Today I’m so pleased to kick off a 3-part series about Jill’s own longtime struggle with secondary infertility and the miracle premature birth of her daughter Lilly.
GUEST POST By: Jill Ackfeld, Preemie Mom & Owner of LillyBelle’s Closet
I can’t believe it’s already been 13 years since my husband and I naively decided it was time to give Joey a little brother or sister. Joey was just over a year old and we thought two years would be great spacing. I had been on Depo Provera to prevent any “surprises” and it was time for my next injection. I was so excited to skip it and actually get to PLAN a baby! Joey was a “surprise” (we don’t like to say accident) at 18 years old after a few skipped pills.
We had it all planned out … It’d probably take a few months for my body to get back to normal after stopping the Depo. We’d work on getting Joey into a toddler bed and on the road to potty training. And in maybe a year or a little more Volia! We’d be a family of four!
A few months went by and my cycles were all over the place. 45 days here, 18 days there. I talked to my doctor who brushed me off and told me to be patient and give it a year. A year went by and my patience had long since gone out the window.
I made another appointment with my doctor. This time he whisked out a prescription of Clomid and wished me good luck. He said to let him know how it turned out. He didn’t ask me about my cycles, did no education on timing, (Remember, at this point I was just under the impression that you have sex without protection and you get pregnant…simple as that) and he provided no information about support.
So, off I went and took these “magical pills.” They made me feel crazy, and I had weird unidentifiable stabbing pains in my abdomen. I believed that those were the signs it was working. Hubby and I did our part and imagine my surprise (and TOTAL devastation) when 2 weeks later my period showed up. I had HAD IT! Time to find a new doc and a new plan!
We live in a fairly rural area so there is no such thing as a “fertility specialist” around here….even within a 4 hour drive. The best this area has to offer is OB/GYNs who have a “special interest” in infertility. So, I found me one of those. After waiting the 2 months it took to get in with this doc, it took him all of about 5 minutes to diagnose me with PCOS and prescribe Metformin. He immediately told me all about anovulation, weak ovulation, luteal phases, proper timing, proper positioning (who knew???) and loads of other things I would have never thought you needed to know to simply “make a baby”.
He developed a very aggressive plan that, he assured me, would have me pregnant in the next 3 months. JACKPOT! I found a winner! And we started his plan….without insurance…paying cash out of pocket for each and every step.
- 1500mg of Metformin every day (making me miserably ill) $4/month
- 100mg Clomid cycle days 5 – 9 $35/month
- Follicle monitoring every other day in his office (vaginal ultrasounds) starting cycle day 12 – ovulation at $250 EACH ultrasound
- And an HCG trigger injection when my follicles had matured $75
For 3 months we monitored to cycle day 18 before he’d finally give up and say my follicles were as big as they’re going to get (at about 14mm) and go ahead and give me the trigger shot. That’s 3 months at about $2,000/month (including the charges for office visits). Still no baby. His miracle, sure-fire plan wasn’t working.
I told him I needed some time off. I give up! Yes, I was pouting. I was devastated. Why won’t my body work??? The pity party lasted about 2 months before I just couldn’t deny any longer how empty my heart (and my womb) felt and I was ready to go again. I called to schedule an appointment only to find out my doctor had been in a horrible accident and was no longer practicing! He was the ONLY doctor in this area with a “special interest” in infertility. Another road block.
At this point I really began questioning God. Does he hate me? Does he think I’ve been a horrible mother to my son? What have I done to deserve all of this? Why do I NOT deserve another child? Am I asking for too much? It was just about more than I could bear. And again, I gave up. I had some healing to do….within myself, in my marriage (infertility takes it’s toll) and with God.
So, we moved on with life. We never PREVENTED pregnancy. Joe and I resigned to talk ourselves into what an adventurous life we were going to have as empty-nesters at the young age of 38. And life began happening. Joe’s job was becoming unstable and he needed to seek a new career path. He ended up going back to college for 5 years. Months passed, years passed. We focused on our son and doted on him every material luxury and ounce of attention he would allow us to smother him with. We focused on Joe’s education and what exciting opportunities his new career path would open up for us. We focused on travel and became addicted to cruises.
Essentially, we focused on everything we could in order to NOT focus on the void in our lives.
Months passed….cycles passed….YEARS passed, and as the time slipped by the yearning in our hearts grew strong again to the point we could no longer NOT focus on it. Joey, our 14 year old son, who had asked several times throughout his life for a little brother or sister even began asking again. We were at a really good place in our lives and Joe was almost finished with his BSN degree. We were going to have time to focus on the infertility struggle again, so we nervously and with guarded hearts decided to give it another go.
By this time (almost 10 years since we first started trying) the internet had really evolved. Over the years I had done SO MUCH research on everything infertility and PCOS that I fancied myself somewhat of a “couch expert” on the subjects. I KNEW what I needed and wanted to do. I KNEW my body and what it was telling me. Now, I just needed a doctor who would allow me some control in helping to guide my own care.
My previous aggressive doc had still not returned to practice so, I made an appointment with the very first doctor again….the one with the RX pad and no follow through. Waste of time. He offered me Metformin again, which I gladly accepted, but refused to try the Clomid that I knew I would not respond to.
Next try … I found a new doc an hour away who “supposedly” had an interest in infertility. In 30 minutes time I learned that he did not “believe in” PCOS, wouldn’t treat it, and demanded a 6-month regime of Clomid trial and error before moving on to more aggressive treatments, even though I assured him Clomid would not work for me. Ugh. Total frustration and defeat.
There was one other doctor the area who I heard rumor of having a special interest in PCOS AND infertility. One problem….I had worked with this doctor in the past, and after witnessing his recklessness with patient care, I had decided I was never letting him touch me with a ten foot pole! HOWEVER….I was at the point of desperation. And this would be my third try at doctors. Third time’s a charm, right? Joe and I discussed it and decided that since we were both nurses, we knew enough to not let him do anything that would harm me. We were going to throw caution to the wind and give him a chance. I went to that first appointment fully prepared for yet another letdown.
But much to my shock and surprise he LISTENED to me! He TRUSTED me! He actually said the words, “You know your body a lot better than I do, I just met it.” He had me at that moment. I KNEW this was going to be our savior. I knew it so much so that I allowed this man who I swore would never touch me with a 10 foot pole schedule me for surgery the very next week….on Friday the 13th.
He had attempted an HSG and discovered I had “severe cervical stenosis”. Essentially, my cervix was totally closed with scar tissue….a built in diaphragm of sorts. Nothing was getting through there! His plan for surgery was to dilate and open my cervix, ovarian drilling, and look for and remove any potential endometrial scarring. Dilating my cervix was successful, and I didn’t have any signs of endometriosis, however, he was unable to do the ovarian drilling. It wasn’t until I woke up from anesthesia that I found out I had so many cysts on my ovaries that drilling would have meant putting over 100 holes in EACH ovary.
He opted for a wedge resection and removed approximately 1/3 of each of my ovaries. He said we could begin trying again a few weeks after my surgery and whaddya know??? I ovulated on my own for the first time in YEARS just 10 short days post-op! I had 3 “normal girl” cycles all on my own for the following 3 months. But, I still was not getting pregnant. I was ready to take serious action.
I scheduled an appointment and went in prepared with my “demands”. I sat down and looked across the room at him and said, “I want to try Femara.” He said it wasn’t time yet…..that I needed to give my body just a few more months. I instantly started bawling. I said, “It’s been 10 YEARS! I don’t have a few more months of negative tests in me! Please! I can’t take it anymore!” He sat there staring at me for a long time and finally… “When you get pregnant, are you going to come here for your prenatal care?” I replied, “Of course!” He turned around and began writing. When he turned back, I saw the prescription in his hand. I started shaking and crying all over again. I wanted to snatch it and RUN before he could change his mind. It was like my little ticket to the child we had longed for for so many years. I KNEW it was going to work!
I took that little pill….that little miracle in a bottle….with the excitement of a kid at Christmas every morning for 5 days. And I waited. I peed on sticks…..I took my temperature….I over-analyzed every little twitch and twinge in my abdomen. And cycle day 14 came and went….the day a “normal girl” ovulates. Day 15….day 16….and on day 17 FINALLY the blessed temperature dip and it was accompanied by a GORGEOUS positive ovulation predictor test! This was it! I KNEW this was it!
I felt it more than I’d felt anything in my life. Hubby and I did our part and then we waited…..again. I started testing 7 days after ovulation. Silly, I know. I must of peed on 3 -5 sticks a day every day, and when I wasn’t peeing on them I was analyzing them. Holding them in different lights. Showing them to anyone I could talk into looking. Taking pictures and posting on the internet for my message board friends to obsess with me.
And then there it was…..11 days after ovulation…..the first positive test I had seen in 13 years!
You would have thought I’d startscreaming….jumping up and down with excitement….shouting from the roof tops….calling my husband at work with an “emergency call”…. Nope. I just stared at it. I wasn’t happy, excited or giddy. I didn’t believe it. I posted pictures on the internet and the girls all confirmed it. Ok, so it was indeed positive.
Huh. I stuck that test in a hot dog bun and put it in the oven. When Joe came home from work I told him the oven was acting funny. He went to looked and just looked at me strangely. He said, “Why is there a bun in the oven?” I started laughing and said, “Because God put it there.” He stood there for a minute and it hit him.
“Really? Like really really?” He said.
I said, “Yup.”
And we hugged and held each other for about 5 minutes. And we breathed.