Here’s the story so far of our little family, starting way back and including some pretty vivid medical and physiological details.
Michael and I met in college at the University of Kansas, during the Jayhawks’ 2008 run for the NCAA championship. It was a magical time full of parties and internships and living life at only about 20% adult. We dated for several years, but at graduation, jobs in cities 800 miles apart separated us. I moved home to Kansas City in 2012 and it took all of four months of dating before we were engaged.
We married on KU’s campus in Lawrence, Kansas in April 2013 and planned to wait some time before kids. We wanted to finish grad school, buy a house, get more comfortable with the trajectory our careers were taking, and just enjoy one another before we dove in to parenthood. We’re fortunate all of that came fairly easily with hard work and help from our support systems (Shoutout to our moms and dads and corporate tuition reimbursement.)
Growing up, I had a pretty healthy fear of getting pregnant. I was careful in high school and college. Even after marriage, Michael and I made sure we were really ready before we started trying for a baby. We didn’t really event start trying… we just stopped actively not trying. In early 2016, we decided the “right time” would be at the end of the summer, in an effort to time out baby’s arrival to Michael’s summer break. How naive we were to think it might just… time out like that.
I lost the birth control (Nuva Ring) in late March 2016, thinking that would give my body a little time to regulate before “go time” came at the end of the summer. April came, but my period did not. May… June… no period. I figured it things where just “out of whack” after years of birth control. By July, I was starting to get a bit concerned. When I reported this to my OB/GYN, she was too.
A regular exam and lab workup in August showed no irregular results. To kickstart my period, my OB/GYN prescribed a round of progesterone, which worked. I never thought I’d be so pleased to get my period. It’s strange how just seeing normal body activity can give you a false feeling of health: I had a renewed sense of hope that we would be able to make a baby in the following month, but again, it didn’t happen.
At that point, the doctor scheduled an ultrasound to check out my ovaries. The sonographer and her trainee pulled up a ton of different images of my ovaries. I didn’t have much of an idea what I was seeing. They took a bunch of photos, made some concerned remarks to one another quietly, and said, “your doctor will call you.” I walked out of that appointment annoyed and confused. So again… I waited.
A few days later, the nurse called to schedule an infertility consultation. It was the first time in the whole process anyone used the “I” word with me, which was an emotional hurdle to jump.
My OB/GYN looked over the ultrasound images with us. She explained to Michael and I that despite not exhibiting the typical PCOS traits (I’m not overweight, don’t have excess hair or acne), my ovaries had a number of cysts in them, and that’s why they’re not kicking out eggs. Michael came along and thank GOD because he was a huge help in processing the information she was giving me. He knew the right science-y questions to ask about our options, the risk of multiples with fertility drugs, and any future cancer risk because of PCOS.
My doctor gave us three options to proceed for getting pregnant:
- Natural ovulation monitoring: continuing to track potential ovulation by monitoring discharge, basal body temperature, etc. and hoping we are able to pinpoint the date of my very irregular ovulation cycle.
- Clomiphene: a drug often prescribed for infertility cases. It blocks estrogen production, which spurs production of other hormones that trigger the ovaries to create eggs. Isn’t it crazy how so much of our bodies are linked in so many ways? Risk of multiples: eight-10 percent.
- Letrozole: a breast cancer drug with a newer, off-label use for infertility cases. It does essentially the same thing as clomiphene, with a slightly lower risk of multiple births (five to six percent chance, depending on the study you read.)
At this point, Michael and I were well aware we had a potentially long road to go down for both my health and growing our family. We wanted to get started as soon as possible, with as little risk as possible. We left the doctor’s office without making a decision, but didn’t even make it to the car before we called back to ask for a letrozole prescription.
That’s where I mark the “official” start of our infertility journey. Thanks for coming along this wild ride with us.