November 2002: Meet Q.
November 2002 – June 2007: Move twice across continents with Q. Finish one degree, start and finish another, teach for a while, eventually come back home to the Great White North.
July 2007: Marry Q! Toss out the bcps, but not yet trying
October 2007: AF is still MIA. Now officially trying. Start charting.
January 2008: Visit to GP. My three month chart (total lack of ovulation), absent AF (for six months now), and extremely wonky previous history earn me an instant referral to a fertility clinic. GP does all the early bloodwork and testing, including an u/s that confirms PCOS diagnosis (which I was expecting). Bloodwork indicates I am also hypothyroid with thyroid antibodies- an unpleasant surprise.
February 2008: First appointment with fertility clinic. PCOS and hypothyroidism confirmed again. Q’s SA fantastic. All other bloodwork normal. HSG shows two tubes open and squeaky clean. No obvious uterine anomalies.
March – May 2008: Begin metformin 500 mg 3xday in hopes of encouraging my body to ovulate. Nothing happens.
June – July 2008: Thyroid is high again. Dose increased from .5 to .5 alternating with .75 each day. Take provera to induce AF and then start Cycle #1 on Clomid. Take Clomid (at ever increasing doses) for 16 days until body FINALLY agrees to yield one lowsy follicle. Uterine lining is shot to hell. IUI #1 is bfn. Now under the care of an endocrinologist who ups synthroid dose to .75 a day.
August- September 2008: Cycle #2, starring Puregon. Slightly late ovulation, four or five follicles, great lining… bfn. Pretty gutted by this.
September- October 2008: Take a break to move house, start a new degree and run a half-marathon. Of course I don’t ovulate.
October-November 2008: Cycle #3, starring Puregon and Femara. Two or three good looking follicles, ovulation on day 13, great lining…bfn. What is up with this?
December 2008: Break to go overseas and visit Q’s family. Still no ovulation (so much for taking a vacation to ‘relax’!).
January 2009: Cycle #4, same drug protocol as previous cycle. Two good follicles, perfect day 14 ovulation, Q. is still getting high fives from the nursing staff, lining is beautiful… bfn.
February 2009: Laparoscopy reveals endometriosis. F/S excises with laser. Feels we’ve now got a great shot at getting pregnant.
April 2009: Cycle #5- no fe.mara, just pu.regon. Follicle growth stalls on Day 12. Cycle officially cancelled on Day 14.
April-May 2009: Cycle #6- 100 mg Clomid Days 3-7, Pu.regon 100 starting Day 5. Decision made to convert to IVF on Day 10 after we got a good look at my now over-achieving ovaries. 14 eggs retrieved, six fertilized (one naturally, five through ICSI). Six grade 1 embryos on Day 3. Two transferred, four frozen. All that for a BFN.
FET #1 in October 2009 (now with daily pio shots and Frag.min injections- oh joy) saw both embies survive the freeze. Blood test returned an initial beta of just 3 that fell to zero two days later.
FET #2 in December 2009 added twice-daily Frag.min injections and a double dose of pred.nisone. End result: loads of anxiety and hyperactivity and insomnia. Press on. Yet another BFN. Wonderful.
June 2010: Blood tests for clotting disorders all come back negative. Q’s DNA fragmentation test result is excellent, but the FISH test showed a higher percentage of abnormalities centred around chromosome 21.
July 2010: On BCPs. Start taking Lupron at the end of the month in preparation for an August IVF.
August 2010: IVF #2, long protocol. Stimming with Repronex and Gonal-F. Stim for 13 days, 34 eggs retrieved, 25 mature, 17 fertilized with ICSI. 17 still kicking on Day 3- decision made to go to blast. Two early-stage blastocysts transferred on Day 5, two frozen on Day 6.
September 2010- HPT comes back negative, but beta at 12dp5dt is 232. Second beta (14dp5dt) is 612. We’re pregnant! Ultrasound shows one perfect embryo with a heartbeat at 6w2d. Our EDD is 12 May 2011.
November 2010- We graduate from the clinic at 14 weeks and are released into the care of our midwives.
May 2011- Our gorgeous son is born, on Mother’s Day!
August 2013- I start birth control pills in preparation for a FET that we hope will bring us another baby.
September 2013- FET #1 for 2.0. Sonohysterosalpingogram on Day 5 shows a “perfect, beautiful” uterus. The usual chemical cocktail is prescribed: estrace, metformin, prednisone, baby aspirin, fragmin and progesterone. We transfer one blastocyst on September 19th. In the tww, I’m convinced I’m pregnant, but the beta on October 3rd comes back negative.
October 2013- FET #2 for 2.0. Same drug protocol. A new twist is added: an intralipid transfer on Day 10. The hope is this might convince my body that this embryo is a good thing and not a hostile invader. HPTs on 8dp5dt and 11dp5dt produce BFNs, as does the official beta 12dp5dt on November 4th.
November 2013- We do some serious soul searching and decide 2.0 deserves one more chance. On November 12th, I start taking birth control pills in preparation for a full IVF cycle in December. I remain on prednisone, baby aspirin and metformin, and add Ova-Boost, a supplement containing myo-inositol, folic acid, melatonin, coenzyme Q10, Vitamin E, grapeseed extract and alpha lipoic acid, which will hopefully increase the quality of the eggs retrieved. On November 24th, I start taking Lupron.
December 2013- I start stimming on December 4th (225 IU Gonal F and 75 IU Repronex for seven days, 150 IU Gonal F and 225 Repronex for two). After nine days of stimming, I’m ready to trigger. We have 25 eggs retrieved, but only 12 mature. Of those 12, 10 fertilize through ICSI. After a nail biting wait I learn on Day 3 my doctor has decided to push on to blastocysts. On Day 5 we have two early stage blasts and four more still growing (practically identical to the cycle in August 2010). I summon my courage and agree to transfer both blasts. Only one more is frozen, producing a 70% attrition rate for this cycle, again practically identical to what happened before, even with the improved technology and the use of the Embryoscope. But we get the best possible news- a first beta of 835 at 13dp5dt. Repeat beta two days later has climbed to 1883.
January 2014- The first ultrasound shows two gestational sacs, but only one has a baby in it. But that baby has a heartbeat.
February 2014- What should have been a routine ultrasound at the ten week mark (after perfect ultrasounds at six, seven and eight weeks) reveals instead a baby with no heartbeat. I have a D&C that afternoon. We are beyond devastated.
October 2014- Back at the clinic for one last hurrah. Everything goes smoothly with the FET and we transfer our last embryo. The beta comes back negative. We’re done. It’s time to start living the life we do have as a family of three.
Summer 2015- I revamp my diet (increasing meat protein, cutting down carbs and dairy) and, to my absolute shock, I end up with a real cycle, something which has never happened in my adult life.
September 2015- I discover that dairy is the key factor in managing my PCOS. Cutting it out entirely (except for Greek yoghurt) in the weeks before ovulation creates a cycle of normal length.
October 2015- Remember that cycle with an ovulation on day 18? Well, I guess it was a good egg because HOLY SHIT- I’m pregnant. The old-fashioned way.
December 2015- After being monitored at my clinic through the first trimester, we have a great nuchal scan at 11w5d. Next stop- the midwives. This baby might really come home in June.
January 2016- The anatomy scan reveals the baby has only one kidney. Follow up scans indicate no other problems and suggest the existing kidney is functioning normally. I am told not to worry about the pregnancy. I do worry incessantly about the pregnancy until other events require me to focus my worry elsewhere.
March 2016- Another scan confirms no other issues and shows that the existing kidney is growing to compensate for the missing one. I meet with a paediatric nephrologist who will follow the baby after birth and he also reiterates that I should not be worrying.
June 2016- Our daughter, P., is born, one day before her due date. She is healthy and beautiful. She completes our family.