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!


  1. Darn and I wrote a bunch>It was almost like what I went through, I lost 2 babies with RH blood, and all the rest EXCEPT for your last deal>I know it seems dark right now BUT I believe you will have that baby>God hears us and I cant wait for that POST>after I lost the second at 6 mths, I thought EVERY WOMEN in the world was PREGNANT>except me

  2. So I can post as Anonymous???? LOL

  3. You guys really deserve to have a baby. I hope that it happens soon for you, you've gone through so much.

  4. You did a beautiful job on your blog! I wish you a smooth road ahead with nothing but positive news in your future. You WILL have a baby and I can't wait to fly out to MI to meet him/her!

  5. I love you, just hang in there and what is meant to be will be!