Will I ever have a baby?
October 6, 2010 2:13 PM   Subscribe

I'm currently dealing with infertility, and would like to hear some personal experiences with conception and assisted reproductive technologies.

I am 33 years old, and my husband is 31. We have been actively trying to conceive for the last 18 months - I've been charting my fertility signs, and we've had very good timing for each of these 18 months. We have both been to a fertility specialist who has done all the standard tests... and since they can't find anything wrong with either of us, we've been diagnosed with "unexplained infertility".

According to the fertility clinic, the next step is medicated IUI - intrauterine insemination, with clomid in order to produce a strong follicle. We are currently trying to decide whether to move forward with this step, and I'm looking for some outside perspectives.

I guess I'm mainly worried about going through a bunch of IUI attempts without success, then maybe moving to IVF, and then eventually giving up with nothing to show for it but a lot of wasted money. So my questions are:

- Have you been in my position? If so, what did you decide to do (keep trying the old-fashioned way or move on to IUI)?
- If you tried IUI, were you successful? How many attempts did it take to conceive?
- If you kept trying the old-fashioned way, did you ever conceive? How long did it take?
- If your IUI was unsuccessful, did you move on to IVF? Was this successful?
- Regardless of your choices, do you regret your decision?
- If you were never able to conceive, how long did it take you to accept this and move on with your life?

Any other information you want to share is very welcome. I'm just struggling with this decision and want to hear some personal experiences. I'm so frustrated that it's come to this.... I thought it would take maybe 6 months to conceive, and I'm tired of the same rollercoaster of emotions each month as I get my hopes up, then inevitably end up with my period again.

Thanks for any input - I appreciate it so much. If you want to reply anonymously, I've set up a throwaway email account at neverendingttcjourney@gmail.com.

(PLEASE do not recommend adoption... I am just not interested in this. I think it's great that there are many people who want to adopt, but I'm just not one of them. I'm sorry.)
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (29 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
My wife and I tried for several years for *both* our children. The first time around (my wife would have been 37 or 38) it just seemed to happen (we got a dog which seemed to prime the pump, for some reason), while the second time around my wife was diagnosed with PCOS.

We went to a fertility specialist who was not a good fit. We also went to a fertility clinic (paid for BC government medical care) as well, but before much happened we also were recommended to an endocrinologist who suggested my wife deal with her (mild) PCOS, which was suspected of causing our problems. My wife cut calories and started exercising, lost a lot of weight (she would not have been considered fat in Canada), and then she got pregnant... 2 years later. She was forty-ish at the time, too.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:32 PM on October 6, 2010

I'm the IUI super-booster. Both of my sons were conceived with IUI, each in one attempt (your mileage, obviously, may vary). It's a very cost-effective method; my inseminations cost $150 and $200 each, plus the cost of sperm (if you're using your husband's sperm instead of donor sperm, I don't know how that compares cost-wise; 10 years ago we paid about $150 per sperm sample. With a husband's sperm, I suppose the sperm itself is free but there are costs associated with processing it?).

For my partner and me, we were very clear that we weren't wiling to move past IUI to any treatments that significantly increased the chance of a multiple birth or that cost in the tens of thousands of dollars (so, no hormone injections or IVF). Of course, our resolve in this matter was never tested! But I think it's worth thinking about these things for yourself as you start the process, because one thing friends have told me happened with them is that once you start fertility treatments, you feel like you've invested so much it becomes very hard to walk away--what if the next IVF attempt is the one that works? What was all that money for if there's no baby at the end of it?

We agreed up-front to a certain number of IUI attempts (3, maybe? I think our RE said that it usually worked within 3 tries if it was going to), and that we would then take a break of a few months before proceeding to any other treatment options, to calm down and think about things.

Except that Clomid made me crazy (irritable and very anxious), Clomid/IUI seems like a very low-risk, relatively low-cost option to try. In your shoes, I'd at least go that far.

Our attempts to conceive a third child by IUI failed; we tried twice, realized things were going to be a lot harder that time around and that we were not thrilled about the prospect of a third pregnancy (both of mine were very hard), and gave up. We did end up adopting our third child, which completed our family; neither of us wants any more children.
posted by not that girl at 2:34 PM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

My wife and I have been in your position very recently, and are similar age (both 33), and also with unexplained infertility. We tried IUI for three cycles, and it didn't work. We then moved on to IVF, which worked the first time. My wife is now nine weeks pregnant with identical twins, and we're thrilled! We only transferred one embryo even though it lowered the chances of a successful cycle, because we wanted the lowest possible chance of multiple pregnancies. If you have any questions about IVF, feel free to e-mail me and I'll be happy to answer to the best of my abilities. It's a pretty intense process.
posted by Emanuel at 2:37 PM on October 6, 2010

Oh KokuRyu's comment reminded me that my wife also has mild PCOS, but was at a fitness level where our fertility doctor didn't think there was much to change in her lifestyle that would make a difference.
posted by Emanuel at 2:42 PM on October 6, 2010

I highly recommend checking out the blogroll here - Stirrup Queens - and whether or not you blog yourself you can send out a call for support at the related Lost and Found Connections.

There are people there with all kinds of different perspectives, and overall the community is pretty supportive. I'm usually not a big recommender of internet sources of support, but there's a genuine chance to connect there, and even if you don't end up actually communicating with anyone directly you might benefit from reading other peoples' stories.

I know it is so, so hard. Sending you so many positive thoughts.
posted by mrs. taters at 2:45 PM on October 6, 2010

Weird, that second link didn't show up - it's here
posted by mrs. taters at 2:46 PM on October 6, 2010

When I was barely 20, I was told I was infertile and would never conceive without "intervention". Events proved this to be true over the years, with the exception of a miscarriage around 30 that seemed to add the caveat or carry to term to the declaration. This diagnosis was repeated by multiple docs.

Fast forward to current 5yr-long monogamous relationship. My cycle for December '09 didn't start. A pregnancy test in January confirmed the heretofore impossible: I was pregnant. After 39 nerve-wracking weeks, I became a mom at 39yrs of age. After being told it wouldn't happen without medical intervention. With no intervention.

In the process of coming to terms with this (joyfully, I might add), I found that I'm not the only one. I now know several other women who went most of their lives mysteriously or even firmly diagnosed as "infertile" who suddenly had healthy pregnancies and bonny babes in their late 30s/early 40s.

Your feelings about adoption are how I felt about intervention. My plan had been to adopt. Now that's how my little blessing will get her (eventual) brother. The docs have no idea why this occurred, and the same is true for the other women I encountered with a similar tale. We just waited out the limitation, it seemed.

If you're willing to do that, you can still get intervention up through your 50s at this point, depending upon the physician.
posted by batmonkey at 2:51 PM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

We have been actively trying to conceive for the last 18 months - I've been charting my fertility signs, and we've had very good timing for each of these 18 months.

Honestly, I would give it another six months before changing anything, if I were you. I tried for a year to get pregnant with my first child, with fertility issues at all, so sometimes it does just take a while.

I know it is incredibly frustrating to keep waiting, month after month, though, and I do know a couple who happily conceived with their second IUI. She was 40 and he a few years older, and they ended up having twins.

I think the fact that it was the second try was significant because they really had a much better fit with the medical group they went with that time than they did with the first attempt.

So just make sure you feel really, really comfortable with your care providers, as this is, naturally, an emotionally fraught situation from the get-go. One point to consider is, if you go through one round with no results, how do they handle it? Do they keep the status quo and continue trying for 2, 3 months more? Or are they going to pressure you into more expensive procedures?
posted by misha at 2:53 PM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

One of my favorite bloggers of any genre is Julie over at a little pregnant - her first child was conceived during the 4th round of IVF, and her second via a surrogate. You can follower her IUI and IVF 'adventures' in her archives. She dwells very often on the philosophical aspects of infertility treatments; sometimes she's so thoughful I just can't stand it sometimes, and other times she frames an issue so perfectly - some of the articles in the Why Don't You Just Adopt category may be up your alley.
posted by muddgirl at 3:12 PM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

I had no troubles conceiving, just keeping a pregnancy around for more than six weeks. Technically I'm not infertile; I'm a "habitual aborter." (Charming.) So my information and advice comes from those with whom I sought support, rather than from my own experience.

After 18 months of charting and good timing, I would definitely start boosting your signal. If you have confirmed ovulation without drugs and you want to start small, you can do an unmedicated IUI, where they wait until you're about to ovulate, do a "trigger shot" of hCG, and then do the IUI. That can bypass immune and "hostile cervical mucus" issues; I know two couples who got pregnant this way on their first attempt after more than a year of trying without success. If that doesn't work out for you, then you can move to graduated and monitored IUI cycles; typically an RE will want to do 3 cycles, increasing the clomid each time, until you get success.

The chief drawback of clomid is that it makes you insane. That varies by both person and dose, obviously, but the effect has been described as "the worst PMS I've ever felt in my life" by more than one woman of my acquaintance. But a medicated IUI is definitely the low end of the intervention spectrum.

I would strongly recommend discussing your exit strategy now, with your husband, possibly with a counselor who specializes in fertility issues. It gets too hard to see beyond the next step if you get too far into the process, and you will be more comfortable if you know what your plans are.

(My own history: I'm 35, G6P1, my daughter is 4. I'm 35 weeks pregnant with my second child; my recurrent pregnancy loss problems turned out to probably have been caused by hypothyroidism. Do have your thyroid screened, and lobby aggressively for synthroid if your TSH is above 3 or possibly even above 1. This pregnancy happened literally two weeks after we finally got my TSH below 3.)
posted by KathrynT at 3:12 PM on October 6, 2010

My two year old daughter is sitting on my lap playing with my PC's wireless controller as I type this. She was conceived via IUI (on the third attempt). We had been trying for over two years and also had undiagnosed infertility. We were in our early 30s.

IUI is really an inconvenience more than anything else, or was for us. Lots of appointments, and it's invasive and involves shots for the female participant. Men merely have to suffer the indignity of carrying cups of spooge into a medical office and producing their driver's license.

I don't have a single regret about doing it. My wife bore most of the brunt of it, and she'd be offended if I ask her earnestly about regretting IUI. I think it works like this: if it's successful, you won't regret it. If you're the type of person to second guess yourself, you'll regret it if you try and it's unsuccessful.

So to help avoid that potential regret, look at it this way: if I had to balance the investment versus the potential results, as I sit here with my daughter bouncing in her overalls, giggling and rubbing her hair in my nose, it was absolutely worth it. And not just because it worked out-- if it were somehow possible to see the child that you'd get if you have success with IUI, the stakes would have to be very high before you would opt out.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:38 PM on October 6, 2010

If you were never able to conceive, how long did it take you to accept this and move on with your life?

It took me two years of very deep thought and introspection to come to terms with not having a baby. I had to re-imagine my whole future, my marriage, my role in my larger family, and find a place between "childfree by choice" and "crazy infertility lady" I could comfortably inhabit.

I must warn you that the number of contemporary couples who cannot concieve, fail or balk at ART, and ultimately choose not to adopt is vanishingly small. There's not a lot of support for this transition; it was lonely work. Regardless of how your journey unwinds, I would urge you to get professional support as soon as you feel you need the help.

Ultimately, though, I have moved on and I have to tell you, it's pretty nice here. Not having to take part in this overwhelming process is nice. The future I am planning with my husband is pretty great. The present is pretty happy, too, and it is really, really nice to have sex that isn't goal oriented the way TTC sex is. I can't tell you if everyone who goes through this process gets here, but I can tell you that several years later, I truly have no regrets.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:42 PM on October 6, 2010 [4 favorites]

My husband and I tried for about three years before conceiving. For some of that time I used the fertility awareness method and tracked my temps etc. We agreed that we were not interested in trying any interventions, partly because I didn't want to do clomid-- I have had bad experiences with hormonal bc and didn't want to go mental. My infertility was caused by endometriosis, and I was told I might never conceive. I had surgery for that right before we started to try to conceive, mostly because of pain, and it didn't seem to help. The only intervention we did was acupuncture, which frankly I thought was bullshit, but my mom offered to pay for it, so I went for it. Who knows if it made a difference in the fertility, but it did seem to make a difference in my period pain-- placebo effect or not! I conceived when I was 35. Our daughter is now 7 months.

That was the best choice for us, because we agreed that we would be OK if we never had a child. I think that's the most important decision-- will you feel fine if you never have a baby if you never do the interventions, or will you be always wondering what might have been?
posted by miss tea at 4:04 PM on October 6, 2010

PS After the second year or so, we weren't actively trying, just living our lives and having sex whenever. To be honest I was absolutely shocked when I got pregnant. As DarlingBri says, the whole procreative sex thing becomes a bit tiring.
posted by miss tea at 4:06 PM on October 6, 2010

I'm 39, and 19 weeks pregnant with twins. This is my first pregnancy. My husband and I tried for two years before turning to an RE for assistance. I had two failed IUI attempts (with injections) and one failed round of IVF. During that first egg retrieval, my RE found my abdomen riddled with fibroids. We knew I had some, but we thought they were small and not interfering with implantation. After a myomectomy (which involves taking the whole business out of the abdomen, carefully excising the fibroids inside and out, and stuffing it back in), and subsequent recovery, I got pregnant on our second round of IVF.

I should tell you that we took a break before turning to IVF. It is not a process to be taken lightly, and I balked before our first attempt. (The box of IVF drugs they shipped to me was HUGE. I freaked.) But considering my age once we were ready to try again, it was the right choice. Also, we have fantastic health insurance, so the cost burden was not a large factor for us.

Finding the right doctor is most important. And at your age, you still have some time before you enter my magical land of "advanced maternal age." So I would start with the Clomid and IUI and see how it goes. It is the least expensive and invasive path. Remember that no matter which way you go, there will be anticipation, and possibly disappointment.

I can't answer your question - nobody can say for sure whether you'll ever have a baby. That uncertainty is no doubt the worst part of the whole process. I always thought that if I had an answer, either way, then I could move on. I am very fortunate that modern medicine (thank you, Dr. Roberts) was able to assist my husband and I in becoming parents.

I wish you and your husband good luck on your journey. Please memail me if you want to discuss things further.
posted by killy willy at 4:32 PM on October 6, 2010

A friend of mine had difficulty both conceiving and sustaining pregnancies over many years, and when she and her husband turned to fertility treatments, their doctors combined clinical care with bodywork --- massage, yoga, acupuncture --- and meditation. They had two healthy children in 4 years.
posted by headnsouth at 4:37 PM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Hi Anonymous!

My wife and I have been in your general position - a little bit older when we started. But after about 24 months of active charting and the like, we ended up opting to go straight to IVF. It was the right decision for us for quite a few reasons:

First, we were a bit older - 37. One of the causes of infertility can be egg quality - something that declines slowly during one's 20s and early 30s, but begins to decline more rapidly after age 35. There is some good information here comparing own-egg IVF vs. young donor egg IVF that illustrates the degree to which eqq quality declines with age.

Second, IVF can take awhile. We're currently on round 4 and our fingers are crossed. Between each round, hormone levels need to return to normal (can take a few weeks). Then there needs to be a normal period (another 4 weeks). So you can't roll right from one round to another - 3 rounds took us a little over 1 year. I know of one Mefi poster that became pregnant on her 7th round! That's a long time to wait, during which, unfortunately, egg quality is not getting better.

Third, we have pretty good insurance. IVF is much more expensive than IUI. But we paid very little out of pocket, making this a non-issue for us.

Finally, our doctor recommended IVF - it has a higher success rate that IUI, and because the eggs are inseminated outside of the body, the doctors have a better chance of detecting certain types of problems. Information which can help drive improved approaches to your treatment.

There are downsides, of course. IVF is stressful and unpleasant. Although IUI may be as well - I'm not sure. If we'd been 33, it's possible we would have made a different decision. I do know this - we wish we had sought medical help earlier. In retrospect, it's clear we have a serious infertility problem, and aren't getting pregnant without help. We both wish we'd been more aggressive in seeking help. 18 months is a pretty long time to try - I would advise moving past the old fashioned approach now. You're currently in a good position - you could try IUI for a year or two, then move to IVF and have time for plenty of rounds. Lord knows, I hope it doesn't take that long for you. But it could. Wait too much longer and you may feel, like we did, that some options were taken off the table.

I wish you the absolute best of luck. If you're in the Chicago area, I can certainly recommend some excellent physicians. And feel free to send some meMail. I contacted someone great that way, and it was a definite help.
posted by centerweight at 5:02 PM on October 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Please feel free to Memail. I'm not all to comfortable going in depth here (for some weird reason.)

I can tell you publicly it also took us about 2 years. Happened on it's own in the end. I was also told it would never happen w/out help. So much for that, we're happy to report!

For reference, I'm 40.
posted by jbenben at 5:43 PM on October 6, 2010

Wow, never heard that bit about having to wait after a failed IVF cycle-- and I'm being treated at Cornell, which is supposed to be one of the best places for infertility treatment in the world. Perhaps its because I'm older and waiting is never recommended. Or perhaps it's one of those unanswered questions about which docs disagree.

Anyway, if you are in NY, can afford it (slightly more expensive than all the other insanely expensive places) and don't care much about "bedside manner" but do care about evidence-based but state-of-the-art practice, I would definitely recommend them. I call it the "fertility factory"-- but the people are nice and because they have the numbers, they know what to do and will take difficult cases. I am about to start 3rd IVF after 3 IUI's (they didn't make me use Clomid for some reason-- apparently for someone my age, I have very good numbers). The IUI's were no more uncomfortable than a pap smear-- except in the sense that you are having some random nurse "get you pregnant." Some say you should try to have an orgasm after but I felt too weird to do that in the examining room where I had to lie still for about a half hour afterwards (research supports that part).

First IVF resulted in chemical pregnancy, second didn't work, hoping for charm on #3. I'm ancient, so odds are bad but I've had good results in terms of egg numbers, embryo quality-- everything but actual baby so far.

My experience is that IVF was actually a breeze. I was terrified of the needles (ironic, I know for former IV drug user but those shots are in the vein), but that was fine. I was terrified of the side effects (had virtually none on a follistim/menopur protocol). Especially feared mood effects. Feared pain from retrieval, transfer. Had none. My mood was absolutely great until the horrible 2 week wait to find out if I was pregnant. In other words, the psychological not the physical stuff was what got to me. Now about to try a protocol using Lupron (AKA chemical castration drug) which may be less fun, but hopefully, won't be too bad.

Worst side effect of all was financial and will have to spend a long time paying this off, but I can't think of anything else I'd rather spend it on. If you want more info, please memail. And needless to say, I wish you the best. Actually, the best part of this whole experience has been that people are incredibly supportive and kind-- even if they sometimes say clueless things about options that aren't right for you.
posted by Maias at 5:53 PM on October 6, 2010

Haven't read all the comments, but figured I'd add my experience to the anecdata --

Spouse and I got pregnant by surprise when I was 24, had the baby, got married, etc. Stopped using contraceptives when I was 27. Got an rx for clomid, nothing happened. Finally seriously sought out treatment when I was 31 -- spouse was fine, I wasn't ovulating (RE guessed some form of PCOS, even though I didn't have the blood work or ovarian cysts to support it). An IUI is really nothing -- produce a "sample", take it into the office, they spin it, 'clean' it, and insert it into you, you lay there reading a book for 15 minutes and go on with your day. Not even an hour. First month, I had follicles but no pregnancy. Second month, one big follicle, one small -- we did two IUIs 2 days in a row, ended up pregnant with twins. Fraternal twins who measured one day apart (funny, huh?) for the whole pregnancy, and are now five. ;o)

As far as medicated IUI goes . . . when I was doing it, it really didn't seem like invasive help. Seems more like a little nudge. The medication is a pill (as opposed to a shot, or multiple shots), they aren't removing anything from you . . . I kind-of felt like if I'd had a prescription and a centrifuge and a syringe with the loooong tube, I could've done it at home.

If I had it to do over again . . . I wouldn't think twice about doing medicated IUI, and I wish I'd done it years earlier. My experience & infertility blogs I've read would indicate that twins after a singleton is a bit harder (on the parents and the singleton) than a singleton after twins -- since I already had a seven year old, I think I would risk taking it slower to only get one baby.

I'm in Phila, and can make rec's if you're near here. Good luck!
posted by MeiraV at 6:20 PM on October 6, 2010

My 2-year-old was an IUI baby, first attempt, after about a year of trying (I was 39, so we jumped to an RE fairly quickly). We ended up not needing Clomid or any other meds, but I think that's not common - not that most women need them, but because it increases your chances so significantly that most RE's seem to jump there immediately to help fix the problem. Thankfully, our doctor agreed to let us try to go without - many of my friends used Clomid, and it definitely made the experience more invasive and painful. The costs were covered by our insurance - apparently a certain number of IUIs are included on many health plans, so if you have good coverage, it may not be an issue. It was clinical and not at all 'sexy,' but I was lucky enough to not need the meds, so it wasn't painful or too intrusive, and hey, it worked.

We are still trying for a second - I have had another 1st-shot-successful IUI that ended in miscarriage at 8 weeks, 2 failed IUI's, and a pregnancy as the result of taking a break from trying (!), which also miscarried around the 8-week mark. So far no answers as to why I lost the pregnancies. So we're trying to figure that out, as we start to try again. It's hard coming to terms with the feeling that your own body is somehow betraying you.

You have your age in your favor, which is good - you have a few more years before that becomes an added factor. I wholeheartedly recommend IUI, if you can afford it, ideally without adding the meds for a few cycles. Try to worry about IVF when the time comes - financially and physically, that's a whole order of intensity higher. I second the recommendation to read the bloggers who are on the same journey - it definitely helps to know you're not alone. Good luck - if you're in or near NYC I can recommend our RE, if you're looking.
posted by Mchelly at 8:32 PM on October 6, 2010

My story is I was told, when I was 17, that I would not be able to have children. It wasn't because I had "bad parts" but my menstrual cycle was wonky. I'd only have one every 6 months, I had to have a number of DNCs due to that and such.

I was married for 3 years and naturally I never bothered with contraceptives since I wouldn't be able to conceive. To my utter dismay, after those three years, I found that I was pregnant. The timing was bad, he was in the Army and was about to have to do an "unsponsored" (meaning I couldn't go) tour in Korea and I was in nursing school.

Things didn't go perfectly, I ended up with an emergency C-section, but the baby was healthy and I survived (barely). Our daughter is now twenty-one and I became a nurse and have been one since.

I managed to get pregnant again just after he got back from Desert Storm. The interesting thing here was that I was pregnant within two months after his return. This was 3 1/2 years after the birth of our first child. Again, I didn't use any contraception between and he was only gone for about 8 months (no that didn't last 8 months, but he was gone that long).

I do know that there is theory that might interest you, but may be too frustrating to deal with. I can't remember what it is called and that's pretty bad since I'm a nurse, but your body can grow a tolerance to his sperm. It makes sense and is nature's way. If you decrease the frequency of sex, many times it will help your chances in conception. I believe this to have been partially responsible for my second baby.

I have no further advice to offer here, except do research and tell you my story.

I really do wish you luck. I know this must be very hard and frustrating for you.
posted by magnoliasouth at 8:59 PM on October 6, 2010

I have PCOS; husband has no issues. We started trying at age 30, with no luck. Saw one infertility mega-practice; they refused to treat me until I lost weight. Kept trying, charting, stressing. We decided to go ahead and start the adoption process, since we knew it would take a while, and which was something we'd talked about doing anyway. Found a different RE (sole practice, all-woman staff) where I felt more comfortable. At age 33, had four IUI/Clomid cycles. Got pregnant on the third, but had an early miscarriage. The fourth was a mistake - the doctor, recommending we proceed, said, "Why not? At least we know now that you can get pregnant." I was miserable, a total nutjob on Clomid, gaining weight instead of losing it, which was only adding to the stress. And there's nothing like having a miscarriage right before Christmas when you're traveling around to see all the new babies in your family.

We decided to take a break before deciding on further treatment (my doctor wanted to try IUI with injectables next, before moving on to IVF). I was just tired of it all - racing to the office to have my follicles measured, trying to coordinate my husband's work schedule at the last minute so he could provide a fresh sample, endless sessions with the dildo-cam - and drugs that messed with my hormones so much when I already had so many hormone problems already. The situation was stressful on our relationship. Also, while our insurance was generous with IUIs, one IVF cycle would have pushed us over the lifetime benefit. We decided to focus our mental and financial efforts on adoption, and 18 months later, we were placed with the most amazing twin newborns. And that's it for us; I'm going back on the Pill to help with PCOS symptoms. God had a different plan for me.

I wish you the best. However it ends up for you, don't ever let anyone make you feel like you're less of a woman because you couldn't give birth to a child. And while you can find some helpful support online, don't let yourself get dragged down into the infertility "crazy" (like I did sometimes).
posted by candyland at 9:27 PM on October 6, 2010

anonymous: According to the fertility clinic, the next step is medicated IUI - intrauterine insemination, with clomid in order to produce a strong follicle. We are currently trying to decide whether to move forward with this step, and I'm looking for some outside perspectives.

FWIW finding a RE or ART practice you're really comfortable with makes all of the difference. If you are clomid-averse (which is a perfectly OK thing to be even if your practitioners are not) you can do IUI without anything else. My sister, who is 39, is due in February with a baby conceived using nothing but her FAM charts and IUI on her second try. Woot!

One of the nice things about ART compared to other medical issues requiring intervention is that the cascade of interventions is extremely linear until the end. If you start at the beginning and work your way up (FAM, FAM + IUI, IUI + Clomid, IUI + injectables, IUI + clomid + injectables, IVF) it's actually pretty easy to make a decision tree about where you stop being comfortable, which steps you reject, and which steps you want to skip over for expediency.

I guess I'm mainly worried about going through a bunch of IUI attempts without success, then maybe moving to IVF, and then eventually giving up with nothing to show for it but a lot of wasted money.

It is hard. You might give yourself a window, ala "I am willing to give this my best shot, with controlled diet, acupuncture and IUI for six months." Personally I found that having and end date for the insanity was important; knowing that this was a time-limited circumstance to get through and not how my life and my marriage now were forever was important to me. Other people feel very differently and are much more "whatever it takes, at any cost" and I understand that too. It's one of those things where you really have to find your own comfort level and it can be very different from person to person, or even within a relationship.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:42 AM on October 7, 2010

Maias: Wow, never heard that bit about having to wait after a failed IVF cycle-- and I'm being treated at Cornell, which is supposed to be one of the best places for infertility treatment in the world.

I should clarify. You don't always need to wait such a long time. In our case, we got pregnant on every attempt, but could not keep the pregnancy. In that situation, there often is an extended period before another round is possible.
posted by centerweight at 7:55 AM on October 7, 2010

Yes I have absolutely been in your position and used ART.

- Have you been in my position? If so, what did you decide to do (keep trying the old-fashioned way or move on to IUI)? I am 39 now and was 36 going on 37 when I conceived. We tried for one year the natural way w/ ovulation strips telling us when to try. Well those strips were telling me I was ovulating multiple times during the month, not at all, etc. Nothing happened. So...off to the infertiltiy clinic I went.

- If you tried IUI, were you successful? How many attempts did it take to conceive?. It took us 2 tries. The first was an unmonitored IUI w/ Clomid. Meaning they did do blood panels to see when I'm ready to ovulate but did not ultrasounds to check follicles and that's it. It didn't work. Next time they bumped it up since they believed you only have 3 tries with Clomid. So they did monitored--multiple ultrasounds, clomid (same dosage--I believe it was 5 days? Don't remember) and added a trigger shot called Ovidrel to force the egg to release and I can 100% say I felt that puppy release. And then the next day we went for the IUI. And 14 days later, our little one said hello.

- If you kept trying the old-fashioned way, did you ever conceive? How long did it take? We tried a year and it didn't work.

- Regardless of your choices, do you regret your decision? A thousand times no. I have the most wonderful, amazing son who makes my life full and complete. I don't have moral objections to ART and worked for 2 years at a clinic. My docs were amazing, kind, funny, patient, understanding--which absolutely helps. Mine went as far as to wait until I stopped crying, consoul me, etc before my HSG (which will be required before you start IUI to see if clomid is even going to work). It's a scary test but it's a necessary one. I was lucky and it showed no blockage so Clomid was a viable option for us. Those who are blocked--not always the case. And if you're scared, ask for a valium or something. I had to otherwise I would have kicked the doc in the face. :) Yea I don't do well with procedures.

What helped me along the way for the million and one questions I had and needed support, Medhelp.org helped a lot. I even had a "buddy" so we tracked our progression/experiences together. This may not be for some because you do see a lot of failures and sadness and even bitterness (one got all pissed off when I conceived. She already had 3 children via an ex husband).

If you need more info or have questions, feel free to MeFi email me. Much luck to you.
posted by stormpooper at 11:09 AM on October 7, 2010

As for naturally conceiving, note that it is a very exact science. People who get pregnant quickly is a rareity. I know you don't want to hear that seeing that it happens (both of our best friends got pregnant after ONE try. WTH is up with that?). :)

It is frustrating, worrisome, scary, etc. but it is also very beautiful, amazing, etc. because if you go down that route, you get news way earlier and see things earlier than the other population. I saw my son at 5 weeks old (yolk/sac) and then finally a little baby w/ heartbeat at 8 weeks. I still have my stick too! I remember my IUI date and silently celebrate it (April 9) and I remember the positive stick date April 25th at 5:32 am. Goes to show you how I feel about the whole experience. :) And I would 1,000% do it again in a heartbeat.
posted by stormpooper at 11:13 AM on October 7, 2010

Memail me for juicy details. But yes, we succeeded with IVF and I have a 3 month old baby boy. Also, I suggest you post your location so people can recommend clinics and doctors they had good experiences with.
posted by bq at 4:17 PM on October 7, 2010

One other thing - you may discover, as you start mentioning this process to people, that many of your friends are going through/have gone through the same thing.

I was very surprised at how many of the couples we knew were dealing with the same problems. And it was great to have someone to talk to about it.
posted by bq at 4:40 PM on October 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

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