Here is the second half to Chea Palmer’s Squawk Box story! For part one look here.
Again, the image for today is one that Chea took herself! Her first son’s gorgeous little feet in perfect tiny shoes!
Our Journey Through- Part Two
By: Chea Palmer
Published with the author’s permission.
Back in 2012 when we went through fertility treatments for our son, the doctor told me that due to my FSH levels, if we planned to have another child, we needed to do it sooner than later. So, when my son was about to turn a year old we made an appointment to see the RE. During my first pregnancy, we had moved to another part of the state and so we needed to find a new one. This time, I actually felt optimistic. Getting pregnant had been so easy the first time around.
We found a new RE and weren’t immediately thrilled with his bedside manner. He decided to go with the same treatment plan that the previous RE did, since it worked, and that was basically the last we heard from him. I was concerned as I was still nursing my son and so I asked a nurse about being able to continue that, she made me wait to talk to the doctor. After about another hour of waiting I finally saw him emerge and ran up to him and asked him about nursing my son. I was holding the prescriptions for my meds in my hands while I asked him about this. He very bluntly told me that women do not ovulate while nursing and there was no point going through the cycle. Oh and that I would have to wean immediately. He told me to call when I was serious about having another child and only call after I had weaned for more than a month. His comments left me feeling bruised and upset.
After a couple weeks of long, hard, gut wrenching conversations, my husband and I decided to start weaning my son. I had always said that I would allow him to self-wean, so this decision was one I didn’t take lightly. We were planning a vacation back home for my son to meet members of our extended families so it was a good time to slowly wean in an unstressful environment. It took a couple of months, but I weaned my son. Thankfully it turns out he loves regular milk so the transition wasn’t as hard as it could have been.
Once he was fully weaned for a month we went in for a follow up with the RE. I was ready to start the process. I didn’t even see the doctor, I just saw a nurse. She gave me the protocol, the prescriptions, and told me to call and report cycle day 1.
That was it.
I don’t need hand holding, but the lack of compassion from this clinic was a little disheartening. I would have gone back to my previous clinic, but it was over 3 hours away and trying to coordinate everything that you have to takes more money and time than we had. When we received the initial referral to this doctor, we were told that his office was the only one in our area. So I just accepted that this is what we’re stuck with. I tried to hope that he can help us make a baby.
In April, I began my first round of clomid, and on CD day 12, I went in for my follicle scan. I was ready to trigger. They had never informed me to bring my trigger shot with me but it turns out I was supposed to have it right after my scan if everything looked good to go. They didn’t have an extra in stock, and wouldn’t move the time of the IUI to accommodate me getting home that evening to take it. I live an hour and a half away from the clinic. I had to rush back to work, tell my boss there was an emergency and that I had to go home. I raced to grab my son from daycare, and get home within an hour to take the shot. Complete bullshit in my mind, but we do what we have to in order to complete this journey.
The next day we were ready for IUI.
My husband went in to do his part and surprisingly, he wasn’t able to produce a specimen. We were both shocked and we just told each other that we would do the deed for the next few days and see what happens. I called the clinic that day about the problem and they really didn’t seem to care. Seems typical for this practice. I asked them about the possibility of retrograde ejaculation and they said they could do a test for it and would have him come in. He went in to give a sample and of course he was able to produce one! As he had no issues this time they didn’t test it and just called the original failure nerves. We let the cycle pass, and of course no bfp with intercourse. So I waited for cycle day 1 to roll around again.
Cycle day 1 came and I refill my clomid. Wait for the follicle scan. This time I remembered to bring my trigger shot! The follicle scan looked great, I had 4 mature follicles, and we were ready to go! I had my trigger shot and went back in for IUI the next day. My husband went in for his part and this time was able to produce a sample!! We had IUI that day and I was so optimistic. This was it! The nurse was the one to do the IUI, which I thought was weird, but I hadn’t even seen the actual doctor since our initial consultation so whatever. After the IUI I laid on the table and the nurse said she would come back when it was time to get up. After 30 minutes she still hadn’t come in so we got up to leave.
Usually, after IUI I try to squeeze my muscles so that all the stuff will stay inside. I did this time too, but as soon as I got up, the was a rush a fluid down my legs. Optimism gone. But I thought we’ll wait and see. During the two week wait, we had a lot going on. My husband graduated with his Master’s Degree and his little sister graduated from high school so we were busy little bees, traveling around to graduations. It was a thankful distraction.
On the day AF was due I took a test and got a super faint positive. Great, I thought, everything went great! I called the clinic and went in for a beta but after 2 days, no phone call with results. So I called and left a message with the nurse and a few hours later, finally got a call from a different nurse that very bluntly, and very uncaring, said it was negative. I asked her what the number was and with disdain and a stinky attitude she said it was 2. I was obviously very upset and started to cry. I asked her why it didn’t work. She said she didn’t know and sometimes these things just happen. Then she said that we could try again next month and hung up the phone.
I took a few days allowing myself to be devastated as I waited for AF to show up. When it finally did it was not normal. It was different. I won’t go into details, but for me, it wasn’t normal. I called the clinic first to complain about the nurse that gave me my test results and to report day 1. I told her that AF wasn’t normal. She gave us the option to wait out that round if we thought the period was too different. We ultimately made the decision to wait to see if the next cycle would return to normal.
Fast forward to July, AF returns with a vengeance and is still not normal. I call the nurse to see what to do and they have me come in for an ultrasound to look and my lining and everything. They said everything looked ok and to go ahead with the cycle. I went ahead and took my meds and had my follicle scan, 4 good mature follicles again, and took my trigger shot. We went in for IUI and my husband couldn’t produce a sample. AGAIN! Again, they didn’t seem to care. Since we were there on a Saturday the regular people weren’t there, just the lab person and a nurse. The didn’t offer us any comfort.
After that happened, we decided to stop, take a break and re-evaluate. I took some time to grieve. I cried, I screamed, and at the end of my temper tantrum, I eventually agreed with my husband that it was best to wait and try again in the new year. In the meantime, we decided to go back to the old fashioned way of trying. Tracking ovulation and timing intercourse was not something I looked forward to. It takes all the fun out of having sex.
A couple of weeks later I was at work and was talking to my co-worker and my bestie about how we decided to stop and that I really didn’t want to, but I definitely didn’t want to go back to that doctor because they didn’t care about me. I thought about maybe going back to the clinic that helped us conceive my son and thought the financial burden of doing that and the missed time at work just wasn’t a good idea. My bestie wasn’t convinced that was a good idea. She got on Google and started looking for another RE in our area. Surprisingly, there was one!! She was affiliated with the medical school here, but nonetheless, she was an RE! I wasn’t sure my husband would be willing ot change doctors again but he was very receptive! He told me to call and make an appointment. Before he could change his mind, I called and made an appointment. They could get me in 2 weeks later! Unfortunately, he was going to be out of town, but he told me to go without him.
I met with the new RE and I absolutely loved her!! She spoke to me like a human being and really seemed to care about what had been happening. I told her about the difficulty my husband had been having with providing a sample and that I was convinced the he had retrograde ejaculation. After hearing everything I told her, she agreed with me and told me we needed to test him. But not to worry because even if he did, we would still be able to proceed, we would just have to cryo-preserve his specimen. She also wanted to preformed an ultrasound on me and an extensive one at that! What I loved the most that it was the actual doctor performing the ultrasound! Not a tech. Not a nurse. My dr. was their the whole time! She told me that I have the beginning stages of PCOS and that it’s probably been there since I had my son. News to me!!
So she told me that she wanted to switch me off the Clomid as it doesn’t always work well for those with PCOS and put me on Letrozole instead. I took the meds on days 3-7, and went in on day 8 for a test to check my uterus for fibroids and to look at my c-section scar. She also checked my follicles to see their size. I went back two days later to check the follicles again and while there were only 2, they were ready to be released. I was so happy and so scared. I wanted this to work so badly I was going a little crazy!
In the meantime, my husband went in for his semen analysis to test for retrograde. Before the test we did a course of bi-carb prep which included a few days of Sudafed and Alka-seltzer to prepair. I feel so bad that he had to drink that vial, disgusting Alka-seltzer, but he was willing to do what we needed. He completed the test and was able to produce a sample, but this time, they had him urinate in a cup after. The results came back that he did indeed have sperm in his urine which confirmed my fear that he had retrograde ejaculation. This wasn’t the end of the world, of course, it just meant that we might have to collect several samples and freeze them to use for IUI. It was a wait and see kind of game While they preped his latest sample to check the numbers.
We went in for IUI and thankfully he was able to produce enough of a sample that we proceed and not have to wait to get multiple samples over a period of time. He had a great count and great motility! Even his post wash count was amazing!! We proceeded with IUI and then again that dreaded two week wait was upon us. I kept myself busy, spent a lot of time planning for Christmas and all the things we plan to do for my son.
On September 14th was our 7th wedding anniversary and I decided to test because if it was positive it would have been a very special day to find out. There was a line, it was faint. I found myself holding it at so many angles to see if I could get a better view. I held it up to the light to see if I could see it better. I took it outside. I wasn’t obsessed at all! My husband told me to put it down and walk away. He told me to wait a couple more days to test again. Of course I couldn’t do that! I had some cheapies secretly hiding in the drawer, so I used those. The line was there, but not much darker. I took another test the next day and then there was definitely a line!! I was so excited, but again cautious.
I called the doctor and told them about the positive test and they had me come in for a beta. I had to wait until the next day for the results, because torturing me seems to be a fun game! I got the number and it was 31. That number was low, it was positive, but low. I was worried, and I waited to get the repeat 48 hours later. The repeat number was 83! Definitely doubling properly and I knew it was only 1 baby and not multiples. I waited another week and a half for my first ultrasound. I really think that wait was worse than the two week wait because there was more to anticipate. During that wait I had a horrid head cold. One night, in an effort to feel a little better, I took a Sudafed because it was on the safe meds list. I had a horrible nightmare that night that something bit me, and I miscarried the baby. That is the one and only baby dream I have ever remembered having so I think it will stick with me for a while.
I went to the doctor the next week and finally got to see my bean! The sonographer was measuring everything and bean looked completely healthy! We met with the doctor next and she said everything looked completely normal with baby but that there was a small tear in the space between the uterine lining and the gestational sac. She told me to just take it easy, no heavy lifting and no bending over. So I followed doctors orders and had daycare help me get baby in and out of the car and husband help me when we got home. Later on, being the person I am, I started googling the tear and what it was and I’m pretty sure it’s a sub chorionic hemorrhage. It’s scary reading about it but I was assured that as long as there’s no bleeding everything should be ok and it should go away.
So here I am settling in for the long haul. This will definitely be our last baby and I am going to enjoy every minute of it! Spending this time writing out our journey has really made me take a step back to really realize everything we have been through! While going through it all, it seemed easy… as we took it day by day. It was hard but I tried to take it all in stride.
As I wrap story up, I have a few pieces of advice: Take this journey one day at a time. There are going to be days where it seems hopeless and like you’ll never get there. You WILL get there! Another piece of advice is to take care of you. Don’t talk about how you’re a failure, don’t call yourself names. Cutting yourself down doesn’t do anything, but make you feel worse. Instead, do something nice for yourself. Making yourself feel better will help you relax. Final piece of advice is to follow your gut. If you think you’re not getting the care you think you should be, speak up! We all spend incredible amounts of time reading about infertility and the treatments involved, so if you think something should be done and it’s not, ask! Change doctors if that’s available in your area if you feel like you’re not getting the care you deserve. We spend so much money for tests, ultrasounds, drugs, and procedures that the doctors should be speaking to us and telling us everything. Even if we don’t know everything they’re saying, just talking to us and telling us what information there is helps. I know everyone is different though. Do what you feel YOU need to get through this journey.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story. Sticky baby dust to all!!