PERSONAL JOURNEY POST
I had three children with my first husband. Super easy BFPs! Way back then, I didn’t know acronyms like that existed. In case you don’t know, “BFP” means Big Fat Positive (pregnancy test). At that time, “way back then” so we’ve established, I didn’t need help or emotional support while trying to conceive (TTC). I got pregnant on the first try each time (Even before the first try! 🤦🏻♀️) Needless to say, I spent my life ignorant to fertility issues because I hadn’t experienced any… yet. It’s true, you don’t know what you don’t know.
I did have a DVT/PE after delivering my second son via cesarean. My OB told me his “professional opinion” was that I shouldn’t put myself in a “hyper-coagulative state again”, such as during pregnancy. It was hard being 25 years old and hearing that you shouldn’t have anymore children. It was really hard because I wanted a fourth child. After the cesarean, while my first husband and I were still in the hospital, I knew I wanted another child. I had a strong feeling that I was surely going to do it again. Yeah, maybe it was the oxytocin pumping through my body, lol! So in a way, I was “infertile” in my mind because I followed the doctors suggestion like it was written in stone. I was extremely overweight at that time and I am sure that played into his decision. I found out many years later that tons of women take lovenox during pregnancy and manage clotting issues just fine. I didn’t even have a clotting issue! I had a “situational” clot, meaning many factors came together and it happened. I was just super fat, pregnant, not moving and had major surgery!
Fast forward over a decade! I lost over 100 pounds by myself, working hard for it! I had gotten divorced. I was planning on living free in my 40s! I graduated with a couple masters degrees, and I was burning candles on all ends as a single mom to three teenagers when I met my forever husband. I was the woman who would say “thank god I am not having anymore kids” and I meant it! I couldn’t imagine having another baby at that point in my life! However, you know how it goes… my husband didn’t have children and he was not shy in letting his dreams of having babies be known, lol.
Once I put my mind to something, oh Jesus take the wheel for YOU! That’s correct because I’ll be doing great diving head-first and becoming completely engulfed in said-something! Obsessive much? Yep, that’s how you get stuff done! My husband wanted children, sure, but he didn’t put pressure on me to have them. Knowing, from my own experience, what he’d be living without… I was like, “WTF let’s do this!” I knew I’d have to be on lovenox the entire pregnancy, but I could do that! Right!?
I was the woman who was afraid of becoming pregnant with an IUD. I was just so darn fertile! When my dear husband (DH) and I officially started trying, I was sure I would be pregnant the first month, like absolutely positive!
I was 39 when we started trying to conceive. My DH was happy to tell people in his family, but I didn’t want anyone to know. I couldn’t face the judgement that I thought I would receive. I didn’t want my kids to know because they weren’t ready to hear that monumental news at the time. I felt super uncomfortable with anyone but my very closest friends knowing. This is not uncommon, unfortunately. I say unfortunately because if you’re like me, and a lot of other women who seek out information and support online, you probably understand that a lot of horrible crap can happen while you are ttc. If you have kept it all in the dark, it means your losses are in the dark as well. It is a lonely road.
Back to my story, I came across some information about Soy Isoflavones (ISO) before I even thought about ttc. I was researching whether you could push your ovulation date forward or backward by a couple of days. I was going on a vacation and my period was due to arrive, need I say more. Apparently, Soy Iso can push your ovulation out or bring it forward by a couple of days, sometimes. It’s not something you can count on and if you ovulate regularly, please don’t go trying to change the day of your ovulation with soy. Go to an RE and get monitored using real meds.
Soy has been called “Nature’s Clomid” because it can mimic the effects of Clomid. Clomid “is an oral medication that induces ovulation by blocking estrogen receptors. This artificial anti-estrogen effect makes your body believe that estrogen levels are low, which stimulates the production of more follicle stimulating hormone (FSH)” (University of California San Francisco). Clomid usually produces more than one egg, though, at the higher dosages (100mg and 150mg). I honestly don’t think women using soy are getting multiple follicles. I do believe it is just enough to force ovulation in a lot of women suffering from PCOS. I linked the exact brand I would buy:
After two months went by and I still wasn’t pregnant, I immediately sounded the alarms! Lol… Hello pomegranate juice and flax seed, progesterone cream and oh yes I remembered soy isoflavones! I took the ISO pretty much every single cycle for one year. I guess I thought I might have been getting more than one egg from it and didn’t know either way so I kept taking it. If you read that thread, it mentions how to take soy for inducing ovulation or to make your ovulation “stronger”.
– Do not take any supplements or medications without consulting your doctor. Do not read something here and then run off and do it without talking to your OB. Having said that, I have to be honest, I didn’t discuss anything with my OB. Hell, I hadn’t even needed an OB since my cesarean about fourteen years prior. I did not feel comfortable, what-so-ever, discussing trying to conceive with my general practitioners because I was 39 years old! Plus, at 25 my OB had told me not to get pregnant again! Uhhh, that’s a big no way was I going to the doctor’s office just to be made to feel like absolute garbage.
The months went by… I swear the beaming white negatives didn’t get easier to see. They were stark reminders of what wasn’t achieved. Your basal body temperature (BBT) is higher after you ovulate so taking BBT in the morning is a great way to confirm that ovulation has already occurred. Even if only slight, there is always a temp rise after a healthy ovulation, followed by a temp drop back down just before AF (Doom Drop). In fact, I started to know if my cycle was a bust by my BBT. I would get the dreaded doom drop and I knew I was out so why waste the money on tests? I stopped testing altogether for many months.
I started doing something new every other cycle it seemed. I worked my way up to about 200mg of soy ISO taken on CD2-6. To possibly get more than one egg, you are supposed to take soy CD2 – CD6 so thats what I usually did. (I did not come up with this dosing, I read it online. There are various sites that talk about Soy ISO. Talk to your doctor before taking any medications).
I always had a positive ovulation prediction kit (OPK) followed by a temp rise. My goal was two eggs, that’s why I took it CD2 – CD6. Instead of starting later. I did have a couple ultrasounds during that first year and I never had any evidence (corpus luteums) of more than one follicle..
April, 2019, about ten months in, I had a hemorrhagic cyst. I went to see my GP who did not know I was TTC nor did I want him to know. I didn’t want anyone in the practice to know I was trying! The ultrasound came back showing that I had that cyst and also “suspected adenomyosis“. This is where your lining grows into the wall of the uterus. Think of the wall of your house (pick a wall between two rooms) and imagine the insulation on the inside of the wall as the muscle of your uterus. The wall closest to you is your endometrial layer, where the baby’s placenta attaches – like a painting on the wall. The placenta and gestational sac NEVER grow past the wall and into the insulation (well, lets not say never.. stay tuned for that shit storm!).
Adenomyosis (Adeno) and Endometriosis are like sisters. Adeno can present itself as tiny speckles of tissue throughout your myometrium called focal adenomyosis. It is just like endometriosis in that it is endometrial tissue and is estrogen dependent, but endometriosis is found outside the uterus, whereas adenomyosis is found inside the musculature of the uterus – the insulation. It can also show up as larger masses. My GP referred me to an OB due to my cramping and diarrhea and severe lower back pain before my period starts. All I could think about was how this was my ticket in to see an OB and they can prescribe Clomid!! 🙂
I went back to my old OBs practice. I found out that he still worked there part time only seeing patients in-office. I hadn’t been back there since he told me I shouldn’t have anymore children. I felt a lot of emotions while I was there.
My new OB, Dr. P, came into the room and I proceeded to tell him about the horrible back pain and diarrhea and that the report showed possible adenomyosis. I mentioned that I suspected I had endo. He said that the only thing to really cure adeno and even severe endometriosis is to do a hysterectomy. Okay…. slow down horsey!!! This isn’t going in the direction I had planned!
I explained that I was ttc and hinted at getting a laparoscopy and Clomid because I had been trying for a year with no success. I’m sure he thought I was nuts. First time meeting, very overweight again (long story, but basically I stopped eating low carb and working out 5x a week because I thought it might be hurting my chances at getting pregnant and within 6 months I had gained 75 lbs back. Devastated much? Yes, I was), two months to 40 years old…. He said he was not comfortable prescribing medicine to me that could cause hyperovulation since I had a previous blood clot (but Clomid doesn’t raise your freaking estrogen, pal, and estrogen is what causes clots!). He said there was a test I could take that would let me know if it was possible for me to conceive. Take that at face value!
In other words, he was not interested in helping me conceive, or in doing a LAP and I’m not sure why about the latter… I legitimately had incapacitating lower back pain and I believed I might have endo somewhere down there. Instead, he gave me the order to get my anti mullein hormone (AMH) measured. Doctors use AMH as a guide to let you know your chances of conceiving and that isn’t how you figure that out accurately. So many women have been given the diagnosis of diminished ovarian reserve (DOR) with very low AMH and have been told that their chances of conceiving are like 1%, or 5%, or some other horrible, painful statistic. At the time I got mine tested, I didn’t realize how ignorant the medical community is about AMH. Far too many professionals spout out complete falsities about AMH and what it represents. Simply put: “AMH doesn’t predict natural fertility in any accurate manner … However, if you’re undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF)… AMH can be used to predict the number of eggs you may produce as well as the dosage of medication to stimulate egg production.” (Sara L.). Bottom line, if your AMH is low, don’t fret unless you are doing IVF, then you can fret.
I thought about it, and after discussing it with my DH, I didn’t want to know what my magic number was. In the end, we would still try regardless. I was still crushed by the possible adeno. I’d love to hear from women out there who were able to conceive with adenomyosis. I know some of the protocols are insane.
Sometime around this point, I added preseed and softcups into my ttc regime. Older women can get a little Serangeti Summer up there! Honestly, I have the opposite problem and most older women probably do have enough CM way up there, but how can we be sure it’s conducive to sperm travel!! Right? After researching lubes, Preseed seemed the least dangerous to sperm. Make sure to subscribe and keep your eyes peeled for my post all about fertile CM!
The softcups, or mentstrual cups, are for your period, but I used the menstrual cups after sex to keep the sperm in contact with my cervix. I guess its similar to the pillows under the hip method (yes, did that as well). The idea is that the important stuff won’t run south when you go about your day. My thoughts are if you just have it in place for an hour and then remove it then it might give you a minuscule advantage, if your significant other’s (SO) sperm isn’t great. If your SO sperm is good, then honestly your issue is bigger than a softcup. They actually bothered me. I’m not sure it is healthy to keep the… uhhh… magical package in an enclosed contraption for an extended amount of time. I think it could be bad for PH or something… I’m not sure on that.
It soon became a year of TTC and I started to wonder if I was trying my hardest every, single month – timing sex, peeing on sticks half the month, taking my BBT every dang morning!!!!!!, swallowing dozens of pills a day, getting my husband on supplements (Lord, help me!) – and it was all for nothing!? I started to be concerned that my DH might have less than desirable sperm. So that pushed me to go the the Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE) to get a few tests done.. maybe inquire about a few things.
We met with one of two REs in my town. She said she would like to see what my AMH was and also get an antral follicle count (AFC). Antral follicles are the follicles that are recruited to grow before the first day of your period, before one egg is selected to be dominant. Antrals are the follicles that they will grow during IVF. You can only grow as many follicles as you have, and as you age and get decreased ovarian reserve (DOR), you get less eggs recruited every cycle. When you once might have had 22 eggs per cycle you now have maybe 6.. 9? 2! This is one of the reasons why older women often fail hard at IVF: less eggs available to retrieve and those that are retrieved have a much higher chance of being genetically abnormal. Shit deal.
The RE wanted her older patients to have an AFC of about ten in order for them to have a chance of success with IVF; however, we had absolutely no intention of even thinking about IVF. Sorry doc! My AFC was eight on that particular cycle and my AMH turned out to be 0.44 which means I had decreased ovarian reserve (DOR), not something you think you’re going to hear the month you turn 40! So overall I thought I’d never conceive, lol. The average AMH for a healthy 40 year old woman is around 1.0. To see it less than that is not a shock, but at this time, I didn’t know this.
I went home and scoured the internet for all sorts of success stories with low AMH. I sobbed and sobbed about how I would never have a baby with my husband, and about how life is so unfair, and it was just horrible news to get after a year. Did I know that all that crying was just a waste of my precious energy? Nope, but it was 🙂
Realistically, your AMH correlates to how many follicles you have in your ovaries that cycle. It can fluctuate from cycle to cycle! For example, let’s say you have three follicles one month with an AMH of 0.2, the next cycle you could have 6 follicles and an AMH of 0.5!
– If your AMH is around 1.0, you will have a much better shot at IVF. If you aren’t doing IVF, then it doesn’t matter 🙂 I’ve seen women conceive with AMH of 0.1, yeah that’s right, and even less. If anyone out there just got a low AMH level or DOR diagnosis, don’t worry. You can still get pregnant!
My husband’s sperm turned out wonderful, thank god. That left my parts as the problem… what if my tubes were blocked or I had other physical issues? More thoughts.. none of which were positive. I decided to get a hysterosalpingography done at the same REs office. Basically, they push dye through your uterus as they take x-rays. The dye is supposed to spill out of your fallopian tubes easily, which you can see on the xrays. You can watch a video explaining how it is done HERE.
Wow… that test hurt. My left side hurt considerably more than my right. It was very uncomfortable. It took them about five minutes of trying and I honestly believe she was using a bit too much force. Finally my left side started flowing for the love of God! I honestly believe that they unblocked my left tube by the force and that is what caused the pain. Everything looked good, though. I had my 2cmx2cm fibroid still in the same spot for 10 years, unchanged. It is in the myometrium and down in the lower uterine segment. It causes no real issues.
What next? Well, I know the RE would have liked me to do IVF, but for over $20,000 cash, no thank you. The HSG is supposed to increase your chances of pregnancy by a little bit for a few cycles after the test is performed. Who knows exactly why, but I prayed and charted and tested.. nothing, nothing and nothing! We always had great coverage as well. The only thing that was consistently off was my light periods. Everything seemed “normal”.
By the one year mark, I was taking the following supplements: – I linked a few of the exact brands I purchased:
- 20mg of PQQ
- 50mg of D-Chiro Inositol
- 600mg Resveratrol
- 2500mg of turmeric
- 2000mg of Myo Inositol
- 3mg of Melatonin
- 1000mg Folate (Methylfolate)
- 5,000 IU Vit D
- Prenatal with iron and DHA
- 150mg EPA
- 5000mg blueberry extract
- 250mg milk thistle
- 300mg Pycnogenol
- 50mg Zinc
- 520IU Vitamin E
- 400mg Magnesium
- 100mcg Selenium
I believe it was September, 2019, when I did just a few things differently…
1) I had already been using Smokey Mountain Progesterone Cream in my luteal phase, but this particular cycle I added estrogen cream at the very end of my luteal phase. I think I used it for a few days just right before my period started. I guess you could say it was a mini estrogen prime (EPP). Estrogen priming is when you take estrogen for the last seven days of your luteal phase (“priming” for next cycle). Estrogen keeps your FSH down and prevents it from prematurely rising (early recruitment). We want FSH down at this time! I recommend EPP for any women who ovulates before CD13 and for women who get one or two lead follicles every month. A lead follicle would be one that is, for example, 12mm on CD3 while the rest of your follicles are all around 5mm.
Estrogen priming is usually done with 4mg of estrogen suppositories daily for seven days. I didn’t do that. I just experimented a tiny bit with some estrogen cream that is likely very low dose. Don’t take my word for it, but I’ve used all types of estrogen and it seems OTC cream form is the very weakest!
2) I had recently read about women going on short protocols of antibiotics to help implantation. Some women have bacteria/chronic inflammation in the lining of their uterus, called endometritis. It can cause infertility until it is cleared up, and it can cause permanent infertility in severe situations. I didn’t have the means of getting antibiotics nor did I want to take them, but I did wonder if I had this issue.
I had cervicitis two times before we decided to ttc. I had never, still haven’t, had an STD but of course they tested each time for any diseases. From what the doctor could tell, my cervix was inflamed and that was about it. Enough to need antibiotics as a percaution. Same situation a year later during the second episode of cervicitis (again, both times before starting ttc). It is not comfortable. I had never had any previous issues like that, but I started getting worried about what the IUD was doing to me :/ Has anyone experienced infections or chronic inflammation from their IUD?
My mom had used sovereign silver (colloidal silver) for pretty much everything under the sun and it came to mind. It is a natural antibiotic that’s been used for millennia. Some people swear by it and it is fairly safe in conservative doses for a short amount of time. I started taking 2 tablespoons every day.
3) I decided to use soy ISO differently in an attempt to postpone ovulation by a few days. I consistently ovulated on CD11, as far as I could tell, and I started thinking that my eggs weren’t growing for long enough. So I started soy on CD5 that particular cycle instead of CD2 like I normally did (I started cd2 in order to possibly get two eggs). My thinking behind this? While you are on Clomid, your body believes it is low on Estrogen, therefore your FSH is free to rise and follicles will grow. Estrogen will be able to have its way with your uterus after you finish your last dose of Clomid. Your estrogen surge will then trigger your leutienizing hormone (LH) surge which in turn ruptures your follicle! A chain of miraculous events.
Recall that soy iso is supposed to mimic Clomid, and I do believe it does on a minimal scale. Since I ovulated early, on or off soy, I figured if I started ISO on CD 5 and took it through CD 9 (5 days) that maybe my estrogen wouldn’t be able to take control soon enough to make me ovulate on CD 11, like always. I ended up getting a positive OPK at night on CD11, lol. That was about 24 hours later than normal so I’ll take it! Maybe soy can push your ovulation out by a day.. We had great coverage that cycle, too. Again in the two week wait (TWW).
It was October, 2019, and at this point my grandma had developed dementia. I was her caregiver part time so my mom could get a tiny bit of distance from the house. Grandma slept very little at night and got a bit cooky in the morning (my poor mom slept on the couch for god knows how many months). My grandma was always saying off-the-wall things lol! One day she said to me, “That baby was the cutest baby I’d ever seen. It has the prettiest dark hair all over its head. I know it has that dark hair because of you” I just said “oh yeah grandma, that’s nice” I tried not to encourage the crazy, but I was like whaaaaaaaaaaaaat? Remember, NO ONE KNOWS we are trying. Later that afternoon, as we were driving to her appointment, she saw a lady driving next to us and she said, “that’s the lady that watches your baby, that cute baby with the dark hair.” I said “my baby?” She said, “yeah, mm hmm” … again I tried not to spur her on, lol. My three children from my first marriage all got blue eyes and light brown or dark blonde hair. It was sweet to think of having one that was dark haired and brown eyed like me. It was a bit bonkers that my cray cray granny was telling me I have a dark-haired BABY!
So, I mentioned that I hated testing because of the sheer amount of stress it causes. I seriously hated it, I would get my flashlight out and shine it from all different directions (you ladies feel me, right?!). I’d go to a window with natural light, I’d go outside, I’d take pictures with the flash, without the flash, upside down with war paint on… always negative. I would tweak them, I can tweak me a nice line!… negative.
When I did test, I loved using Pregmates. I could pick up an HCG of 2 with those, yes 2 (same as FRER). You can burn through a dozen OPKs every cycle and lord knows how many pregnancy tests so you have to buy cheap!
I had a few gal pals I had made online and they encouraged me to test around 10 days past ovulation (DPO). A BFP can definitely show at 10dpo, but I was sick to even think of testing. I did have a few little symptoms, though… just sore breasts and a pinching in my uterus around 6dpo. I snapped this pic just before testing that cycle 🙂
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