Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The WHOLE Story - Secondary Infertility

DH and I started hoping I would get pregnant again pretty much the day my son was born. We had heard the stories - how sometimes people who struggled with primary fertility (first time), had no issues the second time around. We wanted to be that couple. The freak small percentage who get pregnant again before they even get their normal cycles back. Irish Twins were on my mind. I think the main reason I wanted this so badly is because I was so afraid of the opposite... of a long secondary infertility struggle (secondary meaning after a successful first child) that would result in months (years) of heartache and maybe leave Benjamin an only child. I was relieved when at my 6 week post-partum check my nurse understood why we didn't want birth control and didn't push the issue. That said, I knew it was unlikely. Breast feeding is about 85% effective as birth control, and when you add our history of infertility on to that, I knew it probably wasn't happening. But a girl can dream.

Our infertility is unexplained, like many other couples. This means that the doctors cannot give a concrete reason things aren't working, time just shows they aren't. Because of this non-diagnosis, we decided to not jump right back to IF treatment, but rather to give mother nature a bit of a chance. So, when my period returned 6m post-partum, the real journey began. We officially (not just in my fantasy world) returned to TTC (trying to conceive). Any woman who has ever tried to get pregnant knows what this means to some degree. Its a stressful time, and every month that passes with a BFN (big fat negative) is more stressful, and more depressing. Let me tell you... it IS easier the second time around. It is easier being disappointed month after month when you can turn away from the bathroom and watch your son run laughing down the hall. But its still hard.  I found my "symptoms" ... my infertility mindset, returning piece by piece. Bitterness. Anger. Frustration. They really came back into full swing around July 2013, when we had officially been trying a year with no success (this is the definition of infertility... a year of trying with  no success). No longer was I experiencing "probable" secondary infertility, now it was real. Any doctor would refer me to a specialist and suggest I start considering my options for treatment. I found myself having extremely selective jealousy. I didn't fault first time mom's for having their first child, but man, all those women with toddlers around Benjamin's age who had already provided a sibling or were announcing their pregnancies? That stung, that stung a lot.

As we approached the end of the year, we also approached the "time limit" we had agreed upon for letting nature take its course. Anticipating IF Treatment in 2014, we changed insurance providers to one that has some coverage. I started to give up. Even as I was eager to stop facing month after month of bad outcome,  I started to dread all of the appointments and stress that goes along with treatment. Every passing day I was less convinced we could avoid treatment, but I still procrastinated on making the call to set up that first appointment. The thing about IF treatment is that is simultaneously offers more hope, and means your closer to the point where nothing more can be done. This is especially true in our case where we know exactly what treatment we would be trying, and, if it fails, how bad it would be for us emotionally, and how much "back at the beginning" we would be.

November came. Two months left before our time limit. November went, and my cycle didn't end. I still was getting a negative pregnancy test, but something was obviously not right. Finally, several days late, my period came, and was very light. I highly suspected an anovulatory cycle (no ovulation - no chance of pregnancy). Of all the problems I was used to facing, I had always believed I had at least a chance every month, so to find out that in November I hadn't even had a shred of a chance was crushing. I emailed the doctor and asked for an infertility appointment. I had pretty much lost all hope of getting pregnant on my own and was at a pretty low point.

December proceeded. I focused on the holidays and travel plans. TTC was still on the back of my mind (isn't it always), but felt pointless. We traveled down to Kansas and had a fun Christmas with my In Laws, and I enjoyed time as a family trying mostly not to think about our infertility struggle, hard to do when there is an 8 day old baby at the family party, but it was a great trip.

We got home (in stages). I had people over for a fun game night on New Years. We celebrated Benjamin's second birthday. Our guests all left and we prepared ourselves to settle back into our normal routine. My infertility appointment was scheduled for Monday, January 6th, first thing in the morning. I was two or three days late and assumed I was having another annovulatory cycle. On Monday morning though, just to make sure I had all the information for my doctors appointment, I decided to take a pregnancy test.

It is hard to explain to people how much of a shock/surprise it was that the test came up positive. I can almost feel people thinking "but you were trying" "but your period was late" when I tell them this story. But, it was truly the shock of my life. When you have actively tried to get pregnant for 48 months of your life, and took many many many pregnancy tests that were all negative, over and over and over, when you have given up hope and assumed that it was time to move into treatment,when you have just came off of one of the more devastating cycles the month before, that second faintly pink line is truly unbelievable. It is the first positive pregnancy test I have seen in person in my life. We didn't have one with Benjamin because we had blood work done instead. When that second line showed up, I started shaking. I stood there in my bath robe starring at it, waiting for it to disappear, thinking "this cannot be real, no way is this real". My first impulse was to not tell DH, but to go get it confirmed by my doctor. I didn't believe it and didn't want to drag him into the "false" hope. But, rationality one out. I knew that pregnancy tests have virtually no false positives, that even though I couldn't believe it I was most certainly pregnant, and he would want to know (had a RIGHT to know). So, I went and got him out of the bedroom. I said "can you come here for a minute?". He came into the bathroom and I pointed at the test. I think he was in as much shock as me, but more excited/less paranoid! (You would have to ask him). He was thrilled. I told him that I would go to my doctors appointment and get blood work done to make sure it all added up. And we very anxiously/excitedly went on with our morning.

I can tell you, I shocked the nurse practitioner when I said "I know this appointment is for infertility consult, but I took a pregnancy test this morning and I am pregnant". She was thrilled for us and obliged with a blood draw, and got me an appointment with the OBGYN office. Noon that day I checked my online blood results and got confirmation that indeed I was pregnant. DH of course started telling work IMMEDIATELY. He called and told his parents too. He can't keep secrets, and I knew that even though I was nervous, keeping it secret wouldn't do any good or make it easier if something didn't turn out. So, I texted all my closest friends, and we went and told my parents that evening (and called siblings). The rest is history (I actually might write a whole second post about how this pregnancy has felt emotionally different then the last, but I think this post has grown long enough).

One last list of funny/weird/ironic things:

Things I did in the 10 days before finding out I was pregnant -
- Pulled out a big unpacked box of clothes from our crawl space, intending to purge and re-pack it. Most of it is maternity clothes.
- Bitterly took "Your going to use the Potty" and left "Your going to be a Big Brother" in the kids section at the libary.
- Told my mother-in-law "There is NO WAY I am pregnant", despite being in my two week wait, because I had totally given up hope.
- (This is the weirdest, in my opinion)  Found an "I'm a Big Brother!" Sweatshirt in my sons room. It was a hand-me-down freebie that I had not taken out because it obviously didn't apply. I assume the cats dragged it out of his closet while we were out of town.

Also, when we told my parents I was pregnant, my mom said that several months ago we had asked DH when we would be having a second. She says that DH told her "January". DH does not remember this. I assumed he meant that is when we would start IF treatment, but its still kinda weird.


Heather said...

Wow! Congratulations! Found you in a google alert for infertility. I also had problems and I don't even want to think about #2 because my period hasn't come back yet, I will just get depressed thinking about it. But I think all those signs are amazing. Just before I found out I was pregnant I got a whole lot of baby books instead of infertility books at a book sale. I think there is something inside of us that just knows somehow...

Rachel said...

Thank you for sharing your story. Part of me dreaded our announcement because I know several people going through the same thing you are, and I knew how it would make you and them feel. My heart hurt for you, and all I was doing was hoping the same would happen for you soon. So, I was super excited to hear your news!!!