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Heartbreak, Hope and Happiness.
Fertility NZ volunteer Billie opens up about her PCOS diagnosis and fertility journey.
It was April 2019 when I visited the doctor about unexplained weight gain and period problems I was experiencing. I was referred for an ultrasound as my doctor suspected I had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), which confirmed my ovaries were covered in cysts. Something I was shocked to discover as I was 26 years old at the time and I had flown under the radar until now. I remember the doctor saying there was no rush for children however, given my PCOS diagnosis, I should start thinking about planning for a family in the following months to optimise my chances of having a family.
My husband and I married in 2017, both unsure if we even wanted a family. We were still young and wanted to travel and continue to live life as a newly married couple. Receiving this diagnosis changed the course of our direction. It wasn't until somebody else said, 'you might struggle to have children' that we immediately recognised we wanted children and why not pursue them now while we can.
We started trying for a baby in June 2019 and were delighted to fall pregnant first shot. We thought we had nailed it and couldn't believe our luck. A few days after we found out, I woke up one morning, went to the bathroom and realised I was having a miscarriage. This was a lot to process when we had just told some of our family. We didn't know a soul who had experienced this pain or loss. Our doctor confirmed this for us and said the chances of having another miscarriage was slim, so we should soldier on with trying.
Amazingly one month later, we fell pregnant again. We were much more reserved and didn't tell many people. We were anxious as ever and paranoid that something would go wrong. I did weekly HCG testing with my doctor, the first two looked great, but our third blood test identified the hormones hadn't doubled as they should have. I was sent for a scan that showed a baby and a heartbeat measuring perfectly. A week later, I started spotting. However, scans continued to show a growing baby. It was torture every time I went to the bathroom. A few weeks later, whilst on a family trip in the USA, I miscarried at a hospital in Hawaii. I was nine weeks at this stage. Again, my husband and I were broken.
We took a break from trying; we needed to heal and give my body a break. In early 2020 we engaged with Fertility Associates to do some further testing to figure out why this kept happening. The testing uncovered nothing, and all our test results came back normal for everything aside from my PCOS. We were still young, healthy, and active; we were confused and frustrated. We didn't think it would be this hard.
Given that I had longer cycles, my specialist decided in February 2020 that we should begin Letrozole cycles to speed things along. We did four cycles, with number four ending in another chemical pregnancy. That was miscarriage number three for us. My specialist had faith we would conceive without IVF and wanted us to keep going with Letrozole. We felt differently and started pursuing IVF with PGS testing to ensure we wouldn't continue to miscarry.
We signed the paperwork, started blood work and did the required needle training. On my last and final cycle of Letrozole, before we started IVF, we found out I was pregnant, and we stayed pregnant. With the help of my naturopath, my specialist and heparin with progesterone.
I carried a baby girl to full term. We welcomed Boh into our lives in June 2021. She's our true miracle baby, our rainbow, and we are eternally grateful for her every day.
This year we plan to pursue baby number two. We are anxious, hopeful, and realistic. It may not be straightforward, or it might. We will be seeking Letrozole treatment again with help from my naturopath and will be right back into the trenches of TTC like so many others out there.
Billie volunteers for Fertility New Zealand. We are grateful to the army of volunteers who dedicate their time and energy to support and comfort others on this isolating journey - we hear you and see you.
The Fertility Support Series is a semi-structured series of three sessions held on consecutive weeks. It addresses topics such as; dealing with thoughtless comments, others' pregnancy news, and protecting your relationship during infertility. It's an opportunity to learn, take control, and meet others in a confidential space.
Fertility New Zealand is expanding our support offerings, and the Fertility Support Series will be available online in the future. We look forward to sharing more about the online programme and pilot programme later this year.