Let’s Make a Baby: Part 23 – Covid-19. Crazy times

Stay at home. That’s a directive we are all (hopefully) following. However, despite the fact that our province is on “pause” right now, with all non-essential businesses closed for the next three weeks and a government that is insisting that we practice social distancing, I’m still doing Kim. My daily routine hasn’t changed much. Work is deemed essential, so I’m still up at 3:30am, still working, still home cuddling the pups all afternoon and still trying to make a baby!! Stores are closed though and “extra-curriculars” are on hold, so why not take the opportunity to update you with the latest!

What’s up with baby Sullivan? Well, I’m still on the sidelines. After that last miscarriage, I gave myself a benchmark. My last embryo would only be transferred if I reached a 7mm lining – a thickness I have yet to reach in my almost 3 year journey.

***An 8mm lining is that optimal benchmark for most fertility clinics. I reached 6.7mm once last year but lost the cycle to an uncertain ovulation date. There had been a couple of days between my ultrasounds and we could not be sure of what day I had ovulated. Since I have a 5 day embryo, I have to transfer it 5 days post ovulation. Hence, we had to skip that cycle. This is one of the reasons why fertility patients may be at the doctor’s office every one or two days when going through natural fertility cycles. Ovulation cannot be controlled with drugs so the cycle is more uncertain and closely monitored. This had been my life for the most part of the past year. My two pregnancies / miscarriages were with a 5.9mm and 5.4mm lining reached naturally.

My new benchmark meant I had to also open my mind to other alternatives. Try everything and anything to get that lining to thicken. I had tried acupuncture and enjoyed the relaxation that came with it. I had three sessions covered on my work medical insurance, but did not see significant changes in my results to justify continuing if paying out of pocket. I saw a naturopath and a fertility doula – the latter suggesting that I see an osteopath specialised in fertility (designed to restore mobility and motility of the reproductive organs, as well as help blood flow to the uterus). I was covered for 3 sessions of osteopathy as well, so I went for it. That cycle was when I hit my 6.7mm lining! However, once the cycle was deemed a no-go, I stopped consulting. The problem was my budget. This whole journey is so expensive (plus my renos), I have to pick and chose what to try with each cycle.

In the meantime, I also consulted with another amazing doctor – who actually reached out to my doctor, worked with him and ended up suggesting they “throw whatever we can at you, then pray”! At first, that comment made me feel like I was a lost cause – one that had to be prayed for – but then, it truly warmed my heart. It’s been 3 years. I need those prayers! Pray away peeps! Maybe I should pray a little more too… That, plus start anti-coagulants, apo-pentoxifylline (which also helps with blood flow), baby aspirin and a high doses of vitamin E. My new protocol. This would hopefully help the blood flow down there and allow that lining to naturally thicken!

These changes didn’t seem to make a difference the first month that I tried. It was a bit discouraging as that anti-coagulant’s needle is a thick and painful one that leaves my stomach covered in bruises. However, being positive Kim, I asked to continue the protocol for another cycle, adding platelet rich plasma transfers (something else my doctor was no longer excited about as it had not yielded huge results). Dr Mahutte agreed. I wanted to add more sessions with the osteopath, but she was unavailable to take me on short notice. I googled techniques that could help realign reproductive organs and discovered Arvigo therapy – an Mayan abdominal massage therapy, which was available through the Pine Collective. Knowing it was covered by my insurance, I went for it. AND I LOVED IT! I felt like my therapist, Courtney, not only educated me on how my body worked, worked wonders on me physically & emotionally, but also helped me relax and gave me routines that I could do at home.

** Again – how is it that I am 41 years old and discovering now how my uterus is attached and the way the blood flows there?! Did you know that any misalignment of the uterus and/or any blocked/pinched nerves can result in a hormone imbalance or other conditions that can lead to infertility. Forty one and almost three years of infertility and I discover this now… mindblown… 

With all that, I had a natural cycle of 6mm last month (probably the second best natural lining I mustered in 3 years). “Shall we go ahead with a transfer?”, Dr Mahutte asked. It was a tough decision. My benchmark was 7mm, but this was higher than the linings I had when I did get pregnant. What if I wouldn’t get better and I wasted this lining? What if it did? Did I have time for this (a question asked by friends, family and the bf as well)? I’d be transferring an embryo right at the peak of my busiest time of the year – Irish Season! “Will I ever be not busy”, I responded! The day before my final ultrasound, I was truly conflicted. I had an Arvigo session scheduled and Courtney asked if I wanted to “pick from the deck and defer to the cards”. At this point, why not!!

As I shuffled her special deck of cards and internally asked if my uterus was ready for a transfer, I picked a card. “I can’t believe I am doing this!”, I thought. I’m not sure I really believe in esoteric things, but my non-scientific side likes believing in them… I picked the lumberjack card, axe in hand, sitting on a rock with a half-finished house in the background. Someone working hard, chopping away, yet taking a break and knowing that more work needs to be done in order to accomplish their goal. That’s it. The card had spoken. That and my ultrasound showed that I had ovulated the next morning. Dr Mahutte told me that we could go ahead though – as this time, we knew WHEN I ovulated. However, I saw it as a sign. The lumberjack and my body had spoken. So I chose to wait… a choice I kind of regretted on and off for the next two or three weeks, but a choice I made. That was February 27th.

On February 28th, the province of Quebec saw its first case of Coronavirus.

The world as we knew it was about to change… We were told not to worry too much, so I went about my fertility routine and checked in with Dr Mahutte on Day 1 of my next cycle on March 11th. As I walked out of the clinic that morning, our Premier had a press conference recommending that anyone travelling back from affected zones self-quarantine for 14 days. Interesting, but this did not affect me. The next day, gatherings of more than 250 people were banned. What?! Ok… this meant that the situation was definitely becoming more serious, but it also meant that 2 upcoming galas that I was involved in and the three St-Patrick’s Day parades were postponed. My busiest period of the year had just cleared up! March 13th saw a provincial declaration of health emergency and the snowball effect that came with it.

How did that affect my fertility journey?! I was able to see the osteopath once before she was forced to close up shop. My Arvigo therapist had to stop practicing as well a few days later. She did send me home with fertility massage techniques (including a lower back/sacrum massage that my bf is now a pro at!), pressure points, flannels for my castor oil packs and even herbs for streamings! I was set for “at home” fertility self-care! I was also told about seed cycling – the practice of eating specific seeds at certain points in your menstrual cycle to help promote the healthy balance of hormones to help fertility. So I hit Bulk Barn for flax, sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds! Otherwise, work went on, life went on and the Montreal Fertility Center kept seeing the clients that had started a cycle – like me.

As the world stopped, I couldn’t help but think that this was perfect timing for me to get pregnant. Yes, there is a virus out there, but my busy, event packed life was slowing down too. Was this the world telling me to really stay home, relax and finally make that baby?!

Day 1 ultrasound: 2mm

Day 7 ultrasound: 2.9mm

Day 9 ultrasound: 3mm. I left quite discouraged, but my follicles were still small and there was plenty of room for growth.

Day 12 ultrasound: 6.1mm. What?! 6.1mm! I got pregnant on smaller! Again, my follicles still had room to grow so I was ordered back the next day.

The world WAS slowing down for me to have a baby! How strange that there is a virus taking thousands of lives right now and I am excited about bringing one into the world… If I could reach 6.3mm or 6.5mm, I’m doing it! It’s not my benchmark, but come on… it’s realistic! I even found myself thinking ahead: “ohhhh a Christmas baby… I could announce it to the family on my birthday in July!”. This is happening!

But it’s not. My lining got thinner… I haven’t ovulated yet, but my lining was now 5.5mm at best. 4.6mm in some spots. Why is this happening once again? It’s maybe the 4th or 5th time in my three year journey that my lining just gets thinner all of a sudden. So frustrating. I don’t get it. Dr Mahutte explained that when you get close to ovulating, your body sends a signal to the brain to start producing progesterone, which then thins the lining. My body is too quick on the trigger. So, once again, a good cycle is now down the drain… It’s the danger of a natural cycle – drugs are not used to control those hormones. At the same time, my lining seems to be better when I try these natural cycles… so what’s next?

Dr Mahutte suggested we try half and half. I grow my lining naturally but once I’ve reached a good number, I will be given drugs that would inhibit my brain from kickstarting progesterone and I’d take more estrogen to hopefully get an extra mm or so of lining growth. Sounds good! I seem to be responding to this protocol – half medical with the anti-coagulants, pills and vitamins and half-not with the steamings, nuts and massages! Two linings of 6mm or above in a row has me hopeful for more.

There’s only one problem though. Not only is the province put on hold but my fertility journey is too, as I now fall under the “no new patient” banner. I too now have to wait for this pandemic to go away and our lives to get back to normal in order to resume my journey.

Until now, I had not personally felt the weight of covid_19. Staying home allows us to not only avoid getting sick, avoid transmitting the virus, but also allows us to nip this early on and hopefully get on with our lives (and me making a baby) sooner rather than later. So among all the other pleas for you to stay home – take this one in consideration too! If you are reading this, you want me to have this baby – so let’s do this together!! Stay home! Oh and hey – it also gives us more time to pray!

TO BE CONTINUED… HOPEFULLY SOON

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