Early Pregnancy Symptoms and Big Fat Positives
BFP after 3 years trying - first IVF, 37 yrs old
Like so many on here I promised I would come on here to write my story if I should get a BFP, and I am very excited to be doing that tonight!
It was a long road here as I know many of you have experienced or are experiencing. Infertility is one of the most difficult things a woman can face - psychologist say the mental process of dealing with infertility is similar to that of a cancer diagnosis, so please be kind to yourselves if you are dealing with this right now or starting to suspect that diagnosis is coming. I certainly found it extremely difficult. There were times where I had a handle on it and could focus on other things while I waited (so much waiting on this journey which is the worst) and times where it consumed me and I was completely miserable. I have learned a lot about myself along the way, and I am stronger and better for it in the end like any struggle we face in life, and I've had my share. So before I jump into my story, ladies who are struggling to get pregnant, I am with you and think about all of you and always will. Husbands, if you're on here on behalf of your wives which is something I've seen a few times, hang tight. She'll come through this and so will you. Never give up hope. Others have walked the same path before you and, regardless of the outcome, created a beautiful life for themselves. My Naturopath struggled with infertility and never got her miracle baby, but her practice is now focused on helping women get pregnant, and she loves it and loves her full life of travelling and freedom. I was starting to think it was something I would do as well - change my life to find a way to help women and children, too. There is a life beyond having children, but I know that's so difficult to think about now. My heart goes out to all of you who are trying to get pregnant. I am sending so much love and light your way. I will always feel a kinship with you. Being a woman, eh? The struggle is real : )
To try to summarize my story, I tried for a year starting when I was 34. I never thought I wanted kids until I did which pretty much came around from meeting an amazing man and marrying him which shifted everything in me. We started trying doing the OPK process, temps, the whole nine yards and nothing was happening. I was a bit surprised as someone who was always health conscious and focused on eating well and exercising - not a smoker, not a big drinker, etc. But at the same time, I was struggling with painful periods coming off birth control and started to suspect endometriosis.
With my age and the suggestion you go see a specialist sooner rather than later on top of the issues with my period, I checked in with my GP. He felt it was premature to go to a fertility clinic, but agreed to send me for an ultrasound. The ultrasound showed no abnormalities, which I didn't really think it would as endometriosis is often only diagnosable through a laparoscopy. I brought that up and he said if I had it then it would've shown up on the ultrasound. He said it was just cramps and it was normal. Being that I was passing out and vomiting from the pain I knew something was up and he was wrong. Not getting anywhere with him and his lack of knowledge about the female reproductive system, I pushed to be referred to a fertility clinic and he eventually agreed.
The fertility clinic sent me for a bunch of testing. A hysteroscopy showed I had something in my uterus which may or may not be of concern (could've been an air bubble he said), but we should check it out. Also wanted to do that laparoscopy to see if I have endometriosis. Found out I do have endometriosis, and I also had polyps in my uterus.
To not have this story too long, I went through testing and trying this and that over the next few years - tried all the things. Seriously, all of it.
From Chinese medicine, to acupuncture, to weird massages, to every kind of supplement, to IUIs and fertility drugs. Clomid raises your estrogen levels which is what feeds polyps, so the polyps all returned. I had to get a second surgery to remove those. With nothing working, we moved to IVF. Out of nine eggs retrieved, three made it to 5 day blastocysts. I chose to freeze my eggs because you are on an insane levels of estrogen during IVF, so I felt certain my polyps would return. They did, so surgery number three. After a few months recovery from that, we transferred two eggs. We went with two because of my age. They were already hatching the day of transfer and the doctor was very encouraged and told us so. Two days post transfer I had some light pink/brown spotting which I believe is the day it implanted. Had lots of cramping those first 4 - 5 days, then nothing. I continued to live through the HORROR of the two week wait (am I right? Have you ever been crazier? I thought I knew crazy...) and got my first ever positive pregnancy test seven days post-transfer. I lost my mind. I have never felt that kind of relief, elation and shock in my life. I started bawling and shaking all over. With trembling hands, I ran to tell my sleeping husband who didn't know I was even testing as he thought we were waiting for the blood test. I showed him a onesie I bought years ago followed by the test. He pulled me into the bed and we cried. Best. Day. Ever.
Now the hell of the first trimester. It's really freaky. The reason I tested early is because my period was late yet I started to get PMS-type symptoms that were not there prior, namely swollen and tender breasts. I did my blood test on day 12 and got an HCG level they were happy with. I go for a second blood test on Tuesday. My symptoms now at five weeks today are still sore breasts, extreme hunger and fatigue. I am on estrogen and progesterone supplements, so I don't know how different my symptoms would be otherwise.
I'd like to say don't be shy to take charge of your journey as I have had to do many times along the way. If you suspect something is wrong, you know your body best, get tested.
I also want to share the knowledge passed on to me from my doctor that those with endometriosis in smaller amounts like I had/have usually have more trouble getting pregnant. They now believe part of the reason is that toxins emitted from the endometriosis cause the eggs to have a harder shell than they normally would which makes it harder for the eggs to implant. Because of this, we did ICSI with our IVF - that may be the thing that worked! I'll never know, but I'm glad we did it. Also, having endometriosis and uterine polyps would indicate I am someone who has high levels of estrogen. I made a bunch of changes in my life like no longer using plastic to store my food, changing my pans to iron cast pans, and I stay clear of soy - all things that can raise your estrogen levels through phytoestrogen, so something to look at if you have similar issues.
Also, I recommend getting your thyroid checked. Naturopaths and fertility specialists like to see it in a specific range that is quite a bit lower than what is considered "normal" (4.0) at less than 2.5, so maybe see if that's part of the problem. I have been on thyroid meds which we have already had to change since I've become pregnant - it will have to be constantly monitored throughout my pregnancy to try to keep it in the range they want. It's another thing to worry about! But it's better than not knowing and not something I ever would have checked as I never had issues with my thyroid. High thyroid is linked to miscarriage.
So now I wait. It's rough. You read everything that's going on with your body and worry, and worry, and worry. I am worried I should have more symptoms despite everything saying it's normal not to have more at this stage. I'm just sitting here helpless to effect the outcome and there's nothing I can do to help these little embryos (if there are two) outside of eating well and taking my supplements, and that's hard. But I continue to work on letting go. There's an expression let go and let God. That's all we can do in the first trimester. I'm trying to focus on celebrating each moment. If this all works out worrying will have done nothing except rob me of the joy I could have had this whole time. If it doesn't work out, worrying won't have helped in any way and robs me of the joy of celebrating whatever moments I DO get. I try to remind myself that I have stared at a million snow white tests looking at them every which way trying to see a line, and I finally got to see a positive test. That I wondered if I would ever get to share that moment with my husband of telling him I'm pregnant, and I did. If I would ever get to say "I'm pregnant" and I have now. Those moments are all worth celebrating because nothing is guaranteed or promised to us, so we should celebrate what joys do come our way. Those are all special moments in and of themselves regardless of whether these babies stick around (I always say it plural as I don't want to exclude anyone in case there are twins!). I know that's hard to see sometimes, but there are always things to be grateful for and celebrate.
Fingers crossed for me, k? And I'm doing the same for all of you.
Sprinkling all that baby dust out there for you.