Our Infertility Story

I tried to write this blog post several times over the last 10ish months and also wrote it in my head at least a million times. But I just couldn’t bring myself to share it until I had my baby in my arms. A part of me still didn’t believe that we were really getting a baby after all we went through even after seeing her on the ultrasound machine and feeling her move. Even as my belly grew bigger and bigger and bigger. Even when I went on maternity leave from work for a year.

But now I’ve had a sweet sweet baby girl in my arms for 12 weeks and sometimes I still have to squeeze my eyes shut super tight and wonder if this is real or not. But I finally feel ready to share this story. 

And, today (February 19) is also the one year anniversary of our IUI procedure which gave us Olivia, so it seemed like the right day to finally share this. 

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In January 2015, after 10 years, I stopped taking birth control. We weren’t quite ready to start trying for our family yet, but I wanted my body to get ready. As some of you may remember we went on an amazing trip to Maui in April 2015 and that is when we officially started trying.

Since stopping my birth control in January I hadn’t had a cycle. However, we knew that sometimes it takes the body time to get regulated, especially after so long on birth control. We were trying to be patient. In May of that year I started having other symptoms – terrible hot flashes and night sweats. Basically like I was going through menopause. It was awful.

After multiple visits to my family doctor and blood tests to try and figure out what was going on I was referred to an OBGYN in the fall of 2015. The OB sent me for MORE blood tests and in November 2015 I was given the diagnosis of Premature Ovarian Failure (POF) and referred to the fertility clinic in Kelowna. The way they come up with this diagnosis is based on hormone levels. My FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone) and LH (Luteinizing Hormone) levels were at post-menopausal levels.

We were still living in Kamloops at this point so this clinic was about a 2 – 2.5 hour drive away from us. We were referred in November 2015 and had our first appointment at the end of January 2016, at that point they tested my AMH (Anti-Mullerin Hormone) level, which gives an estimate of remaining egg supply. A normal range is 1.5-4 and my number was 0.08. Translation: at the ripe ‘old’ age of 27 I had very, very, very few eggs.

The recommendation from the fertility clinic was to move directly to donor eggs. They didn’t believe there was any point in even trying with my own eggs.

I’m sure you can imagine how devastating this news was. We decided to take a few months to process. Only a month after this appointment an amazing career opportunity was presented to me and we decided to make a big move. The fertility stuff was placed on the back burner for awhile.

During the summer of 2016 we were finally ready to start trying and I started my first cycle of medications with the goal of trying an IUI. After 6 days of injections my hormone levels indicated that nothing was happening so we canceled the cycle. Well, 12 days after my last injection my body was showing signs of ovulation and I got blood work done and sure enough the tests indicated my body was recruiting follicles and about to ovulate.

This seemed promising so we headed into another round of medications right off that cycle. However, my doctor was pretty sure the high estrogen / cycle starting so late after stopping the medications was just a coincidence. And sure enough, after another round of medications my estrogen was still super low and our second cycle was canceled.

At this point we decided to take a break and regroup. I requested a referral to a clinic in Vancouver. The Medical Director at this clinic is one of the most renowned IVF doctors in Canada. I was so excited and felt sure she would be able to help me. I was putting all my eggs in one basket (pun intended).

After waiting over the month for a phone consult I ended up devastated. Once she heard my very high FSH numbers I was basically written off. I was told that no amount of drugs could make my body make an egg and when I told her about success stories I had read and heard about online she said they were hard to believe… I remember I ended that call feeling so defeated.

This was in early October and I spent about a month moping. Mid-November I had a skype appointment with my old doctor from Kelowna and they agreed to try one round of IVF with me. It would begin in February as I wanted to spend the next 3 months taking my vitamins and getting my body as healthy as possible. I have a whole list of vitamins and supplements I was taking daily after doing lots and lots of research. I won’t list them all here but if anyone reading this post is in a similar situation and wants to know just leave me a comment and I’ll email you directly 🙂

I tried to put the infertility stuff we were dealing with out of my mind for those three months and just enjoy life. In December we traveled to Kauai, Hawaii for Christmas. While it was a wonderful holiday it was definitely tainted with sadness. I had decided that I would make this one last attempt to get pregnant with my own eggs and if it didn’t work I would spend the rest of 2017 saving money and getting in the mindset to move forward with donor eggs.

When we returned from Kauai I went on the Whole 30 program (to this day I have no clue if this had anything to do with us conceiving or not, but I think it’s important to note that I followed Whole30 strictly from January 9 – February 9, 2017). On January 24, out of the blue, I got a cycle on my own.

After 11.5 days of injecting myself with hormone medication four times per day my estrogen was still extremely low and the cycle was canceled. I was heartbroken but ready to move on. I did ask to go for follow-up blood work one week later just to see what was happening considering what had happened the previous summer. My doctor seemed skeptical, but agreed.

One week after my last injection I went for blood work. I remember I almost skipped it. What was the point? But I went anyways just to close the final door on this journey. Because of living in a remote community my clinic didn’t receive the results until the next day. What do you know – my estrogen was high. High enough to indicate my body was creating a follicle. I made plans to travel to Kelowna. The next day I used an at-home ovulation kit (one of the fancy, expensive ones) and it indicated that my body was at ‘peak ovulation’. Eric and I flew down to Kelowna at the last minute and spent the weekend in a hotel.

It turned out I had one follicle. And it wasn’t even that big – only 16 mm. I still remember when I ovulated because I felt some cramping in my right side that night. The next day the follicle had collapsed and they told us we could do the IUI if we wanted but they weren’t sure it would work. We opted to do it, we’d already spent so much money traveling down there and on all the medications, what was an extra $400 for the procedure?

I spent the next two weeks in agony waiting for the day I would go for my beta test. I was scheduled to go on Tuesday, March 6 and that Sunday night I couldn’t wait any longer so I dug out an old home pregnancy test I’d had from when we very first started trying.

I started shaking when I got a positive. I continued to be on edge for the entire first trimester and most of the second. As mentioned above, I honestly had trouble believing it was happening until I held our baby in my arms.

That small follicle became our healthy baby girl. Against all the odds, it worked. I still can hardly believe it myself.

The total cost of conceiving our baby (including the first two failed cycles and all costs associated with travel i.e. plane tickets, meals, hotel, car rental etc.) was just shy of $12,000. Luckily our extended health benefit plans through work covered the almost $6,000 worth of medications. The other half was travel, procedures and appointments and was paid for out of pocket because as great as our healthcare is in some ways, it does not cover appointments or procedures related to infertility.

So today is Olivia’s day. One year ago today, against all odds, she was conceived. And I will spend the entire day feeling immensely grateful for that.

She is perfect.

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Currently: February Edition

Happy Friday! I can’t believe I completely blanked with my post on Wednesday and forgot to say Happy Valentine’s Day. I hope everyone had a great V-day 🙂 Eric was super sweet and got me flowers and also the fixings for an amazing breakfast, since he’s on night shift right now having breakfast together is what we do instead of dinner.

Time to check in with a Currently post!

Reading Glory Over Everything: Beyond the Kitchen House. This is the sequel/follow-up to The Kitchen House, which was one of my very favourite books that I read last year. I was excited when it went on sale on kindle a few days ago.

Loving bubble baths. Hands down my favourite way to relax after a long day. They are made 1,000x better when I put my laptop on the toilet to watch my favourite show and have a glass of wine. Sadly no wine for a few more days as I finish up this round of antibiotics.

Feeling better now that we are on a bit of a schedule. For almost a week now Olivia has been consistently sleeping from 8pm – 8am with 2-3 wake ups to eat in that 12 hour period. Then during the day she goes down for a nap every 1.5 hours and her naps last anywhere from 45 minutes to 2 hours. It’s not an exact schedule yet, but it’s better than the completely sporadic schedule we were on before and it’s been nice for this Type A personality!

Thinking about how freaking lucky I am to get a 12 month maternity leave with my girl. Olivia is 12 weeks today and I know that if I was in the US, I would either already be back at work or going back to work soon. I literally cannot even imagine going back to work right now, not only would it be so hard to leave her, I’m so tired and my brain is mush so working does not sound fun with the broken nights of sleep I get. I am so lucky I get this special extended time with her.

Anticipating visiting BFF Jen and her kiddos in mid-March! Olivia and I are flying down for 3 days of fun. I am also anticipating (and let’s be real – a bit nervous about) flying with her all by myself and crossing my fingers it goes well!

Watching This is Us. I watched Season 1 as it came out last year and I just bought Season 2 on iTunes. I am loving Season 2 so much more than Season 1, it is such a great show with awesome characters and at least every second episode makes me cry.  

Working on getting my strength and endurance back. My core strength is basically non-existent. I just had a great session with a physiotherapist specializing in pelvic health and I really need to work on regaining some of my core strength so will be working on that through some exercises she gave me and regular yoga over the next couple of weeks. I am also working on building an at-home yoga practice. I’ve always loved going to yoga at the studio but that’s just not possible very often these days so I need to practice at home right now. I did this power flow from Peanut Butter Runner yesterday and it was super tough, it got me sweating in only 30 minutes!

Grateful for a healthy family.

Listening to podcasts still. I did just start listening to a new true crime podcast called Stranglers because I was getting a little tired of all the mom podcasts.

Wishing that Eric had a job with more traditional hours. We miss him so much when he’s gone for so many hours of the day and especially when he’s on night shift.

What are you loving, anticipating and grateful for today? 

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Happy Wednesday!

Good morning and happy Wednesday! I think Wednesday’s might be the day for random updates going forward. I snapped the above picture of my girl and me yesterday evening. I really wanted to cook and eat dinner and Olivia really needed to have one more little nap to get her through until bedtime (which has been around 8pm the last week or so) so into the boba wrap she went. She had her dark little eyes wide open for the first 15 or so minutes she was wrapped up and then zonked out for a 30 minute nap which gave me time to finish making dinner, eat said dinner and clean up the kitchen!

Speaking of food, I attempted my third Whole 30 recently. I made it four days of strict Whole 30 before I decided I would be allowing glasses of wine on this Whole 30 because when you have a baby and you’re getting by on an average of 5 hours of sleep per night for months on end you need your glass of wine at the end of the day! Then I made it 7 days total of strict eating + 1 glass of red wine per day. Then Eric and I went on our date night and I decided beer and pizza was worth failing my third Whole 30.

The above became my favourite breakfast combo. Toasted sweet potato topped with compliant bacon, spinach, two runny eggs and hot sauce. So so so yum!

I was planning on getting right back on Whole 30 after our date night but then this past weekend I got mastitis and ended up in the ER and had to go on antibiotics. Suffice to say I felt pretty darn terrible all weekend and the last thing I felt like doing was eating healthy. I had cereal and toast for dinner more than once!

I want to be clear that I was not doing Whole 30 to lose weight. It took me 41.5 weeks to gain all my pregnancy weight and I fully expect it to take me the same amount of time to lose it, and I’m really in no hurry to do so. I just find the Whole 30 program is an amazing way to reset my eating and bring me back to focusing on wholesome foods and getting lots and lots of fruits and vegetables into my diet. And, honestly, even only doing it for 7 days did that for me. I might start doing a few 7 day resets over the next several months just to always bring me back to the healthy eating style I love the most, which is eating as much as I want and whenever I want, but only eating fresh and whole foods. That is what I love about Whole 30!

That’s about it for me these days. I am feeling pretty done with winter and ready for nicer weather. I am grateful for the walking track, but I’d like to start taking walks from our house again, and bringing Chloe along. Counting down the days until spring!

What would you like to share with me on this random Wednesday? Happy hump day! 

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