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.
Firstly please accept my sympathy in relation to your miscarriage. A deeply sad experience. I have been through some fertility issues but happily now have three children. It is such a trying and emotional experience trying to get pregnant with fertility issues. I wish you all the luck in getting pregnant. I had my last child at 41 , naturally conceived. So it can be done . Thank you for sharing this with your blog readers.
Don’t worry about it. If it’s meant to be it will happen. If not, there are other ways such as adoption, which have great kids out there. Sometimes, we are not meant to have our own kids.. Take care!
This is very true!
Aw, thanks for sharing that! It truly is an emotional experience, and I’m always hopeful when I hear of other 40somethings getting pregnant — and naturally! Yay!
Don’t worry just relax and enjoy it while you are trying. 🙂
LOL! Good plan!
CAT: i know this would be hard to do but, keep your distance from your loving dogs. Some people so devoted to their pets have a hard time getting kids…Nature has its way of balancing love. Too much one way may be a detriment to another.
Are you saying I love my dogs too much? That’s impossible! 🙂
Sorry for my dumb question: What’s that gizmo in the photo, and all those do-dads on it?
All I know is my doc probed me with that! But I got to see the inside of my cervix, which was cool!
Ultrasound machine. It is a vaginal one with the probe.
Yes, that’s the one!
Hi Kat, hang in there! I had my son at 40, and he was our third pregnancy. I know it’s rough, but I’m praying it works out for you two! Hugs from California.
Crap, I put a K, even though I know it’s a C! Sorry!!
LOL! No worries! Thanks for sharing! It’s rough, but if it happens, it happens!
Cat, I’ve been there. I found the love of my life at 39 and married at 41 when we started trying. I’ve been through a roller coaster of pregnancies, losses, fertility treatments and yes, eventually, child/ren. One natural in the midst of fertility treatments and I’m currently pregnant with a baby from a frozen embryo from IVF performed before my son was conceived. Long story. Feel free to email me. I wouldn’t take more time with IUIs. Go now to a fertility doctor. Highly recommend Dr. John Frattarelli.
YAY! Congratulations! You give others like me hope!!! And I’ve heard great things about Dr. Frattarelli, so thanks for the recommendation!
Will be wishing you luck all the way from across the Pacific and mainland U.S. My sister-in-law had problems conceiving and did everything possible. When she and her husband finally decided to stop trying (his brother, my husband and I had gotten married) and let the pressure be on us, she got pregnant within a month! And after over a decade. So don’t give up hope! There are also other ways to become a parent. I was adopted when I was a baby (born in Kailua, Oahu and raised on the Big Island) because my mom couldn’t have children (my mom was 40). Good luck and will keep you and your husband in my positive thoughts!
That’s what I’ve heard — once you stop trying, you have a better chance of getting pregnant! Thanks for sharing and for your positive thoughts!
I know the desire to have a child is great. There are those of us who can’t,(speaking from experience). Do not leave the adoption route out much pleasure can be found.
In the meantime have fun trying do NOT make it a job. Have fun.
This advice from a great-grandfather.
This is very true. Adoption is a real consideration, but it is a bit expensive…
When I went through this in the late 1980s I was so angry at my body for not delivering something that some women can do seemingly without any planning. No temps. No sex on demand. No baking soda rinses or other weird gyrations. But then we decided we would consider adopting and my doc suggested Pergonal injections without Clomid. Then Claire came. You did get pregnant once so it can happen. Hang in there.
Aw, thanks for sharing that with me. I’m staying positive!!!
Ps just regarding a comment. I have always had pet dogs whilst I have been trying to get pregnant and have had three kids with pet dogs and fertility issues . I don’t think there is any evidence to suggest a link between pet dogs and fertility issues.
Yikes, I don’t know! But that’s an interesting correlation!
My mom had me when she was 42! That explains a lot, LOL!
But on a more serious note, whether it happens or not, I hope the obsession doesn’t consume you. I’m putting it out there because I’ve had friends who were over-the-top TTC. In one case, the friend started misreading people’s social cues, called her mother narcissistic (even though it was her mom who called to check in on her), then started cutting off all her friends who weren’t married with kids or TTC because she figured the rest of us would not be able to relate, and therefore not be able to support her. I don’t remember exactly the words that ended our friendship, although I vividly remember all the other events happening at the time and the very apologetic look her husband gave me as it obviously started to dissolve. We’re still cordial, and she eventually had two children, but unfortunately our friendship — and the friendship she had with those who are still unmarried but tried to support her — will never be the same. This was in her 30s, BTW!
I had another over-the-top TTC friend who had fertility issues in our late 20s. She eventually adopted, then after that went on to give birth to 3 more children. The obsession consumed her but there was also a lot going on in terms of time management, so in her case, she didn’t have to cut off all ties with people, it just kind of flowed that way. At least now that the children are grown, she can come back to her friends and enjoy the company when she can.
Do you know 42 is the answer to the universe?? And don’t worry. I won’t obsess. I like you too much! 🙂
Hang in there we went through 3 cycles I IVF when I was married. Your emotions are high and low through the process. What should be fun is actually like work.
Yep, sure feels like work sometimes!
Randomly found your blog on FB and glad I did. I’m from Oahu, but have been living outside of the U.S and have been TTC with no luck. It’s been over a year trying now and I feel as though I’ve literally tried everything! I know how hard it is, and it’s almost impossible not to feel pressure esp as you get older. Well, I’ll be sending lots of positive vibes out into the universe for you! Also, looking fwd to more of your posts. X
Aw, thanks for reaching out! I’m glad you found the blog and responded! And I doubly appreciate any positive vibes! I need ’em!
My son’s mom got pregnant at 39 with him. It is always possible! and he turned out to be a great kid. So hang in there, relax, and try to enjoy the experience. If it happened once before it will happen again.
You’re right, I gotta just relax. It’s just hard when you’re thinking about it every two weeks!!! 🙂
Thank you!!! 🙂
I applaud you for trying and never ceasing! My husband and I have been trying to conceive for the past two years to no avail. The first IUI we tried was successful but we miscarried after about 7 weeks. We were devastated. We’ve tried several IUIs since then and all have failed. We’ve just done another one and are hoping it will take this time! Praying for you and your husband that God will open your womb so that you will be able to get pregnant! Don’t give up! My Aunty just had a son at 44 years of age and with just one ovary!
Oh, no, I’m so sorry! Keep me posted on your progress! We need to stay positive! 🙂
Hugs from an old friend! You are always so honest and candid. I admire your courage writing about this often hushed topic. It happens to so many people and reading your blog will help people feel like they are not alone. My prayers go out to you. I know you are going to make a great mommy!
Hi long lost friend! Nice to see your name!!! Thanks for your comment. I do hope some women find solace in the fact they’re not alone. I know I did!
Very sorry for your loss. Thanks for being so transparent with your life.
There’s a segment in a documentary that claims a very high percentage of women conceived after going on a vegetarian diet. I want to say the doc is “Forks Over Knives,” but I’m not sure. It’s been a while since I’ve seen it. Maybe that’ll help.
Someone JUST told me that! I don’t know if I can go totally vegetarian, but I’m sure diet makes a difference. Thanks for sharing!
Cat, it took 9 months of hardcore trying for me to conceive the first time. It was the hardest, saddest, most frustrating emotional roller coaster I’ve experienced. Besides the craziness that was going on in my own head; it was also difficult on my relationship with my husband. We pulled through and now have 3 beautiful daughters. You’re doing a great job at staying open & positive. Keep communicating with your husband & try to be kind to yourself. Sending love & baby making mojo! ❤️
Wow, three daughters! That’s awesome!!! Thanks for your positive vibes and well wishes!!! Keeping my fingers crossed!
Forgot to say I’m sorry about your miscarriage. I’ve had one too. It sucked!
Aw, I’m sorry to hear about that. Yes, it’s rough, but we get through! 🙂
Crossing fingers, toes and and a ton of happy thoughts and prayers for you both!
Whoo hoo! Thanks so much!
Great blog: touching, informational and authentic. I’m curious, in your research, did you find anything on how to increase the odds of pregnancy through controlling diet? If so, can you share? Maybe Food-Centric will create a 6 month meal program to help get the body ready for pregnancy 🙂
Diet probably does affect fertility. I have friends who swear by dietary changes. So maybe! I’ll look around!
Ughhhhh I feel u girl, boy do I feel u! I had 3 miscarriages back to back since Feb 2015. One the day before V-Day, the second days before Easter and then the 3rd not too long after. The first one hit the hardest as I had never experienced a miscarriage that I knew of since having my first two children. The second miscarriage was difficult as we saw the heartbeat one week and then nothing the next. I am divorced and my boyfriend of a little over a year has never been married nor had any children. We are both 39 and I want to so much be able to give him the indescribable feeling of being a parent and feeling absolutely unconditional love for another human being. The good thing is that I am extremely fertile which is half the battle. The bad thing is that i’m getting older and my body probably keeps rejecting the fertilized eggs because they aren’t viable ones. It sucks, but like u, I am determined. Hopefully, I won’t have to resort to other methods, but here’s hoping! I wish u success on your quest to parenthood. I’m positive it will happen for you. It’s just a matter of time. Good Luck!
Oh, no, I’m so sorry! Miscarriages are rough… I don’t know if I could take suffering through THREE. But you’re right about getting older — we can’t stop it and it just gets harder and harder. Best of luck to you and your partner, too!
I’m 37 and just recently went through this same thing. I took Clomid for at least 6 cycles before trying IUI. First IUI with a trigger shot was unsuccessful. The next cycle was forfeited due to scheduling conflicts. I stopped everything for a month (cause boy are those side effects rough) and even swore off of sex. The very next cycle we did Clomid with a trigger shot, (which I called 43 pharmacies to get, not to mention paying $283 for) DH’s sperm had an extra long “bath” with IUI and we had success! I felt like I tried everything. Even the fertility raspberry leaf teas from the whole foods stores . In the end it finally took. I can definitely sympathize. The part I found to be the worst of all was sitting in an OBGYN waiting room with all the happy pregnant couples. They really need to seperate that room, like they do at other doctors offices.
I hope it works for you soon. I always found comfort in hearing success stories and all their trials getting there. Email if you want to talk more.
LOL! I totally know the feeling of sitting in the waiting room with all the happy pregnant couples! I do that a lot! Thanks for sharing your story with me — and everyone else who’s reading this. It means a lot. And I’m thrilled that your last IUI finally took! I’m crossing my fingers, too, but like others have said here, if I can’t get pregnant, it’s not the end of the world. I do have a lot to be grateful for — and life is awesome already! Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!
I’m cheering you on in your new gig at Honolulu Magazine and your goal of becoming a parent–crossing my fingers for you! I wanted to throw out the name of a holistic nutritionist I know who works with fertility and women trying to get pregnant, Nicole Granato. http://www.nicolegranato.com (she works via Skype), in case you ever wanted to go that route. All the best to you, Cat. xo
Aw, thanks for your message! It’s so great working here — and it was awesome to hear your voice on my voicemail when I had to set it up! I’m sitting at your desk! 🙂 Thanks, also, for letting me know about Nicole. I had been thinking about going this route since I know what we eat (and our lifestyle in general) has a lot to do with the way our bodies work. I will definitely look her up! Thanks so much! 🙂
I read your post several days ago and it’s been on my mind to write to you about it. First of all it took a lot of courage to share all of this with your blog but I’m sure it helps to see things more clearly when you can talk about it. Over 40 years ago I too had some of these same problems with a lot fewer options. After working three years with a fertility specialist I finally did get pregnant. All I can remember at this point is that it was a long, heartbreaking three years with a lot of stress on us as a couple. Catching you up to the present 41 years later, we do have one child, a lovely daughter who has brought us so much love and happiness and she has the same fertility problems I had! She has three adopted Chinese children ages 9, 8 and 2 who are the joy of our lives.
My advice is don’t wait too long to seek professional help and know that if that doesn’t work within a reasonable amount of time there are so many children out there needing a forever home. Once they come into your lives and are placed in your arms, it really doesn’t matter if you conceived them yourself or adopted them.
Sorry for the heartbreak. Although I have not been in the same boat regarding your loss, I know it’s very emotional for you and your husband. My husband and I just got married this year and have started to try to conceive also. The world of ttc and turning 40 is quite discouraging – even more when there are a lot of other healthy “younger” couples that are facing infertility. I just discontinued my IUD in Oct and have gone through an emotional roller coaster in just that short time. My last cycle (my first in 5 years) lasted 41 days. 41 days! So not normal but I have to remind myself thsy it’s only been several weeks and my system is probably trying to get back to normal. Anyway, anxiety kicked in and my quest to find someone in my shoes to compare notes with induced putting my googling skills to work. A few clicks later, I was reading about Agnus Castus. After reading through a slew of success stories, I ordered the supplements before even consulting with my doctor. im going to keep my fingers crossed and try not to get my hopes up. I wish you and your husband the best.
Thank you for your story. I always want to tell mine, but change my mind because I’m not yet in the mood to deal with the questions and sympathetic looks from friends. I’m on my 4th iui now. The first one worked but unfortunately had to DNC at 9 wks 4 days. Took my body 3 months to bounce back.
Wishing you all the best of luck on this journey and hope that you find some sort of comfort in knowing that you are not the only one. I’m always amazed at just how many people are sitting in the waiting room for morning monitoring! It has definitely helped me in that aspect. In the meantime, I keep hoping and praying.
Wishing you and your husband all the best of luck. Thank you for sharing your story. Hugs!
Wow, Cathy! So sorry to hear about your struggle. This was such a great, honest article, I’m sure it’s helped many couples facing the same situation. Good luck to you both going forward!
Hi Cat, thanks for posting this. Infertility is so difficult to talk about. I am currently going through my 5th IVF cycle. My first IVF cycle ended in miscarriage and so I know how you’re feeling. Every time we’ve experienced failure, the first thought is to get back on that horse and keep going. I commend you for your positive thoughts and responses – it killed me for others to recommend that I adopt or suggest that if I “just relaxed” it would work out (for us, the chances of conceiving naturally are close to 0). I’ve been blessed with a beautiful son (conceived via IVF) and we have been trying for a second (via IVF). Over the years, I’ve learned quite a bit about infertility, what IVFers swear by (acupuncture, CoQ10 and supplements, diet, managing stress) and how to use tools such as sart.org to find the best clinic. I’m a local girl living in the mainland and I have access to the top doctors. If you’re interested, I’m so happy to share everything I’ve learned with you, please feel free to reach out.
i was unable to bear children and i discover a testimony through the internet and now i am happy because on facebook i found the man who help me for good and now am eight months pregnant and he told me that antelope give birth without losing a child, on facebook (Oduduwa Ajakaye)