Update on My (would-have-been) Due Date
I got such an incredible and overwhelming response to my last blog post regarding my miscarriage that I thought that I owed everyone an update on my little fertility/infertility journey.
My post received over 100,000 views and TONS of heartfelt comments and messages over the course of a few weeks. I was overwhelmed at the amount of women who have experienced a miscarriage just as I had, or who were currently struggling to get pregnant in the first place. If you think that you are alone in this terrible trial, you are not! I feel that I was inspired to write my blog post, because it helped me to put my experiences into perspective, blame less, and increase my patience and understanding in The Plan.
Something else I found interesting was that of the hundreds of responses I received, very few shared with me that they also have PCOS, or polycystic ovary syndrome. The reason I thought that this was so interesting is because according to what I have read, 4-12% of all women have this chronic disease. SO MANY DO NOT KNOW IT. How can you begin to manage something that you don't even know about?? Anyway, I plan on writing a post or two about PCOS in the near future to raise awareness. Please let me know if you are interested and any questions you may want or need answered.
I should first say that it's been almost seven months since my miscarriage now and I am still not pregnant again. Realizing that this month is the month that I could have had a baby had I carried it to term has been hard, but I am also surprised at how quickly the time has gone and happy that good things have happened in the meantime to help me move forward in faith. That's the summed up version of my story to date. If you are interested in the specifics of the past seven months read on.
July: I officially miscarried on the third of July at almost twelve weeks after learning about "the void within", or missing heartbeat approximately three weeks prior. If you haven't already, you can read all about that in my previous blog post, A Long Story for a Short-Lived Pregnancy under the Lifestyle category on our home page.
August: I waited a little over a month before receiving a normal period to begin Clomid, an ovulation-inducing drug which I already had a prescription for from my previous "infertility". You take five pills on days 5-9 of your cycle to start a hormonal chain reaction in your body that is supposed to eventually lead to ovulation, increasing likelihood of eventual pregnancy. I was very impatient and wanted to become pregnant as quickly as possible, which is why I started the meds right away. It is common for some women/doctors to prefer not to interfere for up to six months after a miscarriage. I did not prefer that method. Friends and family were all very supportive of me and I did not feel that I needed any "time off" to grieve. So, I took the Clomid. It made me feel very tired all of the time and looking back I was pretty moody. I could never get enough sleep and the side effects mimicked symptoms of pregnancy, but it would have all been worth it a million times over had it worked.
September - November: I was riddled with anxiety after I did not get pregnant the first month that I took Clomid. I was warned that I was only going to get three chances max before doctors start worrying about an increased risk of ovulation cancer and I already had one strike. The Clomid was definitely doing something in my body, it just wasn't doing the right thing. I came down with OHSS, or Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome by the third month on Clomid. Not unusual for women with PCOS, my cyst-filled ovaries were producing lots of immature follicles and the results were very painful. My symptoms included intense bloating, stomachache, trouble urinating, aches, and cramping due to my enlarged ovaries. I was not able to function for just one day/night, but thankfully that pain resided and became bearable for the rest of my cycle. OHSS is comparable to a UTI in my experience, just very immobilizing and uncomfortable. My last cycle on Clomid was 46 days long. I'm pretty sure I didn't have a successful ovulation that cycle or maybe any of them. Strike out.
December: I spent the next few weeks trying to focus more on taking care of myself, relaxing, spending time with family and enjoying the holidays as much as I could while, of course, still avidly trying to become pregnant. Halfway through the month I made an appointment with my gynecologist to find out what my next move would be. I had done extensive research (fertility articles are literally endless) and came to the conclusion that I should be on the medication Metformin. Metformin is actually a diabetes medication, but it is able to manage PCOS by reducing insulin levels and by so doing balancing out natural hormone levels. I had read tons of forums with PCOS women whose doctors has prescribed them Metformin months before even trying Clomid and tons more of women who had successfully achieved pregnancy on both drugs simultaneously. So, you can see my extreme frustration when I requested the drug and my doctor acted surprised that I wasn't already on it... I got the prescription no problem, but this was after my final round of Clomid and I wasn't permitted any more of that. One lesson is taught to me over and over again in this whole infertility journey, and that is that you are your own best doctor. Personal research and careful observation of your own body is what is going to bring real results, not a ten minute appointment with a clueless and/or careless doc (not that all of them are). I started Metformin at 500mg once per day, gradually increasing to 2000mg total daily over four weeks. That came with it's own set of very uncomfortable side effects... of course. It had now been almost nine months that I had felt exhausted, nauseated, or otherwise sick.
January: I did not ovulate my first month on Metformin, but I was not expecting to, because I felt that my body needed time to adjust to the change in order to work properly. Once I had worked up to my full dosage the side effects subsided and I actually began to feel like myself again! I have felt pretty dang good in 2017 so far. The GREAT news is that I ovulated for the first time for sure that I know of since I got pregnant last April. Because of the PCOS irregular hormone levels, OPK's (ovulation predictor kits) had never worked for me in the past and always read a false positive. Now that I was on Metformin, my hormones had done some leveling out and I was able to read multiple negative tests in a row, and then a bright positive on Day 18 of my cycle. I counted this as a huge blessing regardless of whether it leads to pregnancy or not. Metformin has definitely made me feel better all-around and I would recommend it to every woman struggling to manage PCOS. If the Metformin does not bring a positive pregnancy test this next month though, I have been referred to a fertility specialist to explore options such as injectables and IVF after running some more tests. I have been taking steps in the right direction for sure and I feel confident that this year will be the year for us!
Thank you again to everyone that reached out after the news of my miscarriage, I truly feel so grateful for each and every one of your stories and encouraging words. The community of women fighting for pregnancy is unlike any other. The picture below is one that a dear friend sent me a few months ago. She said that it helped her very much in hard times and I can say the same for myself. For now, I'll be waiting as patiently as I can be for my little angel baby!