Tuesday, March 13, 2012

My Madness...

So, lately I have been reading some other blogs written by women with infertility issues and they have inspired me to write one too!

I am hoping to use this blog as an outlet for myself as well as a place for my friends, family, and anyone else who happens upon it to learn about what couples with infertility issues go through. So here goes....

As you can probably guess by the name of this blog, I am an unlucky victim of PCOS - Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome. PCOS is one of those blanket conditions that encompasses a lot of women with a lot of different problems, but it generally boils down to some sort of hormone imbalance. This imbalance usually causes weight issues, unwanted hair growth (think of your great-aunt Velma and her chin right!), irregular and often absent periods, anovulation (no/infrequent ovulation), and insulin resistance to name a few things.

Pretty much any combination of these things will often lead to difficulty in getting pregnant. Fun, right? Not so much. I would be lying if I said that I miss having my period (AKA- Aunt Flo (AF)) every month, I don't. She's a witch with a capital B, but if it meant not having to deal with many of the above mentioned symptoms/signs of PCOS and infertility, I would gladly welcome the old bat with open arms!

Anyhow, infertility has become my greatest trial in life (so far). I always wanted to have 3-5 children. Both my husband and I come from families with 5 children, and our religion teaches that our greatest mission in life is to have a family, multiply and replenish the Earth, and raise them up to be good, God loving, self-reliant people. We got married when I was 21 and after about 3 months of wedded bliss we decided to go for it and start populating the world. Ha! That didn't quite go as planned.

After about 8 months of trying with no success we went to visit my OB. He had us start the usual protocol of temping and timed intercourse (so not romantic!) and put me on a medication called clomid that is usually the first stop for PCOS victims trying to conceive. Biggest FAIL ever! After a while longer we made an appointment to see a Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE). After taking a medical history, about 3 gallons of blood, and some poking and prodding they decided that I had PCOS...DUH! I already knew that.

This RE office, who shall remain nameless (for now) quickly changed from my salvation to the bane of my existence. They would treat me...after I lost 40 or 50 pounds, but until then all I could have was some metformin, which they peddled as some miracle drug for women with PCOS ("It will help you lose weight and regulate your period!"). Let me tell you about will give you the worst case of diarrhea you have EVER had! And you will have said diarrhea for as long as you take it. I took metformin for no less than 2 years, probably longer, and I had mild side effects from it. Many women I know have severe stomach problems on that crap! And guess what else...I didn't lose weight and it didn't regulate my period. I can happily report that in that 2+ years of medically induced diarrhea I never once crapped my pants. Yay me!

So, I went with the flow for quite a while...tried fad diets, weight watchers, joined gyms, you name it. I didn't lose a stinking pound even with the nonstop squirts. After about 2 years of giving the RE from hell my money every month or two so they could "check my progress" which was code for weigh my fat rear end, I heard a commercial on the radio for another RE. Let me tell you, I made that call asap!

I started seeing my new RE and he assured me that though weight loss could help things along it wasn't necessary. He kept me on the metformin (yay me!) and started me on a monitored clomid cycle. What is a monitored cycle you ask... A monitored cycle includes blood draws and ultrasounds every few days (and not the outside kind...the inside kind! Think medical "novelty" toy, but not so much fun!) Add to that driving into the city, paying a minimum of $5 to park and then walk a couple blocks, and the discomfort of having to be late to work half the time because of monitoring (thank the Lord for understanding bosses!). I did these things willingly. I showed my lady parts to no less than 2 people each visit and got probed and poked repeatedly. It became clear very quickly that I wasn't responding to the clomid, but had to endure 4+ cycles of increasing dosage just for good measure. That is A LOT of probing! And let me tell you about has NASTY side effects. Hot flashes, headaches, hormones swinging haphazardly like George of the Jungle, and other PMS type discomforts.

FINALLY after what felt like an eternity of this my RE agreed that more drastic measures were necessary. In May of 2008 he started me on my first cycle of injectables. Starting on a specific day of my cycle I had to give myself a shot of the hormone FSH in the belly every day until it was time to inseminate. So, a few days before I was to start the FSH I sat down with the nurse who showed me on a foam block how to do the injections. Pretty simple....except for the part where I stab myself with a needle! Every day! That first night It took me 40 minutes and threats from my hubby, to get up the courage to do the injection...and when I finally did it didn't hurt. I was elated! After 10 days of FSH injections and trips to the RE every other day for monitoring it was determined that it was time to induce ovulation...another shot of hormones, yay! Then about 36 hours after that I went in for my first IUI (Intrauterine Insemination).

People always think IVF is the first stop on the infertility railroad, but its not. Typically after timed intercourse is a fail, IUI is the next stop. IUI requires a vial of cleaned and prepped semen, a speculum, and a syringe with a catheter on the end. As the name suggests, the RE inserts the semen into the uterus. This way more sperm are able to get to the egg. It is virtually painless and only takes 5-10 minutes. Piece of cake! Two weeks after my IUI we were told to take a home pregnancy test and then come in for a blood test to confirm the results. My test day was the day after Father's Day, but we decided to risk it and do the test a day early. It was positive! I actually got pregnant on my first try. Many women have to do 3+ IUIs to get pregnant.

I made it through the pregnancy in one piece and gave birth to our sweet little boy Tyler who just turned 3!

So why am I writing this blog now? We are at it again! We hoped we would be one of those couples you hear about who have trouble getting pregnant and do fertility and after they have one kid their fertility issue is magically gone. Nope, not us! We have been actively trying for a year now. I am seeing a different RE this time (the old one joined the first RE's practice AKA: the Evil Empire). I drive 88 miles each way for monitoring, many days with a kid in tow. I am just about to have my 4th IUI since starting to try for baby #2. My first IUI I got pregnant, but had a very early miscarriage and D&C. Just like every other cycle, we hope this is the one. After this we only have 2 more IUIs covered by insurance, and when they are gone, we are done.

We have had to really re-evaluate our goals for a family. At this point in time we think that we will have one more and call it good with 2 kids. The roller coaster of fertility treatments is too draining, emotionally and financially.

So after this novel of our TTC (trying to conceive) Journey, I am hoping to spend more time talking about the intricacies of infertility and its treatment and my experiences with it.

Thanks for reading my story and I hope you'll come back for more!



Nourishing Creations said...

thank you for sharing your experience!!

Katie said...

Thanks for checking it out, Liz!

Elizabeth :: Bébé Suisse said...

Hi Katie, I am here from LFCA and wanted to welcome you to the blogging world! Good luck as you continue your journey to #2.