I once had a doctor tell me to get pregnant right away or I would never have kids.

I was twenty.

He was old-school and this was way back when they knew NOTHING about endometriosis. Except that it existed.

My endometriosis has never been that bad, fortunately. And I decided not to marry the guy I was with at the time after envisioning our life together. The one where I had kids but was completely miserable because he and I were totally wrong for each other.

I always knew I would have issues getting pregnant. I never understood what, exactly those issues would be, but I knew they’d be there. But I guess I also thought they would be more… defined. More clear cut. As in, you CAN’T have kids so don’t bother trying. Or you CAN but you’ll just have to work at it a bit. Not this seemingly never-ending spiral of you can’t, oh wait you can but you can’t carry, or maybe you can but you have to go about it just so, or maybe you can’t, or maybe we just don’t effing know.

Fast forward. Wrong Guy and I decide to TTC. Within a few months of ditching the birth control pills I’m in horrible pain and end up on Lupron while he’s in Afghanistan. When he comes home we pretend to start TTC again. I say “pretend” because, although I was no longer on Lupron I also wasn’t ovulating. Lupron is the devil. Fertility work-up shows he’s shooting at about 10%. Doc says there’s no chance we’ll get pregnant with a sperm count like that. Then he tells me he’s in love with someone else and asks for a divorce.

Ah, the ups and downs of life. And my prospects for kids. It all really is a roller coaster.

Behemoth roller coaster in Canada

Fast forward again.

Still devastated from the divorce, I work my ass off to get my life back on track. I go to grad school, graduate, get a good job and buy a house. All in preparation for one day adopting on my own. At that point I’d given up on romance/partnership/marriage.

So, of course, that’s exactly when I meet Right Guy. And start to think maybe, just maybe, there’s still time and a chance to do the natural family thing.

Cue hot flashes. I ignored them for far too long. I was too embarrassed to admit them to Right Guy. I remember him commenting how sweaty I was one night. I said it was just the crowded bar we were in. I finally confessed to him after waking up soaking wet in his bed in the middle of the night – I had soaked his sheets. Caused by my night sweats. All I could do was cry and apologize profusely for “wetting” his bed and dirtying his sheets. He just held me.

Later we discussed it. Being a doctor he offered the “I’m sure it’s not menopause” speech. Him being a doctor was partly why it took me so long to tell him. It’s weird (well it WAS weird) to be diagnosed by your partner. Anyway, I made an appointment with my GYN. Who also gave me the “I’m sure it’s not menopause” speech. But ordered bloodwork just to check. And came back with the “It IS menopause and you’ll never have kids” speech.

Then I go see an RE who says that it’s a long shot, but it could happen. I start HRT (hormone replacement therapy) and the hot flashes subside. I start to feel somewhat sane again. But I don’t ovulate on my own. The eggs, they are gone.

We try some Clomid. It makes me ovulate. Sort of. As long as I use an estrogen primer (you can’t be on estrogen while taking Clomid but you can use it just before you take the Clomid). Gradually my eggs begin to reappear. I go from two antral follicles to about eight. Go me!

But I’m still not pregnant so we move on to injectibles. That cycle I think I started with THIRTEEN antral follicles. Which is how I ended up with SIX eggs in play and did a last minute conversion to IVF. And then got a BFP!

Woo hoo! This worked! I am going to have a BABY!!!!

Um no. I’m not. Instead of a baby, I’m going to spend ten days in the hospital and get chemo (methotrexate) and spend a total of five months psuedo-pregnant as we watch my beta HCG fall back to zero and get more chemo whenever it decides to stop falling. And, oh yeah, now I have another fertility hurdle called adenomyosis and this crazy ectopic might happen again. Oy.

Irony of all ironies? I start to ovulate on my own. No more hot flashes. But my uterus is damaged so I’m not allowed to TTC.

Pops dies of his 3rd cancer.

One full year after our surprise IVF I am cleared to TTC and do a FET. I get pregnant AGAIN!!!

Wow. Apparently I get pregnant pretty easily. Well, as long as I do IVF.

Um, no. Not so much. It’s ectopic. AGAIN. But this time it’s a run of the mill ectopic. More or less. The chemo doesn’t work fast enough and I end up in surgery having my tube removed. But I was allowed to go home afterward so no hospital stay at least.

My body returns to regular ovulatory cycles with no hot flashes. But I’m benched for three months.

The very first month we are cleared to TTC what happens? The hot flashes return and ovulation, while still happening, is not occurring regularly.

Sometimes I really want to graph the major events in my life. In 3D. So I can capture not just the highs and lows but all the twists and turns. I bet it would look like the craziest roller coaster EVAR.

roller coaster toy

Well maybe not EVAR. My life has really not been that horrible in the grand scheme of things (I’ve always had a roof over my head, a loving family, etc). There have just been a lot of ups and downs and twists and turns. I love roller coasters. But I always wanted a normal, run of the mill life.

I think what bugs me most is the suddenness and/or the unexpectedness of the ups and downs and twists and turns.

I didn’t see the divorce coming. People usually see it in hind sight. Although I can see a few things now that I didn’t see then, none of them spelled D-I-V-O-R-C-E. I was totally blind sided on that one.

Pops’ cancer? I can’t say that was a total surprise in and of itself. It was more of a surprise that he survived it. Twice. We kept expecting him to die. And he kept not dying. That was… mostly… a good thing. But then you get to a point where you start to think, “Maybe he’s not going to die of cancer.” And that’s when he did.

Same thing with my infertility. My body keeps doing strange things. I don’t know what’s real anymore. Am I really entering menopause in my 30s? I thought so before and my body somehow ‘bounced back.’ So now that it’s tanking again, I have to wonder, “Is this really it? Or will I make another comeback?” There’s really no predicting it. It defies modern medicine.

There is a part of me that just wants it to be done. Get me off this ride. Make it stop.

But I’ve posted that before: Get Me Off This Crazy Ride
Jane, get me off this crazy thing

But that’s silly. This is life. Life is not going to stop being crazy. Something new, and potentially crazy, is just around the corner. It might take you up, it might take you down. Or sideways. Or upside down. Life is like Space Mountain – a roller coaster in the dark. You can’t see where you’re going, you’re just along for the ride.

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Ring Of Fire

July 8, 2010

♪ ♫ I fell into a burning ring of fire. ♪ ♫
fireOr rather, I woke up in one. I woke up with one of the worst hot flashes I’ve ever had this morning. Not THE worst but pretty bad. And it surprised me.

I realize that hot flashes are a very common side effect of Clomid. This is the third time I’ve taken Clomid. The last two times I never had any cramping or hot flashes while taking the pills. The cramping started after I finished taking the pills. That was true for Cycle 1 & Cycle 2. In Cycle 2 I had hot flashes after finishing the pills but not during. So that’s why I’m surprised by my current symptoms.

I think I know why. And it gives me hope. Likely I’m grasping at straws and reading too much in to this. And I’ll probably regret posting this optimism for all the world to see. But maybe, just maybe, my theory is correct and I will not only respond this cycle but respond better than I did the first time (hopefully with more than one mature follie).

Let’s see if this makes sense to anyone else…

Cycle 1 with Clomid was preceded by 3 months of HRT (estrogen replacement for all 3 months and 2 months of progesterone). My estrogen had actually gotten quite high. In fact, my RE thought maybe I had a cyst because it was so high. But I didn’t. So she decided that I must just absorb the estrogen from the patch better than most people. In any case, I went in to Cycle 1 with fairly high estrogen levels. Hence the lack of hot flashes. And since I had estrogen, that cycle worked.

Cycle 2 with Clomid was preceded by Cycle 1 + 1 month of BCPs. At the end of the month of BCPs I was already fairly miserable with my normal hot flashes. I get them if I’m not on real estrogen. BCPs do not do the trick. So anyway, I somehow managed to avoid the hot flashes while taking the pills. My guess is that my estrogen was already so low the Clomid didn’t make it go any lower and part of what makes a hot flash is a lack of estrogen but the other part is a drop in estrogen. There was a lack, but not a drop. Cycle 2 produced no mature follicles on CD12. Although my body managed to finish the job and ovulate on its own a week or so later, I really didn’t respond well, if at all, to the Clomid. My RE and I decided that I need that estrogen primer before any treatment.

So now I’m on Clomid Cycle 3 (I was going to move on to injectibles but due to other stressors in my life decided to wait another month on that). This time I’m taking the Clomid after 12 days of estrogen. It was supposed to be at least 14 days but my cycle was all kinds of screwed up last month so it’s only 12. GoldilocksBut I’m wondering if this might do the trick. Silly? Probably. But what if my ovaries are like Goldilocks? They require just the right amount of estrogen – not too much and not too little but just the right amount.

So anyway, for now, I guess I’ll try and make friends with the cramps and the hot flashes in the hopes that they indicate hard working ovaries. Right Guy will just have to put on another sweater while I turn the AC down a little more…

At my last appointment I had the usual ultrasound which showed that my cyst was gone. That meant I could go off the birth control pills, wait for a period and start Clomid again. Now, those early morning wandings are never done by my RE – I guess she sleeps in. Those ultrasounds seem to always be done by the fellow (or, as Right Guy keeps pointing out, they could be residents – but I’m pretty sure they are fellows. Fellows > Residents). In any case, it’s fairly common for me to see a different one every time. Although I have spoken with her on the phone, I haven’t actually seen my RE for several months. So this fellow was giving me the spiel on what to do next. Granted, I have only done this once before. But I know the drill. I didn’t really need the spiel.

Part of his spiel was letting me know that I could choose when I stopped taking the BCPs if I wanted to try and time things based on my schedule. I don’t know, maybe he was worried I was going to the beach for the holiday weekend and wouldn’t want my period to start until later. Whatever the reason, he felt the need to explain my options to me. Having used continuous BCP to treat endometriosis in the past, I’m pretty much the queen of timing my period when I have the option to do so. So I was barely paying attention to what he was saying (I was thinking about my calendar and when Right Guy will be working overnight shifts). Until he said, “but the ovaries are really in charge.” My reply: “If my ovaries are in charge of all this then they need to be under new management.”

Seriously? Are my ovaries running this show? Geez, I hope not. I was kind of hoping the RE was. I’d like to fire the CEO of my ovaries. She’s asleep at the wheel. If I take Clomid that seems to smack her around a bit so she wakes up long enough to kick the ovaries in to hyperdrive. But that’s really shoddy management. I’d rather they just worked at a normal pace all the time than be jolted out of a deep sleep and be told to run. Maybe I need to call in Donald Trump. He’s good at firing people. Maybe I can hire him to fire my ovaries?
You're Fired!

Anyway, I suppose I’ll just have to let them do their thing. I don’t really have much control over it. I suppose I could try giving them a stern talking to (practice for when I have a teenager maybe?). But that seems a bit silly. I’m trying to eat really healthy and swim regularly. And I think I’ll go get a massage soon. But that’s about all I can do. Besides wait. Although I kind of wish I had been able to be on the estrogen going in to this like I did last time. I think the hot flashes are going to be brutal this time. I’ve been off the HRT for 2 months. The longer I’m off the worse they get. And the ceiling fan above my bed is already on high.

Tomorrow I start the Clomid.

Momz Part 2

May 10, 2010

So. I did it. And I survived. I’m somewhat bruised, but I survived. Fortunately, even though my father was not really much help, one of his friends was around to help me. My counselor had suggested that since Right Guy would be working today and couldn’t be there that I have someone or something planned to help me feel better after talking with Momz. Pops is always hit or miss with his moods these days but he is normally who I would turn to so that was my plan. But he was a bit of a miss today. But two of his friends were over for dinner (it’s a weekly Sunday night get together) and those two are kind of surrogate fathers to me – they helped him raise me. So that was good.

I told her. I pretty much spit out all the facts and waited to see how she would react. Perhaps I should have done it in phases. There are essentially two news items for her to react to: (1)my condition and the health issues and (2) the fact that we are trying to get pregnant. If I knew I wanted her to react to the first item first perhaps I should have held off on the second. But no, I’m a glutton for punishment and I set myself up big time. My bad. I really should know better.

Of course she reacted first to the news that we are actively trying to get pregnant. While not married. That was the VERY FIRST THING out of her mouth “What about marriage?” As if a little thing like a legal document that I don’t even care about matters in this situation. Will a marriage certificate get me pregnant? I don’t think so. Will the few eggs I have left care whether or not we’re married? Doubtful. Will his sperm stop to knock on the egg’s door and request a marriage certificate before entering? Not f*cking likely. Will marriage prevent me from getting osteoperosis? Nope. But I still had to spend about 20 minutes justifying not being married.

And then she asked a strange question. I’m pretty sure it was not idle curiosity. She wanted to know if we were… ahem… doing this at home or were there ‘procedures’ involved. I could be mistaken but I feel fairly confident that she wanted to know whether I was actively sinning by having sex with the man who lives in my house or if we were being good Christians and having my doctor inseminate me with his non-sinful sperm. WTF? Only my mother would ask this in that context. Maybe she just wanted to know what else she needed to pray for. I thought my sinner’s soul was already on that list but maybe she just likes to be specific about WHICH sins to pray for.

You might be wondering how many of my predictions came true? Let’s see….

1pt – She did indeed tell me about all 3-5 of her miscarriages (2 of them she’s not sure about because there was no confirmed pregnancy). Mercifully not for a full hour.
0pt – She did not make any hot flash jokes.
1/2pt – I don’t think she knows anyone with osteoperosis. But she did mention her sister and how hunched she is these days. And how she is now taller than her sister because of this (see Tell Me About Your Mother… to find out why height is such an issue) le sigh
0pt – She did not tell me she was happy that I was trying and although she did refrain from Bible lecturing she definitely made an issue of me not being married.
1pt She will indeed be praying for me. Fortunately there was no laying of hands on me in public or private.
1pt – She showed me all of her natural supplements for bone health.
1pt – Make me feel uncomfortable? Check.
1pt – I did get a hug and she did talk about herself for an hour.

My score: 5.5/8

What was I most surprised about during this encounter? I should have known. There’s always something that, in retrospect, I feel I should have expected but somehow didn’t see coming. With Premature Ovarian Failure sometimes there are known causes. Chemotherapy and genetic disorders top the list for causes. And then there are other things that are not direct causes but are often found as co-conspirators so to speak. That list consists mainly of auto-immune disorders and heredity. My RE has pretty much ruled out everything in my case- including heredity. My RE ruled out heredity because I had told her that my mother went through menopause at the normal time – sometime around age 50, maybe a year or two earlier. Which is true. And completely normal.

I know this because I distinctly remember being in a mall with Momz when I was 16 (which would make her about 49) and she was fanning herself with her hands and in general making quite a spectacle of herself. There was nothing discrete about it. In fact, she even explained herself to the female employee working the jewelry kiosk. “It’s menopause. I’m having a hot flash.” I was mortified. I was 16. What other reaction could I have possibly had at that age? It is etched in my brain. And every time I have a hot flash in public I remember it. Because I refuse to be her. And honestly, the hot flashes do SUCK. But I have never felt the need to engage in histrionics while I’m having one – in public OR in private. Strip naked and stand in front of the AC vent in my own house? Yes. Wave my hands about wildly? No. This story is really hysterical when I tell it in person and can imitate her.

So when she asked if it could be hereditary because she had gone through menopause early I was a bit mystified. And she wasn’t asking this in a “OMG, I’m sorry, could I have done this to you by passing along bad genes?” sort of way. It was more of a “OMG, maybe I have this condition too and they just didn’t know about it back then!” sort of way. She sounded almost… excited. All. About. Her. Always.

Anyway, I survived. It could have been much much worse. And I no longer have to pretend everything is wonderful if I don’t feel like pretending. So I’ll just have another glass of wine and put this Mother’s Day to bed.

It’s such a simple thing.  It seems silly to blog about.  But my ceiling fan has become such an important item in my life recently.  I never thought much about ceiling fans until last year.  Sometimes they seemed handy but mostly I just didn’t care or notice whether they were above me or not.  Now I find them a necessity. ::sigh::  I’m not sure if that’s depressing or amusing.

Much like my estrogen patch, my ceiling fan is a source of comfort for me.  Literally.  When I wake up in the middle of the night and throw off the covers she is there to soothe me.  She cools the hot flashes with a quick ease.  Unfortunately she is dying so I had to replace her.  And like most home improvements, things just didn’t go quite like I thought they would.  So she’s been AWOL the past few days.  But yesterday I got her back – well, I got a replacement anyway.  And I can once again sleep in peace.

So this month I went off my HRT so I could take Clomid, followed by an Ovidrel shot. While taking the Clomid I didn’t notice many side effects. Maybe a few hot flashes but not as bad as I was having before this roller coaster ride. Other people complain of horrible hot flashes while taking it. So I guess I was lucky. But after finishing the Clomid I got really crampy. And then the shot made me even more crampy. But it wasn’t until after ovulation that my old friends Really Hot Flashes and Night Sweats came back to visit. I’m trying to remember to take Melatonin at night so that I can fall back asleep quickly after they wake me up. And fortunately, they are still not quite as bad as they once were. But I fear they will work their back to that level if I stay off the HRT for too long.

My estrogen patch has become just like a security blanket to me. I don’t like to be without it. It represents restful nights and peaceful sanity in my brain. Until, of course, my estrogen level rises to high (which it did last month). And then the crazies come. No really, I felt emotionally unbalanced before the HRT. I’m amazed that Right Guy moved in with this crazy person. I suppose it’s only because he got to know the balanced me first. 😉 Swing too low or too high on the estrogen levels and I go a little nuts.

I really do dread the end of the 2ww with no estrogen to keep me sane. I’ve made it this far. But I can feel the crazy voice in my head trying to say something….