Monday, January 29, 2007

How

"You're the perfect example of how a full-term pregnancy can restore your hormone balance," Dr. Top said last week. "I've seen it over and over. Years of infertility--unexplained, poor responders, what have you--then an IVF pregnancy, a baby, then...fertility."

I gave a surprised smile, feeling puzzled and curious and inarticulate, and that was the end of the subject. I didn't even think to ask, "How?"

I know that something was, well, different, hormone-wise. Back before I knew just how difficult it would be to get pregnant, I spent two years charting my wonky cycles, including all of the usual indelicate jabbing and swabbing, and never once had any eggwhite cervical mucous (EWCM--remember that acronym, people? Brings you back, doesn't it?). I would often get LH surges that lasted four or five days instead of the usual one or two. The month of the inconceivable conception, though my cycle was definitely irregular, with ovulation around day 23 or 24, I had EWCM that would have made Toni Weschler's illustrations weep with envy. And there was a textbook one-day LH surge, which corresponded perfectly. Just like I always hoped for, back in the Creataceous period.

But that's it. That's all that was different. Could these small things honestly be signs that my body was somehow fixed? If so, how? It just doesn't seem possible. The cycle that gave me Olivia required the maximum stim dose, no suppression, ICSI and assisted hatching. I had less than 40% fertilization and none of the embryos were close to a Grade 1. Clearly, my eggs were not just on the decline, but speeding rapidly down that far slope.

A part of me is inclined to believe that this pregnancy was a matter of extraordinary luck, not the natural outcome of a prior success. But then I think back to all of those endless months of trying and failing and trying and failing and wonder if there's something to Dr. Top's version of "how" after all. In the end, I guess it doesn't make much difference for me right here and right now--against all of my expectations, I am pregnant--but I can't stop wondering.

17 Comments:

Anonymous Jen said...

You know, if it were just you, I'd say random, great luck--but looking at you & a relatively big number of other bloggers for whom conceiving #1 was a tremendous struggle, and #2 was super-easy, I do wonder if there's something to it.

Of course, I do worry that this will spawn a new category of advice from clueless fertiles: "Just have a baby & you won't be infertile anymore!"

However it happened, I am so thrilled for you, my personal urban legend.

7:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It took 4 years of trying, complete with 4 IVFs to concieve my first. My second? 2 months of trying the old fashioned way. AND I even planned what season I wanted #3 to be born in and like a smug-fertile had him the exact month I wanted. My RE said something similar to your doctor. Ok, his exact words were "sometimes the first pickle is hardest to get out of the jar."

8:29 PM  
Anonymous Mandy said...

At least now when someone says to me "don't worry, I know this woman who..." I can think to myself that I know one too.

It's comforting that it can happen, even if it may not happen for me. I am so happy for you!

8:38 PM  
Anonymous Kath said...

Dear Bugs, I've heard of this happening too -- and in fact, my sister-in-law is living proof of it.

(And if you believe Vi.cky Io.vine of the "Girlfriend's Guide to Preg.nancy", the same thing happened to her with pregnancies 2-4.)

It makes sense, in a strange sort of way. The hormonal changes happening during pregnancy are so huge that the body needs to find a new equilibrium afterwards -- and sometimes that new equilibrium state is different from before. Sometimes, apparently, better.

But Jen is right, we shouldn't tell the world about this -- the assvice implications are huge. ;)

1:56 AM  
Blogger Thalia said...

The logic doesn't completely work, does it? Because otherwise how would you explain secondary infertility?

But I'm glad it worked for you, nonetheless.

3:56 AM  
Anonymous Pat said...

Actually, Thalia, I think it does work.

If you take Kath's explanation ("The hormonal changes happening during pregnancy are so huge that the body needs to find a new equilibrium afterwards -- and sometimes that new equilibrium state is different from before. Sometimes, apparently, better.") then it may be that sometimes, the hormonal upheaval of pregnancy settles into a state that is different (worse) than before.

I know this is simplistic, but in the world of "unexplained infertility" (or in Bug's case, "unexplained fertility" YAY!) who knows?

4:49 AM  
Anonymous Ruta said...

I totally agree with Kath's explanation. FWIW, I'm another one of those who struggled getting pregnant with #1 then the next one was a breeze (surpise, in fact). I have 3-4 friends IRL who did IVF for #1 then had surprise #2 and even #3. None expected to actually get pregnant, LOL.

Bugs, I am so thrilled for you. :-)

9:21 AM  
Anonymous amber said...

Good Lord! This is amazing news and I'm so thrilled for you. The last time I checked on you your Dh had just bought some OPKs. And now here you are...having a Oops baby. I, like you, have completely ruled-out that possibility but you never know. You just never know. Congratulations.

10:52 AM  
Blogger InDueTime said...

It is amazing!

I tagged you if you get bored enough! :-)

8:31 PM  
Blogger Isabel said...

well, YAY. That is fantastic. Any way you slice it, YAY. Now I'm hoping I'm one of the lucky ones, too!

11:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is so much we don't know, I wouldn't knock it. And I do knock feng shui, crystals etc. Hard.

It always struck me as strange how we could know so much about everything up to transfer: temperature, mucus (aw yeah bugs, remember that?) , blood hormone levels, ovarian response, width of endometrium, egg sizes and numbers, embyro quality; and then come the transfer: absolutely nothing. Zip for two weeks - or less.

A well regarded RE once told me it was like putting the embryos into a black box, that honestly, they have no idea why some implant and most don't.

So yes, I'll buy the 'one successful pregnancy can affect hormone levels either way' theory, although of course I only want to hear about it working for me.

Still really REALLY pleased for you.

Alchemilla

PS this word verification thing has asked me three times to type the word. Bossy or what?

3:22 AM  
Blogger Sarahbchicago said...

I'm so pleased for you, and wish you the best as your pregnancy progresses. I enjoy reading your blog,and your experience makes me hopeful for my own chances--I too am a poor responder who is now 8 months pregnant from second IVF using huge doses of stims, no supression, and ICSI. I'm prepared to go through more rounds of infertility treatment to have a second child (and for the real possibility that we won't suceed), but I'm now slightly hopeful that we will have better prospects following this pregnancy. Congratulations again and I hope that you are feeling well.

7:36 AM  
Blogger laura said...

It's just so thrilling, all in it's own right, that you're pregnant. The infertility makes even better. And while I love to think that science can prove a second pregnancy "easier" to conceive (certainly gives me hope), I tend to be the pessimist and side on the "good luck" side. Perhaps it makes it easier to handle.

9:39 AM  
Blogger laura said...

A second thought (wishful thinking perhaps,in my case): How might this work for male infertility? Perhaps the one successful sperm, the one who made it into the petri dish, into the egg, and eventually into the womb to form a child, could send back some sort of signal to the man's other flailing sperm, telling them that it's "all good on the other side ... come on over!"

9:42 AM  
Anonymous Alex said...

Well, OK. And I'm thrilled that whatever worked, worked. But...is it possible that you previously had an undiagnosed, undertreated, or at least stressed thyroid and it's that that's changed? Or is part of what's changed? Because to me (based on no small degree on my personal experience, which is different from yours) that seems like the obvious explanation.

9:52 AM  
Blogger DeadBug said...

Alex, I would love to think that it could be something so simple, but my thyroid was carefully monitored and medicated for a decade; it didn't decide to go off the deep end till recently. When properly medicated, my TSH has always hovered around 2, as it was during the years infertility. My dosages have increased over the years to keep up with my degrading thyroid, and now I'm on a full-replacement dosage (for me, that's 100 mcg). I will never discount the possibility that my thyroid was a causative factor in the infertility, though--it seems like such a vast number of IF patients are also hypothyroid.

11:05 AM  
Anonymous Alex said...

...yeah, fair enough. I think it made a difference in my case (first IVF post-thyroid-tx worked after 3 priors hadn't), but of course that could have been luck.

Well, as I said, whatever it is I'm delighted it worked for you.

4:14 PM  

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