Welcome to Part 2 of our story. If you’re new to the blog and haven’t read Part 1 yet, you can do that here.
Horror. Shock. Dismay. All the things I felt immediately after receiving the news that I had PCOS and how we would have to work that much harder to get pregnant. Dr. P was very kind though and took the time to explain what all this meant and outlined the path we would take. He never doubted that it would happen for us and his unwavering support helped replace some of the negative feelings I was having with hope. Hope of what was to come, hope the upcoming treatment would work, and hope that eventually we would be parents.
The biggest issue of my PCOS was that I didn’t ovulate. No amount of ‘relax, it will happen when it happens’ was going to work here. My body simply does NOT ovulate on its own and needs medical intervention to do so. So in the hopes we could kick-start my reproductive cycle, Dr. P decided to start me off with an oral medication called Clomid in late November 2015. The hope was, with a little push, we could get my body working the way it should and we wouldn’t have to explore more invasive treatments.
Our inital plan was simple; up to 3 cycles using Clomid along with intercourse to try to conceive before we moved onto a new course of treatment. If the medication worked, at the end of each cycle we should have either gotten a pregnancy or my period, which at least meant that I was ovulating. However, during each cycle, if we reached around day 30 without one of the two happening, that meant the Clomid was not working and I had to use Provera to induce a period and start a new cycle. Dr. P would only have us do 2 cycles with no results before we’d move on; no sense in wasting time on something that wasn’t working.
I had very high hopes starting treatment but before we knew it, two cycles had come and gone with zero results and I needed Provera to start each new cycle. In February 2016, Dr. P decided to try us on the same protocol but with a different oral medication, Femara. Apparently some women who did not respond to Clomid did respond well to the Femara. Again, I had very high hopes but unfortunately for us, another two cycles of zero happening.
For four months, I just ‘knew’ the medications would work. Each time I started a new cycle, I played it all through in my head; “okay this will make me ovulate…. in a week or so I’ll ovulate so we better have lots of sex…. I must have ovulated so in a couple of weeks I’ll take a test….. if I’m pregnant that means I’ll be due sometime in…”. I played that same story over and over in my mind throughout each cycle and each time it ended with me peeing on a stick, feeling in my heart it would say positive, only to actually see it say negative. To make matters worse, I still had not had a period naturally.
Constantly going from weeks of such optimism to weeks of complete pessimism took a toll on me. I would spend hours of each day crying; in my office, in my car, in bed, on Dean’s shoulder, in Dr. P’s parking lot, on the phone with my mom, on my best friend’s couch. You name it, I probably cried there. But after a few days, maybe a week, the tears would slow, the optimism would creep back in and I would push myself to be positive that ‘next time it will work’.
By April 2016 neither medication had jump started ovulation, so Dr. P suggested that we move on to something stronger, a combined cycle; the Femara along with injectables, Menopur precisely. He also suggested we combine these medications with Intrauterine Insemination (IUI), a fertility treatment that essentially involved placing Dean’s sperm directly inside my uterus within the exact window of ovulation. He wasn’t messing around and had high hopes this would be the treatment that would work for us.
So back on my optimistic high, I went into his office and his nurse showed me how to mix the medication, fill the syringe and inject myself. I was terrified at first. I had no idea what to expect. On the night of my first injection, I chickened out and made Dean give it to me. It was nowhere near as bad as I expected. Each time I did it, it got smoother and quicker. It became a part of my daily routine and it’s unbelievable how good you get when you give yourself these day in and day out.
In order to know when the exact window of my ovulation would be, I had to go in regularly to Dr. P’s office for ultrasounds to measure the size of my follicles. I’ll go into greater depths another time about IUIs and follicles and all of that, but essentially the meds were helping my ovaries mature my follicles (the things that hold the eggs) and we were looking for 1-4 of them to grow to around 18mm so we could trigger ovulation, with yet another needle, and do the IUI.
Everything seemed pretty straight forward but my follicles were barely growing. Even after upping my medication, the follicles still barely seemed to move. It took weeks of needles and ultrasounds until FINALLY, one follicle matured just enough to be in the right size window to consider doing the IUI. I had waited patiently for months to know we had a real chance at getting pregnant so I was ecstatic. It was early June 2016 when we did the IUI. It was fairly simple but it turns out, on top of my PCOS, I have a retroverted uterus. Not really a concern for getting pregnant but for getting the catheter into my uterus, this caused some issues. There was clamping and tugging and although the treatment itself happened successfully, I was very sore and uncomfortable for a few days after. It was all going to be worth it though if in two weeks my blood pregnancy test came back positive.
I was in the dreaded 2WW (2 week wait). You shouldn’t stress yourself out thinking about it constantly but let’s be serious, there is little that you can do from letting your mind wander about the possibilities. I found myself day dreaming again and wondering how I would surprise everyone and tell them I was pregnant. Finally the fateful day came; I took the blood test and waited for the call from Dr. P’s office to give me the news. My cell rang, it was their number… and my test was negative. Crushed once again.
I had a follow-up a week later with Dr. P where he told me our next attempt would be a Super-cycle. We would drop the Femara and add in a second needle of yet another new med, up my dosage and get those follicles growing. He was concerned about my ovaries reaction previously to the meds. He said on top of being polycystic, that they also seemed to be medically resistant, which he explained meant for some reason my ovaries were just not responding like they should to the doses I was previously on. He started talking about the future and if the next cycle didn’t work that we should consider drilling and other medications. I went hazy and couldn’t keep it all straight. I thought I was battling enough just having PCOS. Now on top of that my ovaries were fighting back against the medication?
Up next we would start forward on a super cycle but I had no idea that what was to follow would be the most stressful process, both emotionally and physically, that I would ever put my body through. More on that in Part 3…