Tag: Clomid

Our secondary infertility story: Part 11 – A typical cycle on fertility medication.

This is part 11 of my secondary infertility experience. I’ve been documenting it throughout – since 2015. After we finally received the news that we are finally expecting a little one in early 2018, I feel ready to share the stories that I had kept inside for so long. I hope that they will help others to feel not so alone. I also hope to give family and friends some insight into what was happening at the time, as it was hard to talk about (or just seemed like a shit topic at social gatherings).

You can catch up on the first 10(!) instalments here: 

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 9
Part 10

I thought I would share with you what most of my 2016 was like. This was the year I commenced medicated cycles. They were supposed to help me ovulate really well and hopefully increase our chances of conceiving. This was probably the toughest time for us emotionally. I really struggled as I saw little to no progress. In fact, in hindsight, I realise that doing these drugs actually messed my cycles up more but I guess I just wanted so badly to believe that eventually it would work for us, saving us from IVF or other more invasive procedures.

I have already mentioned my first round on the medication Clomid and how that didn’t work out so well, but I thought I’d delve a little deeper into what a typical medicated month was like for me/us. I got used to the routine more or less, but now looking back, I realise just how full on it was. No wonder I felt like shit. No wonder I withdrew from the world a bit lot. No wonder it felt like crap when certain people decided that actively trying to be my friend and having my back throughout was too hard (now I see it as a blessing – I was set free and learned a lot about who I want to surround myself with). I spent a lot of the year depressed. Only I didn’t realise until I literally felt the fog lift off me on a random Monday morning, as I was driving out of a car park in town. I remember feeling a wave of lightness come over me. In an instant I realised what had been happening. I suddenly knew that how I felt in that car park was how I should have been feeling all along. My circumstances had not changed at that point, but luckily my mental health began to improve. The shit times were still utterly shit, but I was glad to be able to feel the good times again. To notice the sunshine. To feel happy when I was with my closest friends.

I guess I had been able to get through it – perhaps it was some kind of high functioning depression – because I had to stay strong and keep trying for my family. I had to look after my son while he got through his first year of school. The amount of times I stood at that classroom door at the end of the day, having received bad news or gone through yet more emotional upheavals, wanting to get home and cry my eyes out in private. The amount of times the most lovely school mums chit chatted and asked me, “How’s your day been?” and I just managed to squeak out, “Oh yeah, you know…alright! How was yours?” while trying to will the tears to stay inside and not escape. I wanted to make a good impression. I didn’t know anyone well enough to share the details of my life like that.

I now know that was not fucking normal. There’s normal sadness and tiredness from dealing with tough stuff and then there’s what I was going through. I probably should have got help if I’d actually been able to figure it out. I guess it just became so ‘normal’ to me that I accepted that I thought it was who I was now.

So here’s what a normal cycle on medication looked like for me…

Early on in my cycle (usually near the beginning of my period), I would take medication 5 days in a row. I took Clomid first, then was given Tamoxifen (a substitute when Clomid wasn’t so readily available due to some kind of supply shortage). Then I had one more Clomid cycle towards the end of the year before deciding to move onto more intense treatment (eventually IVF).

Day 8, I would have a blood test. I think it was to determine a baseline of sorts for my oestrogen and progesterone levels.

Day 10, I would go in and have a vaginal ultrasound. Yep. I had one of these every month. It was not pleasant. Especially when the doctor would more often than not tell me that nothing much was even happening in my ovaries and that my medication probably wasn’t helping so we’d have to up my dosage for next time. It felt like I had to endure that indignity for nothing time after time. It was tough because it felt like I was having to give up and start planning the next cycle before the current one was even finished. Brutal.

Day 21, I’d have a blood test to determine if I had indeed ovulated or not (it would be compared to my day 8 blood test results). My doc would often tell me I hadn’t but I suspected my cycles were just too long for the dates he had me tested a lot of the time. I never felt fully confident in these results. If I had ovulated in that time frame, I would retain a little hope.

Day 27, I would have to have a blood test to check if I was pregnant. This was particularly tough because I sometimes would have a super long cycle on the medication so I felt like it was probably way too early to tell if I was pregnant anyway. Other times I would spend the whole day just hoping I’d get a positive phone call but it never came. I’d have to wait ages before my period would arrive and it felt like hell. Some cycles it felt like I was getting the bad news 3 times over before they even finished. Once after the scan, once after the second blood test and another time after the negative pregnancy test. Actually, make it four. Because getting your period is the ultimate last nail in the coffin. Absolutely soul destroying.

PMS would arrive with a vengeance and I’d feel so defeated and angry. While some women would hold out hope that it could also be early signs of pregnancy (WHY DO PMS AND PREGNANCY SYMPTOMS HAVE TO BE SIMILAR), I had given up. I would try to find the positives but it was often a time of internal struggle.

I’d have a ridiculously heavy period, be house bound for a few days at a time (really difficult on the Little Mister’s school days etc) and try to start thinking forwards. Trying to find hope in the next cycle. Also, devouring chocolate and wine kind of helped too.

Then everything would start again and I’d never know exactly when each step would occur until my medication commenced each (increasingly erratic) cycle. That is why I probably seemed flaky and unreliable and maybe even uninterested in social events. I was stuck in a crazy time of my life where I felt like I couldn’t commit to anything ahead of time. I never knew what could be around the corner – more intense treatments/procedures, a possible pregnancy, important doctor’s appointments or even my period and a necessary time to just work through my sadness. It really got me down. To those who worked around me, who stood by me, I am so grateful and I will always remember your kindness even if to you it was no big deal (because that’s the kind of awesome person you probably are).

In hindsight, I probably should have got off the merry go round a lot quicker than I did. Stood up and said, hey, this medication is doing jack shit. I’m really struggling with my mental health and if we haven’t conceived or seen any dramatic difference in our circumstances then maybe it’s time to move on. See another doctor and look into IVF. I think I was just so beaten down by everything and scared and unsure that I procrastinated. At least I knew that by the time we made the big move, I was more than ready to do something different.

Please don’t think that these kinds of treatments won’t work for you just because they didn’t work for me. Many people have experienced positive outcomes from using these medications. I was just not one of them due to my own specific circumstances x

Our secondary infertility story: Part 8 – After the first round of Clomid

This post was written in March 2016 – after my first medicated cycle. Let’s just say it didn’t exactly go ‘to plan’. 

You can catch up on previous instalments of my story here…

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7

So…I was cautiously optimistic about starting Clomid during my last cycle. I didn’t expect it to help me become miraculously pregnant first time around, but I did hope that perhaps something promising would appear in my ultrasound. Something to tell me that I was going to ovulate up a storm etc.

I was nervous before my scan, but hopeful. I’d had a strong reaction to the Clomid. I’d been hilariously (and awkwardly) emotional all of a sudden while taking the tablets. I thought that must mean something was taking place in my body. I did notice that my already fairly heavy period became much heavier than it had ever been but I thought that any change in my body had to be good, because there’d been no changes whatsoever in the whole time we’d been trying for a baby, which had been discouraging. I felt like the time it was going to work, you’d think there’d be different symptoms throughout my cycle.

Nope. Turns out, things can probably get worse.

It turned out I had only one follicle on my left ovary and a 4cm cyst. A cyst that hadn’t been there when I started the search for better fertility a few months previous. There was a chance the Clomid caused it (i.e. the doctor couldn’t rule it out). Great. That thing I was hoping would make a difference seemed to be making more problems.

I was told the cyst would probably go away by itself but the doc would check on me before I was due another round of Clomid.

I went to this check hoping like hell the cyst would be gone. That I would be told I could try again. That even perhaps, I might be pregnant (I had an early blood test to check).

Nope. The cyst got a little smaller, but not enough. Now I have to go and have scans to see if it’s endometriosis/an endometrioma. In which case, I might have to have a procedure to have it removed. I was advised to not have Clomid again at this point (pending the next scan etc). That’s a cycle or two without help. It’s just me and Mr Unprepared, all alone in this again. While it’s not forever, it’s a setback. It’s tough. It’s disappointing.

I was really angry on the way home from my appointment. Frustrated. Pissed off that life is unfair. Scared that my body hates everything. Worried about the stress and what it will do to my body. I cried.

And then I went home and just tried to get on with life. I tried to remember the so called perks of not being pregnant or worrying that I might be. I could drink alcohol 100% guilt free. I would be able to exercise vigorously without even an inkling of doubt about whether I could be hurting/risking something (I then had in the back of my mind that I could rupture the cyst and be in all kinds of hell so I did end up being careful anyway). I could take all the ibuprofen I need for my period pains. Not be pissed off at the fact that I had to pretend like I might be pregnant for half of my life, when I knew deep down I wasn’t.

So now I will just try to relax until I am put into action again. It’s hard to see pictures of pregnant people in my Facebook feed or hear talk of little babies, but I am strong and I will get through this somehow.

Our secondary infertility story: Part 7 – Clomid

This was written in February 2016. It hadn’t been published yet as I just wasn’t ready. In hindsight I can see that I was clearly more hopeful than I let myself believe. I actually feel quite sad for the February 2016 me because I know she had a lot more to go through before any good news was to be received. This was the beginning of a really rough year. 

You can catch up on anything you may have missed here…

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6

In our continued efforts to get me knocked up (we’re hitting the 18 month mark of trying to conceive), I have just started a round of Clomid. It’s basically a medication that is supposed to help stimulate ovulation. I have to take 5 tablets (one each day for 5 days) early on in my cycle and then have scans and I guess the doc tells us what to do next. And by ‘what’, I mean we know ‘what’ to do haha – but he’ll probably advise us more on the ‘when’ etc. Saaaaaah romantic.

I’m nervous. Nervous it won’t work. Nervous about letting myself think that it might. I’m relieved we’re finally trying something definitive, instead of just doing seemingly endless exploratory tests (i.e. blood tests and intrusive look sees galore while not actually trying anything new). I also feel weirdly not fussed by it. Yes, it’s a weird mix of emotions that sound like they contradict each other, but trust me – it’s possible. The not fussed feeling is more that I have become somewhat accustomed to not getting pregnant month after month. It’s not that I don’t have moments where I take it hard, but I’ve pretty much stepped off the rollercoaster of hope vs disappointment. Now I just try to maintain a baseline if you know what I mean. Check in with me in a few weeks…I bet that baseline will be kaput. But I’m trying!

I’ve gone a bit quiet on the whole ‘sharing with people’ aspect of fertility for now. While it’s been so liberating and heartwarming to share our story with friends and family and to feel their support, it’s time to be a bit more shoosh about it a bit. It’s just what feels right for me at the moment. On the off chance that this medication works for us*, I don’t want people to immediately know when it’s happened (I’m still on the side of keeping things quiet for the first trimester – especially after our troubles conceiving) and I also don’t want people feeling like they’re waiting for the conclusion to a cliffhanger episode of their favourite tv show (I mean I am sure I am not as exciting as that but you know what I mean), counting down the exact dates I’m working with, before they find out which way things have gone. I don’t want that pressure! Eep!

People always have success stories to tell me about clomid. Which makes me feel good to hear, but I also know that life isn’t always ‘fair’ so I am reserving any excitement about it**. I hope I can be another success story, but everyone is different and I just want to be really realistic (read: play it totally cool haha).

To be continued…

*spoiler: it didn’t
**probably was a good idea in hindsight