On May 25, 2007 I published one of my first articles at Blogcritics. It was a very personal piece called "Can’t Get Pregnant? You are Not Alone", detailing my nearly three-year struggle to get pregnant. It was one of the very first things I wrote for BC and I could not, for the life of me, figure out why I felt so compelled to write about something that I had not even really talked about with friends.
After dumping my frustrations very unceremoniously onto paper (okay, it was my computer, but that just does not sound as poetic, does it?), I read back through and realized it had been quite cathartic for me. It seemed awful to say that when I had taken my 30th negative pregnancy test it seemed very hard to be excited for a friend who was having a baby shower; but it was true, and I knew I could not be the only one feeling that way.
Very nervously I posted my article (one of the few I published that I did not share with my family or friends) and was surprised when comments started being posted right away. I was very surprised, in those first few days, at how polarizing an issue it turned out to be. I was even a little hurt when a few readers called me selfish for being so single-mindedly set on wanting a child in today’s world.
Moreover, though, I was shocked by how many responses the article received from women just like me. I suppose I should not have been, as the article was meant to tell other women who were having trouble conceiving that they were not the only ones out there.
Now, over 19 months and 129 comments later, I would like to take the opportunity to provide an update to my story.
At the time the article was written I had just been diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome. PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects between five and seven percent of women, is one of the leading causes of infertility, and is characterized by abnormal ovulation. Shortly after being diagnosed I went through several rounds of an ovulation stimulation drug called Clomid, which is a very common treatment for infertility. After six unsuccessful rounds, my doctor referred me to a fertility specialist at the University of North Carolina Hospital at Chapel Hill.
I sat with this doctor for a very long time, becoming more and more discouraged as he reminded me that I was young and had plenty of time to get pregnant before age was a factor (I was 27 at the time). While I knew this was true, I had been ready for a child for well over two years and even one more round seemed like too long to wait.
We discussed several tests, exploratory surgery, and in vitro fertilization, although the latter was not something my husband and I wished to pursue. If I was unable to get pregnant through oral medications alone, we planned to pursue the lengthy process of adoption.
All of those expensive and time-consuming options were to be a last resort, my doctor explained. First he wanted me to try another medication by the name of Femara. He explained that Femara was newly being used as a fertility drug and that it had its origins in treating women who were postmenopausal and suffering from early-stage breast cancer. The hormones, though, also served to stimulate ovulation in premenopausal women.
He was the first to admit that he did not have high hopes because Clomid had not been successful for me, but it was worth trying and would only waste another three months if it did not work. Willing to try anything, I jumped on board.
I took Femara for the first time in July of 2007, following a strict schedule of pills (which always induced vomiting). Twenty-one days after my first round I was asked to have a blood test. On vacation in Wilmington, North Carolina, I took a day off from beach lounging and trudged into town to a lab. Expecting nothing, I was shocked when a week later my doctor called to tell me that my blood work showed that I had ovulated – something that had never happened with Clomid. Several weeks after that I was told to take a pregnancy test whether I thought I had conceived or not. This was to be my tried and true schedule during my three treatments.
I took my second round of Femara in November 2007. Again I took my blood tests and when December 3, 2007 rolled around I nearly forgot I had been instructed to take a pregnancy test. I grudgingly took the test early that Monday morning and then did some chores and almost forgot that I had even taken it. Twenty minutes later I saw it lying on the bathroom counter and snatched it up, already prepared to toss it in the trashcan and mentally preparing not to care about the negative result.
I stared at the digital word for what seemed like a long time but what was probably only a few seconds, as those things usually go. I remember very distinctly wondering where the word ‘not’ was and then shaking the stick several times like that memorable scene in Juno, although that film had yet to be released.
After that the next few hours were a blur. I called my family physician and begged for an appointment to confirm. As accommodating as they usually are, they fit me right in. Only a minute or so after peeing on a stick the nurse came in and told me she had never had a urine test come up so overwhelming positive so quickly. I’m pretty sure I cried for a few minutes like the complete girl that I am.
Later that day I saw my OB/GYN and had my first ultrasound of what at the time looked like a tiny pea in there. My husband, of course, was thrilled.
I would love to say here that the pregnancy was wonderful and I glowed the whole time, but the reality is that I started having severe morning sickness right around Christmas and I pretty much looked like death. “Morning,” I learned, is a relative term, because I was sick pretty much 18 hours a day. I threw up nearly every hour on the hour from the time I woke up until the time I went to sleep. I ate exclusively frozen juice popsicles and chicken broth and the occasional green apple. I kept pretty much none of that down.
Once I had to have fluids for dehydration and I missed almost two and a half total months of work. This lasted well past the magic date when morning sickness is supposed to ebb away and well into my second trimester. All told, in the first 24 weeks of my pregnancy I lost over 20 pounds. Then, with an appetite like I was growing several babies (although in reality it was only one), I more than made up for it, gaining back just over 35.
My husband and I decided not to find out the sex of our baby, and on July 24, 2008 our little girl arrived a little over two weeks early after fourteen hours of labor. She was perfect and healthy and is now just over five-months-old and a firestorm of activity, rolling all over the living room and terrorizing the dog and cats.
I would like to say it was an easy journey, but it was not. But I can say, for every one of you out there in this same situation, I know how hard it is to have it not happen. And I also know how amazing it is when it does. I hope that those of you who are struggling take hope from this. Perhaps you will learn something you didn’t already know and can ask your doctor for more information. I wish you the best of luck and thank you all for the support you lent.