Monday, March 28, 2011

That Old Familiar Feeling

So Josh and I are looking into doing IVF this summer, Dr. H wants my body to heal a little bit more before we jump into it so we have to try on our own (or with meds) until then so we tried this month, and guess what showed up 5 days early? My so called monthly gift!  October was the last time I felt this heart wrenching pain and I did not miss it at all. The first day is always the worst and as the days go by you start planning for next month, but UHG!!!  I hate this first day, I cry and sleep and cry some more, and yes it is easy to say “well we have next month”  but next month turns into the next month and then the next month and before you know it, it’s been a year… is VERY frustrating. And no matter what anyone says which are normally “it will happen,” “everything happens for a reason,” “Just relax,” “stop trying so hard,”  “keep praying,” “God has a plan for you,” it NEVER helps and ends up making me even more frustrated. This month would have been perfect too, because I would have been due in December (which is a special month in my family), and Josh gets out of the Navy at the end of December so we would still have insurance. But noooooo, nothing ever goes the way we would like them too!                 Okay,  I am done with my bitching.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

8 Things you should NEVER say to someone who is dealing with infertility

1.)    "Relax, just stop thinking about it."
This might be good for someone who doesn’t have infertility issues and yes stress does not help, but when you have medical problems “relaxing” is not much of an option.
2.)    “My husband just looks at me and I get pregnant!”
This should NEVER be said to someone who is going through this. It’s one thing if you don’t know that they are having problems, but if you do know and have the balls to say it then you need to be slapped because that’s like pouring salt into wounds.
3.)    “Just stop trying, I know a girl who stopped trying and became pregnant right away.”
Please refer to #1. That is great that happened for that person, but if you have a medical condition like I do and every month that goes by that you are not pregnant decreases your chances of ever becoming pregnant well then “stop trying” just won’t work.
4.)    “Why don’t you just adopt?”
Adoption can also be a long process and just as heart breaking, you don’t just go into a store and pick out a baby, adoption can take years, and not to mention it is expensive.
5.)    “You’re still young honey, you have time.”
Age does have a big factor in fertility but, I was diagnosed with severe endometriosis at the age of 22 so by this time my infertility already began and was told that I need to have children by the time I was 28 because by then I will need to have a hysterectomy.  Ergo, being young doesn’t mean that you have time.
6.)    “Why don’t you just do IVF?”
In vitro can cost anywhere from $10,000 - $15,000 per attempt (and is not covered by most insurance companies) and they can’t guarantee it will work the first time. I don’t know about you but I don’t have that kind of money just lying around.
7.)    “Just don’t be another Octomom!”
This is just a silly statement. Octomom’s doctor was a moron for doing what he did and most likely a normal RE will not put back more than three embryos. And most of the time IUI’s will result you with multiple babies because when you do an IUI you can’t control how many eggs will be released let alone fertilized opposed to IVF where they have control over everything.
8.)    “You should get a surrogate”
In my case I can carry a baby; I just can’t get pregnant so I don’t need someone else carrying my baby. If I couldn’t carry a baby it is a butt ton of money to get a surrogate.  Let me give you an example that I found on a website for a surrogacy agency.
Application Fee $500
Legal Expenses $15,000
This includes all contract preparation; surrogate selection and monitoring; escrow account supervision; final preparation of the adoption decree, and any other legal work necessary to ensure that the adoption and/or termination of parental rights (if in the IVF/ET program) is successful. If legal work is necessary outside of Indiana, we may need an attorney in that state also represent you, in which case there might be additional legal fees.
Medical Expenses $5,000 - $20,000
This includes physical exams and sperm count of the father; physical exam, HSG test (if necessary), insemination/embryo transfer, prenatal, delivery, postpartum care for the surrogate. Medical costs will vary greatly depending on how comprehensive the surrogate's health insurance policy is, or if she even has one. If she does not, you must purchase a policy for her. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY EXPENSES NOT COVERED BY HER INSURANCE.
Advertising/Administrative Expenses $5,000
$5000 is about what this company pays per woman made available to you. If for some reason you need to select a second surrogate, you are charged a reduced ad fee of $2500. If your surrogate does not pass the psychological testing and you select someone else, no additional fee is charged. This fee also includes the administrative costs of our program [all phone calls (our toll free number is provided), regular mailings, faxes, etc.]
Psychological Fees $1,600-2,000
These are the costs for the psychological evaluation and testing that the surrogate (and her partner if she is involved with someone), will undergo once she is selected. Also included is consultation during and after the pregnancy, if necessary.
Miscellaneous Surrogate Benefits 750 - $2,000
This includes a $500 maternity clothing allowance; a $100,000 term life insurance policy which must be taken out on the surrogate (costs about $150); travel expenses to/from and one of several different cities for the medical procedures; a $100 daily allowance to compensate the surrogate for such things as lost wages, child care, meals, etc.; and attorney's fees for the surrogate's attorney ($300-$500).
Surrogate's Fee 0 - $20,000
According to their website Surrogacy can cost anywhere from $20,000 - $80,000
My point is, when talking to someone who has infertility you need to think before you speak, put yourself in their shoes and understand that anything you say to them, they more than likely have heard it at least 50 times before you.

P.S. I have no idea why some of the background is why, I don't know how to fix it.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Marriage & Infertility

As you can imagine infertility can take a toll on a marriage, and Josh and I are no exception. Yes we do get along and I know he is one of my biggest supporters, but men think COMPLETLEY different then women. We had the same argument every month, it is usually when I either get my period or I get a negative pregnancy test. Now I am sure you are thinking…..why would you fight over that? Well it’s not that we are fighting because I didn’t become pregnant that month; it was usually because he and I handle things totally different. For me I would cry for days and beat myself up over it, but for him it was more so, “Ok…..let’s go on to the next month” and he wouldn’t even think twice about it. Now maybe I should be more like him and just move on but I can’t, because I am the reason we can’t get pregnant so I think it is more hurtful for me because I take on the burden of our infertility. It’s not that I expect Josh to break down and cry every month that we didn’t get pregnant, but I wanted some kind of emotion because if I am the only one showing disappointment (not that he is NOT disappointed) then I feel crazy and even more alone then I already do. I think no matter how hard we try we will always be different in the emotional department but, he tries his best and that’s all I ask.
I do have to tell this story though. After my IUI I was crushed when I got my period, Josh was at work so I was alone when the stupid thing arrived. I took a hot shower and just sat in the tub sobbing, I heard the door open and saw Josh standing there and I said “I’m not pregnant,” he then gets in the tub with ALL of his clothes on including his socks. With the water pouring on us he sat behind me and wrapped his arms around me and didn’t say a word which was the best thing he could have done, he just hugged me and let me cry. It felt as if he could feel the pain in my heart and for the first time I didn’t feel alone. It’s amazing that all I needed was for him to not say anything and just hold me as I cry and by him doing that it made me fall even more in love with him.
Whether or not your trouble conceiving is female factor or male factor it is very important to talk to your partner, if you don’t things will just keep building up and in the end you are really causing more damage to your marriage. Don’t get me wrong there are times when Josh and I don’t talk about what is going on, getting any emotion out of my husband is like pulling teeth. But we try our best to understand where one another are coming from.  Something to try is to have at least one night a month where you don’t talk about your infertility or babies at all, even though it is hard not to talk about it because it is always on your mind, but you both need a break. Just remember don’t ignore your marriage, if your marriage is not very strong then you are going to have a very hard time on this journey, you need a support team and your partner should be right on top (no pun intended).

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

That Which Does Not Kill Us Makes Us Stronger!

The story of my reproductive problems began October of 2007 when I had surgery to remove a large ovarian cyst, during my surgery they discovered that I had stage three endometriosis. I was told that I needed to start hormone therapy (birth control) to help control the spread of the endometriosis. The next year and a half I tried MANY different kinds of birth control to help find something that not only controlled my disease, but didn’t make me feel crazy.
On May 9th 2009 Josh and I got married.  We knew it might take us some time to conceive, so we started trying to get pregnant right away. Right then I started my research and became obsessed with trying to conceive. I read any information I could get my hands on. I bought all the books, went to all the right websites, and even joined a group on the web for women trying to conceive. Even though I was “obsessed” with getting pregnant at the time I never thought that I would be the 10% of women in America that have fertility problems. I became aware of everything my body did… every sound it made, every pain I had, anything that was even slightly out of the ordinary I would Google to see if it was pregnancy related. I started using ovulation tests to find out exactly when and if I was ovulating (which I found out later that just because you produce the luteinizing hormone does not mean that you are guaranteed to release an egg.) These tests are not just expensive but annoying.
                In August 2009, I had missed my period and, needless to say, I was so excited, I took a pregnancy test and there was a very faint line! I was told if there is any line at all, then you are pregnant.  So the next day I took another test, and it was just a little bit darker. At this point I was so excited that I told everyone our good news.  Because the line was so light, I had a blood test done by my doctor just to be sure.  Let me tell you, that was the longest 24 hours of my life! After what seemed like an eternity, I finally got the call from the nurse.  She told me: “Well…your levels are too high NOT to be pregnant, but too LOW to be pregnant. So, wait a week or two and come back for another blood test.” I wanted to scream! So I waited and went in for an ultrasound and more blood work. Unfortunately, my levels had dropped completely. This, I learned, is what they call a chemical pregnancy. During my ultrasound they noticed a large ovarian cyst and a bunch of little cysts, so my Gynecologist said he wanted to refer me to a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE). Most gynecologist make you try for at least a year on your own before they will refer you to an RE, but after he looked over my labs he decided that my hormone levels we very abnormal.  Because of other symptoms I had, such as the cysts, facial hair growth, loss of hair on my head, and acne, (Hey, If I am going to share my story, I have to share the embarrassing parts too!) he thought I may also have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) in addition to the endometriosis.
In December 2009, Josh and I started seeing our RE who we will call Dr. H. When you first go to a fertility clinic they run tests on both the man and the women. For the man, they take blood to find out how they are doing hormonally, and a semen analysis to make sure the sperm count and motility are ok. Keep in mind pretty much anything a man does can affect his sperm count, even the common cold can lower your man’s sperm count for up to a month. For the women, we get to have labs, ultrasounds, and most doctors will do a test called a Hysterosalpingogram, or what they like to call an HSG. This test is to see if the fallopian tubes are blocked or open. At the time, both of my fallopian tubes were open. Finally, some good news! After Dr. H reviewed our test results he decided that he wanted to remove the large cyst that I had growing on my left ovary. For some women ovarian cysts will rupture and go away. However, I usually get endometrial cysts which are also called “Chocolate Cysts” because they are filled with dark menstrual blood which gives them a dark, chocolate like appearance. These nasty things do not rupture, but instead grow every time I get a period and generally have to be surgically removed.
March 2010, Dr. H, my gynecologist, and my gyno’s partner did laparoscopic surgery on me using the Da Vinci robot. It took 30 minutes to find my left ovary because of all the endometriosis, which had now grown onto my bowel and sent me into stage four endometriosis. Stage four is the last stage, and the most severe. Dr. H removed as much of the endo and cyst that he could, but was afraid of perforating my bowel if he tried to remove the growth from my colon. So he left what was on my bowels there. After my surgery he wanted to give my body a chance to heal before we started fertility treatments, so he put me on a hormone suppressant drug called Danocrine, also known as Danazol, which I like to refer to as “devil medicine”. (It makes you feel super crazy!) It helps suppress hormones so that the endo won’t grow and my body would heal properly.
September 2010, we finally got the all clear to start our fertility treatments. We started off with timed intercourse. This is when they monitor my cycle while I gave myself Bravelle shots in my belly to make me develop follicles. Once there is at least one follicle measuring 18mm they would instruct me to give myself the HCG injection, which forces the follicle to release a mature egg. After the HCG shot, they instruct you to have sex within 36 hours. I thought this was going to work, but sure enough it didn’t.  We were left to figure out what we wanted to do next.
October 2010, we decided to go ahead with our first intrauterine insemination (IUI)which pretty much starts off the same way timed intercourse does, except this time they upped my meds because I only developed 1 mature follicle so they wanted to see how I would respond to more meds. Well, needless to say I was responding very fast (the follicles were growing too fast) and I had to give myself a shot that slows things down just a bit. Four days later we went in for our first IUI. The night of my IUI I started with severe abdominal pain and bloating, so the next day I went in to my RE’s office and found out that I had over stimulated and was put on total bed rest until things started to cool down.  After about two weeks they told me it looked like my ovaries were getting back to normal, except my left ovary, which had another large cyst on it. But the good news was there was a chance that I could still be pregnant…..but I wasn’t, my monthly “gift” came about 5 days early. For some reason I still felt like crap even though things were looking somewhat normal. Then the fevers started. I went to the ER and was told that I had Pelvic Inflammatory Disease. There they admitted me and placed me on IV antibiotics. Dr. H came in and said he thinks that the infection was in there but the IUI caused it to spread on my left ovary and fallopian tube. After 2 days I went home only to start running another fever. The next night I was readmitted and was told that I needed to have surgery. Dr. H knew the surgery would be complicated because of the extent of my endo and the fact that everything was attached to my bowel. So he called a women's oncologist because of their attention to detail. After 5 days in the hospital I was ready for surgery. Again they wanted to use the Da Vinci robot to help shorten the recovery time. They discovered that I had a tubo-ovarian complex that was 21.5 cm which had pushed my colon over to the right. They removed my left ovary and fallopian tube and put my colon back in place. For the next 2 weeks I seemed to get worse rather than better and still felt horrible pain on my left side.  After a CT scan they found a large abscess were my left ovary used to be, so again I was admitted and the next day I had a drain placed. They did some tests and figured out that during my last surgery they perforated my bowel, causing fecal residue to leak into my abdominal cavity. The hole was small so they wanted to keep the drain in to see if it would heal on its own to avoid surgery. Finally after 14 days in the hospital and 14 days without food I was finally able to go home, where I lived in PJ pants and had many embarrassing moments with my drain.  A month and a half later, after another CT scan and fistulagram, they found the hole did not close. February 2011 I had part of my colon removed.
 It has been a bumpy road so far, but fortunately I am feeling better than I have in a very long time. We just met with Dr. H last week to go over the plans for our next step which we are not sure yet what that will be. I know one day we will have our baby girl or boy in our arms and it will be worth every bump!