Like many women, I spent my 20s and 30s being single and focusing on my career. I was livin’ the dream – I ran marathons, did volunteer work, enjoyed exotic travels, had a busy social calendar, and reveled in being a single, independent career gal. Settling down and having a family was the last thing on my mind.
Of course, later I married, “settled down” and decided to start my family. I got pregnant in the spring, a few weeks before my 42nd birthday, the second month after we “officially” started trying. I was ecstatic, but at my first appointment with the obstetrician, the embryo was too small on the ultrasound and there was no heartbeat. I’d suffered an all-too-common missed miscarriage. I was devastated. I had a D/C and decided that we needed the help of a fertility specialist to try again.
It was like getting punched in the stomach when I got my results from fertility testing in the summer–
- Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) : 16.4 (“normal” is below 10)
- Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH): 0.15 (for a woman over 40, a “good” result is anything over 1.0)
- Antral Follicle Count of 5 (“normal/good” is in the 12-15 range)
- I was diagnosed with Diminished Ovarian Reserve, which is a fancy way of saying I didn’t have a stockpile of eggs left. My AMH result alone determined that my egg supply was “undetectable.”
My doctor said that I had less than a 2% chance of successfully getting pregnant with my own eggs and suggested that we go straight to In Vitro Fertilization using donor eggs.
I was 42 and felt like a broken failure.
In the fall, we started fertility treatments.
Even though the doctor had said our chances were very low, we did Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) because I didn’t want to undergo invasive procedures.
My first IUI cycle gave me a positive pregnancy test, and once again, the euphoria was short-lived as I suffered another early miscarriage. The following cycle was unsuccessful. The cycle after that was cancelled because I had cysts and raging hormone levels. When that happened I felt like my body was breaking down so much that I couldn’t even do fertility treatments.
I felt like a failure as a woman because I couldn’t do the one thing that women were supposed to do. I started avoiding my friends with children because it was too hard to stick out as the childless one. I regretted not settling down when I was younger when having a family might have been easier. Despite not being overly religious, every night at bedtime
I made bargains with God about all the other things I would give up or not do anymore if He would just let me have a baby.
When the World Says, “Give Up”,
But Hope Whispers, “Try It One More Time.”
After my cancelled cycle I didn’t do fertility treatments for a few months. Instead I focused on myself. I took my feelings of devastation and hopelessness and channeled it into action. I incorporated more fruits and vegetables and whole foods into my diet. I faithfully kept up my yoga practice. I monitored my menstrual cycles by charting my basal body temperature every day and tuning in to my body. I researched holistic remedies that could give me an edge in getting pregnant.
To deal with my feelings of regret, I journaled every day, focusing on the things that I was grateful for rather than the one thing I didn’t have and desperately wanted. I took up meditation and focused on setting an intention.
In the winter my husband and I escaped the cold and snow and went on vacation to Puerto Rico. We talked a lot while we were there about the options before us – donor egg IVF, surrogacy, adoption. We decided we’d try one final IUI cycle before exploring other options, which we began shortly after our vacation.
What followed in the spring was a positive pregnancy test, three weeks before my 43rd birthday, a completely normal and uneventful pregnancy, and the birth of my son Charlie the following December.
My ride on the fertility roller coaster was just a year, but what a year of intense ups and downs. The immense pain coupled with expansive self-discovery was incredibly powerful.
And now, not only do I have a child, I am a healthier woman with a new lease on life. I’ve also earned certifications that allow me to share with you my insights, tips and strategies for trying to conceive.
- Certified Fertility Counselor with Joyful Wellness Services
- Certified Holistic Health Coach with Institute of Integrative Nutrition