The Road to Clomid
We are generally taught that all it takes is ONE TIME to get pregnant. maybe if you’re Leah from Teen Mom. Unfortunately, though, you will find that a growing number of couples try for six months or longer to get pregnant or use some sort of assisted conception, There’s a variety of reasons why pregnancy doesn’t spontaneously happen, but consider the odds. We need two things to get pregnant: an egg and sperm. A woman makes ONE egg per approximately 28 days. Said egg is “viable” for about 48 hours. A man produces a BAJILLION sperm per ejaculation, which are viable for 24-72 hours but can be ineffective for a number of reasons, all math aside this means there are around three days per month the perfectly sexually functioning couple can get pregnant. And that’s the tip of the “how a baby is made” scientific explanation iceberg.
How do I know all of this? Ryan was conceived after two monitored medication cycles with timed intercourse at Shady Grove Fertility. (Say that five times fast) During our time exploring our infertility we learned so much about our bodies, etc. Shady Grove is one of the best fertility centers in the United States. One of the reasons they are so effective is that they require extensive testing BEFORE you begin any treatment. You see, there are a lot or reasons a couple may not be conceiving the “traditional” way. Shady Grove finds all of those reasons up front. How did we end up at Shady Grove? I’ll tell you.
I was so afraid of getting pregnant in high school and college, like most girls I know I had a timer set to remind me to swallow a pill at exactly the same time every day. For something like thirteen years. Dan and I were married in October of 2010. We had agreed to wait a year before we began trying. In January I decided to stop taking the pill to let my body regulate itself. It didn’t… In March I thought “geez I haven’t had a period, maybe I am pregnant!” I ran to the store and bought a pack of blue line tests ( note: in the trying to conceive world this is a rookie mistake. blue line tests are well known for ‘evap lines’ and ‘false positives’). I peed, I waited, and a HAIR thin blue line, slightly off center showed up. I scoured the internet. A line is a line, right? I called a friend (Dan was working late.) We took a walk and ended up at grocery store where I bought one of every kind of test they had. I came home and peed on ALL of them…and they were all negative. I felt really let down. When Dan came home we talked about the blue line and the subsequent negatives. Sure, we had agreed we weren’t trying until October but I felt so excited at the thought of being pregnant! We decided to just “see what happens.”
Soon it was June And I still had not had a period, so I went to my OB. She ran some blood work and asked how serious we were about conceiving “soon”. I explained our desires and she referred us to Shady Grove. My first appointment there was in July of 2011. My nurse and doctor explained the process of diagnosis very thoroughly. I would have to have blood work done at several stages of my cycle, have an HSG done, Dan would need a sperm analysis, and then we would review the results. I also met with their financial counselors who explained my Insurance benefits, what I could expect to pay, and how much each cycle would approximately cost. I left their office with a telephone book thick set of lab orders, a schedule of testing, a mini stack of prescriptions, a hefty bill and a lot of hope.
The menstrual cycle is a symphony of hormones. If one instrument doesn’t know their part, the entire piece is off. The testing process we went thru was designed to see which instruments knew their parts and which didn’t. Dan and I were excited to begin the testing cycle. We had to have an entire month committed to being at labs and appointments as scheduled. The menstrual cycle is a symphony of hormones. If one instrument doesn’t know their part, the entire piece is off. The testing process we went thru was designed to see which instruments knew their parts and which didn’t. I began by taking a hormone to begin my period.
Throughout the month of August 2011, my blood was drawn over half a dozen times. All labs were required to be done first thing in the morning so I would wake up two hours earlier than my typical alarm, drive in to the clinic, have my blood drawn then head into work. Unfortunately, I have thin veins and each time I went to the lab was a challenge. I am a phlebotimists nightmare. Most days I left the lab with both arms wrapped in colored tape and tears in my eyes. I kept going back because I knew the end result would be a plan for making our baby. Dan provided his sperm analysis rather uneventfully. The HSG was stressful…I went alone. I had no idea what to expect. Thankfully the technicians were kind and walked me thru the process. A catheter was placed, ink was sent thru my lady bits and a video and photos were taken to be sure my tubes were clear. My testing cycle was coming to a close so we scheduled an appointment to review the results.
Our review appointment was the last week in August. Dan’s sperm analysis was picture perfect. The nurse joked that he should donate. My HSG was perfect-My uterus was the right shape, my tubes were all open and clear. But my labs were not. The symphony was off tune in a few places. I was not ovulating (creating an egg each month). While I did not meet the criteria for a formal PCOS diagnosis, my hormonal patterns were similar. In order to get my body on track I would be prescribed Metformin, which is typically a drug taken for diabetes (Apparently ovaries can be insulin resistant, even if you aren’t diabetic…weird). Then I would take Clomid for a few days in the beginning of my cycle. I’d have appointments first thing in the morning to view my ovaries until I ovulated, then I would inject myself with an HCG trigger to better time ovulation. Dan and I had a trip to Hawaii planned for October so we agreed to begin our first “Treatment Cycle” in November when we returned.