Thursday, 1 December 2016

I joined a support group

Fertility Matters Canada runs a local support group. When I first moved here I contacted them about being put on the mailing list for the monthly support group meetings. It took 3 months for me to work up the courage to attend a meeting. Even then I tried to make excuses not to go, and my husband basically had to force me to go.

The meeting was pretty simple. There were 2 facilitators that ran the meeting. One has completed her infertility journey and the other has 1 baby from IVF, no embryos, and is deciding if she wants to go through another round of IVF for another baby. There were 10 people there (1 man, married to one of the women) and we just went around the table and talked about our journey so far. Nothing special happened, but it was so great to talk to people in real life that really understand what you are going through – how helpless and frustrated and like a failure you feel, how much the medications suck, how hard it is to watch everyone around you get pregnant with no trouble, the financial aspect. My friends and family try to understand, but they haven’t gone through infertility so they don’t really get it. The support group people do.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Cycle 24

Sometimes you just need a reminder

 Thanks to Kelli at Sugar Blossom for custom making the bracelet for me (

I’ve been trying to figure out what the odds of actually getting pregnant are now that we’ve hit 24 cycles trying. I figured that it’s pretty low since the clomid + intrauterine insemination + progesterone didn’t work, even when I had TWO eggs and 70 million sperm but directly into my uterus. There’s not really any good data on the odds of getting pregnant at this stage because there are so many stochastic factors that influence the odds of pregnancy. There is a paper published my PLOS One that discusses the odds of conception ( if you’re interested). From what I can find it seems like the odds of getting pregnant in 1 year is 86-92%, that 95% of people are pregnant by 24 cycles, and that the odds of getting pregnant from 24-36 cycles is 2-4%. I guess I can’t give up hope, but I just can’t seem to find any, especially since the bleeding came back this past cycle and I have no idea why.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

What to do for the holidays?

When we started trying to get pregnant, based on my family fertility history I was so sure I’d have a baby by Christmas 2015. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. I wasn’t pregnant and I was diagnosed with infertility by Christmas 2015. Christmas is approaching again and I (obviously) don’t have a baby and am not pregnant, and have no hope that I will be. Based on when our first appointment is with the new fertility doctor, I hope I don’t have a baby for Christmas 2017 because it will be premature, but there is a chance I could (finally!) be pregnant by then.

I love Christmas. I love snow and presents and the decorations and music and Christmas food and drinks (except egg nog). Last Christmas it was too sad and I pretended like it wasn’t happening. I put up my tree to do presents with my husband, cooked Christmas dinner, and that was that. We live far away from our families and my husband’s job makes it impractical to travel for Christmas, so it’s just whatever the two of us want to do at Christmas.

This year I’m incredibly glad that going back to our families is not an option. There were 3 babies born in my family this year and being around them with all the “baby’s first Christmas stuff” sounds like absolute torture – particularly since one of the moms (who knows I’m struggling with infertility, by the way) seems to enjoy saying things like “you don’t have a baby, you don’t understand” to me. Come on. I don’t have a baby because I CAN’T have a baby. So, not having to be around that at Christmas is great for my emotional health.

I wasn’t sure what to do about Christmas this year. I’m still sad that we don’t have a baby and am not pregnant. However, I was at Ikea last week and they had the Christmas decorations out, and that was making me happy. This year I want to decorate for Christmas. I don’t want my infertility to dictate what I can do with my life. I mentioned to my husband that I want to decorate for Christmas and he thinks it’s a bad idea because it will just make me sadder. I honestly don’t know if it will, but I’m excited about decorating right now, and I intend to decorate once I verify with my husband that it’s not going to be too sad for him.

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Three days late

I like to separate the menstrual cycle into 4 parts. The first part is menses and should be fairly consistent from cycle to cycle. After menstruation is the follicular phase where your body prepares for ovulation. The length of the follicular phase can vary from month to month, which is what makes your longer or shorter some months. The follicular phase ends with ovulation, which is followed by the luteal phase. The luteal phase is where implantation would occur, and the length of the luteal phase is consistent from cycle to cycle, so once you confirm that ovulation has occurred you will know when your period will arrive.

There are several ways to track your cycle to know when you’ve ovulated. The book “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” as well as the tutorials for the app Fertility Friend provide a very good explanation of what signs your body gives you that ovulation is approaching. Cervical mucus, cervix position, and ovulation prediction kits can give you an idea that your body is gearing up for ovulation, but the only way to confirm ovulation (besides being monitored by ultrasound) is to track your basel body temperature. After ovulation there is a sustained rise in your basel body temperature, caused by progesterone.

This past cycle I had a positive ovulation test and fertile cervical mucus leading up to cycle day 17, and then my temp rise on cycle day 18, confirming ovulation on cycle day 17. My luteal phase is 10-11 days long so I expected my period on cycle day 27 or 28. I usually have a temperature drop the day my period arrives. Cycle day 27 arrived and no temp drop. Cycle day 28 and no temp drop. Cycle day 29, no temp drop. I took a test on cycle day 29 and it was negative. I was spotting so I was confident that I was not pregnant, but I couldn’t be sure until my period arrived. I was sure of my ovulation date and 3 days late and had a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe, something had finally worked, but no, 4 days after my period was expected it arrived. Cycle 23 now.

Monday, 10 October 2016

The weirdest thing has been happening

I moved to a new city for a new job on August 1. I moved with my cats and without my husband as he was working at his old job until the end of August, so I had just over a month alone with the cats. It meant missing a cycle of trying to get pregnant, but I was iffy on if we should be trying so soon after starting a new job, so I wasn’t too worried about it. The weirdest thing happened that cycle. I ovulated as normal, I had no timing in my fertile week, and I had no bleeding during my luteal phase, just light spotting that I only noticed because I was looking (harder than I’d care to admit) for it. Unexplained luteal phase bleeding is my infertility diagnosis. It’s the reason I’m on cycle 22 and not pregnant. Since I do have a mildly friable cervix (meaning that normal activities can cause some spotting, but not enough to explain my bleeding) I figured part of it was just that I was away from my husband, but that would not be enough to explain the relative lack of bleeding. So, I started to think of all the things that had changed when I moved. There was a huge change in my commute, going from 3-4 hours per day in heavy traffic to less than an hour each way on the bus if I made all my connections. Although I’m still working in the lab, I’m doing different work, so I’m handling different chemicals and no animals. I wasn’t drinking coffee and my diet was a bit different because getting groceries on the bus sucks and my meals weren’t as meat focused without my husband around. And, my husband wasn’t with me. To be honest, I was more than a little worried that my husband was part of the problem because he can (and does) wind me up pretty regularly, which wasn’t happening with us being a part.

When my second cycle in the new city started by husband had moved just in time for my fertile week. All of my stuff arrived a week later so I could finally start having a morning coffee again. That cycle I still had minimal spotting, only noticing because I was looking for it. My commute was even shorter now that I had my car, and it was a lot easier to car share or pick up my husband at work than it was before moving. There was no change in the lab work I was doing. I started drinking coffee and my diet shifted back closer to normal. Thankfully, with my husband back and winding me up the bleeding was still staying away.

This is my third cycle since moving. I still am having no bleeding and minimal spotting during my luteal phase. It’s hard not to be hopeful that I’ll get pregnant, because 21 failed cycles including the failed medicated IUIs suggests the odds are not in my favour, but every time I go to the bathroom and there is no blood there’s a spark of hope that I may be pregnant before my IVF appointment. The logical part of me knows that that isn’t likely because even if, somehow, my infertility problem has gone away, we’re still dealing with male factor infertility.

I’m really left wondering what was causing the bleeding. Was it the commute? Something I was handling in that lab? Was my life in Vancouver making me infertile? Was all the pain and emotional distress I’ve felt these 22 cycles something I had caused myself? If it was the commute or the lab, the odd thing is that while writing my thesis and for the entire month of July I was not commuting or going into the lab and still I was having this bleeding problem. I’ve been trying to research to make sense of it, but I don’t even know what to use as a search term. Commuting causes infertility? Uterine bleeding caused by handling lab mouse?