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The Fertility Diaries: 3 Friends, 3 Paths to Pregnancy

WebMD Feature from "Redbook" Magazine

By Gina Shaw

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This month, Jody copes with the stressful reality of reproductive treatments, Jenny faces her fear about the health of her baby, and a pregnant Carrie learns from her friends' struggles and losses.

In the first installment of The Fertility Diaries, we met three friends from the Cleveland area, all planning families. Jenny Taylor, 27, and Jody Urbas, 33, have faced challenges and heartbreaking losses in their journeys to motherhood, while Carrie Brainerd, 31, easily became pregnant the first month she tried to conceive. As we revisit this close-knit group, Jenny anxiously awaits the birth of her daughter after the loss of a newborn son to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) only a year earlier, while Jody starts reproductive treatment after enduring a miscarriage and being diagnosed with impaired fertility.

Jody was feeling cautiously optimistic. She had already undergone her first round of intrauterine insemination (IUI) in July 2006: Her husband's sperm were concentrated and injected into her uterus, timed to coincide with ovulation (see "Fertility Treatment: First Steps," below). Even though she was too far into that month's menstrual cycle to take the medications that would boost the odds of success, she'd been eager to move ahead with the process. As Jody put it: "It was just a cycle to see what happens — nothing to lose, only to gain." So she wasn't entirely surprised when that first attempt at IUI failed.

The next month marked the start of her merry-go-round of fertility medications to stimulate egg production and precisely time ovulation. Initially, she injected these drugs into the fat of her stomach. When that method didn't help her conceive, her doctor decided that the injections should go directly into a muscle, which would increase egg production; Jody's husband, Scott, 32, gave her those shots, in her rear end. "They call it the hip, but I don't see how that's your hip," she says. These injections were punctuated by regular blood tests, sometimes as often as every day, to monitor egg development and ovulation. Although Jody was excited at the prospect of finally starting her family, the seemingly endless rounds of tests, syringes, doctor's visits, and bruising were more stressful than she had imagined.

Jody: I started with a drug called Repronex, to create more eggs — so you have more targets for the sperm to hit. Then, when the time was right, I took a drug called Ovidrel to stimulate ovulation.

I didn't get pregnant that first month on medication, and then, when I went to the doctor to make sure I'd ovulated, they saw that there were egg cysts — the sacs that hold the eggs — left over. We couldn't do another cycle of insemination the following month because we had to get rid of the leftover cysts first. They put me on a drug called Lupron to do that. It suppresses your ovaries and puts you in false menopause — you get hot flashes and everything. I'm usually very cold, and I was sweating 24 hours a day. I hated it! And then each cycle, there's barely time in between for the bruises from blood draws and injections to heal before I'm being poked again.

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