Why Me? Now What? (A Personal Journey Through Infertility)

Monday, January 23, 2006

How DID I get here????

Today; A Monday... with all the ugliness of a typical Monday morning. I heard on the radio as I drove into work, that today has been appointed the most depressing day of the year according to scientists measuring the effects of light, air quality and moods of people across North America.

Great... just great... So this is how my day is starting huh? With some anonymous announcer on the other side of the radio forecasting this uplifting news.

As I took the 20 minute drive into work that followed the same path as it had for the last 5 years, my mind began to wander (as I could likely drive this route with my eyes closed) I thought about how I got here, what I was likely to face in the months to come, and continued the internal battle that had me up 1/2 the night tossing and turning with anguish.

When I married 17 months ago... it was picture perfect. My life seemed complete (or at least well on it's way to being complete). At 33, I was ready to start a family; change the priorities that, up until then, had been a fantastic career, to pull back and raise the family I had always dreamt of creating. Being healthy and active, I assumed that after a few months of "practice", I would be complaining about expanding waist bands and swollen feet. Yet after 12 months... nothing. Hmmm.... perhaps my husband was to blame! That MUST be it! I quickly sent him off to have a "sperm analysis" which he wasn't thrilled about. Despite his hesitations, he went, and got back "rave reviews"... I never would have predicted the site of my husband strutting around the house boasting about motility and morphology... but there he was, all 6'4" of him proud as the day he scored his first touchdown.

Well if it wasn't him.... could it be.... ME???? Impossible! But at a loss, I anxiously awaited the phone call from the Regional Fertility Clinic here in Calgary (That I had casually requested entry to 6 months prior) to look into the possibility that the problem was mine and not my husband's. The RFC boasts the highest success rates in the country, and wait lists are long... but at least they were here in Calgary and I was lucky enough to get in shortly after.

When I left the doctor's office that afternoon my head was whirling... IUI, BD, OPK, HPT, IVF, HSG, LAP, Progester-what?, U/S... what did all these mean? How was I ever going to keep them straight? It sounded like an awful lot of poking and prodding...How did my husband get away with only flipping through a "girlie" magazine and walking out with his "work" complete in a jar to be analyzed! Ahhh to be a man! But as I went through test after test... everything came back clear. So what did this mean???

So I returned to the doctor's office with more questions than answers... hoping to leave with a plan of action and a baby a month later. I mean, what's the value in working with the top fertility specialists in the Country if they couldn't give me the miracle answers right off the bat right?

ahhh.... Clomid.... the ever feared, hot flashing, bloating, cranky booster, tiny little pills.... so THIS was the magic potion! It sounded easy enough... 2 pills making up 100mg every night before going to bed, for 5 days.... and then 5 days later start having sex like crazy. (Those trying to conceive call this time "BD'ing" for Baby Dancing.... which I guess is fitting! This was the protocol prescribed by my doctor. 4 months worth... WOW it couldn't POSSIBLY take 4 months.... could it? I mean, this is ME we're talking about. I never get sick, I've never had as much as a cast on my arm... this would be a piece of cake!

Month 1 went by, nothing.... that's ok...after all, it takes a while for your body to get used to the drugs right?

Month 2 came and went with no success... maybe we weren't "doing" it right.... was there something I missed in grade 8 "health class" that has mislead me all of these years????

Month 3 STILL NOTHING. Ok, now I am pissed.... how is this happening to me? I am frustrated, bitter and overly cranky (confirmed daily by my husband) and am now 100% fed up. It was time to go back to visit my doctor and find out what was up. There HAS to be something that can be done. Surely they must have given me the placebo sugar pills or something, and this will all be explained as some sort of University experiment for the betterment of women everywhere.

I arrived at my doctor's appointment confident that we would sit in the sterile little office, and he would simply prescribe something stronger, or recommend a change in plans.... tweaking things a little bit, since after all that would be all that was needed right?


That is how it felt. Like a swift slap across the face as I sat stunned across the table from my doctor. Unfortunately my husband was at home waiting for a delivery of a 60" TV ordered on boxing day at Best Buy... a task much to important to accompany me to such an expectedly mundane appointment. But Whoa.... as my world seemed to be spinning around me out of control, I heard my doctor's voice somewhere in the distance. "The Fibroids are larger than I would like to see"... "unusual crystallization in the ovaries"... "we need to take a closer look".... SCREEEEEECH....... WHAT???? He wants to conduct an Ultrasound right here... right now? What underwear was I wearing? Was I WEARING underwear? Damn... I don't think I shaved my legs, and OH MY GOD I think the shoes I am wearing make my feet stink. This cant possibly be happening. But as I lay there, with my feet up in those awkward stirrups praying he had a cold and couldn't smell the scent of gym shoes; he walked me through the areas of concern he felt needed discussing. Apparently my mother had not only passed on her ability to tan without ever burning, but also her fibroids. I had several... not unusual for a woman of my age, but there was one... in a bit of an awkward place between my stomach and the outer wall of my uterus that was a bit larger than he had hoped to see. 8cm to be precise. Along with that, he also pointed out what looked like a galaxy of stars in my ovaries. Apparently these were also a bit concerning. Dermoids.... that is what he called them. Something I had never read about in all the surfing and reading I had done leading up to this day.

And so we were back in the sterile room... shoes back on and the pink polka dot underwear back safely where they belonged. He was frank, honest and without opinion... feeding me the facts, and leaving it at that. What I did with those facts, was up to me.

Option A) Have an operation. Right Away. Something called a Myoectomy, more invasive than the Laparoscopy I had previously read about, that left a scar across the stomach much like a C-Section. They would go in, scrape out that "gunk" in my ovaries and get those nasty fibroids out. And hopefully, this would do the trick. But this may cause further complications or worse yet...the fibroids could grow back.

Option B) Delay the operation, for a little while. In the meantime, go forward with IUI. (IntraUterineInsemination) The Turkey Baster, so to speak. If after 3 months of treatments, there was still no success... then we would examine IVF (The whole shebang. $10,000 & some pretty invasive procedures) Then, in a few years.... have the operation and carry on with life.

Option C) Just keep taking the Clomid and see where that take us. But if I wait to long for the operation, he warned me that there could be a possibility of needing a Hysterectomy down the road. Scary... and confusing... and enough to make me cry all the way home from the appointment.

So I chose the only option I felt was plausible... the second. I would move on to IUI at the start of my next cycle, and try to have a baby with a little more medical intervention. After 3 months, I would move to IVF... meaning that by May, I should be pregnant... 4 months... I could do that couldn't I?

And so a week later, with a plan of action in place and a holiday scheduled to the Dominican Republic that was a Christmas Gift to my mother... we all boarded a plane looking for an escape from the exhaustion and the cold of home. Dancing with sand between our toes, and laughing at silly moments while floating in the pool beneath the Caribbean sun... our troubles at home seemed miles away. But we all knew that when we returned, they would be there waiting for us.

Last night I tossed and turned, knowing that this morning, I would be calling the clinic as directed; to tell them that it was the first day of this new cycle.... my IUI cycle... and that we were now moving to the next phase! But why was I so conflicted? 3 months of IUI.... was that to long? Would it be a waste of time? Should I be changing the plan and going straight to IVF? Could we afford to do that? What about adding acupuncture, or progesterone supplements... so many things that seemed unanswered. Would I know what I would decide before calling the clinic when I arrived at my office?

The Office... I had driven straight past the 3 Tim Horton's along the route to work... around the icy corners not yet sanded after a snowfall that must have occurred some time during my restless sleep... and had come to idle in the lone spot left in the company parking lot. I had arrived. Safe, and warm... filled with a nervous excitement at WHATEVER today would bring. This would truly be the first day of the rest of my life.

Why haven't they called me back? I am sure it has been hours now since I left a message at the clinic asking someone to call me back in regards to my IUI cycle that was scheduled. Had they lost my file, were they having second doubts? Call me!!!!! And then.... "ring ring"... the call display flashed the familiar number across the screen and the time had come to make my decision.

The nurse was nice... she let me babble about my fears, questions and ideas. Listening (I'm sure using all the patience she could muster) and then... after I was done, offered what she could to address my concerns. Yes, I was officially listed as an IUI patient for this cycle.... I would take the clomid starting Wednesday, and then 10 days later, we would likely be completing the process with a trip into the clinic where they would inseminate me with what would promise to be a cleaned up and perfected version of my husbands usual "contribution". She would talk to my doctor and ask if I could be placed on the IVF wait list... this wait was about 3 months, so that sounded about perfect to me! But wait... there was bad news. Apparently, in order to start IVF I would need to be off the clomid for 2 months previous... that would put us back to July before we would possibly get pregnant. Hmmm.... And then the whole process would take 7 weeks before transplantation... WOW... that's nearly 2 more months, and now September. Could this be happening???? Could it BE any worse? Yes... apparently it could. Reading my chart she remarked that it was unusual to continue on Clomid for longer than 3 months in a row. Doctors prefer to have 2 months break between every 3 cycles.

HOLD ON... I can't be hearing right. What was she saying? That it our plan to start IUI this month may be delayed? That we may be waiting until April to start this whole entire process.... let me figure this out... April to start... 3 months of IUI.... then 2 months break off Clomid to prepare for IVF and THEN 7 weeks for the second procedure to conclude? That would be OCTOBER... further out than if I got pregnant tonight and carried the baby full term like most women on the planet. Un-Acc-Eptable.

And so I asked the question sure to make her batty... could I scrap the original plan, of which she had spent the first 15 minutes of the call scheduling my appointments, detailing the program and ordering the required tests and paperwork. I wanted to throw the plan out the window... stop taking the Clomid immediately, and get on the waiting list for IVF right away. Of course, she couldn't answer that for me... and would need to consult my doctor before giving me the decision that would alter the outlook of this upcoming year. And so... I hung up the phone and well.... waited for my future to begin.


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