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Paula's Pregnancy After Infertility Journal

~ Meet Paula

Hello! I'm Paula (42). My husband, Jeff (41) and I will be married for 13 years this year. We were married for seven years before trying to conceive our daughter. I'm the kind of person who likes to be prepared and at 35 years old, I knew I needed to maximize our chances of getting pregnant.

While visiting our best man and his family in Miami, his wife showed me her copy of Toni Weschler's book Taking Charge of Your Fertility. I immediately went out and bought a basal thermometer to begin charting my fertility. My cycles have always been very regular and I'd been off the birth control pill for five years. I charted three cycles to see if there was a pattern. Sure enough, all my body signs gave a clear indication of when I was ovulating. On the fourth cycle, we decided to try to conceive. Like clockwork, I was pregnant!

I assumed that my pregnancy would be uneventful. After all, my great-grandmother had had 18 children! My fertility gene pool had to be better than average, right? Wrong! I spotted my entire first trimester with a lot of cramping. It was completely nerve-racking, but I managed to get past that first trimester.

My second trimester was dramatically different. I'd never felt better or more energetic in my life, but that was cut short when I started pre-term contractions at 23 weeks. After modified bed rest and repeated hospitalizations to stop the contractions, I went on full bed rest and medication every four hours at 32 weeks when I was 1cm dilated. Our daughter, Julia was born healthy at 37 weeks. My girl just turned 6 in February. She has been a pure delight and I am so grateful that we are her parents.

In July 2002, we decided to try for another baby. We were both 38. My cycles were still regular - nearly always 28 days with ovulation pain around day 14. We didn't anticipate any problems. November came, and with it another cycle. I decided to check with my primary doctor sooner than later. She took some blood and ran several tests. I was shocked to find out I had Hashimoto's Disease which is the primary cause of hypothyroidism. One of the symptoms is decreased fertility. I immediately began medication to get my thyroid levels into a normal range. This took several months. In the meantime, I could hear my "clock" ticking every single cycle.

By fall of 2003, we still hadn't had any success despite perfect timing every month so I consulted with a reproductive endocrinologist. She wasn't very encouraging. "Poor quality eggs" was her tentative diagnosis based on my age. Still, we went through a battery of tests and by early-2004 attempted an intrauterine insemination (IUI). I responded too quickly to the medication and ovulated early thus ending the cycle.

We decided to proceed with an in-vitro fertilization (IVF) cycle which had been my RE's initial recommendation. I responded well to the medications and to her surprise, she retrieved 15 eggs. Of those, 11 were mature and 10 fertilized. One 6-celled and two 8-celled embryos were transferred back. Despite daily progesterone in oil injections and Crinone suppositories two times per day, my period showed up 14 days later. None of the other embies survived either. We were heartbroken.

After a four-month hiatus, we decided to meet with another RE for a second opinion. She disagreed with the "poor quality egg" diagnosis, but we were considered unexplained. I underwent surgery in April 2005 to remove a fibroid and uterine septum. After several months of more perfect "timing", we did two unsuccessful IUIs. One more IUI was scheduled, but I decided to take a break during December. Truthfully, at this point I was running short of hope. I was just going through the motions for the third IUI, but in my mind I was already planning on discussing a donor embryo cycle with my doctor.

December 2005 was hectic as you can imagine. My mother-in-law came to visit for five days right after Christmas. Our New Year's Eve was low-key, and we did our requisite "baby dancing" and then I dismissed the two-week wait from my mind. That is until I was late…I got my positive on January 18th! Two days after my 42nd birthday.

Forty-seven cycles of perfect timing later; it's been a loooooong road! I'm looking forward to sharing it with you.

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