Waiting to Ovulate

What I didn’t realize until we started trying to get pregnant is that basically it’s all maths  – a little bit of biology but mainly maths (not trig just lots of counting). First there is your age, and the depressing stats about how your fertility takes a nose dive from your late 20s onwards. That message was drummed into me by my OBGYN at the time who packed me off with a prescription for gold-plated pre-natal vitamins, and instructions to return in 6 months should I not be pregnant. I was 31 after all so tick-tick-tick.  This was actually my one and only visit to this particular OBGYN who had been recommended by a colleague as ‘thorough’. Thorough, and professional indeed but slightly scary and with more than a passing resemblance to a certain Filipino president’s wife who had a fondness for shoes. All I’ll say is big bouffant hair and a thick accent.

I naively assumed that we’d get pregnant pretty quickly after all I was the right side of 35 (so that had to count for something even if I was the wrong side of 30), and I’d given up caffeine. For the first few months I’d eagerly pee on a pregnancy stick only to be disappointed.  Pretty quickly I stopped buying the pregnancy sticks as it’s something of a racked. Why burn $20 a pop when you can just wait and see if your period is late.  At the end of the 6 months I signed myself up with a new (non-scary and quite wonderful) OBGYN who decided that no time was to be lost and packed me off for a bunch of tests. She also advised me to start tracking my cycle more closely and to give over the counter ovulation kits a whirl (oy vey if I thought pregnancy kits were pricey they are nothing compared to ovulation kits). So I spent a couple of months having the usual tests: hormone levels (super awesome), and HSG (fallopian tubes perfectly normal). A scan of my ovaries had flagged some cysts and so there was a chance I could have poly-cystic ovaries. However, this was the first month I’d tried an ovulation kit so my doctor told me to keep doing the kit and if I didn’t ovulate to come in to see her. As it turned out I was ovulating but quite late in my cycle. This was new information (!), and threw my earlier maths which were based on ovulating around day 14. We gave it a couple more months and then I headed back to the doctor.

Quite scary but before we knew it had been over a year, and I was now 32. Since I was ovulating and all my tests were normal my doctor popped me on a low dose of Clomid for three months to increase my chances of getting pregnant through stimulating my ovaries to produce more than one egg. Three months on Clomid was not great (side-effects made me feel pretty yukky) and if I thought I was obsessed with tracking my cycle before it was nothing when I was on Clomid as you have to take the pills on set days of your cycle at the same time (best to take it in the evening to sleep through some of the side effects) and then track for ovulation. So, it was three months of hot flushes, mood swings (or as I like to call it Clomid rage), shuffling off to the bathroom at 4pm every day to pee on a stick (I had to schedule my meetings around this), and counting and re-counting my cycle days. If you had asked me what day of the month it was I’d have given you the day of my cycle over the actual date.

To cut a long story short the third Clomid cycle worked and I fell pregnant the summer of 2009. However, it turned out to be a mid-summer’s night dream of a pregnancy and I miscarried in late August. Back to square one but at least I knew that I could get pregnant (even if it had taken 18 months to get there).  After the miscarriage lots of people reassured me that I’d quickly fall pregnant again – nope. We gave it another 6 months of ovulation maths and then it was back to the doctors to try another 3 months of Clomid which this time did not do the trick. That was a year ago last June (now 33 and 2 1/2 years since we’d started trying), and was a pretty low period for me in general. My doctor then referred me on to a fertility specialist which meant more drugs and more maths…

(Unexplained infertility is something of a catch-all black hole, and given that there was nothing medically wrong with either of us we decided that the only logical explanation was that either one or both of us were Cylons.)

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