When hope meets faith, miracles happen.
Some days are just sad and hard. I don’t readily admit that, I normally just say that I’m fine and block it out to move forward. Many of you may have read my post about infertility and how Madelynn came to be in the world, but what I didn’t let on was that right before I shared that post, we’d just learned that our first round of IUI for Baby H #2 had failed.
I wasn’t ready to let that be known to the world. I’m still not sure that I’m ready to let the world know, but writing is how I get through the hard times in life, so here I am.
September is PCOS Awareness Month so it seems like an appropriate time to share this & raise some awareness about infertility related to PCOS.
Very few people knew we’d done a round of IUI in April or May. I’ve debated whether or not to even share this post. I wrote most of it immediately following the results of our first round and felt like the anger I was feeling is apparent in my writing. But, I’ve decided to share it–exactly as it was originally written–because it’s hard to find posts written during the hardest parts of infertility. Usually, you find blog posts written towards the end of the journey once good news or more answers have come. Maybe they’re finally pregnant, or maybe they’ve decided to move forward with adoption or maybe they decided on having no kids at all. So, here’s my feelings about our infertility struggles–anger & all!
It took us a long time to even decide if we wanted to have another baby. So why do I feel this sad about a failed round? Sad doesn’t even cover it. I tried to block it out and move forward, but, quite honestly, I feel crushed. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to endure another pregnancy or C-section. Shouldn’t I feel relieved? Why am I so crushed?
It was an emotional day for me. I felt sad, angry, anxious, and disappointed. I’m angry that infertility treatments cost so much money and that we have to pay to do them again because I literally cannot get pregnant without them since my body doesn’t ovulate. I’m anxious about having to do it all over again. I’m disappointed that it didn’t work for us this time, even though we expected it to be hard from the beginning. I’m sad about the small amount of hope I allowed myself to feel, even though I try not to ever get too hopeful about these things. I’m angry that we were dealt such a difficult hand in life. Can’t anything just be easy for once?
This round was so much harder than the one that gave us Madelynn. My ovaries didn’t respond to the Letrozole as well as they did last time. I went in for my first scan to see how they were reacting to the medicine and, just like last time, I didn’t have any follicles big enough on my right ovary. My left ovary was nowhere to be found, as usual, but boy did they try to find it. Talk about uncomfortable. We decided to give my body more time to respond to the medicine and I came back 2 days later. This time, I had 2 follicles that were both 13mm. Not quite big enough, but over a couple more days they should grow–right?
They added shots to my regimen this round after that ultrasound to stimulate my ovaries, which was new to me. One shot in my stomach, 1” to the left or right of my belly button, once a day around the same time every day. The shots spoke directly to my ovaries, whereas the Letrozole spoke to my brain so that it could speak to my ovaries. I started the shots on a Friday evening with a follow up ultrasound scheduled for the following Monday.
Monday morning rolled around & I went in for my ultrasound, only to learn that the 2 follicles that were there on Friday had died off before I’d had a chance to give the shots. This news felt like a gut punch. All this and we weren’t even going to make it to the procedure? How does that even happen? It turns out that this is common in women with PCOS. After reviewing my hormone levels in my bloodwork, we decided to continue shots and come back two days later for another ultrasound.
When I was pregnant with Madelynn, I had migraines throughout my first trimester due to the influx of female hormones (I’m guessing estrogen) in my body. I knew that Dr. Chappell was looking for a spike in my estrogen to be able to get to the IUI procedure this round. Sure enough, the night before I was set to go in for my next ultrasound, I got one of the worst migraines I can ever remember having in my life. It was crippling and so painful. I knew immediately that my estrogen must’ve spiked and was hopeful for what the ultrasound and blood work would show the next day.
I went in for my ultrasound and to everyone’s surprise, they were able to find one follicle that measured 24mm on my left ovary! It felt like a total God thing all over again and I started to feel optimistic that maybe this would work. The hormones I’d been taking had helped my body gear up for ovulation, so I was told to do the trigger shot that evening. Our procedure would be the next morning.
We showed up the next morning for the IUI procedure & followed all of the exact same rules/old wives tales as last time. Then we waited for another very long 14 days.
Of course I was super aware of everything my body felt during this time, so I read into every little thing as a signal that it did or didn’t work. Finally that 14th day rolled around and, to our disappointment, the test was negative.
We expected this the first time around with Madelynn, so in a way we had planned for it, but it still stings. Knowing it would be difficult doesn’t take away the hurt, disappointment, and anger. Our timeline just didn’t line up with God’s. That’s a tough pill to swallow for a control freak like me.
This round was a little bit of a reality check for me. I finally saw those biological markers of ovulation that I was taught to look for in natural family planning (NFP). So, if nothing else, this round just further confirmed that I don’t ovulate at all. That my body doesn’t do what it’s supposed to. And that’s a frustrating thing to accept.
We decided to try again with another round the following month. Two rounds back to back was a lot. It was a lot of time spent at the doctor’s office, a lot of hormones injected, a lot of emotions to deal with, and a lot of money spent. All of this in addition to our normal day-to-day stressors.
We made some slight adjustments this round based on the results from the last round, but followed the normal routine, which now included daily shots in my stomach. We did the same procedure, followed the same old wives’ tales, then waited another 14 days. To our disappointment, the test was negative this time too. This round hadn’t worked either.
We waited three months before trying another round & in September we started round 3 for baby #2. This time, I did the HSG test to make sure that my tubes weren't blocked. They were clear, thank goodness, so we moved forward with Letrozole and shots. Once all medication was finished, I went in for an ultrasound to check for follicles & hopefully find out when we would be doing the IUI procedure. There were no follicles. Zero. Zip. Zilch. My ovaries were so quiet, they could hardly be found. How on earth is that possible? We had to scrap the entire round. We couldn't even move forward to the procedure. My body just didn't respond to the medicine. I can hardly describe how I felt hearing that news. Defeated & heartbroken are the two words that come to mind.
Although I know better than to get my hopes up each round, a part of me is still hopeful each time. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t plan out the ‘what ifs’ each round like when the baby would be due, if my mom could come down to stay with us again to help, how far apart Madelynn would be from her sibling, when we would need to transition Madelynn into her ‘big girl’ room to get the nursery ready for the new baby, etc.
I think the hardest part for me is not knowing. I hope that we will be able to have another baby, but, maybe we won’t. Maybe it’s not in God’s plan for us. I hang on to a house full of baby things just in case we have another baby. But what if we don’t? Where/When do we stop trying? Do we consider adoption? Do we put it off for a year or so, then try again? How do we know the right answer?
We could have just Madelynn and live a perfectly full and happy life, but I wonder if there will always feel like there’s a hole in our lives waiting for another baby to enter our family. I worried about so many things leading up to this decision to try for another baby, including (but not limited to LOL) how this would affect Madelynn and our relationship with her. Another baby would mean that she’s no longer the only center of our entire world but, on a positive note, would also give her a best friend to grow up with. I wonder if we would ever have total peace that our family looks different than we’d planned.
I could make all the plans in the world, but none of them matter if they don’t line up with God’s plan. So, for now, we take a break. We save up some money for the next round, let my body try to get back to normal after all of the hormones, run more tests and dig a little deeper into what's going on with my body, and let our minds rest from this challenge. And when we’re ready and have more answers, we’ll press on again in hopes for better discernment in what God’s plan for our life is.