Last spring, Kevin and I decided to start trying for a baby. We threw caution to the wind and had a lot of fun. After three-ish months of trying, I started charting my cycles. After six months, I started seeing an acupuncturist that specializes in fertility. After nine months, Kevin and I went in for some baseline testing. In month ten, things got interesting.
I’ll get to what happened in month ten, but first, let’s rewind a bit. Kevin and I are both young (he’s 33, I’m 27), fit, and healthy to boot. We’re extremely active, we eat clean (85-ish% of the time), local, organic, & non-GMO, drink in moderation, and have no family history of infertility. I’ve always had clock-work cycles. I hadn’t taken birth control since college. There was just no reason to believe things would be difficult for us. But, when I let it slip to my sweet Mama in early 2015 that we were going to start trying, she said something to the effect of, “Oh honey, you’ll be fertile myrtle!” I remember thinking to myself in that moment, I wouldn’t be so sure… I had NO idea where that pessimistic thought came from, but I couldn’t quite shake the feeling that getting pregnant wasn’t going to be so easy for us.
Fast forward to our ninth month of trying. From charting, I knew I was ovulating and had an appropriate length follicular and luteal phase. I knew we were timing things appropriately. We’d been optimistic and as nonchalant in our endeavors as possible (trying our damnedest to heed the age-old advice of “just relax and it will happen”). But, nine months is a long time. A really long time. So, I finally broke down and scheduled an appointment with my OB/GYN and asked my sweet hubby to get a sperm analysis done.
My OB gave me the textbook answer that it can take couples with normal fertility up to one year to conceive. I slapped down six months worth of cycle charts in front of her, told her I had regular 28-day cycles with a clear biphasic pattern and 14 day luteal phase (read: I know I’m ovulating, I know we’re timing sex correctly, and obviously I’m healthy. Something’s not working.) Let me tell you, I was bracing myself for her to tell me to give it three more months, but I could have hugged her for her response to all of this. In a nutshell, since the charts showed her I was ovulating and that we’d been nothing short of thorough in our endeavors, it was time to start some testing. We proceeded to have a gritty conversation about what next steps would look like, which basically meant an ultrasound to check on my uterus, uterine lining, ovaries & follicle counts/size, followed by additional testing with a Reproductive Endocrinologist if the ultrasound wasn’t overly helpful. Her no-BS attitude has been one of the most helpful things I’ve experienced in this whole process.
Cue up cycle ten. I went in for the transvaginal ultrasound my OB/GYN scheduled. The ultrasound tech was this phenomenal woman with 25+ years of experience. She somehow managed to eliminate all of the anxiety I had about her shoving a (very) large ultrasound wand covered in lube up my you-know-where. During the ultrasound she showed me my ovaries, commented on the healthy follicle size (20mm follicle on the left, 14mm follicle on the right…looks like you’ll be ovulating from the left side this month) measured my uterine lining (already 8mm on cycle day 11 – looks great!), and then, it was over. She had me sit up and I thought that was a wrap. But then she said, “Well,” – which, from past experience indicated that the words that would follow wouldn’t be super amazing – “you, my dear, have a unicornuate uterus.” …To which I almost laughed because all I got out of that was UNICORN.
She went on to tell me that a unicornuate uterus was the most rare uterine anomaly (like, so rare that based on my math, only about 35,000 women in the United States are in the unicorn club) and that she’d only seen one other one in her entire career. Fortunately, she told me, it didn’t preclude me from having children, which she knew because the other unicornuate uterus she’d seen was a 40-something year old woman coming in to have her tubes tied after naturally having 3 healthy babies. This still didn’t explain to me exactly what a unicornuate uterus was, so while I was waiting for my OB/GYN to come do a post-ultrasound follow-up with me, I Googled. And found, in a nutshell, that when I was roughly a 6-week old fetus in my own mother’s womb, the two sides of my uterus didn’t form perfectly. For me, only my left side fully formed, which most likely means that I can only get pregnant on the months that I ovulate from my left ovary. Oh, and there was apparently a really high chance that I also only had one kidney (WHAT!?) since the uterus and kidneys are both a part of the Müllerian system. I kept reading. There are several variations that a unicornuate uterus can take, and the only thing that was certain at that point was that I’d have to do more testing. My OB/GYN interrupted my Google search to confirm my findings, and to tell me she would refer me on to a Reproductive Endocrinologist and I’d see her again once I finally got pregnant.
I left feeling somewhat relieved, which was a strange sensation. Knowing that there was a probable reason as to why we hadn’t yet conceived at least provided some direction. But, I’m not gonna lie, it didn’t come without some sadness and feelings of inferiority. I didn’t cry about it until the shock of finding out that unicorns do exist finally wore off some 48 hours later. But then I had a really hard day.