Monday, December 21, 2009

What's wrong with you, anyway?

Before we could completely commit ourselves to pursuing embryo adoption, we had to make sure it was actually a viable option for us. So we found an infertility clinic "near" us (it was actually a 4 hour drive away), and made an appointment. We wanted to get a full work-up and see if there was any hidden problem that would make it dangerous for either me or the babies should we try to get pregnant.

That visit convinced me of the value or seeking an expert in the field of infertility to work with you towards your goals. It took the doctor a couple of minutes to diagnose me with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) and probable endometriosis, after every primary care doctor and gynecologist I had ever seen had failed to see anything wrong with my history of long-ish cycles, acne, and severe period pain. In fact, when they did the ultrasound that day, they found not only cystic ovaries, but also that my uterus was swollen out of proportion ("like a tennis racket instead of a pear shape") from adenomyosis, which meant that not even laproscopic surgery would be able to remove the endo pockets that were buried in the muscle of my poor uterus.

This explained a lot of things, like why my cycles weren't normal, why I was in so much pain when my period came every month, and, of course, why we hadn't been getting pregnant. They also ordered a whole battery of tests for me, including anti-thyroid antibodies, insulin/ glucose tolerance testing, and more in-depth hormonal studies. These tests revealed that I was just barely in the abnormal range for most of the PCOS markers, and wasn't insulin resistant. They did put me on a low-glycemic index diet, but it honestly didn't do a thing for me, probably because my PCOS doesn't appear to be insulin related.

The big news was that nothing I had was something they felt would prevent me from being able to experience a normal, healthy pregnancy! So much so, that the doctor didn't think we should be pursuing EA, because he thought I would get pregnant easily with a couple of "minor interventions." We took his opinion for what it was worth, and left with the determination to turn in our application, because, after all, our visit wasn't to see if he could get us pregnant on our own, and his conclusions had further drawn our hearts to care for babies in a freezer.

PCOS resource page- A simple overview of what PCOS is. After my own research and experience, I don't agree with everything on this page, but it's good for giving a general idea of what PCOS is.

Adenomyosis- I picked this page because the picture at the top looks like what my uterus looked like in the ultrasound. The information is a good and simple overview of the condition. I have not, to date, gone through surgery to see if I also have endometriosis or not.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Closing doors and expanding horizons

I learned the hard way about the "happily ever after" stuff. I mean, I never expected my marriage to be perfect, but I did expect life to go roughly as planned. Which it did, for about a year, and then we started trying for a baby. I had a miscarriage the day after my positive pregnancy test that first month. I never even told family or went to the doctor. But wait, at least now I knew I could get pregnant!

Never say that to a woman who's just lost her baby, by the way, because it might not even be true. It wasn't true for me. I've never conceived since. I wonder, now, if that pregnancy wasn't ectopic. I mean, I've never had my tubes looked at, but it makes sense for them to be scarred, given what I was eventually diagnosed with.

10 months later, I knew without a shadow of a doubt we had a problem. I know, I know, it takes 1 year of unprotected intercourse to be infertile, but I had no doubt whatsoever that we would get there. That guideline  applies to every couple, regardless of whether or not they know enough to time things correctly, and because we had been using the Fertility Awareness Method to chart my cycles since we got married, we knew when we could potentially conceive. Each perfectly timed cycle has between a 20-25% chance of resulting in a pregnancy in a couple of normal fertility. If you can do math, that's 4-5 cycles, 6 to stretch the chances out a bit.

Now, I don't say that to scare anyone. I personally know several women who had charted and timed intercourse and conceived on their 8th, 10, 13th months, for example. But I'm a little a lot scientifically oriented, and I knew we should be pregnant by now. I also knew my cycles weren't nice and textbook, and it looked like things were getting worse. So I started looking for help. I started supplementing with Maca root (which did help my cycles, by the way), futzing with the amount of light I let into my bedroom at night, drinking more water, and I scheduled an appointment to get some bloodwork done.

I also started researching what our options might be once we were actually classified as infertile, beyond the hope/despair/try harder cycle. A good friend of mine pointed me to an online forum for offering Christian support to infertile women, called Hannah's Prayer. There I found all I wanted to know and more, from women who had been through medical treatments, the adoption path, fostering, you name it.

It was there that I found a new thing. Something that had not been mentioned once in my years at a Christian University. It hadn't been mentioned in my nursing classes, nor in my ethics classes, nor in my philosophy classes,  no matter how much we covered conception, the beginning of human life, and the issues surrounding high-tech infertility treatments. Hannah's Prayer had a section dedicated to embryo adoption, and it seemed like I couldn't learn fast enough. What an obvious arrangement- why had I never heard of it before?