Thursday, December 8, 2011

Getting Pregnant. Part One

This post is a little on the personal side. It also contains words like ovulation and progesterone. Maybe that makes you uncomfortable. In which case you can skip to the end: after nearly two years of struggling with infertility I'm pregnant. I probably could just leave it at that for everyone, but I know that there are other women out there struggling with the same or similar problems. And for some reason we have trouble talking about. Maybe my story and my journey can help someone, so for that person I think it's worth getting a little personal (and a bit wordy) for a day...

Like many young woman, I spent my early and mid twenties (while involved in loving, committed relationships of course!) trying NOT to get pregnant. Even when Jim and I were in it for the forever and had been living together for several years, I was still a birth control maniac. We had careers to establish, finances to get in order, and a young carefree life to enjoy. We just weren't ready for a baby.

I remember the first time we decided it wouldn't be the end of the world if I got pregnant (aka had completely unprotected sex). The days after I found myself calculating nine months down the road. Arranging things in my head and thinking about what would be awesome and what didn't work so well about having a baby in that month. But, it didn't happen and as months started to go by I kinda stopped thinking about it so much. In the beginning we weren't really "trying" we were rather just letting things happen, so it didn't seem like too much of a surprise or shock when I didn't get pregnant right away.

It was about six months into the whole not trying but trying thing that I started to get concerned. Without birth control pills, my cycle had always been irregular. Never your expected 4 weeks, usually 5 or 6, maybe 7 if things were crazy. All the sudden I was on 10 weeks without a period and a dozen or more negative pregnancy test. I headed to my OB/GYN and after some blood work was ever so casually informed, "you're just not ovulating."

Oh, that's all. Just not ovulating. (insert sarcasm)

There are a lot of hormones that work in a very balanced way throughout the menstrual cycle. Because each hormone has a different job the levels change throughout your cycle, so blood work on one particular day can be somewhat misleading depending on what you're looking for. If you are struggling with infertility doctors usually draw blood on several occasions in specific time frames of your cycle. Even with just a snapshot few of my cycle, in my case the most evident thing was extremely low progesterone levels, like postmenopausal low levels. Progesterone is released in response to a mature egg to prepare the uterine lining and is essential in supporting a pregnancy in the first trimester. More details on ovulation and how the different hormones work throughout the menstrual cycle can be found here.

I remember how that particular doctors office kind of disregarded the whole thing, instructing me to just see what happens and call if I needed to come back. We had only been trying to conceive for six months and the apparently standard mark is a year before they really start discussing infertility options with couples. But, trust me on this one. No woman who wants to eventually (like sooner than later people!) have children is Ok hearing that she is not ovulating, particularly not in a very nonchalant way with no offering of solutions or suggestions. Ovulation just happens to be really necessary to have a baby and I felt like I was shuttled back into my old world with this new burden. I didn't really know what I was suppose to do with this information. Change nothing and just keep waiting?

This is when getting pregnant started to became more of an emotional journey than a physical one.

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