Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Houston, We Have a Problem

A hummingbird lives an average of 3-4 years. Contrary to popular belief to the tune of 24 hours, the average housefly can live 8 days to 2 months. The average life expectancy of a glass thermometer in my house ran about 3 weeks. Those of you who have ever lived or died by squinting at a tiny glass cylinder and counting hash marks know what I am talking about. One of the first and simplest things I ever did in regards to trying to have a baby (beyond the other easy and first thing you should try of course) was sticking a thermometer in my mouth every morning without fail before rising and recording the results on graph paper. Sometimes this helped me to feel like I was in control of something at least - but most of the time, it really just frustrated me further. My chart not looking the way it should. Oh I had plenty of peaks and valleys - but there comes a point where you should get one big valley and one big peak and that peak needs to at the very least plateau or peak higher for at least a couple weeks. Mine never did that. Mine just meandered all over the graph like some deranged squirrel trying to remember where he stashed all his nuts. A little clomid and some more charting and I finally started to see something a little more like I should expect. The low dose worked for about 2 months and then they bumped me up to a double dose because my temperature chart started looking squirrely again. During this time though, I still wasn't conceiving. The thermometer that supplied me with my only idea of how any given cycle was going or not going, often bore the brunt of my frustrations. They were often flung. One I shook down so hard I smacked it against the sink and it of course shattered. One flew out of my hand while I was shaking it down and landed in the toilet - while it did not break, there was no way I was fishing that one out and hanging onto it for further use. About that time, it felt a fitting analogy for how my baby making plans were going - completely and irrevocably into the proverbial toilet. Several months of clomid and charting and still no positive pregnancy. This led us to look into (cue dramatic music) male factor infertility. Yes, it does exist! I had the problem of not ovulating on my own, though this was remedied fairly easily with quantities of fertility drugs - in the beginning, clomid and eventually, Follistim. My husband was discovered to have what is called a varicocele. Literally a varicose vein in the right spot to elevate body temperature and drive down sperm production. Urologists often suggest surgery to correct this problem. We discovered that by holding off and waiting a while, it gave production more time to increase and in conjunction with my clomid induced ovulation and charting abilities, we timed things almost to the minute and finally got our first ever positive pregnancy test. Most women's doctors will tell you every other night, our urologist said wait 4 days at least. Urologist wins coach of the year! Score one, finally, for the home team.

I never, ever in a million years entertained the thought that I would have trouble beyond conceiving. Either that, or I was too sick throwing up breakfast, lunch, dinner and everything in between for the first 6 months that I was too distracted to contemplate the idea I should have something to worry about. I did get hospitalized at one point for puking too much. Yes, you can have too much morning sickness, and had to have shots to try and keep me from having too much. Eventually though, things started staying down and shortly after that, I finally delivered - or rather, had surgically removed from my body, our first child. I affectionately called him my nine month eating disorder. Delivery itself was a sadly comedic event - me turning into a quivering mass of wimpy mushy goo, a csection delivery after 3.5 hours of nonproductive pushing, a post-op hospital grade infection, 9 days on a catheter and seeing my baby discharged almost a week before I was. Though, frankly, I was in the mindset of "who cares?" I had my baby - the much longed for, dreamed of and worked for baby.

The thermometer to survive the basal body temperature charting catastrophe found a nice cozy spot in the bathroom cabinet and began accumulating dust.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Final Count - Angels 7, Babies 6

Hundreds of vials of blood taken, 2 complete fertility workups, Chromosomal Testing, 25 cumulative cycles of Clomid at increasing doses, 2 HSGs, 3 d&c's, 2 ectopic pgs (one in a fallopian tube with intrauterine sacs as well, one completely outside the uterus), several cycles of Follistim (that I learned how to inject myself) at increasing doses, who knows how many scans and follicles produced, seven failed pregnancies for various reasons - including one multiples pg after hyperstimulation of ovaries. One complete placenta previa that abrupted resulting in delivery at 33 weeks, another low lying placenta that resolved, preterm labor, preterm delivery, NICU, SCU, PICU, complete bedrest in hospital and at home, partial bedrest, modified activity, bladder trauma (one where it actually tore) requiring a catheter for several days each time and 6 csections. One post surgical infection, one postpartum hemorrhage and the discovery that after being opened and closed so many times, my stretch marks no longer line up above and below my csection scar(s). All that, only at the supposed decline of my "fertile" years, to become the unlikely recipient of not one, but two surprise babies. No fertility drugs, no charting, no monitoring, no miscarriage, no drama, nothing. Gee - they told me I didn't ovulate and told me I was not so fertile and becoming less so with each birthday. Surprise! Guess it just took a dozen years of pummeling them in some bizarre science experiment gone horribly wrong for the old reproductive parts to finally figure out what they were supposed to be doing and do it on their own.

I am fully confident I could start my own IV. It wouldn't be too hard - all I would really need to do is choose a scar as a target. I even told an anesthesiologist this when he was trying to cram a blunt straw into one of the veins in my hand for my second d&c. He looked at me like he thought I was just being funny. No really, I think I could do a much better job than you are doing right now. Five incredibly painful and annoying attempts at starting an iv later I was rapidly succumbing to the short term memory loss that is Versed.

For the longest time I use to crave normal - I wanted to be normal so desperately. To just decide one day with my spouse that we wanted to have a baby, do what you usually do to have a baby and there you go - 9 months = baby. Finally, I decided that this was what was normal for me - it just made things easier to live with.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Getting Started

Not to sound trite, but I have often heard it said that it is the journey that matters more than the destination at times. Then others who say that getting there is more important than the how, ends justify the means kind of thing. Getting there is half the fun, yada, yada, yada. When I got married, my destination was parenthood. The journey turned out to be vastly different than that of what I envisioned it would be. I guess I figured it would be easy - it was not. I didn't expect it to take long, cost as much nor exact so much of my heart and soul and energy - mentally or physically. I eventually got to where I was going, and the trip there was certainly that - a trip, stumbling and all.

My father once told me when I was much younger than I am now, that his grandmother told him to live life with no regrets. I thought this sounded impossible. How do you live a life with no regrets? Surely, at some point along the way, you would do or say something you wished you hadn't. I can honestly say, I have never second guessed my path to parenthood, so at least in that regard, I do not have regrets. Oftentimes over the course of the years and struggles, I was frequently told to reconsider and asked why I kept trying so much and so hard. "Maybe you should quit." Lying down and quitting and saying "no more" just wasn't an option - at least not for that moment in time for me. That line that you lay down and say "I will not cross this - I go no further" is highly personal and impossible to just draw arbitrarily, particularly when it comes to trying to have a child. I will say this - if I had quit when I was told I should, or even when I myself thought that maybe I should, I would not have some of my biggest blessings. Yes, I could have spared myself a phenomenal amount of pain, trouble, effort, money - you name it. However, that I would have regretted - quitting when I had more fight left in me.

So, with this I begin a new journey, life after loss and infertility. No real destination in mind, no road map for the trip either. I guess for now, we'll just see where this takes us.