July 18, 2012
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.
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.
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
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.
February 4, 2011
I’ve been a bad blogger. A bad tweep. And a bad friend. I have a fairly decent excuse, I suppose, but I would like to take the time to let you all know how much I appreciate your support – even when I fell off the face of the planet. Especially when I fell off the face of the planet. These past few months have been… SO incredibly hard. I’ve been pushed before. But never like this.
I know I’ve gained (and likely lost) a few new readers/followers so here’s a quick recap in case you’re new or in case you forgot (because I fell off the face of the planet).
I have premature ovarian failure (POF). I was told IVF wouldn’t be a viable option for me. After three failed clomid cycles, something went amazingly right with injectibles (they don’t know why) and I ended up doing a last minute, unplanned IVF in August 2010. To my amazement, it took! But my first ultrasound at 7wks did not go so swimmingly. They could see nothing. Long story short, after an emergency D&C and a laparoscopy they determined the pregnancies (there were likely two) were in the muscle of the uterine wall. This is something they had not seen before. I was in the hospital for 10 days and had to plead with my RE to get out even then. It has taken almost 6 months and 7 doses of methotrexate for me to lose this ectopic pregnancy and become UNpregnant (but at least I still have all my parts). In the middle of all this, my father’s cancer returned. For a third time. I am his primary caretaker (he’s been in a wheelchair since cancer #2). And he’s not tolerating his chemo well this time.
My father and I are both statistically off the charts – medically speaking. He’s not supposed to be alive. No one has really seen my specific condition before. There will eventually be a paper published on it. I’ve tried to use these statistical odds to my advantage but alas, I have not won the lottery. 😉 I am fundamentally a fact-driven, data oriented person. I have lost faith in numbers. And therefore myself. I now question what I thought I knew as fact. That this shitstorm could not possibly happen all at once to someone who didn’t deserve it for some reason. Bad past life maybe? My last 3 methotrexate shots coincided, TO THE DAY, with 3 of my father’s chemos. This has turned me very superstitious.
Over these past fews months I have, rather unsuccessfully, attempted to not only be productive at work but catch up on projects which were overdue before my hospital stay, go to weekly and sometimes twice weekly beta appointments, take care of my father during 2 hospital stays and several chemos, get him to all his appointments, retain some sort of relationship with Right Guy, get through the holidays, endure countless Facebook posts about pregnancies and kids, and remain sane. It’s this last point where I failed miserably.
When my beta stalled at ELEVEN I pretty much lost it. When you get from a high of 74,000 to ELEVEN you figure you’re done. Not so. I had hoped the new year would bring good news, not bad. I am still trying to recover from that one. It is still a fight to get out of bed and go to work. Even to get out of bed and work from home. Or just get out of bed at all. Every day is a challenge to just function. But it’s getting better. Finally. Thanks to beta=0, pro.zac and am.bien. Even yesterday I couldn’t get up until 1pm.
But I AM better. I think another post will come soon about what it felt like in my brain these past few months. But in the meantime, I want to thank all of you, old and new, for being there for me these past few months. I’m not a person who’s comfortable needing others. But I don’t know how I would have survived without you all. Even if I didn’t respond, please know that I read and appreciate all your comments and tweets. So thank you. And I will try to be a better tweep/blogger/friend from now on. It’s time for me to return the love and support. Bring it. I think I can take it now.
February 2, 2011
My last beta was 3. THREE!!!! Anything less than 5 is considered negative. NEGATIVE. NOT PREGNANT. I’ve just had a 5-6 month long ectopic pregnancy and 7 doses of methotrexate. Shoot me now. But at least it should finally be over. I go for another beta in 2 days.
Given how hormonal I feel these past few days I think I must be returning to “normal.” I wake up sweaty every night. I feel like I could eat a house. And I really really wanted to pick a fight with Right Guy at 5 am this morning. Can I have my estrogen patch back now? Please???!!
And here’s the skinny for those of you who have forgotten or haven’t kept up with me since I fell off the face of the planet:
-Last methotrexate shot was mid January so I’m benched for TTC naturally for three months from then (the MTX could make any new eggs screwy). Since I can’t TTC naturally, the universe has decided that I should ovulate. Which is something my body wasn’t doing on its own back when I was TTCing naturally. Go figure.
-I’m also benched from FET. Using embryos from before the MTX wouldn’t be a problem (I don’t think) except that I’m told my uterus is weak where the ectopic pregnancies were. Too weak to sustain a pregnancy right now. Apparently it could break or something instead of expanding properly. So I have to wait 3 months from beta<5 to get an MRI to see if it heals itself. They have NO IDEA whether it will heal itself or not. But if it doesn't then I'd need surgery to strengthen my uterus before I could do a FET.
-Even if we assume the best… it would be summer before I could do a FET. And the risk of ectopic would still be there. This could happen again.
So I'm benched. And in limbo until May at least. I have no idea if can muster the courage to try all this again or have surgery when the risk of it happening again is still there. It's a lot to think about. So I guess it's good to have the time.