Can you briefly introduce yourself and your TTC journey?
I am a 29 year old short, funny, Canadian girl. When talking about infertility I hate saying that I am 29, it leads people to assume that our struggles to conceive have to do with my age when that is actually not true. We started trying to conceive almost 3 years ago when I was the ripe age of 26! I had always been incredibly healthy and fit and with no issues before so we assumed that I would get pregnant quickly. That was not to be the case for us. We tried on our own using temping and charting for a year and then sought medical advice. Seeing a Reproductive Endocrinologist led to my diagnosis of Diminished Ovarian Reserve, even though I was young and most of my hormones seemed to be in an O.K. range. We did 3 cycles of timed intercourse with Clomid. 2 IUI's with Clomid and progesterone support, and then finally one antagonistic cycle (without down-regulation) of IVF with ICSI which resulted in my first ever pregnancy. It has been a long road but I am currently 17 weeks pregnant.
What is your ideal family like? Why do you want to have children?
I think the ideal family is one that supports each other and who spend time doing fun activities together. I don't know at this point how many children would be in this ideal family. We have often said that we just want one child. I stil feel that is true but I am not closing the door on others until later down the road. I really want to have children so that I can teach them all about the many aspects of life. I love science and biology and nature and adventure. I think I'd make a pretty fun and entertaining parent. I want my kids to really EXPERIENCE life.
What was your first method to get pregnant? Just let it happen? Or did you try ovulation monitoring?
We tried naturally for a few months... the standard not trying not preventing... just having all kinds of unprotected sex, and then added in temperature charting. I really liked it. People say that it is so stressful but I found it soothing to know what my body was doing. As our time line progressed without us conceiving I think it's natural to start trying other methods to see what works. I briefly did ovulation strips but I have a really short hormone surge that happens really late in my cycle and was never consistent so it became too much money for hit or miss results.
How do you usually find your support and strength to pass through the low points during TTC?
Good question. It has been hard. On this journey there are always ups and downs. I've had some really low lows. Truthfully seeing my counselor was the best thing I did for my mental health during TTC. Even just knowing that I had a person that I could reach out to if I was feeling really low alleviated a lot of my anxiety and fear. Also the online community that I found through blogging has been incredible. They have helped me so often when I have questions that only other people in the TTC trenches could understand.
Anything you want to say to couples who just start trying?
Do not wait longer than a year to see a specialist. I know they say try a year, fine, do it, but then the next week put in the call. You never know what the issue might be where trying longer may not help and might hurt your chances. No one but my specialist was able to find the reason for my long cycles with short LP but normal hormone levels. It turned out that I had a condition that seriously shortened my window of fertility and I would have had no idea until i went into early menopause. All other Dr.'s kept telling met that I was young and healthy and to just be patient. Get. Help. Early. Some people like to wait to see if things will miraculously happen. Here's the thing most people don't take into account, most clinics have long waiting lists. So, keep trying but get the appointment. Our clinics wait was 6-8 months before you could be seen, keep trying WHILE you wait.
Kaeleigh MacDonald is founder and creator of the popular "Unpregnant Chicken" blog. She has dedicated her journey through infertility to increasing social awareness of the diagnosis and has become a vocal advocate for reproductive health. She has led many university lectures on infertility and its impacts and is currently working with Fertility Planit to increase discussions about the diagnosis. She is happy to be fighting for awareness of infertility and removing the stigma the can typically be attached to such a diagnosis.