So anyway as open as I am I really debated what to share online about our road to pregnancy. It's not that I care to share our experience, it's just that I didn't know if people would be like "woah honey.....TMI!" So if sperm counts and ovulation cycles scare you......then do NOT read on! haha!
Sooo here we go....
As a teenager I had multiple ovarian cysts and was later diagnosed with endometriosis (Endometriosis is a female health disorder that occurs when cells from the lining of the womb (uterus) grow in other areas of the body. This can lead to pain, irregular bleeding, and problems getting pregnant).
By the time I went to college I really didn't have anymore problems. no more cysts or pain. I just kept taking the birth control and everything seemed fine. By the time Jason and I were married and ready to start trying for a baby I had been on birth control for almost 15 years! I met with our local OBGYN and he told us to get off birth control and let my body learn to cycle by itself. (keep in mind I had never really had a regular birth control free cycle in my life. When I started birth control to control the endometriosis and cysts at such a young age I wasn't even really having a period.) After a month or two off the BC pill we bought an ovulation predictor kit and got serious about trying. The first month was perfect. I ovulated right on time! I thought holy cow this may work the first try! Yeah I was a little naive. We of course were not pregnant. The next month we again used the ovulation predictor kits, but I never ovulated. Almost 50 days later I also had not started a period. So I'm thinking, hey maybe we just missed the ovulation on the sticks and we are pregnant! Many at home pregnancy tests and a blood test later I found out no, I wasn't pregnant. So back to the doctor we go. I started prometrium to make my body start a period. The next month was the same thing....no ovulation and no period. Again another trip back to our doctor who again put me on prometrium and suggested I start Clomid (a drug used to induce ovulation.) Clomid was pretty rough in terms of side effects. We tried about 3 rounds unsuccessfully with Clomid. At that point I was pretty discouraged and asked my doctor what else we could do.
|Sitting at yet another doctors appointment.|
Basically they took Jason's sperm, put it in a small catheter, and inserted it directly into my uterus when my ovulation predictor kit said I was ovulating. The day we had this done was a disaster! Funny now looking back, but at the time it was pretty chaotic. Our OB has two offices in our area. When I called to schedule our IUI I called the office closest to our home since Jason would be making his "deposit" at home and then we would drive directly to the office to have the procedure done. So the day we were scheduled we arrived at the office to check in and hand over Jason's, well,.....little swimmers....in a plastic specimen cup. The receptionist then informed us that we weren't in their system as having an appintment that morning. I FREAKED! I told the poor lady I had a brown bag full of sperm and I needed someone to PLEASE get it inside me before it spoiled!!!!!! And what the heck did she mean I didn't have an appointment! She then calmly told me my appointment was at the other office (about 20 minutes away) and that if I got in the car and drove straight there everything would be just fine. So there we were, Jason was flying down the highway and I was holding this little cup of sperm between my knees trying to keep it warm while we drove. Jason dropped me off at the door and I ran inside with this little cup and shoved it to the receptionist when I walked in to the door.
So needless to say the IUI didn't work....yeah shocking I know. Ha! At this point I began investigating reproductive endocrinologists and got a referral to one. We met with him and even though his office was about two hours away...we LOVED him! His plan was to do three months of timed intercourse with injectable medicine. Basically use much stronger drugs that I inject into my stomach or thigh, monitor the eggs/follicles growing in my ovaries with ultrasounds 1-2 times a week, when my ovaries were ready use another injectable medication to make me release one egg, and then go home and well, ya know, give it the ol' fashion try.
I actually didn't mind the injections. And I felt better on the stronger injectable medicine than I did on the Clomid. I'm told this is because Clomid is a more synthetic drug and the Follistim injectable medicine, although stronger, is more like the hormones naturally in your body. Not sure if this is true, but all I know is I felt like less of a hormonal mess on the injectable meds and didn't have the night sweats and hot flashes on Follistim.
|One of the many beautiful bruises I had over the course of our fertility treatments|
Again we were unsuccessful with the timed intercourse cycles. Next step was the biggie....IVF (in vitro fertilization). This means I would be taking MANY more shots.
|Yep this is the amount of meds used for just one IVF cycle!|
So I started the injections and was going to Evansville for sonograms almost every 3-4 days to monitor if my body was responding to the medicine and growing little eggs in my ovaries. And yes I definitely responded to the medicine. Between my two ovaries there were 54 eggs forming which is a ton! That was a bit uncomfortable, my abdomen was bloated and tender. I felt like I had two boulders in my sides! I wish I had a picture of one of the sonogram pics of this. My ovaries were so huge they were touching in the middle of my abdomen. It was pretty strange looking. So now it was time to head to Indianapolis which is about 5 and 1/2 hours from our home for the IVF procedure.
That morning we arrived at the facility, Jason had it pretty easy. He made his deposit in his little cup again and then his job was done. I was up. They put me under conscious sedation and brought me back to the procedure room. They used an ultrasound guided needle and withdrew all the eggs that had been growing in my ovaries. I do not remember a thing! Evidently I was Chatty Cathy during this though. The doctor told Jason I kept apologizing for how nervous I was and talking about how I am such a planner and how with this fertility stuff nothing was going according to my set plan. I cringe every time I think about what the heck came out of my mouth to that poor doctor. He said I eventually fell asleep during it so hopefully I didn't say anything too stupid. He was probably thinking maybe we don't want this crazy girl to procreate!
When I was brought back to the recovery room Jason was waiting for me. I was still a doped up mess and it took two nurses to get transferred onto the recovery room bed because every time they told me to scoot over onto the other bed I just sat there looking at them with a blank look on my face. Again I don't remember any of this. I remember at one point waking up and asking Jason how the doctor said it went. He was like, "Um, Ashley you have been laying there talking to me about it for the last five minutes."
Anyway 17 of the 50 something eggs they retrieved were mature enough for them to inject with sperm. They took Jason's best and most normal swimmers and with a tiny needle injected each of the 17 eggs with a single sperm in a petri dish. A few days later we went back to Indianapolis. Only 7 of the eggs had survived those few days after they were joined with Jason's sperm. They graded them and the two best were chosen to be placed back in my uterus. The remaining embryos were frozen for us to use in the future if this procedure didn't work or when we were ready to have more children. (The next day we found out they were only able to freeze two of the embryos because the other remaining ones did not survive the next day).
Here is a pic of the embryos before they were placed back inside me.
|Before heading in to the procedure room.|
|And after the IVF procedure and all loopy.|
|Jason suited up for the embryo transfer.|
About 10 days after the procedure Jason said let's take an at home pregnancy test. It was a Wednesday night and we weren't schedule for our blood pregnancy test until Friday with a followup blood test on Sunday. I was a little surprised. Throughout the many months of trying I was always the one wanting to take the tests and Jason was always like "no Ashley just wait. Its too soon for it to read." So why all the sudden did he want to be the eager beaver and take an at home test??? So reluctantly I agreed. I thought for sure it would say no. For one thing it was a little too early to tell and I was also convinced the IVF hadn't worked. But Jason, the forever optimist, insisted we try. And to my surprise......
|And yes I took three tests to be sure!|
It worked! We were pregnant. We didn't tell anybody that day and went to the blood test on Friday which came back positive as well. The follow up blood test on Sunday showed the same. The levels had risen significantly as compared to the Friday blood test so we were most definitely pregnant!
|I plan to post the video of how we told our family soon. It was such a great day!|
About a week or two after the pregnancy test we had our first ultrasound with our Reproductive Endocrinologist. The doctor walked into the room and said "how many do you think we have in there?" I told him I didn't care if he told me there was a mix up in the lab and there was a litter of puppies inside me...I was just so happy to finally be pregnant! He of course looked at me like I was a crazy person and then laughed and said he doubted that was going to be the case, but he had a feeling that both embryos took and there would be two. I wasn't convinced. Although I secretly had hoped for them both to have made it (being the pessimist I am) I was sure there would be just one.
So the ultrasound began and sure enough two little sacs were on the screen! I, however, was still holding my breath. I waited a few seconds longer and heard the doctor say "there is one little heartbeat......and there is the other heartbeat!" Jason of course burst into tears! And the doctor walked over and started rubbing his shoulders! haha! I was like wait a minute here....why are you rubbing his shoulders?! It was sweet though. To say we were happy and relieved was an understatement.