Did you know 1 in 8 couples experience infertility? Today I’m sharing our personal experience with infertility and the two-year wait to get pregnant with each of our two kids.
I grew up in a large family and always imagined having a few kids of my own someday. But what I never imagined was how difficult the road to motherhood would be.
In 2016, I went to my annual exam and asked my doctor if there was something wrong with me. By that point, David and I had spent a year trying to get pregnant with no success. Did we just need to be more patient? Was something wrong? How long do we have to wait?
At the time, infertility wasn’t really even on my radar, but I’ve since learned that it’s a lot more common than you might realize. In the United States, 1 in 8 couples has trouble getting pregnant or sustaining a pregnancy.
I’ve been hesitant to share our story because so many couples go through much worse than we have. With a little medical intervention, we were able to get pregnant the first time fairly quickly. We’ve never had to discuss IUI or IVF, and we haven’t experienced loss. And somehow that made me feel like our story wasn’t worthy of telling. In a way, I felt like we were one of the “lucky” ones.
The road to getting pregnant a second time was longer and took a much greater emotional toll on us. Being referred to a fertility clinic and experiencing month after month of disappointment made it feel a lot more “real” this time around.
Infertility impacts your mental health, relationships, finances, schedule, physical self, and pretty much every other aspect of life. And I don’t think that’s talked about enough.
I don’t have a list of tips or any grand advice to share with you today, but I hope that sharing our story will help someone out there know they’re not alone. Reading others’ stories definitely helped me. The rest of this post chronicles our personal experience with infertility.
Note: I’ll do my best to recount my experience and explain things accurately here, but I am by no means a medical expert.
THE JOURNEY TO OUR FIRST PREGNANCY
When I told my doctor we’d been trying to get pregnant for almost a year, infertility wasn’t even on my radar. I honestly expected her to tell me to be patient, but she shared how common infertility is and how there were some simple things we could explore that might help.
And with that, we went ahead with fertility testing. I had blood work done and David gave a sperm sample. We learned that approximately 1/3 of infertility is attributed to the female, 1/3 to the male, and 1/3 is unexplained. We fell in that last unexplainable category which was annoying but also told us we should be able to get pregnant with a little medical intervention.
Since I had been on birth control my entire adult life, I was not at all in tune with my cycles. They were extremely irregular and I learned that it was possible I wasn’t ovulating at all (which obviously makes it hard to get pregnant).
My doctor prescribed Clomid, an oral pill that is a common first step to treat infertility. Clomid is taken at the beginning of your cycle and basically affects your hormones to stimulate ovulation. It helped regulate my cycles so we could have a better idea of timing.
My doctor monitored my ovarian follicles via ultrasound to determine if the Clomid was working. This helped us predict when I’d ovulate so we could time intercourse accordingly.
It took two months of increasing dosages of Clomid before we saw any follicle growth, and after the third month with no pregnancy, we decided to take a month off. We were young and broke, and none of these doctor’s visits or ultrasounds were covered by my insurance. It was also mentally exhausting and I welcomed the break.
At the end of every cycle, I took a pregnancy test and called the nurse to determine our next steps. After our month break, I took a test as usual with plans to call the nurse about starting another month of Clomid.
Much to my surprise, that pregnancy test was positive! I spent the whole day in disbelief, taking a few more tests and waiting all day to share the news when David got home from work. And that’s how we got pregnant with our little Chloe in 2017.
I believe that although we weren’t actually taking Clomid that month, the previous months of Clomid helped regulate my cycles to a point where we had a better idea of when ovulation would occur. I was also closely tracking my cycles, something I hadn’t been great at before working with a doctor.
It took us two full years to get pregnant with Chloe.
Trying For Baby #2
We weren’t in a big rush to get pregnant again, but once Chloe turned two I started to feel the clock ticking. I always imagined having kids close in age, and based on our past experience I knew it could take a while to get pregnant again.
We spent about a year trying to conceive on our own with no success before consulting with a doctor.
Will Clomid Work Again?
We’d moved to a new city and I had a new doctor this time around. She prescribed Clomid again since it had worked for us before, and also had me take Provera to induce my periods.
This doctor didn’t monitor my follicle growth with ultrasounds this time, but we did blood work to see if I had actually ovulated or not. We went through three disappointing months of learning I hadn’t ovulated at all.
The Pandemic Delayed Our Pregnancy
We were ending the third month of our Clomid treatment when the pandemic hit the U.S. in March of 2020. When it was time to start a new month of Clomid, my doctor recommended I hold off since there were so many unknowns with the virus at the time and we had no idea how it might affect pregnant women.
So we stopped taking Clomid in March and I secretly hoped we’d get pregnant on our own in the meantime. The stress of the pandemic kept my mind off of pregnancy for the next few months and in July, my doctor agreed to start another round of Clomid.
I was very hopeful that this would be our month since we’d increased the Clomid to the same dosage I was taking when we got pregnant last time. I was devastated when she called me to say it was unlikely I had ovulated at all.
She suspected I had polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and referred us to a fertility specialist for further testing and treatment.
A Referral To The fertility Clinic
In August of 2020, David and I found ourselves meeting with a specialist at the fertility clinic. Pulling into the fertility clinic parking lot made our struggles feel so much more real–I wasn’t just taking a little pill anymore, now I was nervous there might be discussions of more intensive (and expensive) things like IVF.
Thankfully, the doctor proposed a pretty simple treatment plan to start with. Since I had gotten pregnant with Clomid before, he thought it was likely we could get pregnant again with the right combination of pills and timing.
There is no test to definitively diagnose PCOS but based on my medical history and further testing, our fertility specialist diagnosed me with PCOS. Polycystic ovary syndrome affects your hormone levels and is the most common endocrine condition among U.S. women of reproductive age.
There is a lot of information out there for managing PCOS and its symptoms through lifestyle changes and natural approaches, and I’ll just be honest in admitting that’s not something I’ve explored much of at this point. There are many women who’ve been able to regulate their hormones and improve ovulation naturally through weight loss, diet, and exercise.
When it comes to PCOS impacts on fertility, most medical professionals focus on treating the symptoms (irregular cycles and not ovulating on your own). And that’s where the pills I was prescribed come in.
Pills, Blood Draws & Ultrasounds
When we started working with the fertility clinic, we both had fertility testing done and everything looked good. So we started a cycle of pills and blood tests just like we had before, only this time I took Femara which acts similarly to Clomid and is often prescribed to women who don’t respond to Clomid. I was also prescribed Provera, Metformin, and Myo-Inositol to help things along.
We continued this regimen all fall, increasing my Femara dose each month and closely monitoring how my body responded through a combination of ultrasounds and blood tests. I’m thankful we only live about 20 minutes from a fertility clinic because I drove there nearly every week for months.
Leaning On Each Other
Going through month after month of disappointment is emotionally draining and can also be hard to navigate as a couple. Intercourse is suddenly very scheduled and literally prescribed by a doctor. And it’s tough to see those negative pregnancy tests every month and have to pick up the phone to call in your results to the clinic. It’s a tough cycle of disappointments.
I always imagined multiple kids and never fathomed that might not be possible. I broke down many times thinking about the possibility that Chloe might never have a sibling. David is the most patient, level-headed person I know and was always there to lean on. He reassured me that we’d be okay no matter the outcome.
2020 was a hard year navigating pandemic life on top of infertility treatments. But the final days of the year brought good news.
A Positive Pregnancy Test
It was on a Monday just days before Christmas when I saw the lines on that positive pregnancy test. I was dreading taking a test so much that I couldn’t bring myself to do it first thing in the morning like usual and waited until lunchtime.
We were both working from home and I think I just stood in the kitchen in disbelief for a while until David came downstairs for lunch. I didn’t tell him the news in any creative way, I just held up the test and teared up. It was the best Christmas gift! It took us two full years to get pregnant with Logan.
And that’s our infertility story. The fertility clinic monitored my pregnancy very closely during the first trimester. I had numerous blood tests done to confirm the pregnancy, and then a slew of ultrasounds in the months following, and everything looked great.
Once I crossed the first-trimester mark, they referred me back to my regular OB for routine care. And here we are with a healthy baby boy who is 6 months old today!
I’m so grateful to be “Mommy” to these two. Chloe and Logan are such a gift! I’m glad to have finally documented our journey because as much as I don’t like to dwell on the past, our experience with infertility is a significant chapter of our family’s story.
If you or someone you know are struggling with infertility, here are a few resources:
- The National Infertility Association
- How To Help A Friend Going Through Infertility
- Resources For Women of Color Facing Infertility
- The Fertility Warriors Podcast
- Introducing Logan Michael
- Pregnancy Check-in: We’re At The Halfway Point!
- Third Trimester Recap
- Introducing Chloe Lynn
Have a fantastic day!