Thursday, April 27

The Origins of Our Family: Marriage and Infertility

Ian and I were marrried on August 8, 2003. Most of you reading this will probably remember, as most of you were probably there. That was also the day that we started trying to start a family. Well, "trying" isn't exactly the right word. Let's just say we weren't trying to prevent it. Our thought was: If it happens, it happens...neither of us is getting any younger, and if we wait for a "good" time to have a baby, we'll be waiting until we're fifty. So we happily threw away all forms of birth control and went on with our lives, "Seeing what would happen."

Skip forward one year. Nothing had happened. I read somewhere that having unprotected sex for one year without getting pregnant was the technical definition of infertility. I tried not to panic, thinking maybe it was just a fluke, but deep down I knew it wasn't. I had been having "unexplained" health issues for about 8 years, and I felt that my not being pregnant must have something to do with that. I went in for my annual check up, and, as though fate pulled a string somewhere, my regular doctor was out sick. Instead I was given to Dr. Yeggy who took one look at my chart and started asking me questions like: Did I experience unexplained weight gain sometime in my early twenties? (yes.) Was it hard for me to lose weight no matter what I did? (yes.) Did I have highly irregular menstrual cycles? (yes.) Within 5 minutes she had diagnosed me with PCOS, a condition which essentially screws up your hormones, in some cases making it difficult for some women to ovulate (thus, no pregnancy). She knew this because she herself had the condition, and apparently this made her able to diagnose the problem that five other doctors over eight years were unable to identify.

Once I knew what the problem was, I started taking steps to fix it. I committed myself to a low-carb diet for several months, and while I lost a lot of weight, I did not get pregnant. After that, Dr. Yeggy put me on Metformin, a diabetic drug commonly used to control PCOS. I took that for another 6 months, during which I experienced my first miscarriage. We had now gone 2 years with no signs of a viable pregnancy, and, needless to say, I was an emotional basketcase. This was a horrible, awful, very bad time for me, and this brief overview does little to reflect the wretched being that I became. That issue could be a whole blog in itself, but for now let's just skip right over it.

Finally, last summer Dr. Yeggy sent me to a fertility specialist. Dr. Foulk had gotten her (and, I later found out, a sizable chunk of the women in Northern Nevada) pregnant, and she was sure that he would work his magic for me as well. Upon my first visit with him, I found out that I had not one, but two polyps hanging out in my uterus. First things first, those would have to go. In September I had a hysteroscopy with polypectomy, which is a fancy way of saying they knocked me out and cut out those nasty polyps. (See photo at right...Behold the interior of my uterus!) He then started me on Clomid, which at first I as very nervous about but that would eventually seem like small potatoes compared to the other drugs I had to take. After my six days of Clomid, no egg was growing, and the Dr. said it was time for me to start injections. This is where I, um, well, let's just say I had a bit of a temper tantrum. I couldn't believe they were already prepared to put me on injections just a few weeks after my surgery! But no matter how much I questioned their judgement, the Dr and nurses continued to calmly adopt the attitude that I should just shut up and let them do their job. This was a very angry time for me. So started the series of hormone shots that my wonderful husband had to inject into my belly, also known as the time of she-who-must-not-be-angered-lest-her-hormone-swollen-self-beat -the-living-shit-out-you. The first cycle of drugs ended when I ovulated in early November. Shortly after Thanksgiving they gave me a pregnancy test and I was told that while I was pregnant, it didn't appear to be viable (turns out you can be "a little" pregnant). Sure enough I had miscarriage number two on December 1, at which point the Dr was ready to immediately start me back on my drugs for the next cycle. (Did I mention my anger issues?) The only thing keeping me from laying the smackdown on him and all his nurses was the enormous amounts of baby pics hung in giant photo collages all over the office...all "Foulk babies." So I submitted. This cycle was far worse than the last. My ovaries were stubborn and did not want to pop an egg. I was on injections for twice as long this cycle, and, halfway through, they doubled the dosage of each injection. After our third ultrasound showed that the eggs were still taking their sweet time growing, Ian was ready to call quits on the whole cycle. I, on the other hand, was prepared to see this cycle through and then call it quits...for good. I was tired of needles and pills and taking my temperature every morning. I was fed up with feeling like an enraged she-beast every second of the day. I was done with the baby thing. I would not do another cycle, and I told the nurse so. She agreed. This process was taking too much of a toll on me, both physically and mentally, and if this cycle didn't work, then it was time to "take a break." So I grit my teeth and continued my injections and finally, FINALLY I ovulated on the day after Christmas. And, wouldn't you know it, I got pregnant. It took two-and-a-half years, but we did it. It was a Kwanzaa/Hanukkah/Boxing Day miracle!


ErinBW said...

That is the most beauteous polyp I've ever seen!

ZParents said...

Ahh yes, polyps. But, I was sure it was a lovely rounded set of buttocks!
Wonderful story -- twitch will never question how much her mummy and daddy love her. Let's see some photos of that babers in the womb!

ErinBW said...

Yes, where are Twitch's pictures, hmmmm??