Friday, July 8, 2011

Starting my TTC Journey

My story is long, so to make it easier on everyone, I'll tell it a year at a time.
My husband, Patrick, and I got married on May 25, 2008. At the time, I was 22 and he was 26. We had been together for four years and knew that we wanted to have a big family, so we decided that, though we were not going to "try" yet, I was going to go off birth control and whatever happened, happened.
February 2008-
I went to my OB/GYN for an annual checkup and told my doctor (we'll call him Dr.R) that I was getting married in a few months and planned to go off the pill right away. My cycles had never been regular and I just knew it would take us a while to get pregnant. Dr. R had me give blood to test my hormone levels and told me to go ahead and stop taking the pill after that cycle to "give my body a couple months to get back to normal". He also said that, given my irregular cycles, if we had not conceived within six months, to come back and that he would put me on Clomid to "help things along". Then he sent me on my way with a pat on the back and a "good luck".
I began hearing the same thing from everybody that found out Patrick and I weren't preventing pregnancy: "Oh, honey, you're still so young!" It made me mad. Yes, most people are probably not ready for children at 22, but felt like I was. I was married, had a house, a steady job as a hairdresser, two dogs that weren't TOTAL monsters, and I loved kids. Besides, my mom went through early menopause in her 30's, and my biggest fear, to this day, is that it will happen to me. I feel like if I wait to long, I won't get a chance.
So I ignored the concerned scowls, the comments about having plenty of time, and continued with the path I had set for myself. I took my last pill at the end of February.
March '08
At about the end of March, I began having slight, but sharp, pains in my lower abdomen, around where I assumed my left ovary to be. I figured it was my body getting back to work and didn't get too concerned.
April '08
As the days went on, the pain in my abdomen got worse. After three weeks,  it felt like I was getting stabbed in the ovary. I would have intense twinges of pain if I sat down, stood up, if my bladder was really full, and any time I went to the restroom. Sex was EXCRUCIATING! Then, all of a sudden, it was gone. A week or so later, I started my period.
May '08
We closed on our new house on May 8. We got married May 25. It was an insane month.
June '08
We left for our honeymoon on June 1 and didn't get back until June 9. The abdominal pain started towards the end of the trip, again beginning as mild discomfort and getting more intense over the course of the month, before disappearing about a week before I started my period in the beginning of July. I again dismissed the pain as my ovaries waking up.
July '08
My new cycle began on July 7. After spending hours on the internet, trying to figure out the best way to go about this whole "baby thing", I decided that I needed to start keeping better track of my cycles. I signed up for, bought an ovulation prediction kit with 30 tests, and started paying better attention to my fertility signs. I wasn't very consistent with any of it because I really wasn't willing to admit that I was TRYING to get pregnant.
August '08
I began getting positives on my ovulation tests... and kept getting positives. Out of the 30 strips, about 20 of them came up positive. I scoured the internet looking for reasons why. One of the sites I found mentioned that high levels of LH is usually a sign of PCOS, but when I looked it up, the only symptom I had was irregular cycles. I'm not overweight, I have almost no body hair, never had acne problems, I'm hypoglycemic... everything the opposite of PCOS. Mid-way through the month, the pains came back and I started trying to find out what was causing it. I couldn't find anything that made sense. After all, I'd had my blood work done and surely they would have called if anything was wrong. In light of my new hobby of trying to self-diagnose my fertility issues, I was finally forced to admit that I was trying to have a baby. I had been baby-crazy for a while, but I was becoming obsessed... and a little depressed that it hadn't happened yet, seeing as I was so young and all-*insert sarcasm here*
September '08
So finally I got a basal thermometer, and on Sept. 1, I began taking my BBT. I wasn't very good at it. I never woke up at the same time, and usually I forgot all together. I'm pretty useless before I have my morning coffee, and trying to start a new morning routine was... challenging. Then, on Sept. 12, as we were staying at my mother-in-law's house, preparing to ride out hurricane Ike with them and their generator, we learned that Patrick's brother had gotten his girlfriend pregnant. I'm ashamed to say that my first thought was "why her and not me?" but my jealousy left pretty quickly and my next thought was "at least our baby will have a cousin that's only a few months older, they can grow up together". (The things we tell ourselves to make ourselves feel better.)
After the hurricane was difficult. We had no power for two weeks, it was hot, and I couldn't get a good night's sleep with the generators running all night. We went back to check on the house, and didn't find any glaringly obvious damage-- there was no tree in the house, no windows busted out, and almost all our roof tiles where intact. The yard was a mess and there were a few water-spots where the roof had leaked but for the most part it looked okay.
The salon I was working made us come back the Tuesday immediately after the storm, even though there was no power there either. We were forced to cut hair by the light coming in the front windows and shampoo with cold water. The generator they hooked up in there only gave us enough juice to power one lamp in the back and run one blow-dryer. They could have given us more light, but then the owners would have had to sacrifice the $15 they got from the blow-dry/style. It didn't help that I lived 45 minutes away and had to drive over 30 miles with the lights out at every intersection. After two days, on Sept. 18, I walked out to my car and had a mini-breakdown. Not a fun way to spend my 23rd birthday.
That night I made Patrick spend the night at home with me. I was so stressed out I was making myself sick. I was almost constantly nauseous, super emotional, exhausted, and somehow, I convinced myself that I was having pregnancy symptoms. I had gotten my thermometer, and at some time in the week since I had last taken my BBT, I'd had my thermal shift, and the pain had gone away. It made sense. I was pregnant, I just knew it.
October '08
I started my period Oct. 3, fourteen days and three pregnancy tests after my first raised temp. and 88 days after my last period.With the start of my new cycle I became serious about temping. I only missed a couple mornings. I kept waiting for a pattern, but I never got a thermal shift. After another ovulation kit, I had more positive tests than negatives and a chart that looked like a mountain range.
November '08
The pains started somewhere around the beginning of Nov. Fed up with the pain, confused about what was happening in my body, and worried that something was wrong with me, I made an appointment to go back to my OB/GYN, but I couldn't get in until mid Dec. so I waited. I started my period Nov. 30 after a 58 day cycle.
December '08
I was so excited about my appointment with Dr. R! I felt like I would finally get some answers. I had made a list of questions and concerns, I had done some research (okay, a LOT of research), and I felt like a well-read woman who was aware of her cycle and concerned about her body. Dr. R came in, did my exam, and then asked me if I had any questions or concerns. Why, yes, I did.
Me: Well, I have been off the pill since February, and I have only had three cycles. I tried those ovulation predictor kits, but almost all the tests came up positive.
Dr. R: Okay, we'll do a hormone panel on you and see if it shows anything.
Me: We did a hormone panel last year, but I never heard anything back.
Dr. R frowned and picked up my chart, flipping through the pages.
Dr. R: Oh yes. Your LH is high. You have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
Really? He looks at blood-work that he's had for almost a YEAR, and based on one random hormone screen and some positive ovulation tests, he decides NOW that I have PCOS? It didn't occur to him when he first got the results? The tests don't need to be repeated? I sat, staring at him for a few moments, shocked and confused.
Dr. R(rushing to explain): But don't worry. You have none of the classic symptoms. The only problems you will probably ever have with this is a hard time getting pregnant because your cycles aren't regular.
Me: Well is there anything I should take for it?
Dr. R: No. We usually prescribe Metformin, but its to help regulate blood sugar since most people with PCOS have an insulin resistance and it mimics Type 2 diabetes, but you have low blood sugar so you don't need that. We'll put you on Clomid and you should get pregnant in no time.
As he began writing my prescription for the Clomid, a prescription for medicine to start my new cycle, and making notes on my chart,I remembered about my pains.
Me: Also, I have been having these stabbing pains, about a month or so into my cycles, usually on my left side, where I'm guessing my ovary would be...
Dr. R: Oh, those are probably just cysts. Don't worry about that, they'll go away.
He didn't let me finish, didn't even pause in his writing or look up at me. I was speechless for a while, a hundred questions running through my head.
Me: Um, should we do any tests or anything about that?
Dr. R: No. You can wait and see if they get better. If they really bother you, we can do surgery and remove them.
Okay, I definitely did not want surgery. The pains sucked, but surgery would be worse, and if the doctor wasn't worried, I wouldn't be either. Just like that, I had been dismissed. I wasn't happy with the answers I had gotten, but at least I had answers. So I left the office, disappointed with what he'd told me, but excited that at least now I could move forward. Deep down, I knew there was more going on, that something else was wrong, but I wanted it to be easy so I accepted what I was told. I really hoped the Clomid would work.

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