•Written by Katherine McMullen, Guest Blogger
Me: a 32 yr old runner (2 marathons, 8 half marathons, etc etc), former D3 college swimmer, current masters swimmer, leisure bicyclist, yoga lover, gardener, knitter and Whole30 enthusiast.
Husband: a 33 yr old runner (3 marathons, 7 half marathons, etc etc), leisure bicyclist, former D1 college hockey player, current men’s league hockey player, craft beer + whiskey enthusiast.
Overall heath: pretty darn good… so we thought!
So we ventured into this journey with high hopes and lots of quality time together. ?My husband, the eternal optimist, would tell me all the time, “We’ll be fine. It’ll be good. It’ll just take another month.”
And another month.
And another month.
I had done my research. I was temping, charting, reading, cutting BPA out from out life, upping the vitamins, making the hubs (Mike) take vitamins, doing more yoga, drinking less wine…all the right things.
From all that I read, after 6 months, 85% of women should have conceived. Despite only being 31 at the time, I decided to make an appointment with a local fertility clinic.
Side Note: I had changed birth control options from hormonal birth control to an non-hormonal IUD while we were dating and noticed some darker, coarser hair growing on my face, arms, chest, nipples…all the “fun spots” for dark hair. I went to my OB to get blood work done to see if I had PCOS. Their tests said all was good. I went a month later to an endocrinologist to talk again about PCOS, and again her tests were all good. I wasn’t 100% convinced that I was A-OK, so that’s when I decided to see the fertility specialist.
We did the normal blood work and ultrasound. What I learned was wildly fascinating. Despite all the routine blood work for PCOS coming back normal, my AMH levels were OFF THE CHARTS, usually a good indicator of PCOS. Average range is 2-3 ng/mL, mine was 12 ng/mL. My ultrasound also showed that between both ovaries, I had 49 follicles growing. 49! All signs pointed to PCOS. (No male factor!)
After talking it over, my husband and I were ready to start treatment. On Day 1 of my menstrual cycle in October, I called to schedule my first Day 3 appointment. My Day 3 appointment went well, the normal blood work/ultrasound. I get a call later that day, with hopes of starting my medicated cycle, however the nurse told me I was pregnant! …… But I had been bleeding for three days straight?? And I continued to bleed for another day. I went back two days later for another beta test, and levels had dropped. It was a chemical pregnancy.
I wasn’t really sure how to respond at the time. The Doctors and nurses would tell me that they were sorry for the loss of the chemical, and I would awkwardly say, oh it’s fine. It wasn’t until a few months ago, when it dawned on me that I’d have a baby in my arms right now if that one had stuck, that it really started to hurt.
Over the course of the next 6 cycles, we tried Letrozole and Clomid cycles with some FSH, etc. the usual suspects for medicated cycles.
That time was really rough for me with friends. The majority of my friends and my husbands friends are already parents. Some with 3 kids already! I stopped going to events. I stopped texting them. I really isolated myself, building up my walls so I wouldn’t be upset.
However, I did strategically tell some friends of the struggles we were going through. One from each circles of friends, so that if anyone else in the group said, “Where is Katie? Why doesn’t she hang out anymore?” the designated friend would be able to cover for me.
When I learned that there was a National Infertility Awareness Week, I was so excited to hear the other stories and following social media accounts that were focused on women with fertility issues.
During NIAW, I came across an Infertility Etiquette list that I thought was amazing to share with family and friends. We personally have chosen not to tell any family members, as we know how ours can be, but I emailed this list to the designated friends.
I reassured them that none of them had, “broken any of the rules,” but it was more just awareness and helping them, if they have other friends going through it, of things to say and not say, do and not do.
They were all very appreciative of the article and said that they would be there for me if I ever wanted to cry, vent, talk, anything.
Since I’ve sent the list, I’ve really stopped talking about it, because I feel like the weight of the grief of each cycle has lifted, my silence had been broken. My friends have become more respectful of my privacy and they don’t push for any details or updates. They know that I will tell them when it’s time.
I highly recommend this etiquette list for anyone who feels comfortable talking about their struggles. Maybe it would be a great ice breaker for that nosy friend or family member that keeps hounding you for information!
I have been pretty open with my struggles with those who I have told. If anyone were to ask, I would probably tell them. I don’t want this to be a silent struggle.
I’m hoping to be an NIAW advocate next year at work. I work for a medical device company that has some fertility products, so it seems like a natural fit for advocacy. We always do walks and fund raisers for Breast Cancer Awareness, Ovarian Cancer Awareness, so I’m going to start the Infertility Awareness at work.
We are currently in the beginning stages of our first FET cycle. I was able to get three blasts from my first IVF cycle. We are doing PGS testing since with my age, things just don’t seem right with egg quality.
I’m still hopeful that my time will come, but I also still distance myself from moms and pregnant friends.
I’m hoping that anyone reading this that has been silent, will now be able to have the courage to tell a friend and share the etiquette list with others. It’s a great list, well written, and has brought some piece of mind knowing that my friends are aware and not nosy.