Thursday, March 3, 2011

4 years, 5 doctors, where are we now?

Four Years.

That's how long it's been since my husband and I decided we were ready to start our family. We actually made the decision earlier, at his cousin's wedding. I remember lying in bed with him in the hotel that night after the reception. Talking. We always lie in bed and talk. It's the place we go to solve the worlds problems and our problems. It's hard to be mad at each other when you're wrapped in the other's arms, faces inches apart. It's intimate, both physically and emotionally. It's hard to fight in this position, and easy to cry. But there was no fight this night, nor any tears. We'd been married a year and a half, and loved our time together, but thought it was time to invite someone else into the family. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't apprehensive. We couldn't agree on much about names, we both vetoed the other's favorite girl names. I didn't know if I would be a good parent, but I knew I would try.

Five Doctors.

I knew heading into this there were problems. One doctor had suspected I had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and had told me that I probably had never ovulated on my own. So when I went to her to tell her we were ready to try I was VERY surprised at her plan of attack. She wanted us to try on our own for a year. This seemed like a total waste of time to a person who'd been told only a year before that she probably didn't ovulate on her own. But we tried. For a year. And nothing happened, just as I suspected. So I went back and we tried fertility drugs. Three months I spent on Clomid, with migraines so bad I would come home and go straight to bed crying. I couldn't stand light, I couldn't stand movement. It's really hard to get pregnant when you can't stand for your husband to touch you.

So I went back, a glutton for punishment. She told me that sometimes women with PCOS need to loose weight before they can get pregnant.

800 Calories.

She suggested I try Weight Watchers or South Beach. I tried both, and gained weight on them. She insisted that weight loss is as simple as calories in & calories burned. I started out at about 1000 calories a day, but when that didn't have the results I wanted, I slowly found ways to cut down. 100 calories for breakfast. 200 calories for lunch. Maybe a 100 calorie snack in the afternoon, and a small dinner. I never got below 192 lbs. I went back to the doctor to tell her my results, and she accused me of lying.

So I found a new OB/GYN. This one was nice, but completely out of his depth. He suggested I try a reproductive endocrinologist, so I started looking for one. Of course our insurance didn't cover any much closer than twenty miles away, so instead I found a local PLAIN endocrinologist. On our first visit I told him my ultimate goal, to have children. He ran a great many tests. It was during this time that I adopted a new weight loss plan called "give the doctors all the blood they want." It was not unusual for me to give 11-12 vials of blood every few weeks, and for a few months I saw this doctor quite often. After a while I began to feel that tests were being run with little or no definitive results. So I sat down and specifically asked this endocrinologist if we were getting any closer to anything that would result in me being able to have children. His answer surprised me. He said, "I suspect you have PCOS, but if you want to know for sure then you should probably see a reproductive endocrinologist." I looked at him like he had two heads. He had told me pretty much what I knew when I started seeing him.

I felt like I'd just lost 5 months of my life, and we were no closer to having children than we were when my doctor accused me of lying to her. Then, upset, I went to see my chiropractor. Not for fertility issues, but she's given me good advice in the past, fixed my TMJ and we'd discussed in passing that I was trying to have children. We discussed how I was getting nowhere fast and she said that she knew two doctors, not specialists, but they focused on hormonal balance. I decided I was faced with two paths. I could drive twenty miles to a fertility specialist and use the brute force method of getting pregnant. Or I could go a more natural and hopefully gentler, closer, but also more expensive (not covered by insurance) way.

I spent a year and a half on the bio-identical hormone replacement therapy. I won't call it wasted time. We found that I had an underactive thyroid (no wonder I couldn't loose weight) and now I'm free to not obsess about food and I've lost twenty pounds. I'm healthier than I've ever been, but after a year and a half and still no sign of a baby (and a job change that resulted in better insurance) we agreed it was time to try the brute force method.

27 days

That's how long it took the fertility specialists to tell me I was pregnant. Of course it wasn't that simple. I'd been hurting for five days, and knew something different was going on. Horrible pains in my abdomen and lower back that would wake me up at night, or keep me from being able to sit at my desk during the day. When they came on there was no rest, no sitting, no lying, and no bending or stooping; just slow pacing in circuits around the house, sometimes for an hour or more at a stretch. On the few occasions I was stuck in meetings when an attack came on I would be completely unable to concentrate. I left meetings shaking and barely holding back tears for the pain. So when I went in for the blood test and mentioned it to the phlebotomist, and she said, "Well that's good, sounds like something's going on, you wanna talk to the doctor?" I said sure. I can handle pain. I don't exaggerate (I had someone at work ask) and I can work through almost anything and still be productive. I wasn't expecting a pity party or anything, but I did expect to be taken seriously. So when the doctor (it's a group, and I haven't seen this guy before) studied my chart and came in and told me that this was probably just PMS cramps and I haven't had them for 5 days before because my ovaries hadn't been working in the past, but normal women whose ovaries work go through this every month; I was a bit skeptical. Because I swear if normal women went through this every month we'd have a LOT more voluntary complete hysterectomies! I promise!

Still, I was reasonably prepared for them to come in and say the test was negative. They said they would call me with the results, but I wanted to stick around and find out, and they said it would only be an hour or so, and I'm not normally at work until 10:00 anyway. So I waited. She walked by and said the results are coming in now, and then I waited a while longer and wondered what was keeping her. She was in with the doctor, who was as surprised as I was when he heard I was pregnant, after just assuring me that I almost certainly wasn't.

3 weeks

That's how long I was pregnant before I miscarried our child. Our first child, the one I've been struggling to have for over four years. I keep telling myself we've made such progress. This is the first time there's been any evidence that I could conceive. I should be jumping for joy at the potential, shouldn't I? But I can’t find that in me. I’m raw, torn; I feel like my emotions have been tied to the back of a pickup and dragged down a gravel road. I find myself staring into space with an expression on my face, horrified, like I’ve just witnessed a gory murder. Well, I’m partially right.

1 miscarriage and I'm devastated.

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