I was almost 40 before I ever in my life
tried to become pregnant. I wasn't in an optimal financial
and relationship situation to have children, but I knew
that I had already waited too long. After six months
I went to a fertility clinic because it seemed like
the proper thing to do. My tests came back and they
were poor at best: AMH* was 0.00, a second AMH test
was done with a result of 0.07. I had an ultrasound
and the first thing the doctor said we she saw my ovaries
was "oh my". My ovaries were extremely small
and the antral follicle count was 1 (and I think the
poor doctor just said one because she couldn't bring
herself to tell me it was zero.) After vainly searching
everywhere on the internet, I was struggling to find
any experiences of women who had levels even close to
that low. There were stories of women with AMH of 0.2
and a follicle count of 4 who were being told this was
My doctor said that I was very nearly in menopause
and it was unlikely I would even be menstruating within
a year. She said that I could try IVF
but that there would be a very low chance of success.
It was unlikely I would even get past the first stage
of producing enough viable eggs. But if I was to try,
it was recommended that I do so immediately, because
she felt that even a few months might make the difference.
After looking up what I could on the web,
I started acupuncture and DHEA** supplements,
although it is recommended that both treatments
are done for four months prior to IVF. Other than
that, all I could do was wait until my next period
and decide if I should start on the IVF drugs
at that time. I started taking my temperature
to see if there was any ovulation pattern.
Prior to this, my periods were erratic at best.
Anywhere between 13 - 26 days. I was now at 33
days and not only had I still not had a period,
but my temperature pattern was completely flat.
I was convinced that I wouldn't be able to start
IVF because I had already stopped menstruating.
Any time I felt a bit warm I was wondering if
it was a hot flush and went searching the intranet
for "what does a hot flush feel like".
My libido was gone and was feeling for any cervical
fluids at all. I took my first pregnancy test
at 34 days and it was negative but at least now
I was seeing a rise in my temperature. I took
my second pregnancy test at 38 days and was still
negative. I wondered whether it was bad for me
psychologically to continue taking pregnancy tests
at all and maybe I should throw them out because
I can't keep thinking I'm pregnant when I'm in
menopause. I promised I'd only take one more test
if I didn't menstruate by the next week.
I took the last test at day 45 and it was positive.
I remember sitting on the toilet, weeping like a fool,
with my hand shaking so much as I stared at the two
pink lines that I was getting drops of urine on my leg.
I felt like calling the doctor up right away and telling
her that I was pregnant and what did she think of that!
And she would jump up and down and tell me how miraculous
that was and what a wonderful person I must be to have
somehow managed to conceive naturally without actually
having any eggs and could I come in please so they could
do a case study on me.
The reality was a bit different -- I called for a doctors
appointment but they said that I needed to wait until
about 7 weeks. No fanfare. Those 3 weeks of waiting
was a time of reflecting on whether or not I was just
imagining things. That maybe it was a false positive.
Or that it would miscarry before I would even get to
my first appointment.
I went to see a colleague of the first doctor. He looked
through my chart and congratulated me on having beat
the odds. Then it was up on the table for an ultrasound
to see if it was actually real. By this time I wasn't
really that fond of ultrasounds and was concerned that
he too would say something like "oh my". But
instead his first words were "You do seem to have
done a good job. Over here is the embryo -- you can
see a hearbeat already. And over here is the other one."
And he pointed to the second blob of fuzzy dark-grey
pixels on the screen. Twins.
I'm not really sure if I have a point to this story
at all. I recall reading about other people's "they
never thought they'd get pregnant and they did"
stories and just thinking: Bitch. I didn't feel inspired
or more hopeful at all, just jealous and resentful.
Because for all of the stories of people who managed
to get pregnant, there were hundreds of quiet people
who didn't. I would read other stories about women who
have been trying for seven years and have spent a mortgage
on IVF and have had five miscarriages and know the trip
to the fertility lab better than that to the grocery
store and I would sit at my computer and cry and cry
wonder if I could make it through even one tenth of
that. I'm not sure if acupuncture or DHEA did anything,
since I had only 3 weeks of acupuncture before testing
positive, and only one week of DHEA. The best explanation
of heard so far was "sometimes ovaries manage to
spit out a few eggs before finally shutting down."
*AMH - anti-mullerian hormone - see more information
**DHEA - dehydroepiandrosterone - see abstract
from Human Reproduction about a study performed
by David Barad and Norbert Gleicher showing their findings
of the beneficial effects of DHEA supplementation on
ovarian function in women with diminished ovarian reserve.