Hello! Welcome back! It’s been a while.
In all honesty, I’d sort of hoped to never see you again. This blog was a great catharsis to me when enduring the ups and downs of trying to conceive our first child, Toby, who is now fast approaching 2 years old, but I’m told the second time round can be much easier for women like me – women with Poly Cystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). So I didn’t think I’d feel the need to blog when the time came to try for baby number two.
However, things have recently taken a turn and I feel the need to begin writing again. We have heard from so many people who read this blog and were comforted or impacted by it in some way. It really was an honour to have played a small part in the journeys those people have travelled. So perhaps this time around it’ll have a similar effect? Perhaps no one will really care because, hey, we’ve got a kid already so what am I whinging about? Or perhaps it’ll just remain what it was always intended to be – a place for me to process my thoughts and feelings, and way cheaper than therapy.
So, there is some catching up to do.
Toby is fantastic. We love him so much, and are so blessed to be his parents. The first two years have had their natural highs and lows, but overall we quite like this parenting malarkey. And thus in January 2016 we decided to begin trying for a little Walker sibling. Aware that it could be a drawn out process as before (1.5years of fertility treatment in total), we thought starting when Toby was 14 months old would give us some lead time to achieve the standard 2-3yr age gap that seems so in fashion. So off we went to the GP, who prescribed Metformin as before (the drug that lowers insulin levels which helps balance out sex hormones that have gone awry in PCOS), and referred us to the Royal United Hospital Bath, back to our lovely consultant, Mr Walker.
In March, we saw Mr Walker for a quick 5 min appointment. While Toby tore around the consultation room, trying to climb into bins and under chairs, I was warned of the associated risks of taking Clomid for too long, having previously been on it (the drug that makes ovulation happen – something I’m not doing naturally). The increased risk of ovarian cancer is apparently negated by the fact that I’ve had a baby (babies are pretty carcinoprotective!), and so Mr walker was happy to prescribe me some more Clomid to begin at a dose of 100mg. Those with a good memory will recall that previously we started on 50mg and worked up, over the course of 1.5 years, to 200mg – the final baby-making dose that worked for us. We didn’t go right back to the beginning this time, but as my periods had started by themselves when Toby was 9 months old, and had been relatively regular, we were hopeful that a lower dose might work this time. After all, there are many stories of people who struggled for baby #1 and tripped and fell pregnant with #2, right? In fact, I know someone for whom that was true. Having a baby can often “sort out” the PCOS issues and natural conception the second time round is quite common.
So, we were hopeful. Each month, with blood tests (yippie!) made all the more awkward by the presence of a squawking Toby nearby, we awaited the results and got on with life. With a toddler you have no choice. No time for reflection or daydreaming. As it had taken the maximum dose last time to get pregnant, we weren’t worried as the tests came back negative – no ovulation. The drugs weren’t working again, but we hadn’t got to the maximum dose yet.
Then we got to the maximum dose. And the drugs seemed to work! Yippie! 200mg of Clomid, and I got a progesterone level of 29.1ng/ml (yes, I know the units now), that indicated ovulation had finally happened. Half-hearted attempts at hitting the right day for getting jiggy suddenly turned into a military operation, and we were off!
So this month, our second at the highest dose, held some hope. I had the blood tests (2 in fact, to make sure we got the day right), and the results were in: I haven’t ovulated.
I was shocked and disappointed. I just hadn’t been expecting this. After all, the second one is supposed to be easier, right? For lots of people it can be easier? Or at least the same hardness as before?
Our consultant has today informed me that the next step is to have injections of FSH (Follicle-Stimulating Hormone) to try to chemically induce ovulation. But, and I quote, “The main risk is over responding and releasing too many eggs – so ultrasound scanning to monitor your cycle is essential. Unfortunately this treatment is not covered on the NHS – the drugs and monitoring can be up to £1000 per cycle.”
I had also asked if he knew why the Clomid might not be working this time around:
“The reason is questionable but generally women’s threshold to ovulate on Clomid can vary from month to month and slight fluctuations in weight can have quite a difference.”
Ah. And therein lay my fear, and the stick I’m now beating myself with. I am currently 1 stone 9lbs heavier than when we conceived with Toby. It’s my fault.
I know this last statement isn’t strictly true for a few reasons, but on the whole, I am responsible for how much and exactly what I eat. I am trying to lose weight (something that is tough with PCOS as your body chemistry is working against you), but ultimately I can’t help but feel that the consequence of my gluttony is this new level of infertility not previously reached. And that hurts. A lot.
So this month, as we wait for my period to come or not, we are now looking to make an appointment to visit Mr Walker again, cash in hand, to start a whole new, previously unexplored road for us. We were very blessed not to have travelled it last time. Toby’s arrival was relatively straightforward by comparison.
This time around there are new pressures, less time for wallowing, crying, blogging, more emotional demands on us than simply the desire for a baby – this time around we have Toby to think of too. Entering the “terrible twos” we have tantrums, potty training, exploring, car brumming, and all manner of other things to navigate, as well as this journey. It might mean that I’ll blog less frequently than before, but for anyone who is interested to keep up with developments and/or pray for us, I’ll try my best to keep this blog going. For my own sanity more than anything.
Also, please follow me on Twitter for micro-blogging updates – when 140 characters is all I have time to write! (@CurlyLauraWalk)
Here we go again…
(P.S. Few pictures in this post as I’m having issues with WordPress. I’d like to reassure you my posts are not normally just huge blocks of text, and I’ll pretty it up when the problem is fixed.)