A couple months ago, my reproductive endocrinologist told me and Louie that I have low ovarian reserve. She suspected this based on my low follicle count, and it was confirmed by my blood test results. She also told me that my FSH level was high, while my LH level was low; they are supposed to have a 1:1 ratio. What this means is that even though I am “young,” I don’t have a lot of time left to have more children. She thinks that the reason for losing Rainbow and Gaelen could be implantation problems caused by my hormone imbalance, which creates a less than ideal uterine environment.
I suspected things were wrong before the testing, because there were months when I didn’t ovulate. And because I was ovulating later than day 20 of my cycle. And because my luteal phase was around 10-11 days, when ideally it should be at least 12 (average is 14 days). And because my basal body temperature hovers in the mid-96s in the first half of my cycle. To help balance things out, she suggested I take Clomid (clomiphene). And I was devastated.
It was just a lot of information to take in. Finding out that Gaelen’s pathology report came back normal was difficult, because it made me feel like it was my fault, because I couldn’t keep her alive. Confirming these issues with my body just magnified these feelings of guilt and inadequacy, of being broken.
I know I’m not supposed to let these things define me, but they are part of who I am: Recurrent pregnancy loss. Second trimester stillbirth. Multiple miscarriages. Infertility. Low ovarian reserve.
I took Clomid last month, on cycle days 2-6, just as the RE had instructed. I was ambivalent about it. I didn’t feel like it could fix whatever was wrong with me, but I couldn’t not go through the motions. Then I started getting headaches. These headaches turned to migraines. Sometimes I would get dizzy. Then, I started getting achiness in my lower left side. It became so painful that it hurt to bend and twist. Weepiness and mood swings soon followed. And these side effects lasted beyond the the 5 days I took the pills. Clomid did work in making me ovulate sooner, in lengthening my luteal phase, and in shortening my cycle. It also worked in giving me symptoms of pregnancy, which messed with my head. And I continued to feel fullness in my lower left side into my next cycle; it’s still there now. So I decided to skip the pills this month. My doctor thinks I have a persistent ovarian cyst from the Clomid and am experiencing continued side effects from the estrogen. It should resolve on its own, but I am done with this medication. One cycle, and I fail at Clomid (partly by choice).
On my dresser is a prescription for Letrazole. It’s a lot more expensive than Clomid. It’s supposed to have fewer side effects. But this medicine, also known as Femara, is an off-label fertility treatment. It’s meant as a treatment for post-menopausal women who have breast cancer.
I don’t know how much longer I can do this.
Yes, I am not the only woman in the world who has a uterine anomaly, who has lost a baby later in pregnancy, who has suffered multiple/consecutive miscarriages, who is dealing with infertility. But charting, temping, peeing on test sticks, taking vitamins and supplements, using monitors, taking fertility drugs, and also living with the fear that even if I do get pregnant, my chances of losing the baby are higher than normal… it feels like a lot to carry. My grief for Calvin, Rainbow, and Gaelen, weigh on my heart enough. It would be easier if the desire to mother a living child left me.
And before someone says stop trying, let me say, Been there, done that, didn’t work. And before someone tells me to relax, let me ask, Have you walked in my shoes? And before someone asks me if we’ve considered adoption or foster care or artificial reproductive technology, the answer is yes; but those things aren’t fixes to what we are feeling or what we are are going through right now. And finally, please don’t say, At least you got pregnant. This is not something you say to someone whose baby had died inside her body, especially if you haven’t experienced it or if you don’t know the struggles of infertility. You can think any of these things, sure, but please don’t say them to me. Especially not after three losses.
Is there anyone else out there who’s experienced both loss and infertility?
Did you have similar feelings of ambivalence about treatment? How did you handle it? How has suffering through both affected you?