The Dreaded Clomid

JULY 2014

Oh……the dreaded Clomid.

I had heard stories about this powerful pill.

Most of them horror stories.

A few shrugged in neutral disegard.

“Clomid wasn’t that bad,” a friend related her experience. “I took it for 13 months and never really felt that sick. Eventually it did work, so you just have to presevere.”

I secretly hoped it would work for me, but I definitely had my doubts.

The reproductive endocrinologist/obstetrician/gynecologist/IVF Specialist (That’s a mouthful…..Let’s call him Dr.B) explained that the typical protocol is to start with the least invasive thing first….in other words, CLOMID.

It makes sense.

Clomid is cheap as chips and has a much lower chance of “hyperstimulation” – when you overstimulate your ovaries to produce too many eggs and too much fluid. Hyperstimulation can be pretty scary (we’ll talk more about this later) so you can see why Clomid is the 1st line go-to fertility drug….

it’s CHEAP

it’s SAFE

it’s NOT-INVASIVE

and it’s EASY to take (a little pill, no needles, and less monitoring…..which means less appointments with your doctor….which means less money out of pocket). So yea, I get it. I understand why they start with Clomid.

But I was DREADING it!

Now you wonder, what exactly does clomid do? ( I mentioned it in an earlier post, but I will explain it again).

Clomid tricks your brain into thinking that you are going into menopause.

“Hey, we’re getting pretty old here” it says to your body. “I think it might be time to get rid of the last of your eggs before menopause hits.” And your ovaries, of course, try to comply.

So just some food for thought. Why do you think so many older women (late 30’s and early 40’s) are having twins?

Because the body is literally like “Yo, c’mon, you’re getting old. Let these puppies go.” And BOOM….a 40 year old woman gets pregnant with twins. And she tells her friends “Twins don’t run in my family. I don’t know how I got pregnant with twins.” Sometimes the woman is exstatic and sometimes she’s a blubbering mess because she already has 4 other kids and this pregnancy is a surprise.

So when you imagine taking Clomid think of it this way….You are synthetically inducing symptoms of early menopause. Now does that sound like fun to you? In any single way?????????

Before I could start the clomid I needed to have my period. It had already been over two months and there was NO sign of my period starting, so the doctor gave me a prescription of progesterone to take for 10 days.

I have to be honest. I HATE progesterone. I warned my husband to avoid me for next week and a half. My symptoms were exactly as predicted.

Headaches, nausea, breast pain, constipation…..wait up….am I pregnant? Of course not. It’s just freaking progesterone.

So dutifully I take my 10 days of progesterone. My headaches are debilitating and I am unbelievably emotional. The rational nursing side of me tries to console “It’s just the progesterone. It’s just the hormones. Don’t over analyze anything right now. It will be over in a few days!”. My irrational side, though, plops on my shoulder, cheeks fuming red with fury. Rational vs. Irrational. The cacophony begins. Eventually the rational side does win, but it’s a battle. Irrationality pouts and grunts and eventually concedes.

I finish my 10 days and like on cue, my period immediately starts. These bleeds are called “withdrawal bleeds”….so it’s not a REAL period….it’s like the type of bleed that you have when you’ve stopped the pill for the week. Many women consider this a real period, but in reality it is considered a “withdrawal bleed”. When you stop taking your pill your progesterone levels drop and your body is like “Well, I guess we didn’t get pregnant this month. Let’s clear everything out and start over.”

Kapish?

So finally I start on the lowest dose of Clomid. It takes a couple days, but the symptoms eventually kick in.

Migraines

Nausea

Extreme mood swings

Depression

Anxiety

Nightly Panic attacks

It was pure hell AND I was on the lowest dose.

Once again my rational side tries desperately to convince me that it is all a synthetic, external stimulation and that soon it WILL be over. “You just need to push through the month…..push through….push through!”

After a couple weeks of relentless torture, I sit listlessly in a lavender bath. I have tried to “relax” and “recharge” as is the standard fertility advice. Easier said than done.

I have not had a headache free day for over a month. It’s wearing me down. I have no reserve left. I pray daily, but feel no reprieve.

“What if you just peacefully went under the water…and never came back up?” My irrational side whispers tauntingly in my ear. I close my eyes and imagine myself slowly slipping away, peacefully to a pain-free, headache free land. But then I imagine myself rising up for air, panicking and sputtering as soon my breath runs out. Yea, that wouldn’t work.

I open my eyes and quickly jump out of the bath. I am shaking as I dry myself, suddenly realizing the thoughts that had just emerged so sneakily into my mind. I have never had suicidal thoughts before and I am suddenly terrified of how casually I was considering these UNSUBSTANTIATED ideas. I don’t know how I got here but all I know is that it’s problematic.

The most important thing though is ACKNOWLEDGING that there is a problem, and then DOING something about it.

Apply that to EVERYTHING in life.

So there I am in the doctor’s office again. I don’t like looking weak, but I lament my symptoms to him. He listens kindly and agrees that perhaps I shouldn’t do any more rounds of clomid. I breathe a sigh of relief.

“Let’s try a different medication” he offers.

I nod in agreement, but also decline another round of progesterone. I will just have to wait for my period to start naturally, and then we can start again…..this time with an injection called “Follicle Stimulating hormone”.

Initially I feel relief but as I’m walking home a deep pit starts to grow in stomach. Something doesn’t feel right about this and I don’t know why. I have NO idea why I’m freaking out about this, but my gut is telling me to NOT progress with my “ovulation Induction” treatments. Being a nurse for so many years, I have learned time after time to trust my gut feeling. I have learned to tap into that unexplainable feeling that seems to have no ounce of evidence in the moment.

I am shaking when I get home and I pick up the phone to call the office. I immediately cancel my next appointment. A total cognitive dissonance takes over my body and I can’t stop crying.

I am SO relieved

And I don’t even know why.

 

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