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One week ago, I went for my second progesterone draw, fully expecting this test to show that I had ovulated since my temperatures had confirmed it several days before.  If the results weren’t as I hoped, or if I continued spotting, I had a plan.  My doctor wanted me to have a saline sonogram to rule out fibroids or polyps as the source of the strange spotting, and then we would move on to Femara to address my ovulation issues, which she thought might also be causing the spotting.  So, despite having ovulated late, I was in good spirits.  I knew that I had ovulated!  If my problems continued, I had someone on my side willing to help me deal with them.  And the fact that the sun was out helped.

Later that day, the spotting started – pink at first and then red and constant.  I was looking for it, though.  I have come to expect spotting four to five days before my period.  My spirits took a little dive, but I reminded myself that I had expected this.

That evening, a winter storm moved in bringing bad news.  I discovered a bill in the mail for the first of my progesterone tests.  Despite my history of PCOS and a prolactinoma, and that I had seen my doctor for irregular spotting, all of which are good medical reasons for checking progesterone, the tests had been coded with an infertility code.  Of course, my insurance company had jumped at the chance to deny coverage.

I expected to pay out-of-pocket for actual assistance in getting pregnant.  I knew that my insurance company wouldn’t cover Clomid or Femara, any of the monitoring that goes along with those drugs, and certainly not any of the steps beyond them.  However, I thought that it would cover diagnostic tests up to that point, including the saline ultrasound that my doctor had ordered.  I had taken this test in the past, in part, as a means to diagnose PCOS, and although I had different insurance then, it was covered.  But, this time around, suddenly, I was paying out-of-pocket and had been branded by my insurance company – all too soon – as infertile.

Snow continued falling on Saturday, and the spotting continued.  My mood worsened.

On Sunday morning, I woke up early.  Since I would be calling my doctor’s office on Monday to schedule the saline sonogram, I decided that I should take a pregnancy test at least once.  Then, I could wait for my period to arrive.  I was awake, so I decided that I might as well take it that morning even though it was probably several days too early to be accurate.  I was completely cavalier about it, since I had already decided what the outcome would be.  I hardly waited three minutes before picking it up to throw it away.  I didn’t need to waste time on something that I already knew to be true.  But, I glanced at it as I was carrying the test to the trash can, and what I saw yanked me out of my stupor and caused me to look again.  All of those times that I had spent willing a line to appear next to the control line, and there it was!

I carried the test to my surprised husband and shoved it in his face.  Don’t get too excited, I told him.  I’m still spotting, so let’s not celebrate just yet.  At my insistence, the day went on like normal, but even though I had given up on optimism, I couldn’t help but be a little excited about the possibility.

I saw another positive on Monday morning, but the spotting continued, alternating from red to brown and back to red again.  However, unlike with my daughter’s pregnancy, I was not cramping at all.  With her, I spotted throughout most of the pregnancy, beginning around six weeks or so, but I did not spot this early.  We were on vacation when we found out that I was pregnant with her, and I would remember if I spotted then, because I would have had a heart attack.

Instead of panicking, I called my doctor’s office to report my positive tests and the spotting.  As expected, they wanted me to have my blood drawn for a beta and another progesterone test.  They also agreed to resubmit my previous tests using other legitimate codes.

I received my results the next day, just as the spotting was tapering off.  I had an hCG of 90 and normal progesterone at 25.2!

The rest of the week was uneventful.  After five days of spotting, I have seen no more.  I still have very little cramping.  I even went to a yoga class on Thursday morning.  If it weren’t for the positive pregnancy tests, I would not believe that I am pregnant.

Just as I did with my daughter’s pregnancy, I continue to marvel at our luck.  We reached the point where I was ready to seek help, but we were fortunate to get pregnant without needing it.  Just several days ago, our heads were spinning as we added up the costs of several progesterone tests and an ultrasound.  I cannot imagine the financial burden of having to pay for more as some of my friends have done.  Although I know that few positive tests are not the end of the game, they are a very good first start.

I am ready to grasp onto optimism once again and see where it takes me.  Admittedly, it is much easier to be an optimist when one has already almost gotten what she wanted.  While I am a fair-weather optimist at best, I am ready to push away the dark clouds.  Did I mention that the snow melted away, and spring has finally arrived?

I am sitting here waiting for my doctor’s office to call with the results of my progesterone test.  I know what the results will be – I didn’t ovulate – but just the same, I want to hear it from them, and I want to know what the next step will be.

I had my blood drawn on Monday, and I waited fairly patiently for several days.  This morning, I called and left a message requesting the results, but still no one has called me back.  It seems that trying to conceive is a big lesson in patience on so many levels.

Last week, Bear and I had lunch with two kids from her music class and their moms.  I’ve know that one mom was pregnant again for several months.  The other announced her pregnancy that day.  She said that they had been trying for awhile and explained that they had ovulation problems but that she gave up trying and it happened.  I don’t know her well, but I shared a little of my story.  When I had finished, she looked at me, turned toward the other, clearly pregnant mom, and continued talking about her pregnancy and how happy she was to be pregnant.

I wanted to stand up and say – what is your problem? – but instead, I retreated and focused on cutting Bear’s food. 

Music class is becoming a big bummer for me.  Bear loves it, so we’ll continue going, but five out of the eight adults in this class are pregnant.  This excludes a grandmother, another mom with a health condition, and me.  The pregnancy-related chatter is starting to depress me a little by the end of each class, and in reality, we haven’t even been trying again for that long.

Even in the best of circumstances, no one has control over conception, but I hate being dependent on someone else to help me.  If I would ovulate, at least I could hang on to a glimmer of hope that pregnancy will happen on its own.  Instead, I am stuck once again in this holding pattern that my body likes to hang out in called annovulation.

Since I posted this a few days ago, something has been weighing on my mind.  There are several reasons I have hesitated to discuss our efforts to conceive a second child on this blog.  The first, which I alluded to in my last post, is that I have been afraid to open the flood-gates to this topic for fear that it will become all I write about.  However, there is more to this thought.  By acknowledging our efforts here, I give this thing more control in my life.  I haven’t wanted to discuss its power over me, because I don’t want to acknowledge that it has a life of its own, and one that threatens to control mine again.

For this reason, initially, I refused to take my temperature for the first several months of trying.  I refused to log onto Babycenter or any of the other online community groups that feed this fire.  I refused to acknowledge that little glimmer of sadness that creeps in every time I hear that a friend is pregnant.  And, I still refuse to use ovulation predictor kits.  Refuse.  Refuse.  Refuse.

However, one by one, these things that I have run far away from have come back to find me.

The other issue is this – and I am trying to say this carefully so as to be mindful of everyone – I am not infertile.  I do not have a great story of infertility.  I cannot wear that badge.

I have a child.  I was able to become pregnant with – and stay pregnant with – a beautiful, wonderful child.  As I have heard others say, if this is the only child I have, I will be sad about it, but I have a child.  I will never go back to the place where I fear that I won’t have a child.  If you are there, please know that I am writing from the other side.  I remember those feelings, and for what it is worth, my heart is with any of you who read this from that place right now.

Although we struggled to conceive our child, and she did not come easily, I did not experience years upon years of waiting and trying.  I have friends who have, and I know two couples right now who eventually used IVF to conceive.  The last of these two couples is expecting their first child in May, and this is a child who they had good reason to believe that they would never have.  Before I knew this couple’s story, I must have unintentionally injured this future mom simply by talking about my little baby.  It had to be so difficult for her to listen to me, and I didn’t even know.  I do not want to be unmindful again.

I am writing this post so that anyone who might read what I have written or what I may write in the future on this topic will understand.  I have struggled in the past.  I am struggling now.  But I have a child.  We worked hard to have her, and I still battle several hormonal issues that continue to complicate our efforts now.  But, I am not the story of infertility.  I do not claim to have walked the roughest road nor waited the longest wait.  I have not cried unimaginable tears over the loss of a child, nor have I endured countless invasive medical attempts to conceive one.  Conceiving my first child was not easy, but it was when compared to what I know others have experienced.  Furthermore, my daughter is here, and I know this makes all the difference.  I want you to understand where I am coming from and where I hope to go.  We are simply trying again.

I ran out of optimism last weekend.

I generally am not a “cup is half-full” kind of girl, but I honestly believed that it would be easier this time.

I have hesitated to blog about this, because I’ve been worried that once I opened the flood-gates, that this is all I will ever blog about.  But, once again, it is quickly becoming all that I think about, so I might as well go ahead and blog.

We have been trying to get pregnant again since late summer.  At first, we were only casually trying.  After going through the process to conceive Bear (which admittedly when compared to that of several of my friends was not that arduous), we had hoped that it would just “happen.”  I remembered all too well fearful nights praying that I would just ovulate.  I remembered all too well going through pack after pack of ovulation predictor kits and never seeing anything resembling a positive.  I remembered all too well crying in the middle of the night certain that I would never have a child.  Honestly, I was not eager to go back that place.  If pregnancy would just “happen” then I could avoid it altogether.

The idea seemed plausible enough.  Before Bear, I did not ovulate at all.  We went through all of the standard testing for doctors to tell me what I already knew.  I wasn’t having periods.  I wasn’t ovulating, and I wouldn’t get pregnant if I didn’t ovulate.  First they told me it was caused by a prolactinoma on my pituitary gland.  We treated that, but I still didn’t ovulate.  They all agreed that I had hormone issues, but no one could find the solution to fix them.  Finally, by default it seemed to me, they told me that it was PCOS.  Fortunately, before we had to go too far into the doctor’s bag of magic tricks, I ovulated.

Maybe it was more of a miracle, though, because that first and only time that I had ovulated in two years, we got pregnant with Bear.

I spotted and bled mysteriously through my entire pregnancy with Bear, but she was born healthy.  I struggled to produce milk to breastfeed her, but finally I managed to maintain a small supply and combo-feed.  After Bear was a year old and I had mostly weaned her, I began having long cycles.  I rejoiced!  They were cycles with a beginning and end!  Over the next six months, they became a little shorter and a little more predictable.  And so, we came to the conclusion that it could just “happen” for us.  My doctor even left me with the advice, “Come back and see me when you are pregnant.”

Instead, I’ll be visiting her again on March 7th.  And I’m not pregnant.  Even though I seem to be having semi-regular cycles, and I know that I am ovulating, I have started spotting for about a week before my period inevitably starts.  Every time I see that first spot, I think, “Implantation!”  A week later, after many foolish negative pregnancy tests, I am proven wrong.  And, I am devastated.

I am hoping that whatever my problem is has an easy fix.  A luteal phase defect, perhaps?  But, I know that it is not going to just “happen” for us like I had hoped.  Until I see that positive test, I am afraid that I’ll be seeing that cup as half-empty once again.