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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?

Yesterday was beautiful.  While Bear napped, I sat in the sun in the backyard and read.  By the time she woke, the afternoon had warmed to the point where I could discard my jacket and even sleeves were no longer necessary.  Bear and I spent several hours outside enjoying the unseasonably warm weather.

Although Bear looks like me, she is her father’s daughter.  As far as I am concerned, the two of them have work confused with play.  Every weekend, my husband creates little projects for himself; ones that I would not find relaxing.  Likewise, yesterday Bear entertained herself by picking up sweet gum balls and collecting them in her wagon.  Unfortunately, she was not content to do this by herself, so I joined her in this unpleasant activity.

As I was marveling on prolific nature of our sweet gum trees, my doctor’s office called.  The nurse gingerly told me that my progesterone was “very low” at 0.6 and that she was sorry but that I had not ovulated.  She promised to call me on Monday with my doctor’s recommendations since my doctor is out-of-town on spring break.

After the call, I found myself thinking over the results as I picked up spiny ball after spiny ball.  The irony was not lost on me.  We have a backyard full of trees that generate millions of these unwanted balls in the name of procreation, and I struggle to generate one tiny, little egg on a semi-regular basis.

Aside from this, Bear and I did have a nice afternoon in the sunshine.  She piled rocks on the back of our ultra-complacent dog.  Then, she attempted to feed them to him.  Finally, she gave him sweet gum balls to munch.  After we had exhausted all of the fun that the backyard could offer, we moved to the driveway where Bear drove her little Cozy Coupe, and we wrote her name in many colors with chalk.

Today, the weather is its normal, fickle March self, but yesterday’s little taste of summer was enough to remind us that winter is nearly at an end.  And, I am ready.

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.

My doctor’s appointment this week was uneventful.  I knew that it would be.

Before Bear, I struggled for a long time in my attempts to convince a previous doctor that four periods in a year and a half was not related to the after-effects of birth control.  Eventually, that doctor found a small pituitary tumor and sent me to an endocrinologist, who was more interested in helping me.  However, after a year of treatment and still no periods, he tacked me with a PCOS label and handed me back to my OB (a new one at this point).  She promised me that they would not waste my time, and fortunately, I got pregnant the first time I ovulated.

My OB was wonderful throughout my pregnancy, except for one little issue that she never seemed fully to grasp.  Along our trying to conceive journey, my husband went through some common testing.  Although he is not generally prone to embarrassment, he found the concept of semen analysis daunting.  Since I was used to having every nook and cranny of body examined, I assumed that semen analysis would be no big deal and without a lot of sympathy, sent him off with an order from my doctor.

When he returned, I asked him how it went.  “Not well” was the reply.  I pressed him to expand on his two-word explanation, but all he would say was that he didn’t do it right, turned in his cup, and left.  He would share no further details, almost as though he were too traumatized to talk.

At my next appointment, my doctor shared the news that my husband had no swimmers.  Not one.  Instead of the response that she expected, I looked at her and laughed.  I explained what I knew about his experience, and told her that I didn’t think that the results were accurate.  A second semen analysis was ordered, but my husband put it off and fortunately, I got pregnant before I could cajole him into returning.

Minutes after Bear was born, my doctor jokingly told me that she looked just like her daddy, almost as though her existence was some sort of perverse inside joke.  One, I might say, that I didn’t find very funny.

At my appointment this week, my doctor kept telling me that with a male factor, it just takes longer.  But, according to her, “it only takes one.”  Again, I repeated my husband’s funny little story, and again, she repeated her joke about how Bear looks just like my husband and added “so we know that she is his.” I replied that my daughter now looks just like me, and with this news, my doctor jovially hit me on the shoulder and pulled another much-used phrase from her repertoire and said, “Well, good for you.  You deserve it.”

I left that appointment shaking my head and with an order to have my progesterone tested.  If the spotting continues, my doctor suggested an HSG to look for fibroids or polyps that could be causing the spotting and another semen analysis for my husband.  But hopefully, I’ll be pregnant first.

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.

Make a Wish, originally uploaded by Brandi Jordan, Flickr, Creative Commons.

All of this thought about what was happening in my life two years ago this month has made me a little antsy. I’ll be clear. We are not trying to have another baby right now. Even so, just in case the fates were smiling upon us (or laughing at us, whichever the case may be), I took a pregnancy test on the 25th. A Big Fat Negative stared back at me, as if to say “Ya shoulda known.”

I did have reason to wonder. My monthly visitor hemmed and hawed her way into my life this month, slowly and indecisively enough that I started reading online about strange aspects of early pregnancy. Possibility loomed. After all, we celebrated our annivesary a litte more than a week ago.

For several hours last Friday, I convinced myself that Bear would have a sibling shortly after she turned two. And, then I began anxiously thinking, “But, no! I am NOT READY for that! Bear is just becoming more independent! I am not ready to share myself with someone else! I love having a not-pregnant body right now. I don’t want to breastfeed again just yet…” and on and on. However, when my “visitor” did finally make a decisive appearance, I felt the familiar sadness of “not this time; not again.”

I am not ready to have a baby again, or even to start trying to have a baby again. I definitively know this. But, I think that I am getting closer. And, wouldn’t it be fun if it just happened?


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