My husband and I met in 2007 when we were both in college, and we’ve been happily married since 2014. Since we met we’ve moved across the country, acquired numerous pets, and traded off working and getting our respective graduate degrees. At the moment he’s working full-time and I’m working toward my second graduate degree (because apparently I’m a sucker for punishment!). We’ve always wanted children and we are so excited to start a family.
I have always known I would likely have trouble conceiving due to my Cystic Fibrosis (CF), so after five years with no birth control and no pregnancy we booked an appointment with a reproductive endocrinologist in spring 2015. We underwent several months of testing in which we determined:
- I have very thick cervical mucus as a result of my CF, and it’s nearly impenetrable to sperm (so much for all those years of birth control I took as a teenager!)
- My cycles are actually fairly irregular, so while I appear to be ovulating, I often get my period so soon after ovulation that any embryo would find it nearly impossible to implant (in other words, a short luteal phase)
- I have plenty of eggs! In fact, my ovaries look borderline PCOS, but my doctor saw it as a positive. More eggs = more chances for a baby.
- IUI #1 (unmedicated to reduce the risk of multiples) in September 2015: unsuccessful
- IUI #2 (also unmedicated) in October 2015: unsuccessful
- IVF #1 in November 2015: transferred one five-day blastocyst, resulted in positive pregnancy test on December 1st, 2015! Our daughter was born July 31st, 2016 at 38 weeks gestation.
CF is a genetic disease that affects about 70,000 people worldwide. The faulty gene creates defective cellular chloride channels, which essentially means that the flow of salt (NaCl, for those of you who remember your chemistry) and water in and out of cells is all screwed up. As a result, the body’s mucus is very thick and sticky instead of being wet, thin, and easy to move. Many people think of mucus as something that just comes out when you blow your nose, but it’s actually the lubricant that keep many body systems – most notably, the respiratory and digestive systems – working smoothly. So, people with CF tend to have problems with mucus building up in the lungs (causing bacterial infections) and in the digestive system (causing difficulties digesting food). There have been tremendous advances made in the treatment of CF over the past 25 years and these days many CF patients can have a pretty good quality of life.
The progression of CF is different for everyone, and I’m fortunate in that despite having one of the most common and severe mutations of CF (ΔF508), I have excellent lung function and my doctors tell me I can expect to have a normal lifespan if I continue to work hard to maintain my health (and trust me, I do!). It’s a difficult decision for anyone with a chronic illness to have a child, but I feel confident that my husband and I are doing the right thing – particularly because my husband is not a carrier of the CF gene, so there is no chance of passing my disease on to my children. My doctors are fully in support of our plans and I received excellent care throughout pregnancy.
To learn more about CF and how it is inherited, visit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation.
I started this blog as a place to write down all of my hopes, fears, and experiences around infertility. Selfishly, I think being able to get it all down on paper (so to speak) helps me process what can be a pretty emotional journey. However, I also hope this blog can be a helpful resource for other women (with or without CF) who are also trying to get pregnant. I’m a wordy writer and tend to include a lot of detail, so for better or for worse, it’s all here if you want to take the time to read it! I try not to use a lot of the TTC (trying to conceive) jargon because I don’t think it’s very accessible for newcomers to the community, but if there’s ever anything you don’t understand, a quick Googling usually does the trick.
You’ll probably notice that I don’t post any pictures of my husband or myself on this blog, and I don’t give specifics on where we live, work, or are treated. My husband is a very private person and while I love blogging and sharing my story, I have to respect his desire not to have us be easily identifiable. We might “go public” at some point but for now we’re playing it by ear.