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The Second Chapter is Harder: My Infertility Reality
A blog by Jessi Wallace, July 7, 2015
In 2008, at the tender newlywed age of 23, I was diagnosed with PCOS. Hearing the words “You have polycystic ovaries and will need fertility treatment to conceive” felt like I had been kicked in the gut. At 23 years old, I certainly didn’t expect to have to worry about my estrogen levels, whether or not I was creating enough progesterone, or what my ovaries looked like. And yet there I was – 23 years old, going on 50 according to my blood work. Somewhere in there I heard the word “pre-menopause” and pretty much shut down.
While 2008 brought a heartbreaking diagnosis, uncertainty and brokenness, 2009 brought me to a new doctor (who I continue to see today), an introduction to pairing Clomid with Metformin and Novarel, and ultimately: pregnancy. I was thrilled! Time was on my side. In March 2010, after a high-risk vasa previa pregnancy, 6 weeks of hospitalized bedrest, a 5-week-early baby in NICU, and extensive recovery from the cesarean that followed the bedrest, I finally became a mother to a little girl named Zoey Elizabeth. I was extra weak from being in bed for so long and extremely exhausted (especially after the NICU fiasco), but I was finally a mother, and I was going to embrace every single moment.
I was also very naïve. I figured that because I responded so well to Clomid, it would be my golden ticket to growing my family forever and ever, Amen. It worked once, it had to again.
When Zoey turned 2, after I finally got over the trauma of the vasa previa pregnancy, my husband and I decided we’d venture into the world of baby making again. We tried the natural route for a year because we weren’t in a big rush, and even though I was “over” my pregnancy, part of me was still not excited to find out if I’d be in that very small percentage of women who experience vasa previa a second time. I mean, I had done all the research, so surely it wouldn’t happen again, but when doctors tell you that you should have been struck by lightning before vasa previa happened, you lose respect for statistics.
It’s now halfway through 2015, and we have yet to get pregnant again. Over the last three years, we tried natural remedies to get me to ovulate, we tried Femara/Letrozole a few times with no ovarian response, and we went back to my trusty old friend: Clomid. However, Clomid apparently forgot that we used to be best friends. We tried to tango several times, but as each month passed and my response continued to decline, we were left with nothing but my polycystic ovaries, a thin uterine lining, and a broken heart.
I knew infertility was hard because I walked this road before. If it wasn’t for Clomid and great ultrasound machines, we wouldn’t have conceived our daughter. I never expected it to be harder the second time. Not just because the TTC timeline has tripled, but because I now have a beautiful five-year-old little princess who looks up at me with her doe eyes and asks “Mommy, why can’t I have a little sister?”, “Mommy, why do my friends all have brothers and sisters to play with at home and I don’t?” “Mommy, why does that lady have a baby in her tummy, but you don’t yet? We’ve been waiting a long time.”
I mean, I can’t even.
Infertility is hard. Infertility with a child at home might be harder. For me, it has been the worst of the struggle thus far. All my daughter wants is to be a big sister. She’s an amazing helper with her little cousins… she’s patient and kind, she lets them pull on her, jump on her, and she joyfully shares her toys. She so badly wants to have a little one at home to call her own. It breaks my heart.
I think back to when I was 23 and I knew I had years ahead of me… now I’m going on 31 and I’m three years into trying for a second child. Time is not on my side with PCOS. As a result, we plan to start Follistim and IUI this fall. I’m excited, anxious, nervous, and so hoping to be able to make my little girl a big sister. I keep telling myself “this has to work”, “this WILL work”. Otherwise, how do I explain infertility and giving up to a five-year-old?