Getting pregnant with baby #2
I feel like I can’t properly tell the story of baby number two without backing up to the months before we got pregnant. If you’re not new here, you know our struggles to get pregnant with Miles, it took almost 2 years, we lost two pregnancies along the way, and ended up at an infertility clinic to conceive. Once you’re part of an infertility program they do A LOT of tests to try to find the cause.
I had more bloodwork than I can remember, multiple ultrasounds, an HSG (which is an unpleasant procedure where they fill your uterus with iodine or water while watching on an ultrasound or taking x-rays to check your tubes for blocks or leaks – I was lucky enough to get two “just in case”), genetic testing, sperm tests, you name it. The first 2 months of our time at the clinic were just tests. And every test came back normal, which was good but also a little frustrating because there was no answer. My diagnosis remained “infertility unexplained.”
Either way, my doctor felt comfortable with my green light on all these tests to move forward with IUI treatments. He also put me on Clomid (a medication that helps women ovulate) even though I was ovulating fine. He said it helped support all phases of the cycle. Our first IUI round failed. On the second IUI round, he had me come in 5 days after the procedure for bloodwork and decided to put me on progesterone. A little over a week later I found out I was pregnant with Miles.
Fast forward to the next year. Miles was here and wonderful and healthy. Michael and I knew we wanted to try again for baby 2 pretty much as quickly as we could. Because it took longer than expected with Miles, we didn’t want to wait around too long for this one. I never went on birth control postpartum. But, I also didn’t get my period back until 11 months postpartum when I stopped nursing. So, it was basically impossible to attempt to get pregnant during that time. Once my period returned, we were ready to start trying a little more actively and at my 12-month postpartum appointment with my OB I brought up that we wanted to try for number two and asked if we should just return to our original infertility clinic. It was actually the first time I had talked to my OB about my infertility in much detail (I switched to this OB when I was 8 weeks pregnant with Miles, so they weren’t the ones we had seen me prior to being referred to an infertility doctor). I told her our experience, the tests, the results, and she said to me, “it sounds like it could be luteal phase defect.”
What is luteal phase defect?
I knew what luteal phase was, just from being in the infertility clinic prior (you learn more about your cycle than you’d ever wanna know), but hadn’t heard of luteal phase defect (LPD) before.
The luteal phase is the stage of your menstrual cycle that happens after your ovulate and before your period starts. As many of us know, during this time your uterus prepares for a possible baby. The reason the uterus knows to do this is that our bodies begin to produce progesterone which triggers the body to do so. If you have an LPD, then your body either doesn’t produce enough progesterone to trigger the lining to thicken, or your body doesn’t respond to the production of the progesterone. If you are pregnant, the body then produces even more progesterone and estrogen to support that pregnancy. Again, if you have an LPD, your body likely doesn’t produce that extra progesterone. As a result, early miscarriage or infertility is very likely since your body isn’t producing enough (or responding to) the progesterone.
The tricky thing about LPD, is it’s kind of hard to truly diagnose. You can’t really know if you have an issue UNTIL you’re pregnant. I had had tests during and after ovulation prior to starting infertility treatment with Miles and my hormone levels seem adequate. So, my body was producing progesterone in the luteal phase, but it turns out was most likely not continuing to produce enough whenever I was pregnant (which is why I had multiple pregnancy losses). I really couldn’t know that I wasn’t producing enough until I was actually pregnant.
Getting pregnant with an LPD
So, the good news was, once we knew it was most likely LPD, then we knew how to combat it, and that’s with progesterone. Essentially if I am pregnant, I need to get on progesterone supplements ASAP in order to make up for the progesterone my body doesn’t produce. Technically, I can get pregnant on my own, which we already knew, but couldn’t really stay pregnant without some intervention.
So, we went back to our infertility doctor in January and the plan was to follow the same thing we did with Miles (ain’t broke don’t fix it, right?). We’d use Clomid to support both phases of my cycle, do an IUI just for extra assurance, and then go on progesterone immediately after the IUI. I had to do another HSG (yay…) just to make sure my tubes were ready, and we had our first IUI in early March and crossed our fingers. Less than a week later, the state of Connecticut shut down due to COVID-19 and a few days later I heard that our infertility clinic was suspending all treatments indefinitely.
If this IUI didn’t take, it would be months and months before we could try again. No pressure.
Well, it didn’t take.
I definitely handled it better than I did when we were trying with Miles. It’s slightly easier to endure when you have at least one blessing. But, I also really struggled with it. I had no idea how long it’d be until we could try again. That unknown felt like another roadblock in the already uphill battle of infertility.
I was 28 when we started trying to get pregnant with Miles. And, call us crazy, but Michael and I wanted 4 kids. I just always pictured myself as that mom with a gaggle of children behind me while babywearing and juggling 2 diaper bags. After what we went through with Miles, we kind of accepted 4 kids was probably unlikely. Going through infertility treatment is a process and I was pretty sure I didn’t want to do it 4 times. Either way, I still really wanted SO badly for my first two babies to be close in age. It took a good week after the failed IUI and news of the clinic closing to just reach acceptance. Then, I had this ah-ha moment. I realized that, just like with Miles, I HAD to trust life’s timing on this. Life’s timing has never steered me in the wrong direction. If I was only meant to have two babies and they are meant to be 4 years apart, then that’s what life wants for me. There’s a reason for that. Somehow this moment of clarity gave me A LOT of peace. Again, it’s definitely easier the second time when I already had my sweet Miles to tuck into bed every night.
So we entered the rest of quarantine not really thinking we’d get pregnant. I mean, we weren’t NOT trying, but we also weren’t too serious about it. I didn’t really want to get pregnant and risk a miscarriage.
Finding out we were pregnant
About 6 weeks after finding out our first IUI failed, Miles was playing in the bathroom cabinet and came out holding a pregnancy test and handed it to me. I chuckled to myself and even said to him, “I don’t need this for a little while buddy.” I placed it on the bathroom counter and didn’t think of it. My period was due to come in a couple of days.
The next morning when I woke up, I walked downstairs and saw the test sitting there. Don’t ask me why but I was like, “what the hell,” and I took it. And wouldn’t you know it, I was pregnant.
I was ecstatic, obviously, and horrified, because the thought of another miscarriage looming is never off your mind after pregnancy loss. I also knew my body needed progesterone if there was any chance this pregnancy would hold. I still had some progesterone from our last IUI cycle and immediately took a dose, and called my doctor later that morning who confirmed that, yes, I should continue on the progesterone. About 3 weeks later I went in for the first ultrasound and heard the sweet, sweet sound of a tiny little heartbeat. Literally one of the most precious sounds in the world.
It’s funny looking back on it, but if Miles had never handed me that test I never would have known I was pregnant and needed progesterone. I may have miscarried, or even had an early miscarriage and never even known I was pregnant.
As for Michael, just like with Miles I did NOT do anything special or cute, I literally barged into the bedroom waking him up and going, “Um, I’m pregnant.”
So, there you have it. The second chapter in our journey of parenthood. We can’t wait to be a family of four, and are only slightly nervous about juggling a 2-year-old and newborn. I’m looking forward to sharing another pregnancy journey with you all! Thank you for all your sweet messages and kind words.