I remember when Kyle and I were going to premarital counseling with our priest in order to prepare for the sacrament of marriage. We discussed everything from money, in-laws, household duties, marital expectations, religious beliefs, and, of course, babies. I found myself fully divulging the fact that Kyle and I, at the same time as premarital counseling, were going through fertility counseling, as well, due to my extremely irregular and often missed periods. Our priest, upset to say the least, lectured on about how the Catholic church doesn't believe in any medical intervention, the importance of being married before conceiving, and trusting in natural family planning (NFP). Due to the personal nature of the subject, I became defensive. Extremely defensive. First, NFP only works if you are ovulating. Therefore, NFP wouldn't even apply in my situation. Secondly, if God doesn't "believe" in medical intervention, then why would he bestow upon us the intelligence required to think of medical intervention? Our priest, taken aback by my changed demeanor, stuck to his guns and reiterated trusting in NFP. And I, too, stuck to my guns. I replied, "I can't just wait around for a miracle."
Foot enter mouth.
When I got pregnant, yes using medical intervention, I really did believe it was a miracle. I got pregnant on the first cycle using 50mg of Clomid alone. I had a healthy pregnancy, and delivered a healthy baby. So, of course, I thought it would be just as simple to conceive baby #2.
But, it hasn't been.
I nursed Livia until she was around 10 months old. I was forced to stop when she was admitted to the hospital for MRSA in her sinuses and tonsils. I never left her bed, but the anxiety caused my milk to dry up. After the whole MRSA affair, I went to visit my obgyn to talk about the possibility of baby #2. Doctor preferred to wait a couple months to see if my period would come naturally. And low and behold, it did. It really did. Two months after I stopped breastfeeding, I had my first natural period since the age of 16 years old. Most women would do anything to avoid having a period. Me? I was OVERJOYED. I thought, could I possibly have regular periods now? Maybe even conceive naturally?!? I started charting my morning temperatures, doing OPKs, counting cycle days. It was all a waste of time and money. My period did not come back.
But my dreams of baby #2 didn't go away.
I went to see my obgyn again to discuss baby planning. We would do everything the same as the first time -- fertility blood work to check my hormone levels, making sure my body fat was between 20-25%, and then 10 day Provera to induce menstruation in hopes of naturally inducing ovulation. Kind of like a jumpstart to my cycle. Well, blood work came back perfectly normal -- all fertility hormones within normal limits. Body fat, too, within normal limits. Provera worked to induce period, but NO ovulation.
Next try? Provera again to induce menstruation, Clomid 50mg on cycle days 5-9, and then try for conception. Well, Clomid worked. Ultrasound showed that I formed a mature egg, but no ovulation. I had no LH surge to push the egg out. Bummed, yes, but I didn't let it get my hopes down. The next month we did Provera to induce menstruation (remember you can't have a period unless you ovulate), Clomid 100mg on cycle days 3-7, and then try for conception. Well, again, ultrasound confirmed that I formed 1 mature egg (with a bonus of 2 almost mature eggs), but again, no LH surge to induce ovulation.
At this point, I started to doubt the possibility of baby #2. Why was this happening?! Why was it so easy to conceive Livia, relatively speaking, but now so difficult. My obgyn said that I needed to reduce stress levels, but I was not physically, mentally, or emotionally stressed. Yes, I desperately want to get pregnant, but not to the point of my hair falling out. In fact, I was WAY more stressed when we conceived Livia -- we were months away from our wedding, and the emotional, financial, and familial burden really took a toll, yet, I still conceived.
My mind pointed back to the horrible comment that I said to my priest. I thought, maybe God really granted me a miracle with Livia -- a REAL miracle -- to show me that He's boss, and not the doctors. It was a horrible feeling.
What next I asked?
My obgyn decided to send me to the big guns -- the reproductive endocrinologists (RE), aka the fertility specialists. After doing another round of Provera, another blood test on cycle day 3, and filling out no less than 15 pages of medical history, I had my first consultation with the RE this past week. He confirmed the normal levels of all hormones tested. He also answered all my questions and concerns -- namely, with all my hormones within normal limits, why don't I ovulate?!? And, will I be able to conceive again?
Why don't I ovulate normally? He confirmed my previous diagnosis of Hypothalamic Amenorrhea. Because I eat normally, exercise lightly (not heavily), and live in a relatively stress-free environment, the reason I don't ovulate is due to a break in the chain of events to induce ovulation. Yes, my brain releases the correct amount of hormone A, but my body doesn't convert hormone A or is to slow to convert hormone A to the biologically useful molecule. Simply stated, there's nothing that I can do to change it. Sometimes my chain works, but most of the time it doesn't. There is no amount of exercise or no exercise, gaining weight or losing weight, vegan, vegetarian, or carnivore diet, acupuncture, or meditation induction to change it. It is what it is.
However, with medical intervention, RE says, we can overcome all your obstacles. Yippee!!
So my conception plan now? More blood work (my veins now look like that of an average IV-drug user), Provera to induce menstruation, Clomid 100mg, the introduction of injectable HCG hormone to force ovulation, and a decision whether or not to use IUI.
I just want the same chance as every other woman to conceive. And with the medical intervention, I can come close. Women with a normal cycle have a 20% chance of conception every month. Clomid users have an 8% chance of conception every month. Clomid + IUI users have a 15% chance of conception.
With all the odds stacked against me, I still pray and trust in God for another miracle.