Finally getting around to this SITM post. It's been rattling around in my head for quite some time now, just haven't had a minute to sit down and type it out.
The SITM topic for Winter 2010 is to reflect on the ways that the blogging community provided support for us personally in regards to infertility in 2009.
Here's our long story:
In 2001, when I was 19 years old, on my way home from a wedding in Philadelphia I had severe abdominal pain on my right side. Thinking it was appendicitis our whole two car caravan stopped in Ohio somewhere about 5 hours from home at an emergency room. After many hours in the ER we found out that I had an ovarian cyst on my right ovary and they sent me on my way with pain meds and orders to see a gynecologist at home. I had never been to an OB/GYN before, so it was a scary ordeal. I remember vividly thinking that my then boyfriend would hightail it out of the relationship as soon as he dropped us off at home. As I found out later, my mom even talked to him about this and that no one would think any worse of him if he didn’t want to continue the relationship. Of course this is the last thing Mike would have done.
After I finished my spring semester of college, I had surgery, to remove the cyst. Before going under the OB/GYN told me that it was going to be laparoscopic, quick and easy. When I woke up I had searing pain across my whole abdomen. Come to find out the cyst, which was the size of a coke can had wrapped itself around my fallopian tube so doing a small surgery wasn’t possible. I walked out of the hospital with a nice c-section size scar, 1 less fallopian tube, and low risk malignancy spots. Even though I was only 20 at the time of the surgery I made sure I asked the OB/GYN if this would cause problems later on when I wanted to have children. The answer I received was absolutely not. Being so trusting of doctors like I always have been, I believed her. By this time Mike and I were engaged and planning a 2004 wedding.
That summer we talked a lot about having kids, and wedding things, etc. We had three years until we were going to get married, it would give me time to finish school, and get my student teaching done. Mike is 4 years older than me so he would be 26 when we got married, and I would be 22. It seemed like a sensible idea. The surgery really changed things, and we decided to move the wedding up a year, giving us a jump start on having children, and make it so I was a year younger when trying to have children. We got married in October 2003, in the midst of my student teaching.
We waited until summer of the next year if I remember correctly to try getting pregnant. Knowing that I only have one tube that it could take a little longer, but we had our spirits up. Naïve and unknowing we tried for a few months. Around September, 2 years after the surgery we went back to the OB/GYN (the same one) and started talking about ways to help us get pregnant. We started on clomid in December which coincided with my first ever airplane trip with my in-laws to California. It was an interesting trip to say the least, being sick on the Clomid, timing sex in the hotel room next to my in-laws and trying to be up-beat at the wedding that we were attending and dealing with my father-in-laws erratic driving on the California highways.
We did this for a few months, and then moved on to Femara. Each time I produced several eggs, but never any big enough. The triggering injections, U/S’s, and blood work were awful to a person like me that almost threw up every time she saw a needle. At the time I trusted the doctor completely, didn’t do any of my own research and followed everything she said. We also did the HSG and found that I didn’t have any blockages.In February of 2005 the OB/GYN told us that she felt our only chance of success was to do IVF. She went on to say that it normally only works the 2nd time, and that IUI’s weren’t going to do it for us. My husband who had been doing research on his own asked about PCOS. The OB/GYN very quickly brushed us off, saying that she didn’t believe that to be the case for us, and didn’t even give us any chance to talk about it. We told her we would think about the IVF and let her know. I was 23 years old, and the prospect of that big of a voluntary medical procedure really scared me.
Both Mike and I talked a little about it, but it wasn’t something we were willing to spend the money on. It was around $10,000 a try, and 2 tries meant $20,000. We decided at that time that we would rather take the money and adopt. We both have cousins in our families that are adopted, and it was something that we had talked about early in our journey through infertility.
We set down the path of adoption in 2005, researching agencies, and types of adoptions. We decided on international adoption because we weren’t comfortable with an open adoption, and I wasn’t old enough to adopt locally given the international adoption age was 25. We chose Guatemala for a few reasons including that they would accept us because I was young, that they had private foster care for the children, and had babies as young as five months coming home. One of the parts of an international adoption is the huge amount of paperwork including a full physical. I hadn’t been to a regular doctor in quite a few years, so I switched to Mike’s doctor. He did a full workup including blood work, EKG, etc. After the results came back he called and talked to us, saying that he believed that I had PCOS, and prescribed glucophage, a cholesterol medicine and talked with us about losing some weight. Of course I was really upset at the OB/GYN, knowing that we asked and were dismissed. I never went back to her again.
We continued forward with our adoption, turning in all of our paperwork in February and in March received a referral for our son, then 5 months old. He came home to us in December 2006, 18 months after signing up with our agency. It was the best decision we ever made, and we couldn’t have been happier.
Two years later, we thought again about expanding our family, not wanting our then nearly 3 year old son to grow up being an only child.
I chose a different OB/GYN and went in for a consult, and annual exam. Coincidentally the new OB/GYN had just started a partnership with Dr. Jarrett, an RE in Indianapolis. No one in South Bend does infertility treatment beyond clomid type stuff because there isn’t a market for it. We met with Dr. Jarrett in Jan. 2008. He told me to lose 30 lbs., and come to see him in 3 months when that was done. We found that Dr. Jarrett had a strange bedside matter but he was at least willing to talk to us and help. After we told him about the history he was shocked that the previous OB/GYN dismissed the PCOS, and that she even attempted clomid.
I thought it was pretty much a lost cause, 30 lbs in 3 months. I knew it was going to be awful, but I stopped cold turkey on the carbs like he said and the weight flew off. In March I remember being extremely nervous to talk to him again because I had only lost 26 lbs. He was happy with that and we started again, on pills that I don’t even remember at this point. I again responded find with the number of eggs, but not the size. In the late summer or fall of that year we started on injectible drugs, which was a big deal given my deep hatred towards needles. I did better on the injectible drugs, but still never achieved a pregnancy.
On May 18, 2008, I lost my Dad to liver cancer and so Mike and I took some time off. I just knew I couldn’t go through with things at that point given the stress, etc.
In September 2008, I had laparoscopic surgery in to remove scar tissue from the first surgery I had, and to make sure there were no blockages, etc.
In December 2008, we drove to Indy, about 3 hours from us to talk to Dr. Jarret about our prospects and the probability of us actually achieving a pregnancy. He suggested also doing IVF. I said No right away, but Mike didn’t. He wanted to try it. Dr. Jarrett agreed to give us as much of the meds as he could, and to discount the surgeries as much as he could. I still said No. His advice to us was to think it over and call him when we had both come to the same decision. He also told us that he believed our chances to be over 65% on the first try, give that I was only 27 at the time. I knew that I couldn’t take much more disappointment, let alone the financial burden it was going to put on us. It wasn’t until March of 2009 that we called him back, agreeing to do the IVF. I’m not sure what changed my mind, knowing the amount of money we were going to spend and the amount of heartache that we could be facing. My mom agreed to help us financially with some of the money my Dad had left from insurance policies. She said it was exactly what he would have wanted the money going for, so she gladly helped us out. We refinanced, found another loan, and added to our already little mountain of debt to try IVF. Mike and I both agreed we would do it one time, and if things didn’t work out, we’d be done, and enjoy our life as a family of three.
We didn't agree to IVF until 2009, which is when I really started reading through IVF/Infertility blogs. I stumbled across this blog: She really became inspirational for me in many ways. Reading about her IVF success, and the subsequently about the birth of the boys, and following and getting advice for our twins, born on 12/18/09.
We began the process, had a retrieval in April, and the transfer on May 5, a Sunday. We had 7 eggs removed from one side, and because the other ovary just hangs out from not being connected, they couldn’t get to it to pull any from that side. Over the course of the 5 days that we waited, 5 fertilized, and only 2 made it to the proper size to be transferred. The transfer on May 5th, was a bit anticlimactic, and I had the gut feeling that things did not work on the way home. I was convinced that we were going to be a family of three and was working on making peace with that decision.
The day before our HCG check Mike left for a conference, so I decided to do a home pregnancy test, even though it was a bit early. It came up positive and I remember so carefully carrying it to our bedroom because I had done it without Mike knowing, in case it was negative because then I wouldn’t have to tell him. He was cautiously optimistic and we told no one.The next day was the HCG and also the one year anniversary of my Dad’s passing. Needless to say it was bittersweet when the lab called with our results, a positive HCG, with a reading of over 200. I thought it was a bit high, but no one else did. The repeat number showed over 500 so the numbers were more than doubling.
A 6 week ultrasound was scheduled and so we just waited some more. In June, we found out that I was carrying twins. Both eggs had taken and both embryos showed good heartbeats and were measuring ahead. I was scared out of my mind and so was Mike. I was convinced that something would happen that we would lose one or both of the twins.
Fortunately nothing went wrong until October when I was put on leave early because of high blood pressure and swelling. The girls decided to come early, on December 18, 2009.
It’s been an emotional roller coaster, lasting nearly 8 years, and even though I had success, and have three beautiful children now, I will always consider myself infertile and I know I will never forget the pain that comes along with it.
During the process I read through many blogs related to IVF/Infertility, but one that I really started paying a lot of attention to was: Soo See
I read with fascination throughout her pregnancy, later comparing it to mine, and now read through as a guide to what to expect out of our own twins!
Having a community of people to go to and ask questions, or just read through success or failure really helped get me through an extended leave, and now I still keep track, rooting for people who I have no idea who they are. It's become a way for me to connect to others that have issues like me, without having to shout from the rooftops, or wear a sign saying "I'm infertile!" Hopefully someday, we'll all be able to get past the idea that infertility means something is wrong with us, but for now, at least we all have one another to get through it!
The one thing I learned to prepare for next year is to start knitting the socks early. There was no way I could get the socks done for my buddy, so I had to buy some handmade ones instead.
My SITM buddy for 2010 is Ali She recently lost her dad, so go give her some support! (I can't tell you how excited I was to receive a package all the way from the UK)
I will post my sock pictures soon!