the day, when we eventually get there they will be the most wanted bubs in the planet ;-)

Good luck, I hope that the rest of your journey is short and sweet!

#7 Wut??

Posted 12 May 2010 - 08:56 PM

p.s. Isnt Prue a great name
A great name for a great chick.

#8 LynnyP

Posted 12 May 2010 - 09:05 PM

How well do you write!  I am looking forward to a few brief and elegant entries and then a renamed blog for your next journey.

#9 Chill-Pill

Posted 12 May 2010 - 09:18 PM

Thanks for sharing your blog, its great to hear someone elses journey of trying to conceive written with such honesty but with such a light hearted humour to it as well. We are also sub-fertile and not ready for the infertility label just yet! All the best with your fertility treatment and I look forward to reading your next post.

#10 dadphil

Posted 12 May 2010 - 09:30 PM

GeraniumQueen welcomed all to the new blog by greeting us all with Hi Ladies (and token guy).  Well I'm the token guy.

My wife and I are starting down this whole process (it will have to be embryo adoption for us) and wea are really keen to find out as much as we can, from wherever we can.


#11 Guest_~Sal_*

Posted 12 May 2010 - 09:38 PM

Great blog.  Thanks for sharing Prue.  I wish you all the luck in the world.

#12 BlancheNeige

Posted 13 May 2010 - 01:06 AM

Yay, finally an EB blog worth reading! Great writing Prue.

#13 Seanj

Posted 13 May 2010 - 03:58 AM

Hello Prue,

Well done on the blog, it can't be easy keeping a good-humored tone to a piece about sub-fertility. Your writing is clean and succinct, as I'd expect from an Editor, and a pleasure to read.

Thank you for sharing. Sometimes I think even the medicos forget there can be more than one fertility issue with a couple - it seems your PCOS was focused on to the exclusion of other issues. It's valuable to get such stories out there.

#14 kelseyanne

Posted 13 May 2010 - 12:17 PM

Hi Prue,

thanks for sharing with us in your journey. It is so nice to see a blog that is not whinging about all the difficulties of being a mum!

I too am unpregnant and about to embark on IUI/IVF.

Good luck!

#15 Acidulous Osprey

Posted 13 May 2010 - 07:24 PM

Welcome Prue!

#16 paris-stella

Posted 14 May 2010 - 01:39 PM

Welcome and hopefully your AC journey will not be too much longer.

I too had an AC journey to get PG with my DD.  I was 28 at the time and Dr's were not keen to help me as I had not hit the magic 30. I did not fit the profile of someone having PCOS, and they did not want to test for that, but reluctantly did after much instance from me.  

We spend so much time trying not to get pregnant and like you, I did not know the first thing about getting pregnant and thought that once I wanted to, I simply would. When it does not happen, there are tears and tantrums and feelings of failure.  I was constantly told by my mum (who only had to have thoughts of getting PG and she would) that I would have no trouble. She did not know we were trying, and didnt know that every word was a crushing blow.

Friends would offer suggestions of ways to increase chances of pregnancy. Once I was told to eat more icecream - if it was only that simple - All of the IVF clinics would be out of business if women ate more ice cream.

Lucky for us, our last cycle of Clomid gave us a BFP. Like you, we were told that there was nothing more that could be done for us, apart from IVF.  

Good luck on your journey and i look forward to reading about your sticky BFP.

#17 prue~c

Posted 14 May 2010 - 03:09 PM

Thanks for the welcome everyone. I must admit, it is a bit daunting coming out of the closet, so to speak. Most of our friends and colleagues know about our AC journey, and if they don't, I'm sure they will now *waves at colleagues*.  original.gif

After a couple of Friday vinos, the eyes of my friends inevitably start rolling as I tell them not to wait, and start giving detailed descriptions of exactly how to self-administer an injection, or what an IUI or embryo transfer entails.

But all they want to know about is the, ahem, "deposit' room. Umm, how the hell would I know? rolleyes.gif

So thanks again, and I'm just warning everyone, I am a pretty prolific writer and I have a lot of back-story to tell, so stay tuned.


#18 pundelina

Posted 14 May 2010 - 09:24 PM

Hey Prue wub.gif you're out!

#19 hernette

Posted 15 May 2010 - 09:09 PM

Hi Prue!

While we haven't had to start IVF (yet) I could relate when you wrote about the blood tests.  After I saw the phlebotomist take out the 9th vial I was just hoping she'd leave some in there laughing2.gif

#20 Prizzy

Posted 17 May 2010 - 02:14 PM

Welcome Prue. I hope your stay is short and sweet darling.

#21 j-babe

Posted 17 May 2010 - 07:49 PM

Welcome Prue,

Your blog really resonnated with me.  I've been trying to concieve for just over 2 years and am about to start my second IVF cycle.  It is such a sad and frustrating journey (especially as you say, people all around seem to fall pregnant so easily). I think it is very brave of you to share your story.

Whilst it is sad to ever hear about someone else suffering in/sub-fertility I am looking forward to reading your blog and hearing more from a woman like me ie struggling to get pregnant.  

Hopefully your AC journey will be a short one!

#22 bubba-licious

Posted 17 May 2010 - 07:57 PM

Hi Prue,

We too are staring down the 'assisted' conception path. I look forward to reading your blog & following your journey.


#23 monty fatcat

Posted 19 May 2010 - 04:43 PM

Hi Prue,

Welcome and thanks for the great blog!!!  I wanted to add some info to help others out there on the AC path - I work in an IVF clinic.  The quality of semen analysis reports varies between laboratories and we would advise that at least one if performed in a specialised laboratory that has scientists specifically trained to recognise factors that impact upon fertility.  Your example of the sperm morphology was a good one!

Another note on sperm DNA fragmentation testing, including SCSA - there is much hype around this but little clinical outcome data to say that the testing will actually help you achieve a pregnancy.  For this to occur, labs would have to isolate specific sperm that showed good results but this kind of technology is not yet available.

Best of luck in your journey and to anyone else out there on the AC path.

#24 Rusky99

Posted 20 May 2010 - 12:04 PM

I would like to thank you for sharing your journey with all of us.  I have been TTC for a while now, had a miscarriage early on and am now trying to figure out where to go next.

When I had my miscarriage, I was very grateful to a few friends and workmates who had previously been open about their difficulties in TTC.  It made me feel normal!  I didn't necessarily need to talk to anyone in depth, just knowing that I wasn't alone made me feel better.

So to everyone above, thank you for being so open about your struggle.

#25 jellywombat

Posted 26 May 2010 - 01:03 PM

Hi Prue.

Just thought I'd comment on your post. I really can't complain at all about fertility issues as I fell pregnant on the first cycle after coming off the pill for about 15yrs. Pregnancy and birth were text book and my DD is now 6yrs old. A couple of years ago I decided that I really wanted another child but as I ended up getting retrenched after 14yrs then 6 months later my DH got retrenched after 18yrs the thought of another child was put on the backburner. About 6 months later I managed to get a full-time job and ended up being the breadwinner for 2 1/2yrs before DH was able to get himself a job. DD started prep last year so I left work to be a stay at home mum. Thats when I decided that it was now or never. I came off the pill and nothing happened. For 6 months I tried and was unsuccessful so I ended up going back on the pill. I managed to then lose some weight, almost 40kg actually and about a month ago I came off the pill again. I have my fingers crossed something happens this time as I'm almost 40. As I said previously, I really have nothing to complain about and feel very fortunate. My sister on the other hand is in the same category as yourself. She turned 40 last year and I believe has been trying for about 5yrs to fall pregnant, She has been diagnosed with polycystic ovaries as well as endometriosis. Her DH injured himself at work so is now on a disability pension so therefore they cant afford IVF. I feel for her not being able to fall pregnant as I know myself what a joy it is. My only hope is that one day she will be lucky enough to experience it for herself. I have my fingers crossed for myself but it will happen, and I know I am very lucky. I really do hope you are able to fall pregnant and experience the joys of motherhood.

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