Lucky IUI #7, inseminated on 9/9 (my lucky number) was not so lucky after all. My wife felt a lot of pregnancy symptoms: what appeared to be implantation cramping, nausea, exhaustion, etc. But the tests remained a stark white negative from 11DPO through 14DPO. Her period showed up just one day late, likely due to the progesterone.
This one was a blow, because everything seemed SO perfect. Two great follicles, an incredibly healthy vial of sperm, a thick lining, seemingly perfect timing, etc. We both had to work hard to get our heads around the idea that it had not worked, because I think we both convinced ourselves that it MUST work. A little bit of salt in the wound is that this was the last cycle that would give us 2-year spacing with the kids (our ideal).
My wife is struggling. She is feeling defeated, sad, frustrated, depressed. It’s really hard. She has done everything right. But, as so many people here know, this appears to be a game where effort and merit are not rewarded, but rather, luck and chance win the day.
We originally anticipated heading straight into IVF, but it is clear that my wife is just not quite ready for that. She needs a break, and that’s okay. She needs to find herself again, step back from all the vitamins, hormones, supplements, decaf coffee, moderate exercise, and charting. This is a familiar place for many – it’s so easy to be all-consumed by this project, one of the most important and monumental projects that many undertake. She is an elite endurance athlete, and it has been slowly killing her to be sitting on the sidelines. She wants to race (triathlon) and she had anticipated having crossed the birthing item off her life to-do list when she returned to the start line. Like so many of us have learned, there is often no point in setting concrete plans when it comes to parenting…you can plan and anticipate all you want, but the reality may be something totally out of your control. In good news, she’s only 30, so time is on her side.
Another task on her to-do list is getting more information about her thyroid. She’s been on Levothyroxine throughout this journey, after the RE found her TSH elevated. Not by much, but enough that they wanted it lowered. We’d like to get to the bottom of that problem, and not rely on the band-aid fix of a pill. We will likely check in with a naturopathic doctor to run some more tests and get some more information. If we could iron out that problem, we might feel a little more confident heading into IVF.
Lastly, but not of little importance: money. We are attempting to choose a more responsible route and save some money for IVF before the procedure rather than take a loan for the bulk of it now and pay that off with interest. If push came to shove, either would work, but it seems like a better idea to get ahead of the cost rather than play catch-up with 2+ little kids at home.
She has said she wants me to try again. This brings a flood of emotions to my heart and mind, many of which I cannot burden her with at this time. On one hand, I’m thrilled at the prospect of bearing another child. I have always hoped (known?) that I would have one more opportunity. I’m 35 now, and my blood work in the past has indicated that I’m still fertile. We have three remaining vials of our daughter’s donor, and it would be wonderful to have a sibling with one of those.
On the other hand, my stomach immediately tenses at the prospect of weaning my baby. She is 15 months. I know it’s fine. I know that this is far longer than vast majority of women breastfeed. I know she’s getting her nutrition from solids. I know that my daughter and I will connect in other ways. It’s just…
I love nursing her. Mostly, because she loves it. It is SO clearly apparent how much comfort and security she gets from curling into me, pinching my skin and patting my boob, deepening her breathing, eventually falling asleep against me or with her back to me, secure in the knowledge that her nipple is there for her should she stir. My heart aches at the thought of taking that from her before she is ready.
I am having regular cycles. Despite EBF, I had an obviously-anovulatory cycle just 8 weeks post-partum. Then I had another at 6 months. Since then I’ve had a handful of cycles, and the last three have been around 35 days long. I’ve always had long-ish cycles, so 35 isn’t totally outside my normal realm. I’m pretty sure I’m ovulating. I get EWCM at around the right time, and I “feel” like my hormones are swinging in that direction. However, our clinic won’t do an IUI while I’m lactating. I have a call in to the doctor to ask whether they would do an IUI if my prolactin levels are normal and if I’m only nursing once a day. The nurse was pretty sure the answer is no, because they require that you wean three months before an IUI, but she’s asking for me.
On top of that, I’ll probably need CD3 bloodwork and possibly a pap (I think I’m just due). I may also ask for the HSG, because it’s free and it can obviously rule out a lot. Another thing that has to happen (per our clinic) is that we’d need to have our communicable disease testing re-done. For a third time. We just got “re-upped” 9 months ago when we started trying for number two. And now we’d need to re-test again, since we’re switching back to me. It’s infuriating, but I’ve learned just to turn the other cheek.
What this means for me is that I am going to spend the next two weeks night weaning the baby, hanging on to the 3:00 p.m. pick-up nursing and bed-time nursing (just two a day) for now. We’ll see if that lowers my prolactin enough to shorten my cycle and ensure I’m ovulating. I may spend next cycle crossing off the above tests, and we could potentially try an IUI in the November or December cycle. If it needs to be January, I can live with that (October baby?).
In an ideal world, if I can put my wish out into the universe, I would be able to get pregnant in December or January and continue nursing once a day (bedtime) until my daughter turns 2 in June. At that point, I would commit to fully weaning her (if she had not self-weaned already) and prepare for a baby to start nursing in the 4,5,6 months after that. In a slightly frustrating way, if we had the luxury of being hetero, that would be a very realistic goal, because you just start having unprotected sex. In reality, the cost of procedures and use of our last vials prohibit us from just “going for it” and require a much more calculated and deliberate plan.
So here we are, a little stunned, a little wounded, spinning new images of what our life and family will look like in future years. Piecing together some plans, asking a lot of questions, and hoping for a change in luck soon. It’s a little hard going into the holidays knowing that likely neither of us will be pregnant, when we originally hoped to have another full-grown baby this year! But, I’m trying to be at peace, trusting the universe, knowing that we have one awesome kid already and someday we may be lucky enough to have more.