Saturday, November 27, 2010

My Journey to Motherhood: Where I have been

*Disclaimer: I am going to start blogging my infertility journey on this blog along with all the other things I post about. These posts will mention, not in great detail - but some details, female reproductive issues. If these types of things are not what you want to read feel free to skip any post labeled "My Journey to Motherhood".

Where I have been...oh, my...where to start.... The very beginning is a long time ago, but the best place to begin.

Warning: This post probably will not be short.

I was first diagnosed with endometriosis (endo) when I was 19 after months and months of illness. My first laparoscopic (lap) surgery to laser the endo was in January of 2003 just a couple months before I turned 20. After the surgery I had monthly Lupron shots for six months to ensure I didn't have menstrual cycle in hopes the endo would go away. This was my first foray into high powered hormone therapy. Shortly thereafter I went on continous birth control (BCP) to keep the endo at bay. This is a common treatment for women not seeking to get pregnant but can really mess with the body's ability to regulate hormones later.

Fast forward a few years to 2008. I married Mark in May and we wanted to start family building right away. Figuring that it wouldn't be easy given my past, I tossed the BCP so we could get started on the journey...and what a journey it has been.

Our first infertility (IF) consult was in November of 2008. This was at the 6 month mark of trying...when anyone should seek help if they are actively trying to get pregnant but haven't yet (do NOT believe people that say it should be a year...the extra 6 months do not generally make a difference). This appointment was with my regular OB/GYN. I had 3 periods in this 6 months and things were NOT going well.

That appointment was the first time poly cystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) was mentioned, but I was told it "mild". Clomid was prescribed (along with provera to start my period) and off we went. And nothing happened...for 4 months, still not having periods on time, still no baby.

So in May 2009, we did what my friend Julie refers to as "get thee to an RE". An RE is a Reproductive Endocrinologist or fertility specialist. In meeting with the RE and many test later it was determined we had female factor IF only and the diagnosis was "annovulation" (in normal people speak...ovulation isn't occuring correction). In my case, NOT at all, without fertility drugs. I also had another endo lap and to make sure my tubes were clear...endo was lasered and no other problems found. Back to Clomid. No dice.

In November 2009 we decided to bump it up a notch and try injectible fertility medication. Time out for facts: This involves nightly subcutaneous shots of highly purified follicle stimulating hormones (FSH) along with transvaginal ultrasound (yes, you read correctly) and blood hormone monitoring (these u/s occur 4-5 times in two weeks). Followed by a "trigger" shot of human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) to induce the follicles to ovulate. And then the part which won't be talked about here because this is a family blog;) It also involves somewhere around $1000-$1200 a month to be paid to the doctor and pharmacy. The basic idea is to flood the body (in a highly controlled manner, of course) with the hormones it doesn't have in hopes that it will do what it is supposed to do. Very inexact science, but its the best they have right now, so we don't knock it too much.

The first round of this therapy was "text book perfect" except for one baby. So we tried again because these things can take time. Second round...great follicles, great lining, great...never mind. And two weeks later...double lines on a home pregnancy test (HPT or pee stick)!!!!! Whoo-hoo. The journey is over!

NOT yet :(

My first betaHCG (blood pregnancy test) was 40. Low, but early. Test again in a few days. Now 70, officially not good. Then 67, there will be no baby. I can't even begin to describe in words how I felt right then, only those that have been there can "get it".

Because we were planning a "vacation of a lifetime" for May, I went on BCP to "hopefully" keep my body from getting all out of whack again. Except that I bled really badly on the pills (for anyone reading this that has such an experience, I can not stress enough the importance of demanding an ultrasound to see what is going on in there). When I went off the pills, no period.

That was because a super giant cyst had been forming on my right ovary. As in 84mm (about the size of a softball) and it was messing up all my hormone levels. It was removed via lap in June 2010. Good news...again, everything else looks fine.

At the same time, my ovaries were drilled to allow my body to ovulate on its own easier or at least be able to go back to oral meds (like Clomid). That procedure was pretty much a bust. We did three rounds of oral meds: 1-Clomid, thin lining; 2-Femara, horrid depression and low progesterone; 3-Femara, same results.

Back to injectibles. And here I should interject that we have never lived closer than 2 hours to the RE and this was a crazy amount of driving to the doctor we were doing. If this doesn't work we are switching to a closer doctor.

It didn't work. In fact, it was the WORST treatment experience yet. So many things didn't go right and my body didn't respond well at all. The final kick was super low progesterone (which has probably always been a problem but wasn't being addressed).

On to a new doctor and he also suggests injectible meds, but with progesterone. AND he believes the PCOS (remember from the 4th paragraph?) should be addressed with Metformin. Huh, this is new. We are now tired of doing this same thing and expecting different results, have spent upwards of $8,000 on the process and have no baby.

So we want a "break" from all this medicine. And this is where we turned to somethinge new...which, sorry it took me this long to get to it, is why I am now documenting the journey. I want to share this new plan.

Except that I am worn out from reliving all that as I wrote it, and that was the short version! Next time, I will share "Where we are going". Thanks for sticking around, feel free to leave comments and if they are questions I will do my best to answer them!

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