Tuesday, November 6, 2007

#1: Coal Miner's Granddaughter

Congratulations to Heather at Coal Miner's Granddaughter! She has been awarded the very first Under the Knife Award.

Here is Heather's story, taken from her site:

Tyler and I have been trying to get pregnant since January, 2001, with no success. At the end of June, 2002, on day 54 of one of my cycles with a negative pregnancy test and no period in sight, I called Dr. Ceana Nezhat on the recommendation of a friend. After fasting insulin, LH, FSH, and glucose tolerance blood tests, as well as a vaginal sonogram, he diagnosed me with PCOS. At first, I was relieved because now I had an answer to why I wasn’t able to get pregnant. After July, 2002, surgery to remove the ovarian cysts and endometriosis (yep, got that, too!), and starting glucophage the next month, I expected to conceive with three to six months. Boy was I wrong.

PCOS has been a very uncomfortable, disturbing roller coaster ride. We are all told in our sex ed classes that it takes two people to create a new life. Sex ed class was wrong. It actually takes the wife, the husband, the fertility doctor, the phlebotomist, the numerous lab technicians, and the nurses. It takes a team of about 15 with all of them knowing when you’re going to have intercourse (not sex, because they are two different things), how big your follicles are, and what your LH and FSH levels are. It’s invasive, even without the scalpel and needles, maddening, and completely lacking in spontaneity. Days 10, 12, 14, and 16 are the days to have intercourse and you don’t want to overdo it because you’ll lower your husband’s sperm count.

Not only is my private life part of doctor’s office conversation, but my usual month consisted of a vaginal sonogram and bloodwork on day 2, injections on days 3 through 8, sonogram and bloodwork again on days 10 and 11, more injections on days 10 and 11, and insemination on day 12. This doesn’t even include the daily struggle with what I eat, making sure that what goes into my mouth isn’t going to raise insulin levels, and hormone-induced hot flashes. For two and a half years, I had all the symptoms of pregnancy (nausea, hot-flashes, headaches, sore breasts, etc.) without the end-result of a little bundle of joy.

Well, that has finally changed. In January, 2005, we tried IUI with Follistim again. I was inseminated on Friday, January 28th and took a pregnancy test on Thursday, February 10th with positive results. I nearly fell over. After four years of negative pregnancy tests, here was one telling me “Pregnant.” The doctor’s blood test the next day confirmed it and we told our parents and Tyler’s brother and sister-in-law. We waited until March to announce it to friends and family because we wanted to see the heartbeat. And, guess what? We were pregnant with twins! As of this writing our beautiful twins are doing great! I continued to take 1,000 mg of glucophage until about week 30 of the pregnancy and the 81 mg baby aspirin until week 33. Week 34 dawned with high blood pressure (pregnancy-induced hypertension) and I spent three days in the hospital before they induced labor because of the drop in my blood platelets. I stayed on the blood pressure medication for six weeks after giving birth until my blood pressure equalized and lowered on its own. I am now off it.

Six months after I weaned the twins, just after their first birthday, we got quite a surprise. I was pregnant again! This time, just after taking metformin for three months, my body had figured out what to do on its own. Our third child, a little boy, is as of this writing two months old and getting along great with his 21-month-old twin siblings. What a ride it's been!

The most difficult aspect of being infertile is the fact that others around you are having children when you are not. Seeing a pink or blue bow on a mailbox was sure to upset me and I tended to leave the room when a commercial came on TV that had anything to do with pregnancy or pregnant women. Friends and family members became pregnant and gave birth in the last four years and I smiled through it all until I left the hospital/baby shower and returned home. That’s when the tears started. The worst was the insensitive friend who told me that her pregnancy was a mistake and that she was “so fertile.” That one sent me into a crying/yelling fit. I despised Mothers’ Day and hearing how my friends received gifts from their children. Mothers’ Day is the worst holiday for the infertile. You start to feel defective and less than female and I even felt like a failure as a woman. People told me not to feel this way but it was rather difficult not to.

If you are uncomfortable going to a baby shower, DON’T GO! If you don’t want to hear about your friend’s Mothers’ Day celebration, TELL HER! And if the insensitive friend/family member, whom you haven’t seen in a while asks, “So, why don’t you two have any kids?” tell them, point blank, “I’m infertile. Any other inappropriate questions you’d like to ask?” This reply is guaranteed to make them realize how insensitive their question was. Don’t pussyfoot around the subject! Let people know it hurts and if they can’t deal with your reactions, then you don’t need that added stress in your life!

The final severe blow is realizing that I’ve lived with this most of my life and it wasn’t until I was 30 that a doctor could tell me I had PCOS. All those years I had irregular periods I was told that was just part of being a woman. Bullcrap! And I guess that’s also the explanation for the weight gain and acne? I’d like to take the lot of OB/GYNs (particularly the three I put up with prior to finding Dr. Nezhat) in this country and string them up by their stirrups. It’s insane that only a handful of fertility specialists/endocrinologists in this country can understand and diagnose this syndrome. Vaginal sonograms and hormone/lipid/glucose/insulin bloodwork should be standard fare for all routine gynecological visits, along with pap smears. I urge every woman who reads this site and recognizes the symptoms in herself to get checked out and get educated! (OK, deep breath, off my soapbox now.)

Finally, I want to say that I love all of you, friends and family, and to thank you for putting up with my ups and downs. You held me up when I couldn’t get pregnant and you’re still holding me even though we’ve succeeded. I love you all! For those of you who have found my humble page and are still trying, DO NOT GIVE UP HOPE! If I can make it, I know you can. I went from committed sugar junkie-“you’re not sticking me with any needles”-crying-basket case, to anti-sugar-able to stick myself-smiling-pregnant woman, proud Mom of twins. And, if you try everything and nothing works, ADOPT! Adoption is a wonderful thing that we are considering following through with even though we've had two of our own!

I have included below the links to three pictures from my surgery and links to Web sites that have helped me. If you are at all squeamish, I recommend that you not click on the picture links. I have included the pictures to simply help further the PCOS information included here.

Click here to view the ovarian cyst.
Click here to view endometriosis.
Click here to view the ovary after the cysts have been burned off.

1 comment:

baby~amore' said...

Claps ... what a brilliant post,informative and heart warming.I am so happy you had a great outsome.
We had unexplained infertility for 12 yrs ,(we adopted after 1 -2yrs) one surprise pregnancy that ended sadly at 6 months with our daughter stillborn.Then we tried our first IVF , our #2 cycle we hit jackpot with twins ... now almost 17 months. I loved reading your story. I am glad I stumbled upon it.