My Struggles With Infertility

My Struggles With Infertility | The Dreaded One Year Mark | COLA Test (NL) | Part 5/5

And here we are, with the last part of what I’m willing to share about our infertility journey at the moment. It’s been an intense ride and there is a real possibility that it’s going to get worse before it’s going to get better.

December 2018

The part of the journey I struggled with the most if that one-year mark. When we started trying, I told myself that I would be pregnant by that one-year mark. If the baby wasn’t in my arms or growing in my belly, I will have that egg in my womb waiting for life. I clung to this throughout all the hard days. I clung to it when I felt like the worst piece of shit ever because I just couldn’t give my husband what we both so desperately wanted. I clung to it when I felt like falling apart. I clung to it when my period started and I hated my body for not working like it should. I clung to this but as we got closer and closer to this day, the harder it became. Throughout the entire year, I told myself: “You only need to get through this for a bit longer. Once you hit that one-year mark, somehow everything is going to work out.” I feared that day. Infertility will become my reality once we hit that one-year mark. I couldn’t hit that mark. I couldn’t handle it. Saying I was a mess leading up to that mark was an understatement. On most days I could only manage to get out bed and move downstairs to stare off into space on the couch. That’s the only thing I could force myself to do. Fate was cruel because my period started around the area of my precious one-year mark. At that moment I realized that it’s going to get so much harder moving forward. I cried my heart out and just mourned. I mourned that a year went by and I wasn’t able to meet my babies. New Year’s came and left a bitter taste in my mouth. When reality hit that 2018 came and went without a single hint of pregnancy it broke my heart. It…I don’t think I can truly explain in words how I felt. I don’t feel that the words ‘it broke my heart’ is enough. What I felt was so much more than it.

January 2019

I walked into 2019 fully knowing it was going to be hard. I knew that I was going to feel pain I have yet to feel before. I knew things were going to be harder, more painful than the year before BUT I also knew that I would somehow make it through it. I told myself if I could get through 2018, I could get through everything. January started with a bang. The agony and constant pain I felt throughout the year that is 2018 just seemed to happily continue in the new year, slowly growing into something so powerful it could knock me down and who knows if I could get up again. My father had a really terrifying health scare. It was one of those where I prepared to pack my bags and fly down to see him. It was a bad one. January just kept giving though. It wasn’t done with us. I didn’t ovulate. We lost the first month and fuck did that sting. Originally, we had planned to use the OvuSense and try naturally by ourselves for six months before we return to the doctors but the no ovulation encouraged us to reach out and start the process a bit earlier. As our first experience with the two fertility doctors was anything to be desired, we wanted to start all over again. We wanted a fresh start. We went to our normal home doctor and he referred us to a new hospital which is known to have a great fertility ward and arranged to have Onno’s swimmers tested. Yes, we got to the one-year mark without ever having Onno’s sperm tested. That’s how bad our experience was with the doctors. His swimmers are really great by the way which was a relief and a source of pain all together as one. On the one hand, I was so incredibly happy that on his side everything was great. We didn’t have to worry about that at all but…it brought up some ugly emotions. It’s me. I’m the problem. We’re not pregnant because of me. We’re in so much pain because there is something wrong with me. It’s my fault.

February 2019

Our appointment with the new doctor was in the middle of the month, just after Valentine’s day. I have just got confirmation that I had ovulated on Valentine’s day and I felt so giddy. Everything has fallen into place. You hear so often that so many women fell pregnant just before they undergo treatment and I couldn’t help but hope I was one of them. Can you just imagine the stories? My precious baby conceived on the day of love. The appointment went really well. We expressed that we wanted to be taken seriously and action to be taken. Not only do we want to know what’s next, but we also want to know what’s after that. We want a hands-on approach and fucking treatment. My current feelings might have leaked out a bit there but well…let’s first, get through February. So, after a really good discussion, we walked away incredibly hopeful. We’re finally going to get the treatment we need and really start the process. It made the hope of becoming a mother feel more achievable. It just felt really good. The plan was to wait for my period to start and once my cycle starts, we will go in for the COLA test. The COLA test is one of the most extensive tests when it comes to this in the Netherlands. If there is something wrong that hindering us getting pregnant, this test will tell us everything we need to know. Although similar to each month, a piece of me shattered when my period started, but we felt hopeful. At least we finally had the support of the doctors. There is hope.

March 2019

I took the COLA test relatively early in March and then it was just the waiting game. Six weeks to be exact. The theme of 2018 and now 2019 continued with bad news after bad news. We got the news about my grandmother and I had to come to terms with the fact that I will never see her in this lifetime again. I had to accept that she is dying and that I wouldn’t be able to go down for her funeral. I love my grandmother so much and I’m forever grateful that I got to know her but fuck it hurts. I was also convinced I was pregnant. Although this is nothing new. At the start of this journey, I would read into every single symptom and get my hopes up, something I had to stop doing as we neared that one-year mark. It just felt different. I didn’t have any crazy symptoms; it was just something I felt deep inside of me. AND then the universe slapped me in the face and my period started. It stung so much more because the timing of it…it was cruel. Not even minutes before my period started, Onno and I had talked about it. How great it would be considering the paint job in the baby room is finally finished (the baby room is a blog for another day). In less than 24 hours we could test and hopefully, for the first time ever, get those two lines. On cloud nine, I jumped in the shower and saw my period had literally just started. It…it hurt so much. Why couldn’t I have gotten those 24 hours? Why did it have to start after I just poured my heart out? The cruel timing was gut-wrenching and I sobbed in my husband’s arms that night. We cried together until I finally managed to fall asleep. It hurts so much. I wouldn’t wish the pain onto anyone. A part of me still wishes that this is all a cruel nightmare and I will wake up soon. It’s not. It’s my reality. Infertility is my reality and it is slowly destroying me.

April 2019

It took me a few days to get up and face the new month head on and I placed all of my hope on the next appointment where we will discuss the COLA results. I had too. It was the only way I could move forward and…the appointment…it didn’t go so well. The hope that was the only thing keeping me together was ripped away and I can barely breathe. My body and heart feel so heavy and…I’m in so much pain. I’m not okay. I can barely see my screen through my tears. This appointment happened on the 15th of April so two days ago and it might be too soon to be talking about this. To add salt to the wound on the very same day of this…hell…my dad heard that he is losing his leg. And today…I realized that there is a real possibility that I won’t ovulate this month. It’s a lot. My heart is in so many pieces and I…words can’t explain it. I’m not really ready to talk about it. I still need to wrap my head around everything but I will get there. I’m strong. I’m really tired of being strong but what other choice do I have?

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So much has happened since the last update in middle April. Life has been pretty insane lately. As some of you might know, my father lost his one foot and well there were complications. I’m not really in the place to talk about it yet but I will do so when I’m ready. It’s healthy to talk about but it’s not something you should rush. I just want to say a big old thank you for each and every one of you that have been here since part 1. It’s been a crazy, vulnerable ride and most of the time I’m happy I shared this. I’m happy that I’m no longer hiding something so big in my life anymore. Infertility isn’t an easy thing to share but it’s something that needs to be talked about more. It’s more common than what you would think. No women should feel ashamed about her infertility. Some days I still am, it claws away at me and I feel like a failure but I will get there. I will get to the other side. I have to believe this. I can’t for one moment think that the day where I won’t hold my baby will never arrive. It will happen for us. I just need to stay positive. I need to stay strong.

Regarding more blog posts about my infertility journey. I mentioned this in the very first part but I will mention it again, the time between sharing anything related to my infertility will probably be a good 9 months (oh, the irony). You’re seeing this part in May and I have yet to finish the April dairy (not ready to talk about it), you will most likely see the next update around December where you will see the rest of the April dairy and so onwards. I will, however, have separate blogs every now and again if there is something I feel inspired or ready to share. I plan to review OvuSense somewhere in the next few months and if I’m able to put everything in words, I will talk about the baby room.

Thank you so much for all the love and support! Thank you for reading and I will see you in a click!

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Experiment

I Fasted For 24 Hours Once A Week For A Month | Round 1 | Weightloss Experiment

I think the key to figuring out weight gain and weight loss when it comes to PCOS is to experiment a lot. You won’t know if technique A or technique B will work unless you try it. The idea of this experiment is to see how my body responds to fasting. Three years ago, I attempted intermittent fasting to help with binging at night. The experience was relatively good and worked on the most part and I guess if you really think about it my eating habits are still considered intermittent fasting but…I want to try day fasts. I remember considering it before I started intermittent fasting but decided to try the first one before what I felt would be a bigger commitment; the day fast. I’m going to explain everything in a bit but first I want to talk about the weight gain and my semi worrisome blog post about the subject.

I entered 2019 with no intention to follow a crazy diet or anything like that. It was the first year where one of my new years’ resolutions weren’t to lose weight. Instead, I want/wanted to build healthy habits and if this meant I lost a few pounds then great if not, so be it. This all changed when I saw the doctor and the number 91kg destroyed my day. It crushed me. I, however, refused to give in and become unhealthy obsessive with losing weight but I did commit to small things which I had hoped would be enough.

  • I started to walk the dog every day (Although this is on and off since it’s still a new habit that I’m trying to build.)
  • I ate more but before I would only eat one meal on most days and I know it’s better for girls with PCOS to spread their meals out. So, I started to eat less at dinner and instead ate more meals throughout the day.
  • I drank my green tea which I feel helps with my digestion. It gets the body going. I will write more about my experience with green tea in its own blog at a later date.
  • I started to drink more water.

It’s not a lot. I just made those few changes which are all I can handle at the moment. Life isn’t some race to the finish line. I’m taking things slow and focusing on four healthy habits no matter how small or big they are at a time. It’s been 8 weeks since I’ve made those changes after the ugly doctor scare and my weight has been going up and down. I weigh myself every Wednesday just so I could see what’s happening and the experience has been interesting, to say the least. It has gone down a bit but I’ve lost and gain the same 1kg for 6 weeks now.

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I figured that I have nothing to lose. Let’s try this out. It’s not a big thing and it won’t overwhelm me. I just need to do it four times. Let’s do this. I, however, wanted to look into it more just to ensure that fasting for 24 hours won’t do more harm than good. I turned my trust towards this article before I fully committed to the idea.

This is the plan. Every Thursday for the next four weeks, I will not eat a single droplet of food. The only product I will consume that day is water and my green tea. That’s it. On the other days, I will follow my normal diet. I will do everything the exact same that I’ve been doing for the last 8 weeks. This way when I finish this one-month experiment, I should be able to contribute any significant weight loss to the fasting and not any outside factors. The purpose of this experiment is to test if fasting in this way will help my PCOS symptoms mainly the weight gain. I plan to continue testing different things until I stumble on a system that works. I have nothing to lose. I refuse to just give in and allow this weight gain and the struggles with the PCOS to destroy me.

I will use my weight on the scale as a marker for protentional weight gain and weight loss as this is what I’ve been doing this last 8 weeks. The plan is to fast exactly 24 hours so in order to do this I will only start the fast after breakfast.

Week 1: Thursday 18th of April

I finished my usual muesli and yogurt breakfast just before 11am. I’m twenty minutes in and I’m not allowed anything other than water and my green tea until Friday (19th of April) at 11am. I will come back tomorrow to talk about today.

The day itself went pretty smooth. I pushed through the hunger and just went on with my usual day but…my husband shot me in the foot. Around 5pm so close to the dinner mark and my stomach was rumbling something fiercely, he asked if I could take out the chicken so he can make chili chicken. These last few months I’ve been obsessed with chili and his chili chicken is the best thing in this entire world. If I didn’t already push through 4 hours of hunger I would’ve surrendered and gave in. I kid you not, for the next few hours right up to the point where I could finally eat the next morning, my only waking thoughts was that chili chicken. It’s the only thing I wanted and my husband made it for lunch and dinner that Friday. It was amazing and now I want it again.

Week 2: Thursday 25th of April

I’m a weak person. Everything was looking good but after days of hard work, I couldn’t force myself to skip dinner. After fasting for only 5 hours, I inhaled my fries like I was about to die. I was so incredibly hungry, fasting until the next morning felt like actual torture. I did kind of fast the next day though…It wasn’t 24 hours but it was pretty damn close. Let me explain: I inhaled my fries at 6pm. It was my second and last meal for the day. The next morning, it was planting day. After weeks of working in the garden, it was finally time to buy and plant our plants. We were up and about at 8am and I didn’t stop until I made a good dent in the planting. I had my first meal at 3pm. So, in total, I fasted for 21 hours (give or take a few minutes). So, it wasn’t a complete failure.

I want to take this moment to talk about two things. These last few weeks I’ve gotten into the habit to weigh myself every Wednesday so I can track my weight. It has helped me in getting a baseline of what my bodies does and the idea is to see what my weight has done these last four weeks (at the end of this experiment) with four fasting days. This way I can tell if fasting for 24 hours benefits my PCOS weight loss or not. The day before, Wednesday the 24th of April, I weighed myself like always and…it was a little disappointing. I weighed the exact same as I did the week prior. My day of fasting had literally zero impact. Usually, my weights go up or down a little bit week by week but I don’t know, it was just super demotivating to see the fasting had zero impact. I suffered through the chili chicken temptation for nothing. It definitely helped the I don’t feel like fasting today mood I took on the next day.

The last thing I want to talk about is my amazing husband. He knows first hand how much I’ve been struggling to take back some control over my weight gain and how nothing seems to work. I literally would gain 10kg from just breathing. It’s frustrating because I literally changed nothing with my diet. I did the exact same thing I’ve been doing months prior and bang, 10kg higher. I feel like screaming. Hence, why I plan to experiment more until I can find a diet that works for me. Anyway, Onno wants to support me in this journey and suffer with me. His words. So, he has decided that I won’t be the only one absolutely miserable on a Thursday and he will wake up at 5am and go for a run. It a massive sacrifice and the sweetest thing ever. Thursdays is a crazy day for him. He needs to be at work bright and early so him offering up to wake up even earlier to run (he wants to run more often) means the world to me. I appreciate him so much. I will let you know how it turns out at the next check-in.

Week 3: Thursday 2nd of May   

This week didn’t exactly go according to plan. I got a really nasty tummy bug and most of the week I could barely keep anything down. I didn’t think it would be smart to fast (not like I ate much) as I was already quite weak. I’m still going to count this week because well I didn’t eat much. I know this isn’t perfect but sometimes you just have to run with what life hands you. Next week is my last week to fast and I will be honest I’m not sure if this experiment is a success. So much has happened to the point where I’m uncertain if the final results next week will truly be a true showcase what fasting once a week does for my body. I have another week to decide so I will let you know at a later date.

Week 4: Thursday 9th of May

I’m still sick…I’m almost on the two-week mark and I just want to feel better. I haven’t had much of an appetite these last few days. I ate two meals for the first time yesterday since I got sick. I don’t think it will be smart to fast or continue this experiment. I’m already weak and barely eating. I fully tend to go for round 2 in regards to this experiment. I want to know if fasting one day a week will help me lose weight or at least maintain it. I can’t with full confidence contribute any weight loss in this month towards the fasting as I’ve been sick for half of it. My last weight in is on the 15th so then we will discuss the results. I’m hoping I will be all healed by then and ready to start round two the next day but health comes first.

Results

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*I made the last four week 86kg so I can a straight line close to the last result. If I put in zero the drop was too crazy and the graph looked funky. Just focus on Week 1 to 4.

Okay now that those graphs make little sense. Let’s discuss the data.

Normal diet/baseline:

My starting weight was 91,35kg and the day prior to starting the one month experiment my weight was 90,45kg. As you can see, in those 2 months I barely lost 1kg.

One day of fasting.

My starting weight was 90,45kg. My first week was pretty disappointing as my weight made zero change. The next week, I saw some positive results with a drop to 88,90kg. In my baseline my biggest drop in weight was 1,3kg. This only happened once. The rest of the time it was only a few hundred grams, the closet to 1kg being 650g. I felt pretty damn good about the 1,45kg drop from the week prior. Unfortunately, a few days later, I started to feel unwell. From this point forward, the results in the experiment can’t exactly be taken into account. I was ill and I lost weight because for two weeks I could barely eat and if I did it was some crackers and one good meal which I attempted to hold in for hours later. Week 3 (at this point I’ve been really sick for 4 days) my weight dropped to 87,95kg. Week 4 (sick for 1 week and 3 days) my weight stayed the same with 87.95kg.

Conclusion

I’m unable to conclude that this experiment was successful as my sickness played a massive factor in my weight loss this month. If I look at just the first two weeks, I can say that the experiment looks promising. It might help me in losing all the weight I want to lose but if it helps in the maintaining department so that’s nice. I definitely want to redo this experiment so I can say with full certainty that this works for me, maybe in round 2 I will up the total time to 3 months. I want to incorporate regular 10 minutes workout five days a week. I will see what I decide on doing when my health has improved and I’m in a place to experiment again. In saying this, I plan to experiment with many different diet techniques in the upcoming future. I’m tired of allowing my PCOS to control my life and weight. I want to find that works for my body and stick to it.

Here is a rough list of techniques I want to experiment with in the upcoming month.

  • Fasting one day a week
  • Drinking only smoothies one day a week (In the summer, in the winter I will make it soup.)
  • 10-minute strengthening workout five days a week
  • No dairy products for a month
  • Low carbs for a month
  • The keto diet for a month
  • More fruit and vegetables (Will clarify more when it’s time.)
  • More cardio

I might add or remove some of these. I plan to take things slow, and carefully collect data so I can say at the end if x experiment worked or not. I don’t want any outside factors (sickness, lifestyle change) to throw off results. To further explains, let’s say I want to start the 10-minute strengthening workouts five days a week. I will do this for at least two months so I can get a clear idea what the regular exercise does to my weight before I start another round of fasting. I need a baseline so I know what to compare it too and if this one thing extra is making a difference or not. I’m sorry if I’m not explaining this correctly, I’m trying not to vomit all over my keyboard.

Before I round off this blog, I have a question for my PCOS ladies. What diet techniques worked for you? I would love to know so I can try it out and see if it works for me as well.

Thank you so much for reading and I will see you in a click!

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My Struggles With Infertility

My Struggles With Infertility | A Rough Few Months Full Of Heartbreak And Disappointment | Part 4/5

Here we are with part 4. I’m fresh from part 2 and 3 and this is getting harder to write. A lot harder than what I thought it would be walking into it. It’s such a personal and vulnerable experience that it feels just…I don’t know how to describe it. I feel naked. I think I will take a moment and come back to write part 4 when I’m ready.

February was hard. Most of the month I just…you know what I just realized? I’m writing this on the 31st of January 2019, EXACTLY ONE YEAR AFTER I WAS DIAGNOSED WITH PCOS! This just blew my mind. Here I am about to share what was going through my mind in February with the new diagnosis and it’s one year later. It feels like yesterday. These emotions are so fresh in my mind because I still feel them to this day. Oh boy, there is just so much I have to get off my chest…it’s difficult to get everything out. So much has happened that it’s pretty damn insane. There was something happening every single month and there wasn’t really a moment of oh let me catch my breath. Heck, I didn’t even scratch the service in the January update. Did I mention that we were looking for our house around this time? Oh, and that we found out my grandmother’s cancer is here to stay and there is nothing they can do for her? Yeah, that happened in January. I had a lot to chew on in February. A LOT. Honestly looking back, I’m like FUCK ME! That’s crazy! It was a theme ALL throughout 2018. It was intense things after intense things, EVERY SINGLE month. There wasn’t one month where nothing extreme happened. At least I know now with full confidence that if Onno and I can survive 2018 and still come out strong, we can get through ANYTHING. Our bond only got stronger through every punch to the gut. The really sad thing is, the theme that was 2018 is being carried through to 2019 and I’M FUCKING EXHAUSTED. I just need a break to catch my breath but life is just like NOPE. I’m getting off track and I still haven’t taken a break from writing this series. I’m overwhelmed just by thinking of all the crazy intense things that happened in 2018. But let’s get back to February. We will get back to the other months later.

February 2018

A few months have passed since I wrote the first few batches of the infertility journey and I’m fresh of some really bad news. I have a lot to chew on but I trust that talking about this will help so here I am. After the fresh diagnosis of PCOS, the news about my grandmother and the stress that came with house hunting, I entered February 2018 wounded and fragile. I realized that this journey wasn’t something we could do on our own and we need the support of doctors. Spoiler alert: My experience with the doctors here when it comes to my infertility is fucked up. We first had to make an appointment at our normal doctor so he could refer us to the fertility section in the hospital. Once we had our referral we could make our first appointment. It had a 6 weeks waiting period and I realized that there wouldn’t be much I could do in the month of February. I spend the entire month just learning about PCOS and the trying to conceive journey when it came with women with PCOS. I watched a lot of YouTube videos, I bought PCOS books and spend every day just learning as much as I could. I absorbed all the information I could get and it was…hard. The fear of what might become my reality cut into my very soul.

March – July 2018

March was the start of everything. I started my supplements and we had our first appointment with a fertility doctor. It seemed incredibly promising. Promises were made and hope blossomed in my chest. I felt so giddy that they could see I had ovulated recently and I don’t know. I guess I thought that it was a sign that everything would be hunky dory and I will be pregnant in six months. Just like the doctor promised. He immediately arranged some blood tests so we could see what my hormones are doing and send me off with the prescription to start Clomid in my next cycle (1 – 6 April 2018). The blood tests came back and everything was pretty normal. My period started and I drank my first Clomid (50mg) pill. How it normally works is: they ask to see you two weeks later near your ovulation time to see if you’re ovulating or not and then they will run some blood tests at the end of the cycle to confirm the ovulation. The ultrasound looked promising and I had a few good follicles. I took my blood test the same day which wasn’t the right timing. There was simply a miscommunication about it and by the time we realized it, my period had already started. We never confirmed that first month if Clomid worked for me or not. March just wasn’t our month. It stung. Each and every month hurts. It chips something inside of you away. Something deep inside of you gets destroyed when you see that negative test. Something that can only be mended with your baby’s giggles. At our next appointment, they decided to put me on Clomid for another six months. I got my three months’ worth and they send me on my way. This is where the experience with the doctors came less than ideal. Firstly, they never arranged to redo the tests correctly to see if I was ovulating on Clomid or not. So, until today, we have no idea if Clomid (at least the 50mg) works on me or not. Secondly, we never saw the same doctor or the first doctor. So, there wasn’t one person in charge of our treatment so we were kind of forgotten about. I took my Clomid every month, hoped that it worked and cried when it didn’t. The one month that stung the most was the June one. My period was a bit on the late side and I planned to test on Onno’s birthday. I desperately wanted it to be positive. I arrived in the Netherlands permanently on Onno’s birthday the year prior, wouldn’t it just be perfect if we find out we’re pregnant then too? The timing would be perfect as we just moved in our first home. I wanted it so badly. I went downstairs to test while Onno waited in bed and I found blood in my panties. I cried, put the test away and crawled back into bed and sobbed in Onno’s arms. It was a hard blow. The next month I drank my last batch of Clomid and we started to discuss what we should do next. We have started the process in the city but it wouldn’t be realistic to always travel there. Why don’t we restart the process in our new town and just start all over again? So, instead of arranging the next three months of Clomid from the first hospital, we arranged to be transferred. There was a waiting period and, in that time, I just worked on the house and prepared myself emotionally for what’s next. Our fourth and final round of Clomid was unsuccessful and all we could do is just wait and hope the next doctor will take us seriously and give us a more hands-on approach. We were hopeful that our treatment would be better in the smaller town and we were more than excited to hear that the doctor they have on staff is specialized in PCOS and women trying to conceive with the condition.

August 2018

What happened in that appointment broke my heart into so many tiny pieces. It was one of the hardest blows yet and it spun me into the darkest place I’ve ever been. We saw doctor 2 middle August and what seems to have become a common theme, I left her office in tears. She…what basically happened is they didn’t want to treat me until we hit the one-year mark. They will only help us in six months. It hit us hard. I couldn’t and I still can’t understand why they would send someone away when they were diagnosed with infertility at the very start of their journey. We both know my chances of conceiving naturally isn’t the best. I don’t have the normal number of chances in the year like normal couples. Why send me away for a year? Even though it hurt and destroyed something inside of me, I could accept the waiting period but…what angers me now is just how the appointment went. Firstly, I was under the impression that we made an appointment to see a specialist in PCOS and yet here is this woman basically telling me everything I’ve learned these last six months is wrong. According to her if you have your period, you ovulate every single month. THIS IS NOT TRUE. Women with PCOS can have what is considered a normal period and still not fucking ovulate. It was one of the first things I learned when I started looking into PCOS. Not only was this fact confirmed by all the books I’ve read, other ladies with PCOS, it was also confirmed by doctor 3. Doctor 2 had no fucking clue what she was talking about. Looking back now I was more upset about basically throwing all my hard work, all of my pain these last few months aside. It was irrelevant and wrong. Everything I know about PCOS is wrong according to the doctor. What I thought Clomid was doing was in fact not correct. The confusion and anger that all of the pain these last few months meant nothing added to the blow. It hurt more than hearing a doctor say that they won’t help you until you hit this mark in your journey. For the next two weeks after that appointment, my world just unraveled. Leading to that appointment my mental health wasn’t in the best place. The negative test month after month has started to chip away at me but that appointment, it changed everything. It had sent me to such a dark space that it terrified me. I needed help or I wouldn’t be the same at the end of this. I wouldn’t be able to survive.

September – November 2018

September was a turning point. I started the month by telling the world about my past and starting the process of coming to terms with everything that happened. To make peace and to heal. That as you all might know, send me through a crazy and intense journey. The first part of September I was just trying my best to piece all the pieces of me together so I could face my infertility journey head on with enough strength to get me through to the other side. We decided to wait out the one-year mark before we see a new doctor and hopefully finally get the treatment we deserve. We wanted to take it to another step and we did. We bought a medical device I heard so many PCOS ladies talk about, OvuSense.

*OvuSense is a true medical device which was developed by specialists for use in home and clinic. OvuSense is backed by over 50,000 cycles of use, 2 clinical trials, and 5 peer-reviewed publications, confirming the medical basis for core body temperature monitoring. OvuSense is used to track and predict the exact day of ovulation. Unlike any other monitor, OvuSense can alert you up to 24-hours before you ovulate based on your in-cycle data. Clinically proven to be correct 96% of the time, this gives you more time to try to get pregnant each cycle. As well as being the only monitor with live 24-hour advance prediction, OvuSense provides a 99% accurate full eight-day fertile window at the start of each cycle – helping you take back control of planning for pregnancy. OvuSense is fully certified, safe and effective. OvuSense is a class 2 medical device – with full regulatory approval in USA (510k), Europe (CE), Canada, and Australia. Why trust your tracking to anything else when you can use OvuSense, worry-free, knowing it has undergone rigorous testing? OvuSense measures what matters. Unlike BBT monitoring, OvuSense can monitor the true fluctuations of progesterone throughout the cycle. By measuring what matters with OvuSense you don’t need to use other devices at home for your fertility tracking. OvuSense can also help with diagnosis and monitoring medication. Only OvuSense helps with the diagnosis of your individual cycle characteristics and allows you to track how medication and/or supplements affect your cycle pattern, giving you and your doctor confidence that the treatment is working.*

OvuSense changed everything. It gave me back some of that control I desperately needed and it comforted me to know that all the data this medical device is gathering will help us conceive. The device gave us vital information. We saw that I ovulate incredibly late in my cycle, nearly a week after what we thought my fertility window was. Not only did the device show that I tend to ovulate very late in my cycle, but it also showed that my luteal phase might be too short. Something that’s not the best when it comes to supporting a pregnancy. It also showed that I DON’T ovulate every month. I will definitely write a review about OvuSense and go into full detail in a separate blog but the short story is: I would recommend it to my fellow trying to conceive cysters.

I’m going to round this blog off here just before the one-year mark in our infertility journey. What happened that month is big and this blog is already on the long side. I know that I didn’t really go into detail while I was just summarizing these last few months but I want to express how painful they were. It broke a piece of me inside and every month my heart broke a little more. It was the worst few months of my life and it made 2018 one of the most difficult times of my life. My worst nightmare has started to take shape and on most days I could barely breathe. It took everything in my power to fight every single day to get better and to heal. A fight that I still fight today. I wrote this poem in this time period. I hope it sums up everything.

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Thank you so much for reading and I will see you in a click!

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OvuSense website — https://www.ovusense.com/us/ — Information in italics* is straight from the OvuSense website.

PS. I’m sorry this blog is one day late. I was too ill to edit it on Tuesday and things just went downhill yesterday. It’s not much better now. Also, I’m sorry if there are any grammar/spelling mistakes. I really can’t focus.

 

 

My Struggles With Infertility

My Struggles With Infertility | Infertility Diagnosis: PCOS | Part 3/5

In the last part, we went back in time and read a journal entry of a version of Cassandra that had no idea what was going to happen or how gut-wrenching this journey was going to become. This part isn’t much better.

January 2018

I entered the year with the idea that it was going to be the year that I got pregnant. That no matter what, when we hit that one-year mark there was going to be three options 1) I have my baby in my arms, 2) I’m pregnant or 3) I’m ovulating and get pregnant on the one-year mark. I felt so giddy at the start of the year. I kept wanting to shout on the rooftops, I’m going to have a baby! 2018 is going to be the year I become a mom. I told exactly two people around this time. My best friend in the entire world who was absolutely over the moon for us and my old best friend from Highschool. Her response was less positive. It inspired me to write this ‘blog’ read rant back then.

Rant inspired by my old friend’s response to my husband and I trying to conceive. Written just after New Years.

When Onno and I decided we were ready to start a family, right of the bat we said we will keep this information to ourselves. I, however, couldn’t help myself and told my best friend who was absolutely elated by the news. Later I told my old high school best friend and her response was quite interesting. I also knew that her response would be something I most likely will face quite often once we announce the news with the baby on board.

But you’re so young.

What about your studies?

Don’t you think you’re making a mistake?

My question is… Why should I have to explain myself to anyone? Why do I have to defend my decision? At first, I started to explain where I was coming from, what was going through my head and why we decided now was the time. I really did. I was laying it all out. Really just trying to defend my decision and really show that it wasn’t a decision that was made lightly. I know for a fact that having a baby is anything but easy. Raising another human with their own personality and tendencies from a baby to be a decent adult is anything but an easy task. I know this. I also know that having a baby doesn’t look anything like it does in the movies. It won’t be easy. I went on really trying to explain why I wanted to be a mom and how long I’ve wanted this. It was really just a full-blown paragraph of me trying to convince someone else that I was ready and I will be a great mom. The second that thought occurred to me I got so angry.

Again. Why should I have to explain myself to anyone? Why do I have to defend my decision? I don’t have to convince anyone that I’m ready or I will be a good mom. People no matter what will always have their own opinions about certain things. Some people just tend to express their own personal opinions when it’s not necessarily invited. You can shove that opinion right up where the sun doesn’t shine.

BECAUSE I know I’m young.

BECAUSE I know that my studies will be affected by this. Heck, I had to make a lot of hard choices when we made this decision. (This was before I decided not to study and instead pursue my passion to become an author.)

BECAUSE I know the old-fashioned way of thinking won’t agree with my choice.

BUT I know I will be a great mom

AND their thoughts on how I should live my life can just stay right there, in their little fantasy world.

As you can tell not just by that little snippet but also the first part of this series, I’m incredibly sensitive about the subject. I’m hoping by writing this series that I will gain a new perspective of things and hopefully be less sensitive about the subject. I can’t go in attack mode every time someone shares their opinion. Everyone is allowed to have their own opinion. My friendship with this old high school best friend has never been the same since that conversation. I realized that she wasn’t going to support me in this and that’s okay. Some friends aren’t meant to be with you for your entire life. That’s another blog for another day. This incident happened on New Years and a few days went by when my brain started to be a complete asshole. This happened a lot over the course of my trying to conceive journey but this time around, I recorded what was going through my head at the time. Yes, the second and last journal entry.

3rd of January 2018

What a week it’s been. My body has been giving me so many signs that can be interpreted as being pregnant but my brain tells me it’s not possible. I’m second guessing everything. Was my two-week early period the implantation bleeding you get? Because it was a hell of a lot shorter and the quantity of the blood was nothing compared to my normal period. Implantation bleeding according to the internet takes place 6-12 days after conception takes place. But then I do the math. Just two weeks prior I finished my real and normal period. So, my brain tells me it’s impossible. Give up hope. My body, however, is just throwing me for a loop.

I’ve had nipple tenderness. The second the shower touched my nipples I wanted to cry. Overall boob tenderness but mostly just the nipple. It feels like its burning and then it’s itchy. Is it a pregnancy symptom?

The nausea oh boy the nausea. I feel sick to my stomach. I wake up nauseous. Or I start a normal day and then suddenly I’m nauseous. Then a few moments later it’s gone. Is it morning sickness?

I’m so freaking tired. My body aches everywhere. I just want to sleep. Is it a pregnancy symptom?

My brain is telling me that I’m just sick. I just have the flu. It’s nothing. The random short period was…I don’t know. I can have a hormone imbalance. I have been breaking out a lot these last four months. Although my period has been normal. I don’t really know what to feel or what to think. I really want to take a pregnancy test but at the same time, I don’t. I don’t want to feel that disappointment that is bound to come. I don’t want to stare down that test and see a negative. I know it’s not possible but if I take a test…it’s just going to be a rollercoaster ride that can be avoided. We’re going to try this month again anyway. I’m ovulating on my birthday and my period should only arrive at the end of the month. Which means we have the entire month of January to try. Early February I can take the test. This flu will pass and I will get to experience the real thing…that two week wait period I so desperately need. That hope.

I’m in just in this state of what if? What if the impossible happened and I’m pregnant NOW? The suspense is driving me insane. I might just give in and take the test. The good thing is the steps you need to take before the test. It needs to be your first pee of the day and no fluids prior to taking the test. You also can’t drink any alcohol the night before but it’s not like I’m drinking any in the fear that I might be pregnant. That and I’m not a big drinker. I just tell myself if I just ignore the temptation before the first pee then I can’t take the test today. That means it’s just another day. Another day for my flu to runs its course. In a few days, I will be good as new and it will be clear it was a false alarm. It’s nothing really. Right?  

I got really emotional when I read that entry. I so desperately wanted to be pregnant but a part of me knew that I wasn’t and I wanted to protect myself from the hurt that I was bound to experience. I would constantly debate with that hopeful slightly in denial part of my brain. I would get a cramp and my brain would scream: You’re pregnant!!! THIS HAPPENED/STILL HAPPENS EVERY SINGLE MONTH. But I’m slightly getting ahead of myself. The moment that blew me off my feet was just around the corner.

I realize that I need to take a moment to summarize a few things because it’s been a lot of words and feelings but no real explanation. When we decided we’re going to start trying it was a few days before Christmas. My period tracker shared that my ovulation day is on the 24th. On the 29th my period started. I realized immediately that I wasn’t pregnant and that something was wrong. My period was two weeks early and the period itself was different. It lasted three days and switched between spotting to a heavy flow. Once it cleared up and time went by, I started to convince myself that the weird period could be implantation bleeding. Looking back now, the math doesn’t make sense but the brain is an interesting thing. Originally, I could start testing on the 6th of January as my period was supposed to start on the 9th. Those days came, I tested and they went. Nothing. It was a negative test but I didn’t have my period. As time went by, I started to calculate those three-four weird period days as my period and did the math to see when I was ovulating again. I had accepted that our first month was a dud. Again, I felt like the universe was speaking to me as my ovulation day was on my birthday. Instead, my period started and it was another strange one. It broke my heart. I cried for days because this made me realize that something was wrong and that I needed to get it checked out. It was that moment on my 22nd birthday that I realized just how hard this journey was going to be. I was terrified. On the 31st of January, I was diagnosed with PCOS.

I’m going to round this blog off here. It’s a lot to process and so much has been said in these last few parts. I’m writing them in one go and I’m feeling very overwhelmed. Editing these blogs are going to be so much fun. (Future Cassy: It was a mess to edit in case you’re wondering.)

Thank you so much for reading and I will see you in a click!

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Here are some technical details of December and January for those ladies who are trying. My cycles are usually 35 days and has been so for months. My period started on the 9th of December and lasted until the 13th. My period would usually be 4-5 days. According to my period tracker (back then I used a random one, I use Ovia now) my ovulation was on the 24th of December. However my cycle was only 19 days as I had my first short period. With the period starting on the 28th of December and lasting until the 31st of December. My period tracker worked out that I would have my ovulation middle January but there was no ovulation as my period started on cycle day 22, the 18th of January and lasted four days. My next cycle was very late but that’s for the next blog. The gynecologist that diagnosed me with PCOS said that I haven’t ovulated in December and January and my periods were way too short.

 

My Struggles With Infertility

My Struggles With Infertility | A Diary Of That First Month | Part 2/5

In part one I was mostly just ranting about insensitive comments that has been said to me over these last few months but in this part, we will go back to the start. Maybe if you get to the end of this blog series and follow every single step of this last year of my life, you will understand. I guess that is the purpose of this blog series. I want those who haven’t experienced infertility to walk away with a different insight on the subject. And for the couples who are going through this to feel less alone. For those couples to feel that their journey and struggle are recognized and they will walk away feeling supported.

December 2017

The moment that Onno said yes, let’s have a baby is imprinted in my mind. I don’t think I will ever forget that moment. I knew I wanted kids when I was a kid myself. I wanted to be a young mom and have a bundle of kids. I told this to Onno when we started dating. I had no intention to start a serious relationship with someone who didn’t want kids later in the future. As I ended up marrying Onno, you could guess that he was all for it. The exact time period of when this would happen was a bit in the air. I knew it would be in my early twenties but we had to take a lot of steps before we were in the position to start a family. I had to live in the country to start off with. Onno had to have a stable job.  Once we tied the knot, we were in the position in life where we had to decide what is next. Where do we want to be in five years? Around the time of our marriage, I was still contemplating if I wanted to study or not. Once I committed to following my true passion and pursue a career of being an author, the last building block fell into place. The next natural step was babies, house, and car. I started getting around the idea of being ready to start our family in mid-November 2017. One month later I was sure. I’m ready to be a mom. I then brought this up to Onno. He didn’t jump in immediately. He needed some time to truly do his research and reassure himself that he could support a child. We both realize that having a child isn’t cheap and if we want to provide for them, we need to be financially secure. Once he was sure that we could, in fact, support a child, he was all for it. The timing was perfect. According to my period tracker, I was ovulating. The mood was perfect. It was Christmas and it felt like a sign from the universe. The first time we had unprotected sex knowing that this might turn into a baby was a wonderful feeling. I was floating in the air, so incredibly happy that we were starting our family.

I wrote two journal entries around this time. Back then I had it in my mind that I was going to record everything that happens while we’re going through it to share at a later stage. That never happened. The experience was too raw. It took me to a very fragile place and triggered my depression in ways that…it was hard. I realize that by going back and writing every month out is going to trigger those old feelings but I’m hoping this will help me heal. When I talked about what happened after I shared my abusive past, it helped me a lot. It opened up new doors for me and gave me a new perspective on things. So even though I know this process is going to hurt, I’m going to write it anyway.

Here is my first journal entry.

Trying To Conceive | Journal Entry #1

This blog is probably going to be the most personal blog I will ever write and share. It is so close to my heart, my very soul, that sharing this makes me feel vulnerable. Although I’m writing this on the 29th of December 2017 with no idea when I will post this or what will change from now till when you finally see this. I can only write about what I’m feeling and experiencing now. I’m not even sure if I’m going to share this…at this point, I’m writing this for myself. To get all my emotions sorted and just feel what I’m supposed to feel.

On the 24th of December, Christmas Eve, Onno and I decided that we’re ready to start our family. We don’t want to wait 4 years like we discussed only months proir. We don’t want to wait 2 years like we always say when family asks. We don’t even want to wait three months. Becoming a mother has always been such a big dream of mine. I want so deeply to have a baby with my husband. When I think of my future, ten years from now, I always imagine three children in that said picture. It’s what I crave for. A big family. Kids that will drive me insane but love me whole heartily well until they become teenagers. When my grandmother got sick just after I came back to the Netherlands and my father went in for an operation and complications arose…it made me realize how precious time is. It also made me realize that our children might never meet everyone I love so dearly. You can never predict life. Anything can happen. Although it made me sad, at the time we weren’t ready to start a family. I, however, have always fantasized with Onno about our future family and this was when we discussed possible names.

Diederik (Didrick) Robert Dijt

Diederik (the Dutch version of Didrick) is Onno’s grandfather’s name. Robert is my father’s second name. My father’s first name starts with a D and my entire childhood, even now, my father has always referred himself as a doctor because of his initials; DR. It’s his favorite dad joke. I’ve always found it absolutely hilarious and wanted to remember that memory by giving our first son the same initials.

Pameela (Pamela) Milly Dijt

Pameela (the Dutch version of Pamela) is my grandmothers name on my father’s side. She has always been a great role model as she fought cancer twice and continued to live life always believing the best in everyone. She is truly such a gentle soul. I want to remember her spirit by naming our daughter after her. Milly stands for Mildred. Milly is my grandmothers nickname on my mother’s side. She died before I was born so I never got to meet her but I’ve heard many great stories of her. It felt right to use her name. I love these two names. I have no names for a second boy or a second girl just yet but I know deep inside my heart we will have a little Diederik and a little Pameela running around.  

I feel such a deep desire to meet Diederik or Pameela as soon as possible. The timing of our first month was so perfect. It just felt so right. Everything was falling into place. The next three days were bliss. I felt so satisfied with how life was heading. We are officially trying. The time is right for my body and who knows maybe around my birthday a certain stick will give us the best news. I searched on the internet, reading so many articles about trying to conceive, what to expect while pregnant and so much more. I knew that the chances we will get pregnant after one month of trying isn’t 100% but I felt hopeful. I even went out and bought pregnancy tests and worked out the exact date I could take them. I just allowed myself to feel the excitement. Following the advice of many articles, I purchased a multivitamin. It is recommended to drink folic acid and vitamin b while trying to conceive as it not only prepares your body for your future child but once you get pregnant these vitamins are essential for a healthy spine and brain for your baby. It is ridiculously important for the first four weeks of your unborn child’s life. Most women only find out they’re pregnant long after that time so drinking these vitamins while trying to conceive can only benefit you. It felt like fate. The shop had a buy 1 and the second 1 is 50% off sale and I immediately found a great multivitamin that had everything I needed and will sustain me for nearly three months. It felt good. However, I woke up with blood in my panties…and when it didn’t go away the next day I finally came to the crushing relation that I was on my period. Two weeks early. Right on my ovulation period. It broke my heart and I cried in Onno’s arms.

I couldn’t help thinking…is there something wrong with me? Why am I bleeding now? I haven’t had an irregular period in months. Why now? Why now when we’re officially trying? I felt robbed. Robbed of those two weeks of waiting before your period is supposed to start and you can pee on that stick. I craved those two weeks of excitement and nerves. Those two weeks of maybe there is life inside of me. It was just robbed away from me before I could experience it. It was gut-wrenching. My mind went to the worse…What if I can’t have children…?

My mother and her mother had uterus growths and struggled to conceive. I’m not entirely sure what exactly it is as my mother never truly went into full detail about it. I did a quick google search and this could be what my mom was talking about. Basically, as I understand from what my mother has told me, there is a growth lining her uterus that makes it difficult for the fertilized egg to attach itself to the lining of the uterus and thus dies and you bleed it out. You simply have to go in, get the growth scraped and try for a baby after you recover. My mother struggled to get pregnant with me and only after getting scraped was she successful. They time the procedure out so it’s close to your ovulation. So the egg can stick to the wall before any growth can come back. The idea of seeing a gynecologist and having a vaginal examination scares the shit out of me. It’s something I figured will have to be done when I’m older but now for my own peace of mind, I should get it checked, right? I’m so young so the growth shouldn’t be a problem yet? That is to say, I even have it.

When I saw the blood in my panties it occurred to me that it could be my fertilized egg that couldn’t stick to my wall. I can’t be sure as I’m far from being a doctor nor know enough about this growth or if I have it to, well diagnose my irregular period. It just added to the blow and heartbreak. What if it is the growth? What if there is something wrong with me? What if I can’t have kids?

After a few moments of crying, I eventually gathered my thoughts. We are going to continue trying for three months, if my period continues to be irregular I will get it checked as irregular periods is anything but good. Annnd we will go from there. I still feel robbed but I also feel positive. Our time will come. We will meet little Diederik or Pameela soon. I feel it inside my soul that I will get pregnant somewhere in 2018. I’m planning on it. Heck, it is the real reason why we postponed the bicycle tour and why I decided to stick to the three weeks of 150km and one week of 50km. Being too physically active can hinder your fertility.

I’m disappointed, sad but I’m hopeful. Yeah, I don’t have the exciting 9th of January anymore but what I do have is a loving husband, a supporting best friend and a trust that it will work out.   

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I can’t tell you how surreal it felt to read that journal entry. I HAD NO IDEA WHAT LIFE WAS GOING TO THROW MY WAY. I just want to go back and warn her. I want to tell her to buckle up for one of the worst years of your life. I’m going to round this blog off here because it’s already super long. Thank you for all the kind messages. I appreciate it.

Thank you so much for reading and I will see you in a click!

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