But we'll get to that later, because yet again, there is quite a bit that happened to get me there. So let's go back in time...
After John was born, I was hopeful that my "body would reset" which apparently is a common thing for women with infertility issues. Of course, I did not fall into this group, and everything was the same as before.
By the time John was 1 1/2, we were ready to start actively "trying" again, which meant going back to the doctor for the same treatments that I had to get John. So back to Dr. Leya I went, and jumped right back into the crazy number of appointments and hormone shots and timing and everything, but with no luck. Of all the failed treatments I did to get John, the first failed treatment I did after him was by far the most emotionally difficult. Having him made me feel like I was "fixed" and I might actually be able to have as many children as I wanted! I was so hopeful, and so devastated when it didn't work.
But we decided to give it another try, and the results of this next treatment were even worse. The medication (which we had to pay for out of pocket for various reasons- yikes!) didn't do what it was supposed to do- my eggs never released, and I never even got my period. When going through treatments, everything is so specifically timed and whether you get your period or not is usually the main indicator of being pregnant or not. This made for about a month of me being in compete denial about not being pregnant. I had been shot full of hormones which never had a release and I was so sure that these treatments had to work that when literally NOTHING happened, not a positive pregnancy test nor a period, I pretty much gave up hope. The only option that seemed left to us was In vitro fertilization, which posed some very moral and ethical questions for us. My doctor was not encouraging, and we more or less decided to just stop trying for the time being.
Neither Philip nor I felt right about giving up. We spent the next year discussing whether or not we were okay with never having any more children, how we felt about IVF, how viable other options were, etc. and decided the best way to approach it was to talk to my doctor about our options and about our options regarding IVF in particular.
So I called Dr. Leya, but instead of setting up an appointment with her to discuss things she chose to refer me to The Fertility Center of Illinois because she did not do IVF. While I was scared to try a new doctor, I was also excited about the idea of a fresh start.
I'm kind of particular about female doctors, so I researched the centers closest to me that had appointments available with a female doctor. I settled on Dr. Nani in Hoffman Estates, and made an appointment as soon as possible, which was only a week out. During that time, I decided that because of all the changes in healthcare that had been happening, I would call my insurance company to clarify their policy on IVF. After being tossed around by different people at Aetna, calling and emailing my work to find out which exact state I'm insured under (it's NY even though I live in IL!) and just an all-around hassle of a couple days, I found out IVF is no longer covered with my particular insurance. Again with the devastation. We hadn't actually decided that we were going to go the IVF route, but having the decision made for us was hard. I wanted to just give up at that point- I was tired. Tired of the uncertainty for the future, tired of the emotional roller coaster, tired of the injections and the poking and prodding and tired of the cost of it all. Seriously, having hormones that make you crazy injected into your body is almost the least stressful part of infertility. But Philip convinced me that since we had an appointment already scheduled we might as well just go and make our decision to keep trying or not when we had exhausted this last chance of possibility.
So, we met and talked with Dr. Nani. I went in that office feeling defeated and hopeless, and left feeling like we would have another baby in a year's time. Her attitude and demeanor was so open and positive and encouraging- she had gone over all of my previous records and told us she didn't see any reason for us to have to do IVF and that she could easily see me getting pregnant with the same treatments I did to get John. I know we asked a lot of questions and although I don't remember the exact conversations now she really made both Philip and I feel very secure in starting the process up again.
Even though she had all my previous records, because it had been a few years since many of my fertility health checks had been done she wanted another full evaluation of health including lots of blood tests, pelvic exams and ultrasounds and a Hysterosalpinogram. This all revealed that yes, I definitely have PCOS, my vitamin d was low and I had polyps on my uterus, which was probably why the previous two treatments had not worked.
I was scheduled for a Hysteroscopy and a Polypectomy to remove the polyps. This was an outpatient surgery, and after it was over I just had to rest for a few days and call if there was any significant bleeding. Well, the day after the surgery I had some strange cramping and started bleeding quite a bit. Of course, this started on a Friday afternoon after the doctor's office was closed, and the on-call doctor said to go in right away on Monday morning. This made for a very stressful weekend to say the least! Luckily our friends Anna and Anika came over to help me with John while Philip was working and I was able to take it easy and rest as much as possible.
So, I went in right away Monday morning, and it turns out that the bleeding was actually my period, which apparently can happen (although very rarely!) in women with pcos after the surgery. The pain and cramping was just a combination of period cramps and surgical recovery. Really, best case scenario!
For anyone who has ever done fertility treatments, you know that getting your period starts the countdown to treatment. Since Monday was day 3 after it started, we decided to start the injections the next day and get things rolling! So, for the next few days, I took various injections of Gonal-F (a follicle stimulating hormone to make the eggs grow on my ovaries) and then the "trigger" shot of Ovidrel to make the eggs release. During this time I also had multiple ultrasounds to check on the size of the eggs and make sure they were of prime size to release. I had two eggs that were in the "zone" of where we wanted, and two others that were slightly smaller when I took the trigger shot. Then it was just regular ol' timed intercourse. ;) Supposedly, the chances of more than one or two of these eggs fertilizing should have been slim...
After that, it was all about the two week wait. Those two weeks where you "could" be pregnant, with a lot of "is that a pregnancy symptom?" " I think I feel nauseated- maybe I'm pregnant!" or "what if it didn't work?!?!" and the like. It's pretty much self-inflicted mental torture. Peeing on a stick every day even when you KNOW it's too early to show up positive. Those two weeks are the worst.
But of course, with my luck things couldn't just be about waiting. A few days into the waiting period and I started having a few shooting pains when I would sit up or twist a certain way or lift something. Then, one morning, the pain was so bad I was hunched over crying and the pain alone made me vomit. I immediately called my doctor and they had me come in for an ultrasound. It turns out I yet again had Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome. This is common with PCOS, although it comes in varying degrees. When I had it back in 2010, it was quite severe to the point of ending up in the hospital and having my lungs drained of fluids twice. This time was moderate. I had some pretty giant cysts on my ovaries-some measuring as big as an orange. The fluid in my abdomen, however, was minimal, which was good. They think that one of my ovaries may have twisted because of the cyst, which is what caused the pain and vomiting. Luckily, it must have untwisted itself. A twisted ovary can be extremely dangerous, as it could cut off blood circulation and kill the ovary, and/or they'd have to surgically remove the ovary. So, I was put on modified bed rest until the cysts went down in size.. I could lift no more than 5-10 lbs and I was told not to anything as strenuous as vacuuming. Really? Vacuuming is strenuous?! However, this turned out to be a good thing because the pain was terrible if I moved just slightly the wrong way. Ugh. I was also told not to drink any water, only Gatorade or other salty drinks and to go on a high salt/high protein diet. Apparently the salt helps keep the fluid from building up in the abdomen somehow.
This lasted for about 3-4 weeks. Yay. However, during this time, we found out that, yes, it worked and we were pregnant! So at least I was going through all this for a good reason!
By the time I was 6 weeks pregnant the nausea, puking, exhaustion, hot flashes, and all of the rest of those awesome pregnancy symptoms had started. So far things are not as awful as they were with John (only puking 1-2 times a day instead of 4-6 times!) But I still wish I could be like those lucky few women who barely know they're pregnant and have little to no nausea. And at 6 weeks we saw the first ultrasound!! It was too early to see heartbeats, but SURPRISE! there are three in there!
Since then, we've had an ultrasound a week, saw all three heartbeats and have now been sent off to see a Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialist, otherwise known as a high-risk OB. So our next appointment will be with Dr. Parilla after we get home from Hawaii in two weeks! YAY FOR BABIES!! THREE OF THEM!!!