(mis)Adventures in Reproduction: Diagnosing Bad Luck

Surprise! I’m still not pregnant (nor have I been since the chemical pregnancy in April). Here’s what’s happened in the past three months:

RE or REally not impressed

My Obgyn broke up with me saying, “There’s nothing more I can do for you.” I’m not sure what she had really done for me to begin with so I only feel slightly rejected instead of broken-hearted. As a parting gift, she referred me to a reproductive endocrinologist (RE) otherwise known as a fertility specialist. I went back and forth on whether I should actually go. What, exactly, could this RE do that my OB hadn’t already done (except charge me $50 per visit instead of $25)?

After talking about it with some online friends, I decided that a consultation couldn’t hurt and I had my, now rather large, medical file sent to the specialist’s office. I went to the first appointment with just a little glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe I would be getting some answers soon.

At the first appointment, the doctor reviewed my history and bloodwork results from the OB. She refused to speculate on possible causes of the miscarriages until she had the results of about 22 blood panels and a saline ultrasound — all of which had to be done on very specific cycle days. I walked out of the office after that initial visit with lab orders (for myself and my husband), prescriptions, and directions about how to prepare for my ultrasound.

With each test, I grew more excited, sensing a discovery was just around the corner. “Today’s test is going to show something! I just know it.” I imagined sitting in the office, getting the results and exclaiming “Well that explains it! And you say all I have to do is take these magic pills and it will all be ok? Why didn’t I do this sooner?”

The follow-up appointment didn’t exactly go like that. Instead, it went like this. Doctor: Well, I’ve reviewed the results of every test and everything is well within normal range. I have no explanation for your multiple losses other than to say it’s simply bad luck.” Me: Did you just say my diagnosis is bad luck?” Doctor: Well, that’s not a diagnosis, but yes. There’s nothing wrong that we can see.” Me: “So that’s it? That’s how this ends?”  Doctor: “That’s up to you. I have a treatment plan.” Me: “You have a treatment plan for bad luck?” Doctor: “The plan is to get you pregnant as many times as possible and hope that one sticks.” Me: Stunned silence followed by tears and lots of nose blowing.

As a side note, my husband was with me for that appointment and he said the doctor looked truly shocked that was sobbing. Does this not happen frequently in this office? Hormonal women getting hopeless news on a nearly daily basis and the doctor is shocked that I am sobbing? Anyway…

I walked out of the office that day faced with choices that range from $400 per month to $4000 per month. Keep in mind that all of these choices are aimed at getting me pregnant as many times as possible and “hoping that one sticks.”

I’ve decided to not pursue any of the choices made available to me; not Clomid, not Femara, not IUI (inter-uterine insemination), not IVF (in-vitro fertilization). I’ve decided that reproducing really shouldn’t be this hard. And I have no idea where that leaves me or what’s left to do– except to write a break-up letter to my RE.

So that’s the update. I plan to finish out the summer with my own treatment plan: an endurance mud-run race this weekend, plenty of wine drinking on summer terraces, perhaps a cocktail of natural fertility boosting supplements, and reckless baby-dancing with my husband — you know — just in case one sticks.

(mis)Adventures in Reproduction: An Update

It’s been more than a year since I started my (mis)adventures in reproduction.  Last April, I was convinced that I would be pregnant by July of 2010. When July rolled around and I found out I wasn’t ovulating, I re-evaluated my expectations and thought, “Surely, by October.” Then, October rolled around and I discovered a 7 cm cyst was taking up residence on my right ovary. Following surgery that month, I thought, “Maybe by Christmas.”

Christmas came and went and shortly after New Years, I found out I was pregnant. Now before you squeal, I should warn you that there’s not a happy ending. Read on.

After seeing two pink lines, one of which was very faint, on January 2, I phoned my doctor to ask about what to do next. She ordered beta HCG levels drawn 48 hours apart. The first level came back at 31. The second level came back at 29. Wrong direction. HCG should double every 48 hours in early pregnancy. I was officially diagnosed as having had a chemical pregnancy and lost that pregnancy on my 30th birthday.

Fed up, I started taking Clomid, a pill to induce ovulation, at the end of February, had a lot sex and thought, “This is the magic pill. Surely this month will be it.” Big. Fat. Fail.

Only 5 weeks from a road race, I took the month of March “off” and didn’t take Clomid. I ran my ten-mile race and a week later, got another positive pregnancy test. That was a little over a week and half ago. On Easter Sunday, I started bleeding.

That, my friends, makes three losses in 12 months. I’ve been awarded the less than coveted diagnosis of Recurrent Pregnancy Loss and have officially qualified for a referral to a reproductive endocrinologist.

More updates to come as we take this road less traveled.

As a side note, it’s National Infertility Awareness Week – certainly not a Hallmark holiday folks but if you know someone affected by this issue, send her a card this week and let her know you’re thinking about her.

Holiday Gifts for the TTC Gal in Your Life

If you or someone you know is trying to conceive, you know just how expensive a proposition this can be. In the spirit of holiday gift guides, I present the Top  10 list for TTC Couples!

The Clear Blue Easy Fertility Monitor – This digital device tracks hormones through the whole cycle and gives you a very clear picture of your two most fertile days in the cycle. The down-side? For accuracy, your cycle should be between 21 and 42 days long. This sucker will cost you big money: about $150.

Red Raspberry Leaf Tea – This herbal tea is widely known in infertility circles as drink for strengthening the uterus and promoting a healthy monthly cycle. It’s available from a number of brands. My personal favorite is Yogi.

Vitamin/Nutrition Store Gift Certificate – There are a number of herbs and vitamins that holistic doctors often recommend for couples that are trying to conceive and while most of them are fairly affordable, buying them frequently adds up. Why not buy a gift certificate so your favorite TTC couple can purchase Vitex, Red Clover, or B6 supplements?

Pregnancy Tests – For the woman addicted to peeing on a stick. Available on Amazon.com, you can buy these in bulk and she can pee on a stick everyday.

Basal Body Temperature (BBT) Thermometer – The BBT thermometer is available at most drug stores for about $10. The BBT is one of the most frequently used methods for tracking ovulation because a woman’s temperature will slightly rise between 24 and 48 hours before she ovulates.

Visa Gift Card – All those doctor appointments really add up. A Visa Gift Card can help defer the cost of anything from the office visit to the blood work to an IVF treatment! Pick one up at your favorite big box or grocery store.

Taking Control of Your Fertility – A book that women on “Trying to Conceive Naturally” community chat boards swear by. The 10th Anniversary Edition is available for less than $15.

A cute tote bag – Let’s face it, some couples who are trying to conceive go to the doctor several times a month. Why not give a cute tote bag so she can carry around some great waiting room material and her latest temperature / cervical mucus chart.

A bedside calendar – Every TTC woman needs a place to track her cycle, her temperature, and her baby making activity. Bundle it with a pen and some heart stickers (just to make tracking the baby-dance a little fun)!

A handwritten note saying you care – OK, so a few of the gifts above might just be a little too personal for you to add to the stocking. But a handwritten note saying how much you care? That’s a great gift!