We officially announced our pregnancy a couple of weeks ago (woohoo!) and first off, I want to say THANK YOU to all of you for the well wishes and kind words! We are so overwhelmed with joy by them and it’s so amazing to see how many of our family, friends, and insta-friends were rooting for us!
I probably dreamt of writing this post since the first time I told Kyle I was ready to get pregnant. That was nearly three years ago, standing in line, waiting for brunch. I had a feeling that it would take us a little longer than expected (don’t ask me why), but certainly didn’t anticipate that it would take us down a long and emotional journey. But hey, like they say, nothing worth having comes easy, right?!
In today’s post, I’m sharing our journey to getting pregnant. It’s not meant to be a post full of advice but rather, just my personal experience and what we did to cope and make this magical baby growing in my belly.
We conceived our baby through IUI. Which is known as Intrauterine insemination. It is essentially a fertility treatment where sperm is placed directly inside the uterus to facilitate fertilization. The goal of IUI is to increase the number of sperm that reach the fallopian tubes and subsequently increase the chance of fertilization. This is often the step before IVF, which is much more invasive and involves the harvesting of eggs and fertilizing them on the exterior than placing them back inside the uterus.
When we first started to try, I’m sure we did what every couple did. Timed intercourse in and around mid cycle then wait and see. Well, we did that for a good year and even with the help of apps and ovulation sticks (we were getting positive results from the ovulation sticks), no luck. I wasn’t too worried about it, I just thought, let nature do its thing. We went to see our family doctor soon after the year mark and she referred us to a fertility specialist at TRIO Fertility.
Our time at TRIO Fertility was an eye opening experience. When we first learned after some testing that I had PCOS (read about it here), which caused me to have an over production of follicles, essentially throwing off the balance of various fertility hormones required to create an optimal environment to conceive and having a regular menstrual cycle, I was devastated, initially. I jumped to conclusions and was convinced that it wasn’t going to happen, and even research about adoption, etc. Which was obviously ridiculous because we were just about to embark step 1 of 5 in any fertility treatment.
The doctor ensured us that he didn’t see any material issues that would prevent us from having a baby. PCOS is very common and a simple protocol can be established to correct its course. And after equipping us with a TON of knowledge and next steps, I was back to my normal, determined self.
The key objective of my treatment was to 1) regulate ovulation 2) monitor the number and size of follicles being produced each cycle 3) timing ovulation and intercourse. So what does this actually mean?
The next 12 months consists of consuming fertility drugs and regular monthly visits to TRIO. And by regular, I mean like 10-15 times a month. Sometimes it was every other day, sometimes it was daily. It really all depend on the results of blood work and ultrasound. What they were trying to do was accurately monitor exactly what my body was doing. No guess work, no ‘trying’ with a blind eye. The doctor was aiming to create the most optimal state to create a baby. I know the process sounds gruesome, tedious and taxing. But I must admit, it became a regular part of my life, and though each time I hear negative test results a little part of me died inside, but it also reminded me of how special making life was. That stars HAD to align, that there is NO accident in this process and remaining a positive outlook and low stress levels was one of the key factors in making things work. Having a supportive partner by my side also made things THAT much more comprehendible. Kyle was so great throughout this entire journey. Not once did he feel defeated (well at least he never expressed it to me), he was my biggest cheerleader and taught me that patience is virtue.
After 6 – 7 months of monitoring, integration of fertility drugs with timed-intercourse, our doctor recommended that we move to the next stage which was IUI. As mentioned earlier, IUI is essentially placing a concentrated sperm sample directly into the fallopian tube. It mimics the natural process with come assistance. We did two rounds of IUI back to back and both failed. At this stage, though as positive as I was, I was emotionally starting to feel worn down. After discussing with Kyle, we decided to proceed with IVF. We were placed on the IVF waitlist in October 2018 and was notified in November that funding was approved (Ontario offers one round of funded IVF) and we were scheduled to begin the procedure in February 2019. I felt weight lift from my shoulders!
Meanwhile, our doctor suggested to proceed with one last round of IUI for our December cycle but this time with the addition of a low dose hormone injection to prepare for what we’d be experiencing in the IVF cycle. He thought it would be a great idea to see how my body would react to the injections, giving him more information for the IVF cycle, and also giving us a chance to integrate a daily injection routine into our lifestyle. We agreed and did NOT expect to become pregnant from this last IUI round – but low and behold, WE GOT PREGNANT!!
I remember the day I found out. I was doing a site visit for a project I was working on the week before Christmas. The area had very poor cell reception. I was checking my emails on my phone while chatting with the client about the project when I saw the fertility nurse had sent me an email, she’d typically call after the blood work was ready. The email said: Congratulations, you’re pregnant! I was stunned, surprised, but had to keep my cool! Honestly, the best news ever.
From that day forward until the day of my week 12 ultrasound, I have been SO nervous. It was almost tough to fully celebrate because we had spent so much time trying to get pregnant. I wanted to make sure EVERYTHING was ok. I’ve been told by many moms that this feeling will likely NEVER go away! Heh! I guess I’m already training myself.
Making this IUI baby was by far the most humbling and life changing experience. It has taught me so many things about life, myself, and my relationships. I learned that I have an ultra-high tolerance for stress. I learned to never make assumptions without being exposed to as much information and knowledge as possible. I learned that SO many other women and couples are experiencing fertility challenges and that there is a tremendous support network out there. Trust me, at any given morning when I pay my regular visit to TRIO, there are at least 40 women waiting to get their blood drawn and ultrasound done.
Talking about what I was going through and educating friends and family about it was by far my best coping mechanism. And by talking, I don’t mean sobbing and venting about it, I’ve always openly shared the facts, the process, the journey, and I think that made others feel more comfortable too. Perhaps it really wasn’t a coping mechanism for me, but it was for them. I find some people just get uncomfortable when they know someone is having a hard time getting pregnant. I’m not sure why. But I’ve sensed pity, shame, and concern from them.
I know I said no advice in this post, I lied. LOL The ONE thing I will note is, if you have a friend or family member going through fertility issues, DON’T feel ashamed for them. DON’T pity them. DON’T express concern. Rather, DO talk to them about it. The friends that helped me through this process the most were those that asked me about the facts. Eager to learn about the process. And NEVER attempted to offer unsolicited advice that had NO relation to the science of conception. For example, just get drunk and you’ll get pregnant! Trust me, DON’T SAY THAT. 🙂
I am now week 16 and so stoked for what is to come. The first trimester went by with a blink of an eye and as much as I’m eager to meet our little, I’m also desperately trying to slow down time. Growing a human being is the most mind boggling thing. There are literally hands and feet moving around in my belly and I just still can’t get over that a woman’s body can endure that kind of experience.
Though our journey to pregnancy was not what we had predicted. It didn’t entirely come with rainbows and unicorns. But we have tried our best to enjoy every moment of it. I want to give a special thanks to Dr. Hartman and the entire TRIO Fertility community in treating us and providing the care and support they did.
I’ll be sure to share more throughout the rest of my pregnancy! If you’re struggling with fertility or just have general questions about what we went through, I always welcome an outreach and encourage you to speak to a professional about it. It’s never too early to learn about what your body needs to prepare for this incredible time in life.