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infertility

Plans are made to be broken, or so they say.  I don’t like when my plans are broken. I like when everything goes according to plan.  Which isn’t to say that I don’t like to be surprised by life, I do, it is just that sometimes it is nice when everything works out the way I had planned.

It has been nine months now.  Nine months of actively trying to conceive baby #2.  We are now into the realm of “if we had gotten pregnant (enter month) we’d be having a baby now.”  That sucks, there is no other way to say it, it just sucks.  Maya is going to be 3 in a little over a month.  She was supposed to have a new sibling right before or shortly after her third birthday, that was our plan.  Now, we are looking at her being at least 3 and a half, at least.

Each month that goes by it gets a little harder.  Each month the disappointment is a little harder to bare, it hurts a little deeper.  My body has disappointed me and I hate to say that because it has done some pretty awesome things for me, namely creating and carrying the perfect almost 3 year old that fills our house with her sweetness.  But, right now, it is not helping me out, it is not doing what it was designed to do, it is not getting pregnant.  So, as much as I hate to say it, I’m angry at my body, angry at myself.

Today I’m heading to the doctor.  We’ll talk all about what is going on.  We’ll talk about the fact I have been off the pill for 11 months now and actively trying to get pregnant for 9 months and yet still nothing.  We’ll talk about the things that may be behind this inability to get pregnant; my ovarian cyst, my endometriosis, my one non-functioning fallopian tube and hopefully we’ll talk about a solution, a way to make my body work.  I don’t expect this appointment to end with a magical solution, but I do hope it is the beginning of find some answers.

I expected baby #2 to come along just like baby #1 did, perfectly according to plan.  The best laid plans don’t always work out.

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I’m stuck in a waiting game I never expected to be stuck in.  Every month I wait.  Wait for something not to come, but every month it comes.  Waiting is hard, waiting isn’t fun, waiting sucks.  I’m not very good at waiting for things.

Last year as Maya‘s 2nd birthday approached Lorne and I decided it was time to grow our little family.  We decided that having another child when Maya was around 3 would be good.  So, shortly after we celebrated our baby’s 2nd birthday I stopped taking that little daily little birth control pill and began taking a daily prenatal vitamin.  I started dreaming about what it would be like to have a tiny little baby again.  I started wondering what Maya would be like as a big sister.  I started dreaming about the shape our little family would take.

After waiting a couple of months to let my body return to a regular cycle we really began trying to make a baby.  I started paying close attention to my cycle, my timing. We began the waiting game.  Each month we did our best to get the timing right and then we waited.

For 6 months we have been stuck in this waiting game.  Each month I listen to my body to see if it is whispering to me, trying to tell me something.  Each month I wait to see if I will get those telltale signs that our efforts may have worked.  Each month I wait and hope not to see that telltale sign that our efforts were all for naught and that another month has come and gone with no baby.  Waiting it hard.

When we decided to start trying to get pregnant the first time things were easy.  I went off my birth control pill and got pregnant the first month we really tried.  I hadn’t expected it to be that easy and when it was I figured my history wouldn’t affect my ability to get pregnant. I figured this time around would be more of the same.  I was wrong.

About 7 years ago I discovered I had an ovarian cyst growing on my left ovary.  A very large ovarian cyst, about the size of a large grapefruit.  The size of the cyst caused some major damage to my left ovary and fallopian tube.  So much damage that my fallopian tube had to be tied off and my left ovary is pretty much nonfunctioning.  During the surgery to remove the cyst and fix some of the damage it was also discovered that I had endometriosis.

Once I was all healed up from my surgery I started on a form of birth control pill that was known to help control endometriosis as well.  It worked for me and things were good.  I continued to be symptom free as far as the endometriosis was concerned and my doctor was fairly confident that it wasn’t getting any worse and hopefully wouldn’t impact my ability to get pregnant in the future when we decided to start trying.

4 years later when we finally decided it was time to start a family I was a little worried that my history would affect my ability to get pregnant and that it might not be a quick or easy process for us.  However, when I got pregnant right away my fears were laid to rest and truthfully I never really gave it much thought again.  It never even occurred to me that things might be different this time around.  It never occurred to me that unbeknownst to me my body may have been changing in a way that would make having another baby a lot harder than we expected.

I try to remind myself that it has only been 6 months and maybe next month will be our month and all this worry and frustration will become a distant, fading memory.  It is harder to believe that though as the months continue to tick by.  In a few months I’ll have my regular yearly visit with my OB/GYN.  If we are still stuck in this waiting game when that appointment rolls around I’ll talk to him about my fears and about what may be the cause behind our difficulty getting pregnant this time around.

In the meantime we’ll keep enjoying the awesome little girl we are so lucky to have in our lives.  We’ll keep trying.  We’ll keep waiting and hoping that this will be our month.

About half of all pregnancies in the United States are planned, meaning that the couple tried to get pregnant.   It can be an exciting time in a couple’s life, however, at the same time it can bring a lot of frustration, especially if it doesn’t happen right away.  Many people carry the misconception that getting pregnant is easy (I mean people get pregnancy “by accident” all the time) and if you don’t get pregnant right away there must be some underlying fertility issue.  That, my friends, is not the case.  For many couples experiencing a difficulty in getting pregnant the issue is not necessarily infertility, but rather is likely to be a matter of bad timing.

In any given menstrual cycle a woman has a 20% (1 in 5) chance of sperm meeting egg, egg becoming fertilized and implanting and of getting pregnant.  Not really great odds when you think about it, right?  Right.  But, you can make those odds work in your favor if you pay attention to your timing, pay attention to your body.

For the “average” woman a regular menstrual cycle is about 28 days.  Some women will have shorter or longer cycles which is why it is important to pay attention and to know our body.  During a regular 28 day cycle you can expect to ovulate on or about the 14th day of your cycle, however ovulation can occur as early as day 11 or as late as day 21.  This is where timing and paying attention to your body can make a huge difference in how long it takes you to get pregnant once you start trying.

In order to get pregnant the sperm must meet the egg, right?  And in order for that to happen you have to know when you are ovulating.  So, here is where it is all about the timing.  Your chances of becoming pregnant are greatest if you and your partner have sex in the few days leading up to ovulation and for a window of about 24 hours after you ovulate.  Many obstetricians and fertility specialists will recommend that a couple of sexual intercourse every other day while they are trying to get pregnant, this increases the odds that there will be healthy, vibrant sperm present when you ovulate.

So, how do you know when you are going to ovulate.  There are several things you can do to determine when in you are ovulating.  They including:

  • Tracking your basal body temperature. When ovulation has occurred your basal body temperature will rise.  You will need to do this for a few months in order to determine when you typically ovulate during your cycle.  Remember, once you have ovulate you have a window of about 24 hours before you lose your chance of becoming pregnant that month.
  • Checking your cervical mucus.  This involves testing the consistency of the mucus around your cervix.  As you approach ovulation the consistency of your cervical mucus will change making it a more welcoming environment for sperm.   When you are most fertile (just about to ovulate) your cervical mucus will be of an egg white consistency.
  • Using an ovulation prediction kit.  These can be purchased at any pharmacy in the same aisle as home pregnancy kits.  These kits test the LH or luteinizing hormone in our urine.  The LH levels will go up the day before you ovulate.  These tests can be a bit expensive so you may want to try the other options first before trying out the ovulation prediction kits.

85% of healthy, fertile couples will successfully become pregnant within 1 year of trying to conceive.  It is all about your timing and knowing your body.  If you know when you are going to ovulate you can plan to have sex around that time to help increase your odds.  Timing is everything.

If you have not become pregnant after 1 year (after 6 months if you are over 35) of trying talk to your doctor so they can work with you and determine if there may be some underlying fertility issue.

Trying to get pregnant with your second or subsequent child isn’t always as easy as it was the first time around.  Many couples find themselves faced with fertility issues when they try to grow their family, they find themselves suffering from secondary infertility.  Secondary infertility is defined, primarily, as the inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term after successfully having one or more children.  Millions of couples suffer from secondary infertility.  Although so many find themselves suffering through the inability to have another child they often don’t seek treatment or seek out the social support they need. They have a child already so noone wants to hear about their problems with infertility which causes couples to often suffer in silience with secondary infertility.

For many of the couples who find themselves suffering from secondary infertility they were able to easily (or at least without too much trouble) conceive their first child(ren), so the idea that it may be difficult to have another child never crossed their minds.  However, your reproductive health can change fairly quickly.  A woman’s quantity and quality of eggs can decrease rapidly and result in fertility issues only months after her first child is born.  A man’s sperm count and the quality of his sperm can also rapidly change impacting the couples ability to conceive subsequent children.

There are many factors that can cause a couple to experience fertility issues after successfully having one or more children.  Age can play a big role, particularly if you waited until your 30s to have your first child.  A woman is most fertile between the ages of 18-30 so if she waits until she is 30 or older to have her first child she will be that much older when she tries for the second and may likely experience some difficulty in conceiving.  Untreated infections, endometriosis, or chronic illnesses or conditions can all play a role as well, for both men and women.

Luckily most couples, about 85-90%, will conceive within a year of trying.  This holds true even if you are trying for your second (or more) child.  Most doctors recommend that you seek medical help if you have not conceived after 1 year of trying if you are under 35, 6 months of trying for women over 35, and 3 months of trying for women over 40.  Not every woman will be able to get pregnant the first try every time, it sometimes takes several tries.  Try to stay positive and seek advice from your doctor if you are worried.

Suffering from secondary infertility is painful and couples shouldn’t suffer alone and in silence.  Be sure to talk about how you are feeling with your spouse, your family, friends and seek out a support group of other couples suffering from secondary infertility.  Unfortunately, you may not get the support you need from friends and family who may think you should be happy that you have one child so a support group of others going through a similar situation may be your best bet.  If you can’t locate a support group talk to your ob/gyn for suggestions or visit RESOLVE (the national infertility association).

Try to stay positive and don’t be afraid to seek medical help if you think you are having fertility issues.

(resourses: RESOLVE, Fertility Factors)

The story of Nadya Suleman and her ever growing family is still all over the news.  People are still very curious about Ms. Suleman and what brought her to make the decisions she did.

Everyone is talking about the fertility specialist that treated her, how she is affording to raise her children, the government assistance she is receiving, how the octuplets are doing, and of course, that Nadya Suleman looks like Angelina Jolie!!

So, what do you think?  Do you see the similarities?