This post is dear to my heart. I am on the younger side for a mom and always thought the magical age for having difficulty getting pregnant was after 30 and more likely over 35. I never thought that I would be the one to have fertility issues. My mother and sister had 9 children combined and we had no fertility issues with any other family members.
The fertility doctor has such a stigma attached to it – heck any delay in getting pregnant seems to be a topic best left at home and even more so behind a locked door.
So, there I was in my late 20s with my first miscarriage. This happened before we were actively trying to get pregnant and in no way, was I prepared or knew what to do. I did not have a family doctor since mine had long retired so I was left to google and the drop-in clinic. Miscarriages happen in 15 to 20 percent of all pregnancies or 1 in 5 women. Many do not know they have had a miscarriage as it may have been too early to detect so the real percentage of miscarriages could be much higher.
We did not wait the recommended three-month period before starting to try again; we just kept moving forward. We became pregnant soon after and I thought any fertility issues were behind us as we had a healthy full-term pregnancy.
When we started trying for child number two I felt like it was taking longer than it should and I didn’t want to spend another 6 months trying. So, I made an appointment with our family doctor where I had the standard fertility blood test completed.
I had the standard blood tests done at the doctor’s office. I asked my doctor what I would do if they came back not so great. He said, “you are lucky to live in Vancouver with great fertility clinics” he would just refer me and I would be in good hands. We waited not so patiently for the results – and they were not the best. So, with a fertility referral we waited two and a half months. We continued to try during the wait and successfully got pregnant again but it also ended in a miscarriage.
We went to our specialist appointment with our pregnancy history of pregnant three times with one child. If any of you have had infertility issues you will be accustom to speaking in the lingo, 3 and 1, or 5 and 3, etc. We had our questions in hand and they went through all our options.
In British Columbia if you have a referral the public medical services plan covers your visit to the fertility specialist and many of the diagnostic tests and ultrasounds. Making an appointment doesn’t mean you will end up spending thousands of dollars but it will help you understand what issues you are facing.
We discovered I had a very low number of eggs in my ovaries and in reserve. I had age on my side which helps with quality of the eggs but not with the quantity. Every month trying and failing was another egg lost – and that is how I felt. It was depressing to think that way and I had to remind myself I already had a wonderful healthy child. We were told that with my anti-mullerian hormone (AMH) results of 0.4 and the low number of eggs in my ovaries from the diagnostic ultrasound we could be looking at potentially just months of eggs left not years or a decade like we expected. Our options were given to us at our first visit no need to go and review anything or devise an intricate plan.
They said let’s try one month of clomid with an intrauterine insemination(IUI) if that fails, one month of rest to prepare for invitro fertilization (IVF). These were the words I was dreading IVF I knew those three letters came with a hefty toll on my body. Those three letters and my husbands continued questions to the doctor of how is this possible, went over in over in my head. We had already conceived a daughter and had three pregnancies but as the doctor stated with the results we had everything was indicating a low egg reserve and with my age we need to act fast. With my age – words no woman wants to ever hear.
As a couple, we worked on staying positive; as any fertility struggle can be very stressful on your partnership. My husband was wonderful through it all and made sure I knew that whatever he needed to do on his end he was ready and willing.
I started clomid two weeks later and religiously peed on ovulation predictor tests until we got a positive for ovulation. We booked our IUI (intrauterine insemination) for the day after our positive ovulation. There is something surreal about sitting on a doctor’s chair and the nurse is reading your husbands information from the sperm vial to ensure you are the correct recipient! Oh and don’t forget you have to sign a waiver that you are aware multiple pregnancies can occur and the percentages behind them.
Then you have your two week wait – the longest two weeks of anyone’s life.
We were scheduled for blood work to be taken three times 48 hr apart from the week after my cycle was supposed to start. An ultrasound the next week and another one the week after. At each step we were getting more excited that this cycle might just be the one that sticks.
Nine months later on the dot our second daughter was born.
Thankfully I was already going to a wonderful Traditional Chinese Medicine clinic, Acubalance Wellness Centre, that specializes in fertility. They use an integrative method which helped us conceive baby number two and my fourth pregnancy. Acubalance Wellness treated both my emotional and physical health. They worked along side the fertility clinic. I felt like I was in control which can be hard when you are going through fertility issues. (I will write more about my love of acupuncture and Chinese Medicine to come in future posts)
I had fertility issues in my 20s, which is not rare, so before you wait until all your boxes have been ticked let’s start the conversation. We know there are many factors that go into making the decision to start a family and since age plays the largest role in fertility success, I believe that any woman in her 30s single or in a partnership that may want children to get tested and look at her options now. It is not difficult to get the standard blood test or a transvaginal ultrasound (ultrasound of your ovaries). The more information you have allows you to make a better-informed decision which will save some stress in your reproductive years.
Let’s use the resources we have available to us. Fertility investigations are not just for the upper class. Look at your provincial medical plans or private insurance to see what and how much is covered.