Enduring Infertility Treatments and Pregnancy while Managing Chronic Migraine

Our Story

When my husband and I got married in 2005, we decided to wait until we were 30 to start trying to have a family. That would give us 5 years to enjoy being a couple, explore and travel; before embarking on the family adventure. It never occurred to either one of us that we would encounter problems with infertility. I had always been a regular lady with my menstrual cycles and as far as we knew all systems were go on his end. So when we turned 30, I went off the birth control pill and we began to start our family.

After a year of trying, we began to get a little worried; was there something wrong. My OBGYN assured me that from what he could tell, all seemed good, and that sometimes it takes longer to get pregnant for some women. So we stepped up our game by taking ovulation tests and taking my basal temperature (you body temperature rises a few tenths of a degree when a woman ovulates).

At year two, and still no baby; we were like OK, something is up–BUT–we also had just decided to embark on an amazing adventure and move cross country to Oregon. So, for several months until we got settled into our new home, the family making was put on the back burner. By this time, I had established an OBGYN in Oregon , who said that they could put me on some medications that would increase our chances each month–we said sure that sounds great. Then in 2014, we had a MINOR car accident, and that is when the Chronic Pain Chronicles began.

After the car accident (again minor and no one was visible injured) the wheels on my health bus started to fall off. My first cervical surgery was in 2014. Six months later, all the symptoms came back and my second surgery was in 2015. At this point, we were trying different things to help with getting pregnant in between my surgeries, recover and working full time. I was a HOT mess. I was in constant chronic pain, but was determined to get pregnant. In 2016, it was discovered that I had yet another issue that would require surgery. This surgery was a success!

It wasn’t until I had my final surgery in 2016, and had begun the healing process from that; that my husband and I decided to try IVF to become pregnant. At this point we were both 36 years old, and figured if we gave this a try and it worked GREAT; if it didn’t work, we could say we had “given it the college try” and then we would hang up our “parent hat” and move on with our lives. To be honest, emotionally, physically and financially we were both at our breaking point.

All in all it took my husband and I, EIGHT LONG years to conceive our son. Of the eight years when we were trying to conceive our son, I was in chronic pain for four of those years. During these four years, I lived with a chronic migraine EVERY DAY—It was HELL on earth. Those four years, where the hardest and most painful years of my life; both physically and emotionally. But having a family, and getting pregnant was SO much a part of who I was that I did not care; chronic pain and all–I pushed thru each month with fertility treatments to get pregnant.

Diagnosis/ Treatment/Medications

Enduring the stress of infertility treatments without having a chronic migraine is stressful enough. Tack on EVERY DAY searing migraine pain, and it was down right brutal. We were diagnosed with “unexplained infertility”–which basically means there was nothing wrong with either one of us–just for some reason we were not getting pregnant. The most viable option for us was IVF. We of course, took a while to come to the decision to do IVF–for the cost, medications and how they would effect me, as well as the unrelenting stress–which was MORE than a chronic migraineur can handle.

Before going through with IVF–I endured 8 rounds of IUI with clomid or femara. The ONLY reason we did that many IUI’s is because our insurance covered it–and we were up to our NECK in medical bills from all my spinal surgeries and not ready to take on a $20,000 bill for IVF. After my 8th IUI which was unsuccessful, our fertility doctor said–you guys can keep doing this OR move on to IVF—its up to you. At this point as I mentioned above, I had just healed from my final neck surgery. And thought OK, maybe my body, the chronic migraine and ALL the stress my body had been under for 3 years will relax now and we can embark upon doing IVF. Decisions were made and we decided to move foward.

The medications associated with the IVF process ARE BRUTAL for migraine. I felt like I was on a merry-go-round of hormones and pain. I couldn’t be on any of my preventative meds or take any abortives while we went through the IVF process. It was SUCH A PAINFUL time- physically and emotionally. I relied heavily on ice packs and ginger gum to get me through the HARD pain days.

We went through our IVF cycle in March 2017–which would have been almost 7 months post surgery for me. I felt pretty good–still had daily migraine attacks but was in such a better place pain wise than I had been in years–so we rolled the dice and started the process. Our fertility doctor told me that most women who have migraines, will no longer have them while they are pregnant—so I hoped, prayed, and thought good thoughts that I would be “one of those women”. We had our embryo transfer on March 23rd–then waited the dreaded TWO WEEKS to find out if it had worked. On April 1st, I went in to take my beta blood test—it came back positive…I WAS PREGNANT. All the years, tests, drugs, and pain quickly became a blur, as the excitement of FINALLY being pregnant overtook my husband and I.

But, as the months went by—the chronic migraine NEVER WENT AWAY. I endured 9 LONG months with a migraine every day–varying in intensity. But still every DAY. I prayed and prayed that when I delivered the baby that my migraine would disappear. Unfortunately–it did not. And here I am two years later–6 years now of chronic migraine–and a Mom to a toddler.

Enduring infertility treatments and pregnancy with a migraine was HELL on earth. Like I mentioned earlier–you can not take anything for the pain. Yes, it was hard, but I like to think that during that time is when I developed some of my best pain management tools (accupuncture, massage, biofeedback training, emotional freedom tapping, deep breathing, journaling, yoga, meditation etc). Which have come in handy now that I have a toddler and still managing chronic migraine.

If you are going through infertility or considering getting pregnant and you have chronic migraine, I would say follow your gut–for me, my Son has given me purpose to keep going, keep pushing, keep advocating to find a cure for this disease. It is SO SO hard being a parent with a chronic disease with no cure. But I am SO much stronger for enduring all that I did. I am glad I took the path I did, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

If you have further questions regarding fertility treatments and pregnancy while managing chronic migraine please feel free to email me at: the.mindful.migraineur79@gmail.com , or feel free to DM me on Instagram. I am happy to help any way I can.