"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!|