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Sunday, January 1, 2012

My Story: Part One

Welcome! If you have stumbled upon my blog and are interested in one girl's experience with infertility, please read on. This is my first blog, so please be patient...and kind. My main reason for doing this is to share my story and my thoughts and feelings. It is so shocking to know that so many women are facing fertility problems and I feel like it is still a topic that is sometimes seen as "inappropriate" to discuss openly. The only way to change this is to share our stories so that we can learn from one another and provide support for others in similar situations. So as not to scare you off, I've decided to cover the main points of my story without going into too many details. I will recap specific points in later posts. So here's my story...

My infertility can be blamed on the fact that I was (I guess I still am, really) growth hormone deficient as a child. Basically what this means is that my endocrine system did not produce the necessary hormones to make me grow. From the time I was diagnosed, around two years of age, until I was fifteen years old I was given growth hormone shots. The decision was made to stop the shots at that age, which brought me to the height that I am now: 5'5". A side effect, I guess you could call it, for me as an adult is infertility. This is because another job of the endocrine system is the production of hormones related to fertility. In a nutshell: My body is unable to produce a menstrual cycle on its own and as a result I am unable to ovulate. When I was eighteen years old I was prescribed hormones in the form of birth control pills to stimulte a cycle and I have been on b/c pills for that reason off and on since then.

Jumping ahead to the past few years.... About four years ago my husband I decided that we were ready to get the ball rolling on trying to start a family. After meeting with an infertility specialist in Arlington, Texas I was put through what I would assume is the standard testing for an infertility patient. This included having an MRI to determine that there weren't any issues causing my infertility such as a cyst or tumor around my pituitary gland, my hormone levels were checked, and my tubes were checked to make sure there were no blockages. A sample of my husband's sperm was also checked for abnormalities. After the testing was completed my doctor started me out on Clomid, which is used to induce ovulation (in the form of a pill). Sadly, my system did not respond to the medication, which led to the determination that I would require FSH (follicle stimulating hormone), which is an injectable. Around the time when we were about to begin treatment I started teaching which led to the decision to hold off on treatment for a while. On top of that the FSH is expensive, very expensive, and our insurance was not going to cover any of it so we were looking at huge cost which scared the crap out of us, to be honest. We never went back. Life happened. I was a new teacher wrapped up in chaos, it was scary expensive, it just never seemed like a practical time, and then we ended up relocating fom Texas to Minnesota (YEAH). Let me just say that I know that it's never a "good time" to start a family and that we will never "have enough money". But when you are looking at paying thousands of dollars monthly for an undetermined amount of time just to conceive a baby to start said family, it's very scary.

When we moved my husband and I decided that it was time to make starting a family our number one priority so we started the search for a new infertility specialist. We had moved to a very small town so we didn't have to search too hard - there was only one in town. Fortunately we had already done all of the priliminary testing required for  infertility patients so we were basically able to jump in and get started. While waiting for my next period to start I started taking prenatal vitamins. My husband also was put on vitamins. For this first round my doctor presented the option of starting out on Clomid and then following up with FSH injectables. Even though my system hadn't responded to Clomid in the past she thought that maybe it would act as a sort of primer. Plus Clomid is WAY less expensive than the FSH meds so it was also a way to save a bit of money. If it worked well enough it would be a big bonus to save money by using the two as a combination rather than using the FSH alone. Let me just say right now that before starting this process I was extremely ignorant as to what was going on inside my body. I basically knew what was going on, but I didn't know the intricacies. There were many phone calls made to the nurses (the very kind and patient nurses) after getting home from appointments with my doctor and me freaking out that I didn't really fully understand what was going on. A great deal of my anxiety came from the fact that I didn't have anything to compare myself to so I learned to make sure to always clarify what SHOULD be happening. For example, when my doctor was measuring my number of follicles I asked what was "normal" or what results she would typically look for so I would have something to go by. But back to the story...I took Clomid twice a day for five days then started the injectable FSH Gonal-F. I don't think there's any way for certain to determine just how much of a role the Clomid played that first round, but the medication did its job. I started out with eleven follicles. They were small, but my doctor was quick to reassure me that eleven follicles, even small ones, was GREAT news. Over the next 22 days my follicles slowly began to grow. In the end I was left with three follicles, two of which were large enough so that we were able to move forward with an IUI (Intrauterine Insemination). At this point I'm going to stop and stress how important it is that BOTH partners involved are checked out. Because my husband's sperm count and the related numbers were in the normal range when we initially started this process several years back he did not have them retested this time around. We found out when we came in for the IUI that his numbers were extremely low. Now at this point in time my husband was a smoker. He was advised that it would be beneficial for him to stop smoking in an attempt to raise his numbers. We didn't want to waste all of the time, money, effort, and hope we had invested over the past twenty-something days so we went forward with the IUI even though the chances of conceiving were slim. You never know, right? Stranger things than conception with a couple of eggs and a low sperm count have definitely happened. Two weeks later (the longest two weeks in the history of man, by the way) I went in for a pregnancy test and we were informed that I was not pregnant. I went into that round with the mindset that in all likelihood I would not end up pregnant that first time. It really is just a guessing game, that first round, with the doctor figuring out just how much medicine your body will require. 

After that first round my husband began the process of stopping smoking. He has really done an incredible job. That was six months ago and he has not smoked in the past four months. Not only will this hopefully hope his numbers, but his overall health will be greatly improved. Since that last round we also moved...again. We relocated for a job opportunity for my husband in the Chicago area (YAY) and we again started the process of finding a new infertility specialst. And on that note, I'm going to stop for the night. I will continue my story in the next day or two....

2 comments:

KimberVaughn said...

What a great way to share your story. I love it! You have a natural gift for writing, too! Can't wait for results in 2012

mollyjotx said...

Ditto the above.

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