I never thought getting pregnant was going to be easy.
But really? This hard?
Back in May I went through the absolute high and low of pregnancy: I discovered I was pregnant and, within days, miscarried. I went from involuntarily smiling just thinking about this zygote growing inside of me to lying in a cold hospital room with a very uncomfortable ER doctor apologizing to me.
It had taken my husband and I 11 long months to get pregnant. And though we hadn’t seen a fertility specialist by this point, we had done everything we could to better our chances. We tracked my ovulation, we read blogs, we even studied my cervical mucus. (Yes, not the most glamorous.)
I was 40 and had gotten pregnant naturally. That, my OBGYN said on my next visit, was a good thing.
“But you’re not getting any younger,” he added, matter-of-factly. “So I wouldn’t wait too long to start trying again.”
For anyone who’s suffered a miscarriage, it takes some time for your body to bounce back — and your heart to get over the loss.
But here’s the reality for older women (like me): You’ve got a window of maybe 36 hours a month to get pregnant — and that’s for everyone — and that’s only if you’ve got a regular cycle. By 35, fertility starts to decline and your chance of miscarrying increases. If you can’t get pregnant within six months of trying, you’re highly advised to see a specialist.
Then you turn 40 and everything spirals downhill.
By 40, 90 percent of our eggs are chromosomally abnormal, the leading cause of miscarriages within the first trimester. Our uterine lining thins and the blood supply to it decreases, making it more difficult for the egg to implant. There is a 10 to 20 percent chance of getting pregnant — and that’s with fertility help. Our cycles shortened, our patience is at an all-time low, and time is quickly running out.
No one ever told me that.
No one ever told me the odds of getting pregnant at my age was, it seemed, near to impossible. Some statistics tossed around online hovered between a 5 and 8 percent. That meant I had a better chance of being killed by lighting than getting pregnant naturally at my age.
Of course, it could happen. Celebrities like Halle Berry, Eva Mendes and Alyssa Milano all gave birth at 41. I have friends who have gotten pregnant in their 40s. So I know it’s not completely impossible.
But man, does it feel that way.
The day after my miscarriage, my husband and I drove around the island, taking about what had happened — and, more importantly, how we wanted to move forward.
We both agreed: we didn’t want to wait.
I got online and started reading everything I could find about fertility — or, more accurately, infertility. And I was blown away by the plethora of information out there, mostly written by women struggling through fertility issues and generously sharing sometimes the most intimate moments of their experiences. Side effects of fertility drugs, heartbreaking miscarriages, photos of cervical mucus — it was all there, and I was obsessed.
I quickly got up on the lingo. TTC meant trying to conceive, AF is Aunty Flo (your period), BFN stands for Big Fat Negative, as in on the HTP, or home pregnancy test, when you’re 12DPO (12 days past ovulation).
Oh, yes, it’s insane!
Turns out, my body recovered from the miscarriage fairly quickly, and I ovulated the following month. My doctor prescribed clomifene, or Clomid, a selective estrogen receptor modulator that helps with ovulation, and scheduled my first IUI (intra-uterine insemination), where my husband’s sperm is washed, then inserted into my uterus during ovulation. It’s all about timing. I have to track my ovulation cycle using an OPT (ovulation predictor tests) every morning. Once the test detects an LH (luteinizing hormone) surge, I have to call my OBGYN’s office and make an appointment for an IUI within the next 24 hours. We both have to clear our schedules to make this happen.
I’ve had two IUIs so far — both didn’t take — with weeks of wondering, hoping and stressing, none of which can be helpful to getting pregnant.
It’s a frustrating experience, to do everything you can to make something happen and having it, well, not happen.
I have friends who are TTC, too, and they’re doing everything right. They’re exercising, taking prenatal vitamins, drinking water instead of mojitos. They’re just as obsessed as me over LH surges and miscarriage statistics. As one of my girlfriends says, “We can control everything else in our lives — except for this.” And she’s totally right.
So what do we do?
Don’t stress. Don’t worry. Relax.
Yeah, we’ve all heard that. Even my OBGYN says stress can’t be that much of a factor since even stressed-out women get pregnant.
I guess we just wait and hope — and keep reading whatever we can find online.
Wish me luck!
Thanks to everyone who wrote, posted and shared their experiences about miscarriage with me, both publicly on the blog or social media or privately through emails and texts. I’m sorry I haven’t had a chance to respond to everyone — it’s been hard to relive that moment in my life. But I will, though, soon. Thanks for understanding.