Monday, April 21, 2014

Journey From Infertility to Parenthood

Since the day we announced we were pregnant with twins, we've heard the same questions asked over and over by friends, coworkers, strangers in the grocery store, strangers on the airplane, strangers in the waiting room, you get the idea.

"Do twins run in your family" (Nate's mom is a twin)
"Were you trying for twins?" (Is there such a thing as trying for twins?)
"Were you surprised to find out you were having twins?" (Of course I was!)
"Are they natural?" (As opposed to unnatural?)
"Did you do in-vitro?" (Well isn't that a bit nosy?)

All of these questions are really asking one thing, some more politely than others: did we use fertility drugs to conceive our twins? Yes. This week is National Infertility Awareness week and although the ladies in the grocery store won't be reading my blog, I figured I might as well put our story out there to answer what everyone is really asking as well as to give some hope to those who are battling infertility.

Like our birth story, our infertility story probably contains too much personal information for some of you, so go ahead and skip to the end to see some cute pictures :)

Our story starts long before we were married. As a teenager, I was always very irregular. Of course, at the time, I didn't really mind going months at a time without a period. I always figured it was just because I was so active and involved with sports and such. I didn't ever think there was anything wrong per say. When I was in college, I took a chronic disease class, and learned about polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). I immediately recognized many of the symptoms in myself. I went in to my ob-gyn and announced that I was sure I had this disease. I'm  pretty sure she thought I was a know it all with an over-active imagination. She didn't do any tests or anything. She just put me on birth control and told me that would make me "regular." I didn't care about being regular, I just wanted to know if there was something wrong with me!

Fast forward a few years. After we'd been married for a time, we decided we were ready to expand our family. We were optimistic that we would get pregnant soon! Six months after I quit taking birth control, I had only had a period twice. Those months were hard because after not having a period for 60+ days, you start to get hopeful that you must be pregnant. Nope, not the case.

I hadn't been to a doctor since moving to Arkansas, so I was planning to get established with an ob-gyn anyway, so I decided I might as well bring up the fertility issue while I was there. I honestly didn't ask around for recommendations or anything. I just googled doctors in the area and picked the one that was closest to my work in Fayetteville. But it turned out to be a great decision. Many doctors make you wait at least a year before stepping in to help, but based on my history, the doctor felt there was no reason to wait.

Over the next couple of months, the doctor ran several different tests and discovered my hormones were completely out of balance and I was not ovulating. He felt confident that it would be a simple fix. A couple rounds of Clomid should do the trick. Turns out it wasn't so simple.

We did 6 cycles of Clomid with increasing dosages. Three of those were "failed cycles" because I still did not ovulate and had to have a shot of Provera in the bum to induce a period. If you've ever been on Clomid or known anyone who has been on it, then you know it turns you into a crazy person! You've heard of a little thing called PMS? That's nothing, trust me! Clomid causes severe hot flashes and wild mood swings; poor Nate had to put up with my irritability, aggression, sadness, and never knew what to expect from me.

At this point the doctor was unsure why my body was resistant to the Clomid and still wasn't ovulating consistently. He decided to run some more tests at which point I was diagnosed with PCOS. Wouldn't you know it? Turns out I was not a hypochondriac back in college after all. He suggested we add Metformin to the Clomid and do a few more cycles before trying anything else. Metformin is actually a drug used to treat type II diabetes but many PCOS patients find it helps them conceive. One of the side effects of Metformin, especially when you first start taking it, is nausea and tummy issues. Oh joy, now I was moody and sick to my stomach! We did several cycles of the Clomid/Metformin combo. My hormone levels were much better but I still wasn't pregnant!

Once again the doctor was unsure why I wasn't pregnant yet and decided to perform a hysteroscopy to search for further problems. And further problems he found. He found endometriosis and uterine polyps, both of which were causing some blockage. We decided the next step would be laproscopic surgery to treat the endometriosis and a dilation and curettage (d and c) to remove the polyps. The surgery went well and once again, the doctor was optimistic we would get pregnant soon. (I tell you what, we sure had an optimistic doctor for so many failed attempts! But his positive attitude did help us to stay hopeful.) After recovering from surgery, we decided to try one more month of clomid/metformin before moving on. I ovulated when I was supposed to, my numbers looked great, but alas no pregnancy.

My period started on New Year's day, but I felt full of hope. It was the start of a new year and time to start a new treatment. We decided to try intra-uterine insemination (IUI). I stayed on the clomid/metformin regiment to stimulate ovulation. We had an ultrasound on day 11 and the doctor saw two eggs waiting to be released. Then we did a "trigger shot" in the bum of HCG on day 14 to induce ovulation. We did the IUI on day 15 and then just waited. Oh the dreaded two week wait! Day 29 rolled around and I decided to brave the test (actually three tests).......Positive!!!!! Finally! A couple of weeks later we had an ultrasound and were overjoyed to discover we were having twins! (Nate was relieved we weren't having triplets.)

Looking back now, the whole thing seems like a short moment in my life, but at the time, it seemed to go by agonizingly slow! Every month I felt like a failure and wondered why people like Snookie could have a baby but I couldn't. Every time someone complained about how awful pregnancy was or how hard motherhood was, I wanted to scream that I would gladly take their place! Granted, I've discovered pregnancy can have some awful moments and motherhood is hard, but you won't find me complaining. I thank God every day that I have these two beautiful girls to love and raise.

Infertility is unfortunately so common these days. 1 in 8 couples will struggle with this. Someone you know is fighting that battle or perhaps you have faced the difficulties of infertility yourself. It is a heart wrenching disease and one that so many people fight privately so please just remember there are people all around you who need your love and support!

Our miracle babies on their birhdate. 

And now they are 7 months old! 

Photo booth at the downtown square
Mommy and her babies!


  1. Of course there is such a thing as trying for twins--my husband and I are trying! :D
    And I think you're right that when they ask if the girls are "natural twins" they just wonder if you used fertility treatments to conceive or if it happened all on its own.
    Thank you for sharing your story! It turns out that I have a lot of friends who are struggling with infertility (I had no idea the numbers were as common as one in eight) and even though I have two girls of my own, we've been trying for nine months to conceive again with no luck. While that's not exactly the same, it has given me a greater appreciation and understanding of looking forward to each month, hoping for a positive on a test and realizing you're just a day late for your period.
    I'm so grateful you had the ob/gyn you did. He sounds exactly like the person you needed for this experience!

    1. I'm sorry to hear about your troubles with conceiving :( Each month can be so disheartening and I truly hope to hear an announcement about baby number 3 soon! I love that you're "trying" for twins. That would be a lot of fun for your family I'm sure.

    2. Clark wants a boy so much and claims he's "outnumbered" so I keep telling him to think manly thoughts and that if he just gave me twins we'd even out the numbers right away. :)
      But seriously, when will you be out in the west again soon? We need to have a mini-CONE reunion so I can meet everyone's adorable babies in addition to seeing your beautiful faces, too.

  2. I'm so happy it worked out for you! Your girls are adorable, and you look especially classy in the last picture. Also, I'm wondering if you have any advice on what to say to friends struggling with infertility. I have several friends going through this, and I never know what to say.

    1. I'm glad you think I'm classy! I'm usually pretty frumpy :) Great question on what to say. I could probably write a whole blog post on what to say and what NOT to say. For me, I really just appreciated knowing people cared. I was comfortable talking about it if someone asked me out of love and concern for me versus someone asking to satisfy their own morbid curiosity about why we didn't have kids. Really if you have good intentions and genuinely care, most people will be grateful and won't be easily offended even if you say the "wrong thing." Not everyone is comfortable talking about infertility but just make sure your friends know you're willing to be a listening ear when they need you. And when they do confide in you, try to avoid offering any advice. I hated when people tried to tell me what I needed to do as if their stupid old wives' tale would somehow cure all my issues!

  3. Thanks for your story. My husband and I are struggling with infertility. I took clomid for 2 months and didn't like it. Now I'm trying Femera. We are going to do an IUI next month. Praying we find something that works, and I would love to have twins!

    1. Oh Melissa, I'm so sorry! Infertility sucks and clomid sucks almost even more :) Hopefully the Femera is better for you. I'll be praying for you as well. I know you'll be a great mother!

  4. So sweet. As you know I had my own suffering with it and I'm glad it's more openly discussed. The girls are darling and I love you all!

  5. Laurel,
    Thank you for sharing your struggles with PCOS. Reading your post made me a little emotional. I found out 2 years ago in July that I have PCOS. I was devastated. Knowing that I have friends who also struggle with it a little less daunting.

  6. Loved this! I have PCOS too. I took Clomid for a year. It made me CRAZY!!! SO crazy in fact that at one point my husband said "Clomid or our marriage. We need to get this under control." And the hot flashes were unbelievable. Then I also took Metformin. And I got sick. Ugh. I felt every word of what you wrote about those drugs. Then I had to try Femara and then some injectable drugs with Femara. Then I, too, tried an IUI. It failed. Lame. But after finding the right drug combo it worked and now I have two kids! Not twins though :) Although it could have been triplets that first time. My husband was immensely relieved that it was only one. Thanks for sharing your journey. I'm glad it ended so happily!

  7. I had no idea, Laurel! Thanks for sharing! Your girls are soooo cute, and I'm glad you post so much about them so I can see them grow from afar (and keep up with your life!)!!! Love ya girly!

  8. I wish I had known when you were going through this. After testing for a year, clomid for a year, then 4 IUI's we finally got pregnant with Austin. I remember a lot of people telling me "I'm so happy for you! We had a hard time getting pregnant too." I remember thinking. "You knew? Where were you when I needed a listening ear!" It was such a lonely road and I vowed to be that ear for others. Then after 6 more failed IUI's, an ADOPTION (yay!), a failed IVF, we were definitely excited to find out we were having twins after this last IVF. It's been so fun so far and I'm so grateful. And so so happy for you guys. Keep the tips coming!