National Infertility Awareness Week – Don’t Ignore Secondary Infertility

I hope that this has been an educational week, raising awareness for infertility through the guest posts and stories about infertility.  I am so honored to have one more fellow blogger's story.  After  you read her story, check out her blog at East 9th Street.

"My Uterus Needs A Welcome Mat"

Maybe my uterus isn’t inviting enough.   You know how it is when you’re looking for a new house and you drive by one that sounded great on paper but looks less than desirable?  I’m starting to wonder if that’s what going on each month during ovulation.  My eggs have an ad posted but my husband’s sperm are swimming by thinking, “we’d love to stop but that place is so old.  Let’s find something newer.”  They say curb appeal is everything so maybe my uterus does need a welcome mat.

My husband and I have been trying for over an 18 months to get pregnant.  The first six months we understood – it takes time.  The six months after that, we started to get worried and now over eighteen months from the time we started, we’re discouraged.  The biggest thing we have against us is our ages.  I’m 37 and he’s 49.  Not old by any means in terms of how we approach life but when it comes to our fertility, let’s just say we should be getting our AARP cards sometime soon.

We had our daughter when I was 35.  I never thought I wanted children but after an oops and a miscarriage, I realized that I wanted a baby more than anything.  We did everything my OB/GYN told me to do and within 3 months of trying, we were pregnant.  An easy conception, an easy pregnancy and a really easy birth, what more could I ask for? 

Fast-forward almost 3 years later and all we want is another baby.  Both of us have a clean bill of health – I ovulate, his boys swim, all of our hormones levels are where they should be. We’ve only told a handful of people that we’re trying so much of our struggles have been in private.  It’s not that our families and friends wouldn’t be supportive, its more because we don’t want the added pressure of them knowing what we’re going through.  We’ve already put enough pressure on ourselves. 

So we’ve decided that whatever happens, happens.  We’ll continue to do everything we can control to improve our chances of having another baby.  Our insurance doesn’t cover infertility treatments and we’re not in the position to pay for them out-of-pocket.  When people ask me if we’re going to have another baby, I just tell them we’re not sure.  After all, that is an honest answer.  Hopefully someday I’ll be able to answer that question with an emphatic, “why yes we are” and then you’ll know, the welcome mat worked. :)

National Infertility Awareness Week: One Woman’s Long, Painful Journey To Motherhood

A very dear friend of mine has been through more heartache than anyone should.  She endured four+ years of infertility, carried a baby to term, only to lose the baby in the first two months of life, due to a rare heart condition.  Not a day goes by that she doesn't think of her precious baby, I'm positive.  Infant loss has to be one of the hardest things to endure.

But my friend is a strong, brave woman.  She and her husband decided that this wasn't the end of their journey to become parents.  After all, they WERE parents, as this precious baby made them parents, but they wanted to try again.  This time, the journey to pregnancy didn't take quite as long, and they were blessed with twins who are happy and healthy today.

What fascinates me about this story is just what she and her husband went through to become parents.  She is a wonderful note taker, so she kept notes about everything she went through.  She shared this with me, to share with you.  What a testimony to the women and men out there who are trying so desperately to have their own child.  Take a moment (or a few moments!) and read through her history:

 

2003
01/03 Stopped BCPs
03/03 Stopped preventing
07/03 Acupuncture started (improved blood flow; removed cramps; regulated cycle)
08/03 Sperm Analysis (14 million count)
09/03 Bloodwork – Thyroid ok
10/03 Sperm Analysis (200 million count)
2004
01/04 Diagnosed with ureaplasma/mycoplasma bacteria (Antibiotics husband & I)
01/04 B/W Prolactin – 24.2 (7pm)
02/04 B/W Prolactin – 33.7 (11:30am) 
03/04 B/W Prolactin – 46.4 (8am) [GYN wouldn't prescribe meds]
03/05/04 HSG (tubes clear, no pain)
04/09/04 Last day of acupuncture
04/26/04 Moved out of state; quit work to "remove stress"
07/07/04 First consultation with RE
07/07/04 B/W CA-125 test (9iu normal)
07/12/04 Started Bromocriptine 2.5mg/day (for elevated prolactin) 
08/27/04 LAP: found & removed Endo Stage III 
09/22/04 Started Follistim AQ pen 150mg (CD2 E2:43, FSH:4.6) 
09/27/04 Follistim dosage to 75mg (CD8 E2:382; 11mm-14mm) 
09/29/04 HCG Shot 10pm (CD10 E2:929; 2@18mm, 1@15mm) 
10/01/04 IUI #1 10am (40 million washed sperm) – uncomfortable
10/02/04 Prometrium tablets 200mg 2x day (Progesterone)
10/11/04 B/W Prolactin 8.4; Progesterone 39.8
10/14/04 BPT < 2 BFN
10/18/04 U/S Cysts: 30mm (right), 14mm & 10mm
10/19/04 Started 3weeks on BCPs
11/04-12/04 Two natural cycles, unsuccessful
2005
1/17/05 Started Follistim AQ pen 225mg (CD4 E2:30, FSH:6.3); Dex 0.25mg
1/21/05 CD8: E2:720; 1-16mm, 2-12mm, 1-11mm (Follistim to 75mg)
1/24/05 CD11: E2:889; 1-23mm, 2-20mm, 1-18mm, (HCG shot 12:15am)
1/26/05 IUI #2 2pm (90 million washed sperm, 1/3 motile)
1/27/05 Prometrium tablets 200mg 2x day (Progesterone)
2/09/05 BPT < 2 BFN
2/16/05 IVF Class
3/03/05 Started acupuncture again
3/14/05 Started BCPs (to lower estrogen)
4/01/05 Started Lupron (20u, 9 days) and Dexamethasone (0.25mg)
4/10/05 Started stimming with Follistim (300u, lowers to 225u, etc.); lower Lupron to 5u
4/20/05 IVF ER (9 retrieved, 6 mature, 5 fert)
4/26/05 IVF#1 ET with three 5-day embies [CAVM, CAVM, EB]
4/27/05 PIO & HCG injections etc.
5/05/05 Beta = 3 BFN; stop all meds
5/25/05 Follow-up consult with RE; b/w for antibodies
6/07/05 Anticardiolipin borderline negative (11); all others negative (<11)
6/21/05 Last acupuncture (she moved)
7/20/05 AF delayed by 2 weeks, but 5 BFNs (inc. BPT)
7/22/05 BCPs started
8/30/05 Last BCP
9/02/05 Baseline u/s; started Dex & aspirin; E2-13, FSH-5.3, LH-3.3
9/04/05 300u Follistim & 75u Repronex each night
9/08/05 CD8: E2:181; 1-11mm, 1-12mm, none on left
9/09/05 CD9: E2:?; 1-13mm, 1-15mm, no others; Follistim to 150u, stop Repronex [IVF#2 converted to IUI]
9/10/05 Follistim 150u 
9/11/05 10,000u HCG shot 9:30pm
9/13/05 IUI #3 didn't happen: no sperm, no BD, no 2WW for me
November IVF booked – signed up for January IVF
12/28/05 Didn't start AF on time, so unable to participate in January 2006 IVF
2006
1/13/06 Lap – found & removed cysts and more endo
1/26/06 Started BCPs for suppression
3/16/06 Start Lupron (20u, 9 days) and Dexamethasone (0.25mg)
3/23/06 FSH 6.0, E2 13. One 11mm cyst. OK to start.
3/25/06 Start stimming with 225u Follistim & 75u Repronex each night; lower Lupron to 5u in morning
3/30/06 E2 54; Lining 2mm; 3 small follies on left, nothing on right (cyst gone); increase the Repronex to 150u
3/31/06 E2 129; follicles 12mm, 8mm, 7mm
4/01/06 E2 152
4/03/06 E2 432; Lining 9mm; follicles 15mm, 12mm, 8mm
4/04/06 E2 649; follicles 18mm, 13mm, 10mm; cycle converted to IUI (HCG trigger shot 10pm)
4/06/06 IVF#3 converted to IUI#3 10am CD15 (35 million sperm post-swim-up)
4/07/06 Prometrium tablets 200mg 2x day (Progesterone); Dexamethasone (4mg)
4/12/06 CD21 B/W: Progesterone 54.5; Prolactin 9.6
4/20/06 Beta <2 BFN
5/04/06 New clinic consultation
5/18/06 AF started 
5/19/06 Baseline b/w [FSH & E2 good]
5/21/06 – 6/5/06 BCPs 
5/29/06 DH & I start Z-pak (antibiotic)
5/30/06 Started acupuncture again
5/31/06 – 6/24/06 10u/night Lupron 
5/31/06 Start baby aspirin and 0.25mg dexamethasone daily
6/14/06 Suppression scan (u/s and b/w)
6/18/06 Start 225u Gonal-F x2/day , 10u low dose HCG
6/23/06 First scan (u/s and b/w) - IVF#4 cycle canceled [16,14,14,10,9,7mm]
6/25/06 Trigger
6/27/06 BD naturally
7/11/06 HPT BFN
8/28/06 Acupuncturist said my pulse was different (4DPO)
9/11/06 Acupuncturist said my pulse was different (18DPO/CD2)
9/15/06 Saw my first and only ever faint line (21DPO/CD6) B- [evaporation line?]
12/1/06 Stopped acupuncture, stopped Bromocriptine
2007
02/07 Started looking into adoption
05/07 Took Foster Parent training classes
06/07 Started researching donor eggs and donor embryos
07/05/07 Phone consult with RE at CCRM
07/18/07 One day workup at CCRM; low antral follies so no more IVFs
07/25/07 Annual exam (pap), prolactin tested at 28 (<19 ok)
08/10/07 Annual mammogram (all ok)
09/18/07 Matched with a proven egg donor!! [Born 1983; her previous cycle: 23 eggs, 17 fertilized, 9 blasts, twin pregnancy due March 2008.]
10/03/07 CD3 – started mock cycle locally; one estrogen patch every other day
10/09/07 E2 = 58 (>50, ok)
10/10/07 Blood draw for STDs (DH & I)
10/11/07 CD10 Two estrogen patches
10/13/07 CD12 Three estrogen patches
10/15/07 CD14 Four estrogen patches every other day; E2 = 158 too low (>300 ok); lining 12, striped (very good)
10/15/07 DH: semen analysis; blood draw for Cystic Fibrosis test [was supposed to also do semen culture test]
10/16/07 CD15 Start Progesterone tablets 200mg 3x day
10/25/07 Endo bx; stopped estrogen and progesterone
10/26/07 Prolactin tested again (fasting in the morning), was high 46
10/28/07 CD1, waiting for schedule
10/30/07 On BCPs (Yasmin 28)
11/01/07 Calendar received for 12/17/07 ET!
11/06/07 Biopsy results are BAD. I am missing Beta-3 Integrine, an enzyme that helps embryos adhere to the uterine lining. Cycle postponed.
11/18/07 Last BCP
11/23/07 First Depot-Lupron shot (CD1) [Method started to fix enzyme issue]
12/21/07 28 days later Second Depot-Lupron shot IM
2008
01/18/08 28 Days later Start BCPs and get new calendar
01/23/08 Prolactin tested: 3 [RE says excellent]
01/30/08 Twice weekly acupuncture started again
02/03/08 Start Lupron 10u/day
02/04/08 DH & I started Doxycycline 2x/day for ten days
02/15/08 Start Estrogen (1 patch every other day), oral estrace, low dose aspirin
02/21/08 Blood draw E2 = 138 (>50, great); 2 patches
02/22/08 Donor's baseline good; all set to start
02/24/08 Donor starts stims! 3 patches
02/26/08 4 patches (every other day)
02/29/08 Donor's first u/s: 20 follies!
03/02/08 Fly to Colorado (CCRM)
03/03/08 U/S and E2; mtg w/ Physician; DH provides back-up sperm sample [Donor: coasting with 20 follies to mature them; Me: triple striped 9mm lining and 431 E2(>300); DH: 67 million sperm, motility 43%, morphology 2%]
03/04/08 Last Lupron shot
03/05/08 First Progesterone (PIO) shot, 1cc daily
03/06/08 Donor ER (w/ICSI); b/w Prog 20 & E2 1000; start Medrol & Tetracycline (for 4 days each) [DH: 140 million sperm; motility after prep 85%; 2% morphology]
03/07/08 Embryologist report: 22 eggs retrieved, 16 were mature, 14 fertilized with ICSI; increase to 2cc PIO
03/09/08 Day 3 report: They want to see: 6-10 cells; grade 4 (best) or 4-, 3+; We have: 9 good embryos (meaning they are where they want to see them), 3 slower at 4 cells, 2 that are 7 cells but fragmented, so lower grade 
03/11/08 5-day ET: 200mg Prometrium at 7am vaginally; Acupuncture at 11:30 am; transfer at 1:15 pm (one perfect expanded blast; second slower blast); acupuncture post-ET
03/17/08 Relaxed pulse was 84 instead of usual 60-70
03/18/08 Positive HPT at 6am (FRER)! Started 200mg Prometrium vaginally 3x/day
03/19/08 Beta #1: 152; P4 >40 (13dpo)
03/21/08 Beta #2: 390 (doubling time=1.47 days); P4=78
03/28/08 Beta #3: 8488 (doubling time=1.57 days); P4=76, E2=455
04/04/08 Blood draw P4>40, E2=793
04/06/08 First spotting (brown blood) accompanied by cramping in center of pelvis
04/07/08 First ultrasound & OB consult: Singleton (0.62cm=1/4") measuring 6w4d with heartbeat (116bpm)
04/08/08 Start weaning off bromocriptine: half pill x7 days then stop
04/11/08 Blood draw P4=80.1, E2=382
04/18/08 Blood draw P4>40 , E2=921
04/19/08 Cut down to 3 patches every other day, 1 cc PIO daily, maintain estrace & prometrium x3 day
04/21/08 Vision migraine #3 in 3 weeks
04/22/08 Blood draw: P4=98, E2=1003
04/23/08 Cut down to 2 patches every other day; prometrium x2 day
04/25/08 Blood draw: P4=120, E2=670
04/26/08 Cut down to 1 patch every other day; prometrium x1 day
05/02/08 Blood draw: P4=58, E2=634; no changes to meds
05/08/08 Blood draw: P4=73.1, E2=636
05/08/08 NT scan: 1.2mm fold (1 in 10,000 risk for trisomy & downs); HB 188 bpm; baby 4.23cm long, measuring 11w
05/10/08 Stop patches; 1cc PIO every other day
05/12/08 Blood draw: P4=72, E2=592
05/15/08 Blood draw: P4=44, E2=748; stop all meds next day
05/19/08 Blood draw: P4=42, E2=709; all stable, released to OB
05/23/08 Second trimester!
06/13/08 Blood draw: Risk factors are 1 in 2,500 for Downs, 1 in 10,000 for Trisomy 18, 1 in 6,000 for Spina Bifida
07/10/08 Scan (20w u/s) revealed possibility of "hypoplastic left heart", a rare congenital heart defect in which the left side of the heart is severely underdeveloped; the OB also mentioned "DiGeorge Syndrome", a chromosonal disorder where one of the symptoms is heart defects, but an amnio or blood test after birth must be performed to confirm this; baby is 14 oz., 131 bpm, measuring 21 weeks, all else looks great
07/14/08 Talked with RE at CCRM, he said that sperm quality probably caused the embryo quality drop off after day 3. If there is a next time, DH would do Sperm Chromatin Structure Assay (SCSA).
08/06/08 Fetal echo cardiogram: diagnosed with (1) AV canal defect with small left ventricle; (2) double outlet right ventricle; (3) pulmonary valve atresia. Treatment includes: (a) prostaglandin to keep ductus arteriosis open after birth; (b) Blalock-Taussig Shunt in first week; (c) Glenn Shunt at 5-6 months; (d) completion of Fontan Procedure at 3 years.
08/28/08 Third trimester!
09/04/08 Prenatal appt: u/s showed baby moving well; baby lying head down right, rear up left; gained 23 pounds to date. Did Glucose Intolerance (one hour) test.
09/05/08 Consult w/cardiac surgeon.
09/09/08 Passed GD test (129)
09/15/08 Started BH Contractions
09/18/08 OB appt & growth scan: Baby is 3 lbs. 8oz. (50th %); feet very long; lots of amniotic fluid; no fluid around heart, HB 133; did internal exam – not dilated; first hypnobirthing class
09/19/08 Consult w/second cardiac surgeon
09/24/08 Fetal echo #2: no change to diagnosis, veins and arteries nice and strong; Tour of L&D NICU
10/02/08 Prental visit, BP 117/71, pulse 74, baby looks good; second hypnobirthing class
10/05/08 Coming down with a cold
10/08/08 Meet with Doula
10/11/08 Childbirth Prep class
10/13/08 First non-stress test (NST) – passed, HB 145 bpm
10/16/08 NST passed; checked amnio fluid levels (9.5) – good [between 5 and 20]; OB appt – all good
10/20/08 NST passed; started swelling of legs and ankles at night
10/22/08 Meet with Doula
10/23/08 NST passed, HB 135 bpm; Amnio level 16; BP 114/69
11/16/08 Surprise! It's a girl! Baby girl born.
12/01/08 Baby underwent open-heart surgery to correct about four defects, installed a b-t shunt
12/17/08 Baby underwent surgery for abdominal corrections
12/18/08 Baby died due to blood clot in her shunt
2009
01/09/09 Started Energy Healing to balance hormones, relieve pain of grief
01/21/09 Sperm Chromatin Structure Assay: sperm integrity is good, all results normal
02/05/09 First post-partum AF
03/05/09 Mock cycle to start; mammogram & breast exam
03/07/09 CD3 Start estrogen patches every other day
03/13/09 Estradiol 67 (should be >50); ok but adding 1 estrace tablet orally per day now
03/17/09 One day work up at CCRM; u/s: lining 11mm triple striped, ovulated and making progesterone, excellent blood flow; hysteroscopy: no scars, perfect; b/w: estradiol 117, STD testing etc.
03/20/09 Started taking low dose aspirin x1 day on my own
03/22/09 (Started 200mg prometrium early 2x day in case of BFP)
03/23/09 Estradiol only 297 (>300 good), but can cut back to 2 patches, stop estrace; RN said lining was great and that was the important thing
03/24/09 200mg prometrium 3x day for ten days, then stop patches, too
03/28/09 BFNs on digital (FMU) and FRER
04/04/09 First Depot-Lupron shot (CD1)
04/29/09 Matched with a new donor! [Born 1983, first time]
05/02/09 Second Depot-Lupron shot IM
05/07/09 Blood draw (fasting): Prolactin level 40 (too high); CBC and thyroid normal; started Bromocriptine
05/23/09 Breakthrough bleeding
05/26/09 Start BCPs
06/15/09 Start Lupron 10u/day
06/15/09 DH & I started Doxycycline 2x/day for ten days
06/19/09 Last BCP
06/22/09 CD1; Blood draw (fasting): Prolactin level 5 (excellent)
06/24/09 Start Estrogen (1 patch every other day), oral estrace, low dose aspirin, Lupron to 5u/day
06/29/09 Twice weekly acupuncture started again
07/02/09 Blood draw E2: 155 (>50); 2 patches
07/04/09 3 patches (every other day)
07/05/09 Donor starts stims 
07/08/09 4 patches (every other day); Donor's first u/s: follicles 9-10 on left and 14-15 on right
07/09/09 Donor cycle canceled: she is not responding correctly to meds and may not be taking them properly (which she denies).
07/10/09 Cycling now with new frozen egg donor (b. 1986, 18 mature eggs) in new "egg vit" program
07/12/09 Fly to Colorado (CCRM); last Lupron shot
07/13/09 U/S and E2; thaw frozen eggs & fertilize(w/IMSI); b/w E2 762; start Medrol & Tetracycline (for 4 days each), first Progesterone (PIO) shot, 1cc in AM, 200mg Prometrium in PM
07/14/09 B/w P4 46; Embryologist report: of our 18 frozen eggs, 16 survived the thaw and 13 fertilized.
07/16/09 Day 3 report: All 13 still growing, 12 are good (6-10 cells) and one is just 2 cells
07/18/09 5-day ET (2 grade 4AA perfect embryos, 3 frozen); acupuncture pre&post-ET; E2 312, P4 33
07/19/09 Six more embryos frozen (total of nine in five straws: 4@4BA,4BB and the rest less)
07/23/09 10dpo HPT BFP; increase prometrium vaginally 3x day
07/26/09 13dpo Beta #1 – 171, P4 26
07/28/09 15dpo Beta #2 – 371 (Doubling 1.78 days), P4 26, E2 269
08/03/09 B/w: E2 344, P2 44
08/10/09 B/w: E2 472, P4 60
08/13/09 First u/s (6w3d): Twins - Baby A 6w1d 140bpm; Baby B 6w2d 140bpm; b/w: E2 838, P4 53
08/17/09 B/w: E2 734, P4 52; reduce patches to 3 every other day, prometrium 2x/day
08/19/09 B/w: E2 603, P4 61
08/25/09 B/w: E2 913, P4 54; reduce to 2 patches
08/28/09 B/w: E2 827, P4 65; reduce to 1 patch and 1 prometrium at night
09/01/09 U/s (9w1d): Baby A 9w2d 180bpm; Baby B 9w2d 175bpm; b/w: E2 971, P4 86
09/02/09 Stop patches; reduce PIO shots to every other day
09/04/09 B/w: E2 758, P4 62; no changes to meds
09/09/09 B/w: E2 827, P4 57
09/11/09 Last PIO shot, last estrace tablet
09/14/09 B/w: E2 767, P4 55; no more meds *graduated from the RE*
09/28/09 NT scan (13w0d): 1.8mm folds (1/10,000 risk for DownS); Baby A 13w3d 154bpm; Baby B 13w6d 165bpm; first video
10/27/09 Anatomy scan (17w1d): Baby A 17w5d 147bpm 0.8 oz; Baby B 17w3d 156bpm 0.7oz; cervix great 5cm; hearts look great; expecting two boys!
11/02/09 Results of sequential screening test: 1/9000 risk for DownS, 1/1600 risk for Spina Bifida
11/24/09 Second anatomy u/s (21w1d): Baby A 22w1d 141bpm 1 lb. 1 oz; Baby B 22w0d 147bpm 1 lb. 0 oz; cervix 6cm!
12/14/09 Three days of excessive BHs
12/16/09 Fetal echocardiogram (24w2d): Baby A 26w3d 147bpm 1 lb. 14 oz; Baby B 25w1d 153bpm 1 lb. 10 oz; cervix still 6cm; fundus measures 33 wks! Both babies have all normal heart and arterial structures.
12/22/09 Very painful sacroilitis for two days – chiro appt fixed it.
2010
01/07/10 (27w3d): Baby A 30w1d 133bpm 3 lb. 0 oz; Baby B 29w1d 144bpm 12 lb. 13 oz; both babies head down; Baby B has higher than normal amniotic fluid; GT test done, results Monday [125<139, passed!]
01/25/10 (1am-6am) Excessive BH CX sent me to L&D this morning! FFN negative, cervix still high, closed, hard.
01/25/10 (30w0d) OB appt and limited scan (fluid levels and cord doppler): Baby B's fluid level is normal; both babies are head down; all is well
02/05/10 (31w4d) Thought my water broke; emergency office visit tests all negative
02/09/10 (32w1d) Passed first NST; fundus is sized 45 cm x 59 cm; BP 109/73. Baby A: 35w4d, 5 lb 4 oz, 150 BPM; Baby B: 34w4d, 4 lb 15 oz, 136 BPM. 
02/26/10 (34w4d) Fundus 47 cm! Fetal heart rates 135/150. Passed NST.
03/05/10 (35w4d) Urinalysis shows +2 sugar +3 protein; Group B Strep swab (negative); 50% effaced, baby not engaged.
03/08/10 (36w0d) Emergency visit due to Pre-Eclampsia symptoms (very swollen in feet/legs, swelling in hands and face; headaches). Urinalysis normal, bloodwork mostly normal, platelet count is low 126 (<140), BP 111/71. Baby A seems to be lower. Getting harder Cx. Passed NST.
03/12/10 (36w4d) Urinalysis normal, BP 116/68; platelets stable (128). Baby A: 36w3d, 6 lb 5 oz, 129 BPM; Baby B: 36w6d, 6 lb 12 oz, 142 BPM. Babies still head down.
03/19/10 (37w4d) Passed NSTs, both babies HBs in the 140s. Urinalysis normal, BP 122/70; 1cm dilated, 50% effaced; stripped membranes. Have pitting edema in feet and legs.
03/21/10 (37w6d) Passed NSTs: Baby A 125, Baby B 140; BP 114/71. Fluid level around Baby A is too low, need to induce right away
03/22/10 (38w0d) Induction scheduled 7:30am at L&D; Babies A and B born. No NICU time. Everyone healthy.

*some information has been changed to protect the privacy of individuals*
 

Living With Infertility – A Guest Post

I asked Charlene, the author of "A Divine Walk" blog to write a guest post
about her struggles with infertility.  Please take a moment to read Charlene's heartfelt story, and afterwards, check out her blog!

Hi, my name is Charlene Hertzberg, Gena asked me to do a guest post today for National Infertility Awareness Week.  I'm so grateful that people like Gena are taking the time to help educate everyone about infertility. 

This year's theme for national Infertility Awareness Week is "Don't Ignore".  It's such a great theme because infertility is definitely one of those issues that many people try to ignore.  Those who are going through it often try to ignore it's impact on their lives.  Those who are not dealing with it, often just don't know what to say.

Our family has been dealing with infertility for nearly 10 years.  It's been a struggle no doubt.  We spent  2 1/2 years trying to conceive our son.  We lived through the frustration and pain of trying and trying before I was diagnosed with PCOS (poly-cystic ovarian syndrome.)  Then, we went through all of the tests and treatments to try to conceive.  We did months of Clomid, a round of IVF (in-vitro fertilization), and a round of IUI (intra-uterine insemination) with ovulation induction medications.  All of these treatments cause havoc on the body.  The closest thing I can compare them to would be PMS on steroids.  Both IVF and IUIs involve daily shots, lots of blood work, and lots of ultrasounds.  Not to mention that they cost thousands and thousands of dollars (anywhere from several thousand for a medicated IUI cycle to 10s of thousands for IVF).  There are no guarantees, but it's still worth it when what you want more than anything is a child to love.  After our son was born, we soon began working on conceiving child number 2.  My son is now 7 and we have yet to have any luck.  Life has changed some, and we don't have the finances to do the medical treatments again now.  Most insurances, including ours, do not cover any infertility treatments, so we are left on our own to come up with the money.   Recently we have chosen to take an alternative approach to infertility treatments, taking advantage of the fact that PCOS is known to respond quite well to acupuncture.

During our time dealing with infertility, we have learned a lot.  One of the things I have noticed is how much people do not like to talk about infertility.  It's an awkward subject for many people.  Those who have it are afraid of being judged or afraid that people won't understand.  Those who want to be supportive, don't know what to say and what not to say.  Here are a few tips for talking about infertility:

If you are dealing with infertility:

    -Confide in a few trusted friends.
    -Let those supporting you know what kind of support you need (don't expect them to read your mind.)
    -Let those supporting you know where your tender spots are emotionally, so that they won't say things that hurt.
    -Consider joining a group like RESOLVE that will give you a chance to talk with others going through similar issues.
    -Be open and honest as much as you feel comfortable.  Don't be afraid to tell people what is going on.  At the same time, if you are not comfortable with someone knowing, remember it is totally up to you to make the choice to share.

If someone you know is dealing with infertility:

    -Ask how you can help support them.  Do they want to talk about it, or would they rather not?
    -Find out if there is a time that is particularly hard for them, and if you can support them during that time with an extra hug, some time to talk, whatever they need.
    -If you are available, ask if they would like you to go some appointments with them.  Husbands can't always take off for every appointment, and the emotional support is more valuable than you can imagine.
    -Listen and understand that every month the wound will be reopened when they find out that they did not get pregnant.  Be understanding and let them vent about it.  It's easy to wonder why we get so upset each month, but they are not just griping.   Every month brings new hope, new fears, and can bring new sadness when it passes.

There are a few things that you should avoid saying to someone who is trying to deal with infertility.  Here's what NOT to say:

    "Why don't you just adopt?"  Not everyone is called to adopt.  My husband and I are big fans of adoption, yet the more we prayed about it, the more we felt it was not the way we were being led to go.  There are many reasons people choose not to adopt, and some families haven't even ruled out adoption, but still want to try to have a child naturally.

    "It'll happen," "I know it'll happen," "You'll get pregnant soon," etc.   The fact is, you don't know that it will happen and neither do they.  These may sound like reassuring words, but they sting.  Instead things like "I hope you get pregnant soon," "I'm praying for you," and "I'm rooting for you," are much kinder words that really convey what you are probably trying to say anyways.

    "Maybe you just aren't meant to have children" or "Maybe God just doesn't want you to have children."    Even if you believe it's true, don't say it!  This is one of the most hurtful things you can say to someone who is struggling with infertility.  You don't know what they are "meant" to do or what God has planned for them.  Choose to be supportive of their choice, and trust God to guide them to do what is right for their families.

Whatever you do, don't hide infertility in the closet.  1 in 8 families deals with infertility issues.  If we talk openly about it, those of us dealing with it get the opportunity to see that we aren't alone.

To read about my infertility journey, visit my blog.

Charlene Hertzberg
A Divine Walk

National Infertility Awareness Week: Don’t Ignore Endometriosis

If you read my story yesterday, you read that I "met" a lot of women going through their own battle with infertility on the message boards at Fertility Friend.  One of those friends that I met during this time was "Sarah".  Coincidentally, she had her baby girl a month before Captain Fussybuckets was born, but the journey it took to get there was a long one.  

Sarah had heavy, painful periods since her late teens/early 20's, but her doctors just said to take medicine to ease the pain and that was it.  It wasn't until she and her husband started trying to get pregnant that she realized that the painful periods were not normal.  It took a miscarriage and over a year of actively trying to get pregnant for Sarah to finally reach out to an RE, a Reproductive Endrocrinologist, to get some answers.  Sarah was over 35 at that time, which made it more obvious that she needed the help of an RE.  

The RE told Sarah that she had endometriosis, a condition in which cells from the lining of the uterus grow outside of the uterine cavity, most commonly on the ovaries.  Endometriosis is fairly common in women who struggle with infertility.  Sarah's RE recommended a "lap," which is short for "laparoscopy."  A lap is a surgical procedure in which a camera is used to look inside the abdominal cavity.  The RE also removed some tissue and adhesions caused by the endometriosis during the lap.

A month after the lap was perfomed, she became pregnant and had a healthy baby girl as a result!  The procedure was all it took to erase some of the endometriosis enough to get pregnant.  Sarah and her husband feel extremely lucky because this kind of surgery doesn't always produce these results so fast, but for them it did….twice!  Sarah recently had another lap after trying to get pregnant with a second child for some time.  Again, they were lucky enough for it to happen the very next month.  Our thoughts and prayers are with them to have another happy and healthy pregnancy!

Sarah wants my readers to know two huge things in the world of endometriosis.  One, a big sign, other than the painful periods, is painful intercourse.  If you're having these two issues, please consult with an ob/gyn and specifically bring up endometriosis.  She also feels that endometriosis is not talked about enough and many ob/gyns don't know enough about it and often times shrug off women's complaints of pain because every woman, at some point, has had pain during menstruation and intercourse.  But endo is more…..and if you're having constant pain, please find a doctor that will listen.  For more information about endometriosis, please go to The National Infertility Association's Resolve website.

 

National Infertility Awareness Week….Don’t Ignore

This week, April 22-28, is National Infertility Awareness Week and "Don't Ignore" is this year's theme.  I think this is such a wonderful thing, to spread the word about infertility and make people aware that many more people suffer with it than you would even imagine.  This week, I will be sharing some of my friends' stories about infertility, and I hope you'll stay tuned and read them all.  It's an emotional, heartbreaking issue that needs to be recognized.  National Infertility Awareness Week was formed to make people aware that they aren't alone.  If you are suffering from infertility of any kind, you are not alone.  

I debated on whether or not to share my story here.  My story is so incredibly minute compared to some stories I've heard and I'm not one to get personal about this stuff, especially on a public site…but the point of awareness is to share, so I am here to share.  NIAW encourages everyone to not ignore opportunities to talk about infertility, so here I go…. 

When we were trying to conceive our first child, I had grand plans to get pregnant in July and have a Spring baby.  I read up on how to prepare my body for optimal conditions and got off of birth control and all that jazz.  I joined a site called Fertility Friend to chart my cycles and then the wait began.  July came and went….then August…..then September.  I was getting frustrated.  Three months seems so extremely long when you're trying to get pregnant with no luck.  

I found the message boards on Fertility Friend and began learning more and talking with others going through the same thing.  I "met" women who had been trying for YEARS and boy did that put everything into perspective.  Some women have been through so much pain and suffering, through many miscarriages, failed, expensive procedures like IVF and IUI and even women who had waited to get pregnant for so long that they were now waiting to adopt.  My heart ached for them.  I prayed for these women each and every night, and of course, prayed for my own little miracle.

More months passed and I spoke to my doctor at my yearly checkup.  She said that they couldn't do anything until we had been trying for a year.  But because of my charting my cycles, I knew something wasn't right.  My cycles were becoming so irregular and I was waiting for an end to that cycle for a couple of months.  The doctor gave me something to end my cycle, but said that was basically all she could do at the time.  *sigh*  I felt so discouraged after that doctor's visit.  I realize that a lot of women come in after a few months and complain about not getting pregnant right away, but I just felt that the doctor was cold and impersonal and frankly, thought I was an idiot.

December came and went…..and I opened up about my issues with a coworker.  As luck would have it, she was going through exactly the same thing.  And it was so freeing to talk to her and commiserate with her.  We laughed about all the ridiculous things that we tried, like a saliva microscope to see if we were fertile.  Seriously, the things we women do to get pregnant is pretty insane at times!

Well, my sweet coworker asked if she could tell her mother, who worked in OB/GYN, about my problems.  I reluctantly said yes and within a few days, I had an appointment with her.  She and an infertility nurse took the time to listen to me and NOT brush me off.  They realized that I knew what I was talking about and that I had been tracking my cycles, doing my homework, and they made a plan for us.  They gave me some more of the hormones to bring an end to another extremely long cycle and said that we could try Clomid.  This basically meant that on days 5-10 of my cycle, I would take a pill and it would make my body do what it was supposed to do…ovulate.  Well, it was a hard time for me because of the side effects.  I was cranky, but my awesome husband was supportive.  The Clomid made my ovaries ache and my body extremely bloated.  I went in for a progesterone test 7 days after ovulation.  It was a 6.  My heart sank.  I'm not positive, but I think they say that they want the progesterone number to be over 13 with Clomid. (it's been a few years, so I've forgotten!)  I was certain I wasn't pregnant, but the sweet infertility nurse told me not to lose hope.  Ten days after ovulation, I had a feeling when I woke up one morning.  I took a pregnancy test and it was positive!  I woke up my husband and I cried tears of joy.  I couldn't believe it.  We were pregnant.  And that precious, miracle baby was Baby Captain Fussybuckets.  

So all in all, we only struggled with long cycles, not ovulating, and played the waiting game for only 7 months.  But those were honestly the longest, most emotional, rollercoaster 7 months of my life.  And when I think about women who have struggled for YEARS…..my heart just breaks.  It is so unfair that any woman should have to go through that.  It's so unfair that couples try to conceive for years and never have their own biological child.  I thank God every single day for Captain Fussybuckets.  And I thank God every single day for Baby D, who was conceived only four months, but just as much a precious miracle.  We are EXTREMELY lucky and blessed and I count my blessing every single day.  Even when I'm having a bad day, all I have to do is think about those feelings I felt during those 7 months and I kiss my sweet babies and thank God for them.  I am indebted to those three amazing women who helped me get pregnant….my coworker friend, the infertility nurse, and the nurse practitioner who were all so sweet and supportive and took the time to listen.  If I hadn't gone to them and if they hadn't listened to me, it could've been a lot longer before I had a child.  There is a doctor or nurse out there who will listen to you, don't put up with people who ignore you…at all.

If you are dealing with infertility of any magnitude, know that there is someone out there going through exactly the same thing and there are people who will listen to you.  If you are keeping it to yourself, please reach out to someone and talk about it.  Infertility DOES hurt and it's hard to live with, and talking to someone helps so much, even if it's talking to people you don't know on message boards.  Don't ignore your feelings.

I am still friends with some of the same women I met while trying to get pregnant with Captain Fussybuckets.  These women and I have a special bond and I am overjoyed when they finally have their family…whether it's through natural conception, IVF, IUI, donor eggs, or even adoption.  I am so thrilled to have met these incredible women who mean so much to me who were there in my darkest hours.

Here are a couple of helpful links for a basic understanding of infertility and information about National Infertility Awareness Week.  There is tons of information about everything infertility related!  Don't forget to come back here, to Life With Captain Fussybuckets, to read another story from other women who have dealt or is dealing with infertility.  Thank you, if you've read this one!  If you'd like to share your story here, please email me at cptfussybuckets@gmail.com.