This was post was one of those posts that sat in my drafts for a few months. But I really wanted to write down my infertility to pregnancy story, not only to share with others going through it but to have it for myself.
It took us two years and two fertility doctors to get pregnant. What I learned through my infertility timeline is you can see two doctors— and get two totally different opinions & two totally different plans of action. For me, those two years looked like this.
Hashimotos Thyroiditis Diagnosis-2017
One year after Blakely’s birth I was hit really hard with anxiety and panic attacks (learn ways to overcome this here). I knew I needed help ASAP so I went to see my doctor. I was diagnosed with Hashimotos Thyroiditis, which is you are new around here you can read more about it here. This is a big piece of the infertility puzzle but at the time I didn’t think or know how big its role would be in this story.
Trying For Baby #2– 2018
Struggling with infertility plus being a military spouse can make planning for kids very difficult. We knew my husband would be deployed in 2018 so we wanted to start trying in 2018 “hoping” to time it with the deployment. I should also tell you most of my life I had inconsistent periods, at one point I went without a period for 5 months. So most of my life I wasn’t sure how the whole getting pregnant thing would go. But after we randomly got pregnant with my first daughter (Blakely) during post-honeymoon bliss, I thought okay we don’t have a getting pregnant part it is just a timing thing. So for baby #2, I thought let’s just have lots of sex like the first time and it will happen. Well, deployment finally rolled around and no pregnancy. The time had come that we needed to see a fertility specialist.
#1 Fertility Consultation–Beginning of 2019
When my husband was deployed I thought let’s start the fertility process because I knew it could take some time. I found a doctor in Arizona that was pretty well known and started the process. From the initial visit, I was very disappointed with how it went. As I sat in his office and he wrote down my history– lack of periods, history of an eating disorder, a love of working out, pretty thin girl– he immediately stated “oh I believe you have Hypothalamic amenorrhea (Which basically develops when poor nutrition or stress alters your signaling to the brain to regulate the menstrual cycle. So you can see this in women that severely restricting their caloric intake, exercising more than two to three hours a day, or under major psychological stress).
I told him I truly don’t believe that that was it, yes I loved working out ( 1 hour 5-6 days a week) and in my 20’s struggled with disordered eating ( not now ), I had a feeling it was PCOS since my sister has it. He looked at me and said, look at you, look how thin you are that plays a part in this. But tests will confirm if I am right or now. Blah– seriously I left that appointment devastated. Thinking that my liking to work out and wanting to be healthy had ruined my chances of getting pregnant.
We then started all the fertility testing with doctor #1. Hormonal testing include TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) & prolactin levels, an ultrasound, testing for tubal and/or uterine anatomy with a hysterosalpingogram “HSG” (tubal dye test) which I had to do twice. Results came back with low TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) but everything else was okay. The HSG came back normal, the ultrasound showed a thick lining because I don’t have periods to shed it and more follicles than they would like to see. So the doctor said you are right, I can classify you as PCOS (Polycystic ovary syndrome).
The only plan I left with was to see an endocrinologist to adjust my TSH and thyroid levels. At that time my TSH was at .2 or .3 (can’t remember) and considered too low for him. I was also told to gain some weight and stop working out as much.
Post Deployment Bliss-2019
My husband returned at the end of April and I had my thyroid medication adjusted slightly. We returned back to San Diego and I knew I wanted to find a new fertility doctor. I felt that I didn’t mesh with my first doctor and needed a doctor with a better bedside manner. As I looked for a doctor in San Diego I started fertility acupuncture and cupping. I’ll be honest I didn’t any results with acupuncture and cupping except it provided stress relief.
Pregnancy #2/ Miscarriage #1- 2019
As of June 2019 I hadn’t found a fertility doctor just was taking my new dose of thyroid medication. I hadn’t had any symptoms of being pregnant but I had a random pregnancy test in my bathroom and thought “why not just take it”. Come to find out I was pregnant. Over the next couple of weeks, I started to experience nausea and some signs of pregnancy. I was blissfully happy, shocked that everything has just fallen into place so fast. At week 5 or 6 of my pregnancy, I started to feel not pregnant again. I don’t know how to describe it besides saying nausea went away and I was left with a really weird bloat. I immediately went to the doctor and that’s when we found out that the baby had stopped growing at 5 weeks and I was supposed to be 7 weeks along. I opted out of a D&C and took Cytotec (misoprostol) which is a medication that causes your cervix to dilate and your uterine lining to shed. I was super grateful that my doctor gave me some extra pain medication to help with the pain that came with the miscarriage.
Fertility Consultation #2–End of 2019
I gave my body & heart 4 months to recover before seeing another fertility doctor. I was really hesitant to start the process all over again. However, this time around this doctor and practice was the right fit. Dr. D was so different from the first doctor, which was exactly what I needed. This doctor was very organized and straight to the point. In our first meeting, he had created a plan based on my blood work which included starting my period with medication, another ultrasound, sperm analysis, and another endocrinologist meeting.
Meeting the Endocrinologist- Beginning of 2020
After my husband’s tests, all came back normal I was set on figuring out my side of the puzzle. So I met with an endocrinologist focusing on lowering my TSH. Originally, I told you my TSH was around .2-.3 which I was told was too low. So they adjusted my medication dosage which spiked my TSH to 3.5. My fertility doctor said with a TSH like this I wouldn’t have been able to carry a baby and in order to get pregnant, I had to lower it. The endocrinologist told me the same thing, carrying a baby with my TSH at 3.5 just wouldn’t happen, that I need my TSH to be around 1.0. He switched from Armour thyroid to Synthroid and slowly my TSH dropped from 3.5 to 2.5.
My TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone) was around 2.5 in February and my doctor told me don’t try to get pregnant until we get it to 1.0. Well, of course, we had one whoopsie and a few weeks later after being very nauseous, I took a pregnancy test. The test came back positive. I was definitely filled with a lot of fear and urgency to see my doctors. I knew my thyroid levels weren’t exactly where they needed to be, so I went back to an endocrinologist and he immediately adjusted my medication. Within a week or two we had my TSH down to 1.0 and I felt that I could finally breathe. All my hormone levels were within the good range, so we just prayed that the pregnancy would stick.
Now 5 months into this pregnancy I can tell you it has been very different from my miscarriage pregnancy. From the start of this pregnancy, I’ve had major nausea and I didn’t get strange bloat in my stomach just a gradual progression to my bump. I’ll share a couple of things I learned through my infertility to pregnancy journey ( yes, it was a journey).
- The first infertility doctor is not always the right infertility doctor for you. Infertility/pregnancy puts you in a very vulnerable state. It’s easy to feel locked into one doctor after sharing so much of your story with them and starting testing. But if you don’t get a good feeling or feel like there is no plan of action I suggest getting a second opinion.
- All testing is necessary to get full of pictures. When I started the infertility journey I felt overwhelmed with all the testing that had to be done. But in the end, it was the testing the pointed us to my thyroid being the culprit for not conceiving and then eventually miscarrying.
- Once you get established at your fertility doctor it STILL takes time. From the time we met with our new fertility doctor to get pregnant, it took 4-5 months. And per my doctor, that was a VERY fast transition but of course very exciting.
- Trust in God and the Process. This one was super hard for me. I had to tell myself that there is a plan and God is in control of it. Always holding on to my faith and my family helped me navigate a very unsettling part of my life. “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand Isaiah 41:10 NIV
Thank you for showing me so much love as I went through that rough time. Hearing from so many of you really gave me hope for what was to come.
+ Reach out to me on instagram if you want to chat about infertility or miscarriages. Or maybe you just have some questions and want to chat– I’m always here!