Hi, friends! More than a few of you have asked me about the changes I made to make pregnancy possible. I’ve gotten comments, emails, and DM’s about it which makes me so happy because I’m so glad I can serve as a resource. It also makes me sad because I understand the struggle that comes with both infertility and pregnancy loss. It’s a hard road that I would not wish on one single soul on this planet.
As one friend put it to me when sharing with me about her loss, she stated: “it was so much harder than I would have ever imagined it could be.” I thought that was probably the best way I have found to describe it yet. So, I’m thrilled to be able to share my story in hopes that I can help anyone out there. However, if there is one thing I’ve learned, there is no one fix all solution, every person has a different road. So, remember the information shared here is not intended to serve as a substitute for medical advice.
PS this is a LONG post, maybe only read what interests you!
How I “Fixed” My Hormones
It took me almost five years to regain my period after coming off birth control in 2011-2012. I won’t recap that here because I’ve recapped in DETAIL in these posts:
- Recovering from 5 Years of Amenorrhea
- Post-Pill Amenorrhea Update (4 months later)
- Seed Cycling for amenorrhea, irregular cycles, and hormone balance
- How to Make Your Hormones Work For You (What to eat/how to train)
- Why Your Hormones Need Carbs
- Iron Foods, Functions, and Facts (related)
- My friend Ashley wrote an ebook called Fit & Fertile (affiliate link)about her experience with Amenorrhea as a Group Fitness Instructor and what she did to get pregnant naturally. Her experience was different than mine but similar in some ways as well. Either way, it was a comforting read.
During that time I wasn’t sure if I would ever be able to have kids, but I also wasn’t ready for them so I just pushed those feelings to a deep dark place where they could not be accessed. The feelings would only surface when someone asked me “don’t you guys want kids?” Which happened more frequently the longer we were married. I’d smile and nod, but in my head, I’d think, “that’s none of your damn business + a few cuss words.”
Waiting After Fixing My Hormones
My naturopath suggested waiting a while before trying to have a baby after I got my first cycle because she was concerned about the risk of miscarriage (I was having a short luteal phase back then, see below for more info about that.) We weren’t quite ready yet then either, so we told everyone she said to wait a year. She didn’t exactly say that, but waiting is precisely what we decided to do. It kept everyone from asking about it and took the pressure off us which was great. We traveled, we moved, we lived up life, and to both of our surprise, one year later we got pregnant the first try, but as you guys know the joy was short lived.
The Quest for Answers After Our Loss
After our chemical pregnancy, I finally decided to switch doctors. I just felt like my history of five years of amenorrhea wasn’t being even considered by the other doctors. I mean after all that, I can’t be the perfect example of perfect hormones. I never got a chance to discuss what happened with a doctor, only the office staff. They didn’t want me to come back in; they kept saying it wasn’t necessary and just to try again. And I do understand that for most people, this is true. I have dozens of friends who had a loss followed by normal healthy pregnancies with no intervention.
Now, I know there were many things working against us that pregnancy, namely the high dose anti-inflammatory that the PA at my doctors said was okay to take until I knew I was pregnant (turns out that’s not true, they are associated with a 3x risk of miscarriage especially when taken close to conception BEFORE the test turns positive).
But I was also concerned about a potential luteal phase defect and wanted someone to discuss it with me. At the urging of friends and family, I switched to a new practice. I looked for a Napro Technology certified doctor but couldn’t find one close to me. I chose my current doctor because she openly supports NFP and I knew she would take my charting seriously. I also thought she would take my history of amenorrhea seriously and I was right, she did.
I tell you this story because I’ve read dozens of stories online about doctors that won’t intervene until one year has passed in trying to conceive or a woman has sustained multiple miscarriages. If you are charting, it is well recognized you shouldn’t have to suffer that long. Find a doctor who at least promotes charting among other methods of birth control.
Short Luteal Phase or Luteal Phase Defect
I had been tracking my cycles for a solid year, and I noticed two things.
1) The second half of my cycle (the luteal phase, from ovulation to the first day of period) was never more than 12 days (with the exclusion of our chemical pregnancy.) It was anywhere from 8-12 days, and not consistent as it should be.
2) My temperatures in the luteal phase were erratic. They should rise .3-.5 degrees Fahrenheit after ovulation and stay high until your period starts. It was not uncommon for my temperatures to swing .5 to a full degree, making it very unclear when I ovulated based on temperature but not CM.
I showed her my charts and the chemical pregnancy chart, and she immediately decided to prescribe progesterone for the second half of my cycle. “Taken post ovulation, but make sure it’s AFTER ovulation.” Which was easier said than done for me to identify.
Trying to Conceive (TTC)
Due to my erratic temperature swings, I had a hard time confirming ovulation. I was nervous and wanted to start it as soon as I could, but I now know the window to start taking it is like 3-7 days post ovulation for most effectiveness. I ended up taking it 72 hours after my confirmed LH positive test. Then I started counting days post ovulation.
This part made me SUPER stressed. Then, of course, people like to tell you that you are screwing yourself by stressing yourself out. “You won’t get pregnant if you stress about it.” Although, I find the people that say that most often are the ones who have never experienced a miscarriage or any problems with fertility. Those of us who have would never say that to one another because we know the struggle. So too there comments, I decided to reply, “then why do holocaust babies and babies in third world countries exist?” Not totally logical, but it did shut up the commentary IMMEDIATELY. So, if you need a response to those comments, feel free to take that. I promise IT WORKS! Just be prepared for some pissed off looks back at you.
I was stressed because if the pregnancy hadn’t been achieved, then I needed to stop taking the progesterone or I wouldn’t ovulate. HOWEVER, if the pregnancy had been achieved halting the progesterone could induce a miscarriage. So I wanted to know immediately, so that I could stop stressing about that.
I started testing 8 days past ovulation and I got a faint positive. I checked every day and the line stayed weak, but maybe got a little darker? I didn’t tell Mr. Hungry, I wasn’t sure. Did this faint positive thing mean we were having another chemical pregnancy? On the day of my “missed period” which again is 12 days post ovulation, not 14 like most people, I took a digital test so I could be sure I wasn’t seeing things. I showed it to Mr. Hungry and he had the exact same reaction I did. Excitement followed by immediate calming of yourself, we both knew it “might not stick.” So we just tried to be happy there was the possibility.
A few days later, on valentines day, now 15 days past ovulation I took another test. This time a pink dye test, since all the forums say blue dye tests are notorious for “false positives.” It showed up in literally 20 seconds and was SUPER dark. I breathed a sign of relief for a second, I never got anything that dark last time. I called the doctor and made an appointment. Given the history, they wanted to schedule me for early blood work and a first appointment at 6-7 weeks.
At week 12 my doctor wanted me to come off the progesterone, but because I had read stories of miscarriages happening following stopping it, I was concerned. (Although this is not the norm, most people come off the progesterone because the placenta can take over fine.)Plus a friend told me needed to stay on it her entire pregnancy because her levels were low. So my doctor agreed to test my progesterone levels, and instead of taking me off the progesterone, she ended up doubling my dose. Mr. Hungry said he was embarrassed I argued with the doctor but that he was so happy I’ve educated myself to the point I have.
We Were At Now
We were cautiously excited for a long time, even after multiple ultrasounds. We told our parents at that was it until week 9 when I slipped to a friend who has been my ROCK this whole time. I didn’t breath a sigh of relief until I hit that second trimester. Even then, I’m keenly aware that anything can go wrong but as my therapist says, “anything worth something in life is about risk.” So, although I always worry I’m also happy to share this experience with my friends, internet friends, and family. So that’s where we are at now!
I’ll share more about the first trimester next week! Don’t want to overload you guys, but for those of you interested, I hope this story was useful to you! Alright heading off to hold office hours for my students! Have a great week!