i just got home home from seeing my ob/gyn. i now have an official diagnosis of infertility. i am not that freaked out because doctors hand down that diagnosis when you have been having sex for more than a year without any hormonal or barrier method birth control in play. they don’t count fertility awareness/avoiding sex during suspected ovulation as birth control, but that’s what i was using for several months after i went off the pill.
i’m actually pleased because an official diagnosis means that we can start getting more aggressive about trying to conceive. jared & i have been trying to make this baby thing happen for six cycles now & i’m still not pregnant. i have been charting as if it is my religion, & i have discovered that my luteal phase (the phase between ovulation & the beginning of the next cycle) is only ten days long. the average for most women is twelve to sixteen days, & women who have shorter luteal phases are going to have a hell of a time getting pregnant, because a fertilized egg just doesn’t have enough time to implant in the endometrium before it starts to break down & slough away in the next period.
a short luteal phase is generally caused by low progesterone, which is generally caused by other hormonal imbalances elsewhere in the cycle. a person can try all kinds of stuff to balance it herself. baby aspirin can improve circulation, which can in turn improve hormonal balance. acupuncture can be used to stabilize & regulate hormones. some people swear by B vitamins to nourish the thyroid & stabilize hormone production. others say that vitex (also known as chasteberry) boosts progesterone production. i tried all these things. my luteal phase is still ten days long.
so now i’m going on clomid. i start on saturday. i’m pumped to actually be trying something that has been, you know, peer-reviewed by actual scientists. maybe some people have had great results from acupuncture or vitamin B or chinese medicine or eating lots of pineapple. but i’m all for trying the drug that results in pregnancy during the first cycle of use in 50% of women who are actually ovulating. (ovulation tests & my fertility charts indicate that i do ovulate, but i’m getting a progesterone level done on cycle day 21 just to confirm.) the clomid will be augmented during the luteal phase with progesterone supplements. if i manage to get pregnant, i’ll keep using progesterone until i’m through my first trimester.
i had to wait two months for this infertility work-up because my doctor is so booked up. only the actual pregnant ladies can jump the line, in order to start getting pre-natal care. jared’s doctor recommended that he go with me so that he can be in the loop for everything, & so i am not running interference & ferrying messages between the ob/gyn & jared. i was so anxious about the appointment because i was worried that the doctor was going to say, “you’ve only been using ovulation tests & obsessively timing sex for six months. you have to wait a year before i can do anything.” then i started worrying that she would say something like, “you weigh 200 pounds. clearly you are too fat to get pregnant” (even though people who are bigger than me get pregnant all the time–it’s just hard for me to exercise because i have a limited range of motion). i am just an anxious person. i’m always trying to foresee the various ways in which i will be thwarted.
instead, she was like, “we can be as aggressive or not-aggressive as you want. if at any point you want me to back off treatments or refer you to a specialist who will be more aggressive, just say the word. i won’t be offended at all.” i was crossing my fingers that she’d say, “the first step is to get you on clomid & progesterone, & let’s try to do that next month,” but instead she one-upped me by saying, “i’d like to start with clomid & progesterone. we’ll call in those prescriptions right now. start on saturday.” because our timing was perfect: i had to wait two months for this appointment, but it fell on cycle day 3, which is PERFECT for starting infertility bloodwork & clomid! i think maybe the way i feel right now is the most excited anyone has ever been to be informed, “we have a diagnosis on infertility. here’s some clomid.” i hadn’t eaten breakfast because i was too nervous about the appointment, which was perfect because the bloodwork needs to be done while fasting. (especially because they are always checking me for diabetes due to my family history.)
& jared’s more or less on board with the whole thing! i think both of us are feeling a little “holy shit” because, you know, taking actual fertility drugs makes the whole “let’s try to have a baby” thing a lot more real than just having sex every now & again & then waiting around to see what happens. 10% of clomid pregnancies also result in multiple births, & jared is all, “okay, here’s what we’ll do. we’ll give each baby a medallion. then we’ll set one baby free in the wilderness, & many years in the future, they’ll find each other & match up the medallions & realize they were separated at birth. it’ll be a really beautiful experience for them.” i am definitely hoping for just a singleton, but really, i will be happy right now with any & every baby that comes my way.
so why am i writing about all of this when usually people with fertility issues kind of skulk around & don’t tell anyone & feel like crap? i guess because i don’t get why people with fertility issues should have to feel that way. there’s so much shame & embarrassment around infertility. why? i really don’t know. i’d love to hear some theories.