Things Never Spoken About: The Physical Journey to Conception.

 I’m waiting at my follow-up appointment (punishment because I was late) but that also means I’ve got a little time to pen some thoughts. This week is National Infertility Awareness week and probably an appropriate time for me to write a little about the journey it took me to get where I am and how I felt, since some of you have asked.

There’s so much to talk about but I’m going to try break them down into separate posts for sanity’s sake:

  • The Physical Journey to Conception – a chronological documentation of the scientific and medical stuff
  • Faith Bootcamp – the spiritual aspect of the journey 
  • The Amazing Human Body  – Natural changes throughout our menstrual cycle
  • How to Speak to someone struggling with infertility 
  • I’ll add more as I think of them!

For as long as I remember, I never had regular periods. They tell you it’s supposed to get more regular by the time you’re 18. I guess I was also ignorant. While my classmates were grumbling about the monthly mess and cramps, I was smitten that I only deal with this twice a year. It was not till I was 23, when I was doing some immunity jabs at the polyclinic. I remember the nurse asking me multiple times if I could be pregnant because my last period was 7 months ago. Of course, I was confident I wasn’t pregnant, but she offered to make an appointment with the gynae for me. Since it was a polyclinic referral, I would receive subsidised care, so I was happy to do so.

Long story short, we did an ultrasound and I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS). In a normal cycle, the eggs mature, they move down from the ovaries towards the uterus, and if they’re not fertilised they get washed out and the period comes. In PCOS, the hormonal changes that kickstart the cycle aren’t strong enough. The eggs don’t mature and remain in follicles (fluid sacs), and get stuck in the ovaries as cysts. They never travel down to the uterus and get washed out thus one’s period does not come. What that means, is because I don’t regularly ovulate, it would be harder for me to get pregnant because my cycles are longer and more unpredictable. It made me sad for a bit but I didn’t put effort into doing anything about it since I didn’t even have a boyfriend then. 

When I did finally get married in 2016 at 27,  I told my husband we need to “start trying sooner” possibly as early as 6 months into being married rather than wait 2 years just in case it took a long time. The months passed and nothing happened, so we went to seek help from a gynae. 

At the gynae’s we did a few tests. The first and least invasive test they do is to check quality of the sperm. Even though it’s least invasive I know it’s a test that can be very uncomfortable for men to do. Then they do an ultrasound of the woman’s womb, and then a hysterosalpingogram (HSG) to test the patency of the Fallopian tubes. I’d done the first 2 but was hesitant to do the HSG because of how invasive it is, and also because I didn’t want to admit to having a problem. For a good Long while I spent time in denial, asking for more time to just try on our own first.

I was given Clomiphene citrate but I Still wasn’t ovulating on it. The next step was to increase my dosage, however I didn’t like the idea of playing around with my hormones in case it had some longer term effects. I chose to try more natural options like TCM and supplements first and learnt lots of natural things about our body and the female cycle. Time had passed and still no news, so my TCM doctor encouraged me to do the HSG. I finally did in August 2018. The results came back that both my Fallopian tubes were blocked with plaque (don’t know why!), thankfully proximally (near the uterus) and could be cleared. My gynae then gave us another year to keep trying before she would see us in Sept 2019 and discuss the possibility of doing IUI/IVF. Lots of prayer happened there because again I think I wasn’t ready to admit that I might need medical help to conceive (and I do understand this is a feeling many of us feel!) and so I was really really hoping for conception to happen naturally.

Thankfully the wait was cut short, and we found out in July 2019 that we were expecting! Though after the Long wait, my first reaction to it was fear and worry that I may lose this child. But I Guess that’s where all the faith training came in handy. Till the next post…

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