Hi, friends! Welcome to episode number four. I’m going to redirect your attention back to my infertility journey before I finish the details of my happy ending and my mom’s not-so-happy ending. This is a long one, so brace yourself, friends!
As I stated in my first post, my TTC (trying to conceive) journey started back in 2016. After about six months of trying the natural route without any luck, I had labs drawn to see if there was any issue with my ovarian reserve. All my labs came back as ‘normal’ but we decided to proceed with Clomid anyway to see if that would help. Clomid is a drug cultivated from the depths of hell. H-E-L-L. So what Clomid does is it stimulates the pituitary gland to trigger a hormone called FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) and LH (luteinizing hormone). It tricks your body into thinking your estrogen levels are lower than they are so that it stimulates the pituitary gland to secrete more FSH and LH. Both hormones are crucial for ovulation. Okay, so that was your science lesson for today. But honestly, why did we not learn any of this in school?! Or maybe I wasn’t paying attention in health class that day. Either way, I learned more about my reproductive system during my six years of infertility treatments than I did in school. Weird. Anyway, going back to Clomid, the drug from the depths of hell, since it requires communication with your brain to work, it unfortunately causes one to become a PSYCHOPATH. And by ‘one’ I mean me.. I was the psychopath. I did about 4 rounds of Clomid, meaning four cycles to try to get pregnant using Clomid – three of which were with IUIs. And let me tell you, I have never been more miserable of human in my entire life. I was working as a healthcare marketing representative at the time and I hated my boss. I dreaded going to work everyday, but I’m not sure if my boss was actually the issue or me being a psychopath on Clomid was the issue. Nevertheless, I quit my job because I couldn’t handle the pressure of work and the pressure of TTC at the same time. I literally would have panic attacks in the middle of the day. You know how people tell you, ‘just relax, when you stop thinking about it, it will happen.” Such profound advice. These people missed their callings as Reproductive Endocrinologists. 😝 Let me tell you something… one, please don’t ever give that advice to anyone struggling to conceive and two, just think about that for a second… there is absolutely NO way you can ‘not’ think about your ttc journey when it’s literally taking up so much time out of your life. There’s just no way. It’s like when you’re dieting and decide to cut out desserts and all you can think about and crave are desserts. Impossible. When you tell your mind to ‘not’ think about something that is quite literally ‘all’ you will think about. You wake up and think about it, eat and think about it because you’re changing your diet specifically for optimal fertility, you’re taking supplements , you’re getting blood draws , you’re getting ultrasounds… and you’re telling me NOT to think about it?! I mean, I meditate and practice yoga, but am certainly no Buddha. End rant.
Sorry went off on a little tangent there. So, I quit my job and we took a trip to Jerusalem (the first part of my video that I posted the other day) which was once-in-a-lifetime bucket list trip. Probably my second favorite place in the world that I’ve visited – no lie. After that trip, we did another two IUI’s which were fails and that’s when I decided I was taking an actual ‘break’ from ttc to pursue a 200hr Yoga Teacher Training program. To give you an idea of how all over the place I am as a human, I’ll give you a little background. I studied marketing and management at DePaul University, went on to work in healthcare marketing, went on to get my real estate license, quit my marketing job and worked for my dad, quit that job and worked at a makeup counter at Nordies, quit that job and went back to healthcare marketing for a nursing home, quit that job and went back to my dads, while working at my dad’s I was interested in nutrition so I went and got my health coach license (started a blog for that briefly but did not pursue that further it was just for my own personal knowledge), to then go back into the healthcare marketing industry, to ultimately becoming a yoga teacher. LOL. Am I an Aquarius or what!? Yes, I’m aware that was a run-on, but I felt that it paints an accurate picture of my scatterbrain life. Also, I am a big signs person and I was in such a rut with my life at the time, so when I opened my email and happened to receive an email from a yoga studio I used to practice at saying they are doing a YTT program in February of 2017, I was like BOOM that’s what I’m doing. I tried to talk myself out of it a hundred times because that’s what happens when you’re an over-thinker and let fear creep in, but fear did not win people!! I completed the program and became a yoga teacher and absolutely loved every single minute of it. It’s the one place I feel like I’m in my element and something that I’m actually good at. I’ve been teaching ever since the summer of 2017 and received my 500hr certification last winter. It might be the longest I’ve ever held the same ‘job’ 😂 Maybe I AM a Buddha at heart!
Ok, I went on a tangent again – my sincere apologies. After my YTT program ended in May I decided to start my IVF journey at the end of the summer. So I basically gave myself from January until August of not thinking about ttc and let me tell you… it was AMAZING. It was exactly what I needed to get back to feeling like myself because I truly did not recognize the clomid psychopath person and there’s nothing worse than when you don’t feel like yourself – am I right or am I right?! In August of 2017 I had my first appointment with my RE. I had to go on birth control pills – which sounds ridiculous when you’re trying to make a baby, but they use them to control your cycle for stimulation. I did an HSN and he saw polyps so I had to schedule a polyp removal surgery before I could proceed. In September of 2017 I started my first round of IVF! Looking back, I was so optimistic and naive, as most of us are when we first start out. Thinking it will take one shot and boom infertility mystery solved. The joke was on me. To be honest, it’s best to not be aware of what is coming. But I am not that person. I need to KNOW. Not only do I need the details about everything, but I need to understand WHY we’re doing what we are doing. Like, I know I’m not a doctor, but you gotta give me the medical explanation please. You can’t just tell me to start stabbing myself with all these meds and not explain to me what they do and why. A doctor’s worst nightmare patient- that’s me! I guess that is the one area I become type A. Who would have thought?!
Fast forward, my first retrieval was a total failure, but apparently this is not uncommon as IVF -it turns out- is a bunch of trial and error. So. much. fun! I got one normal embryo at 32 years old. In other words… not good. I cried actually because I couldn’t believe out of four embryos we only got one normal, which meant one chance at a baby. I transferred that girl embryo and it failed. February of 2018 I did my second round of IVF, this time I yielded 6 PGT normal embryos! We were over the moon! Our baby was DEFINITELY in that batch. I mean we have six after-all! Nope. My second transfer was in March of 2018 with a 3AA normal boy and I got pregnant for the first time ever! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw the two pink lines, I literally almost collapsed lol. Unfortunately, as fate would have it, I miscarried on Good Friday of all days. I started to bleed super heavy so I went to the ER in panic and ended up passing the fetal tissue at the hospital. I was traumatized. I couldn’t stop sobbing and shaking. How could this be happening? Why on Earth would God let us conceive and then take it away? The worst part of all this was that I was surrounded by pregnant friends and family while I was drowning in IVF hell. And if you’ve ever experienced infertility and miscarriage you know that the last thing you need or want, is to be around pregnant people. Not because you’re not happy for them, but because you cannot heal in an environment where you are constantly triggered. That’s the thing with grief. You can’t heal, unless you remove yourself for a while. I remember we skipped Easter that year and my mom came over on Monday to hang out with me. I woke up that day feeling like I had a bad dream, I just didn’t want to believe it was real. We tried so hard – already two years in- to get to this pregnancy and it was taken away from us just like that without any reason why. When she came over I was in bed, so she came up stairs, gave me a hug and just started crying, but I wouldn’t let myself cry in front of her. So I just rested my face in her chest and let her cry for me. I’m not sure why exactly? I did have a hard time crying in front of others back then. I think I didn’t want to appear weak, but I’ve learned that being able to show emotion and vulnerability in front of others shows strength and bravery, not weakness. With that said, don’t be afraid to cry it out, girlfriend!!
The rest of 2018 was just a living nightmare. I was so determined to get pregnant because that’s what happens when you miscarry. You just want to be pregnant again, ASAP. I did back to back cycles from January until July of that year. Since my uterus is a little funky, I also had to go under anesthesia for each transfer – this is not a common practice. Traditionally, you’re awake and its super quick. Let’s just say it sucked. I took another ‘break’ from transferring and went to see a specialist who diagnosed me with Endometritis – a bacterial infection in your uterine lining. I had to go on a lethal course of antibiotics and a repeat biopsy to test for cure. I scheduled it for Christmas Eve because otherwise I’d have to wait until January which would then push my transfer cycle to February and I was running out of patience. My Jewish doctor was like, “why didn’t you just come in during Chanukah?” He thought I was nuts, but he loved me because I’m funny. Every single transfer they’d wheel me into the room and I’d say alright, “knock me up, doc” thinking I was absolutely hilarious lol.
Turns out my endometritis was cured and I transferred my last two embryos in January of 2019. I got pregnant, again! Unfortunately, at my beta appointment my hcg level came back at 11 which means I was a little bit pregnant. These babes didn’t want to stick around. Full. blown. meltdown. I just went through five FET’s with 7 embryos and not one led to my baby. HOW?! I took another small break from February until May (and by break means I was doing the natural route with extra progesterone and getting blood drawn) to decide how I wanted to proceed. We went to Florida and I happened to get pregnant spontaneously, but that ended in another chemical pregnancy. We decided I’d try a fresh transfer since I needed to do another egg retrieval anyway. A fresh transfer is when they transfer your embryos on day 5. So instead of freezing the embryo to use in a later cycle – called an FET- they transfer it on that day. The prep is a little different and the emrbyo is not tested, but for some women this works better than an FET. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, so I figured let’s try something new. Long story short, my third egg retrieval yielded 9 embryos! My most ever. They were not tested though, so I don’t know how many were good. Typically for someone under 35, you can expect about 70% of your embryos to be normal. I was pretty textbook case on that. In June of 2019 we transferred two 4BB untested embryos and I was pregnant. My beta numbers were not doubling appropriately and I miscarried in July. I bled the entire month of July. M-i-s-e-r-y!!! Mind you, I was still processing my mom’s stage 4 cancer diagnosis, so let’s just say I hated life and I was mad at God. It’s embarrassing to say this, but I really was. I didn’t understand why God “was doing this to us.” Between 2018 and 2019 I can honestly say that I felt angry and defeated. Yoga was my drug though. Going to yoga class and teaching yoga really kept me grounded and helped me cope. With the tools that I learned through yoga training and yoga philosophy I was able to stay in the present moment, with the exception of the two week wait. That’s a whole beast in and of itself. No one comes out alive… I don’t care how much you meditate.
Moving on… we went to Greece a month later for a much needed mental health recharge and it was the best trip ever. It was exactly what we needed. I enrolled in a pre-nursing program, that fall, to get out of my ttc hell and focus on something else. Plus ,I love learning- if you didn’t already notice from all my certifications lol. I made an appointment with a Reproductive Immunologist for December of 2019 because she was that booked out. A Reproductive Immunologist studies immunological issues. I have Crohn’s disease -an autoimmune disorder- so I had a gut feeling (no pun intended) a lot of my issues stemmed from immune related causes. Btw, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in March of 2007 and I was diagnosed with Crohn’s – via an emergency bowel resection- in September of 2007. We’re a team like that. She took about 12 vials of blood and did a very thorough uterine ultrasound and a thyroid ultrasound. It turns out I had a bunch of blood clotting factors that can cause miscarriage, elevated NK cells which attack the body, really poor blood flow to my uterus and a few cysts on my thyroid that I needed to biopsy. Go me! I was elated with this news. FINALLY!!! There was a a reason for all my losses.
I’m going to end the episode here and make a new one for the year of 2020 because that certainly was a special one. To be continued my friends. Thanks for listening! ❤️
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