Archive | August 2012

Not convinced

Well the naturopath wasn’t what I imagined it would be. Or actually, maybe it was exactly what I imagined? I’m a very pragmatic person and I’m not into eastern medicine. I am….a non believer.

The naturopath’s office was all decked out in calming colours, relaxation music was pumped into every room in the clinic and incense was burning at the reception desk. The naturopath reckons she can not only get my cycles regular again, she can also reduce my cramps associated with endometriosis. She gave me 11 different tablets to take (seriously!) and some herbal concoction I’m supposed to drink twice a day.

I took the herbal drink into work, poured it into a medicine cup and took my first dose at my desk around 11am yesterday morning. As soon as the liquid hit the back of my throat I gagged and threw up not only the herbs but also my breakfast. Thankfully I was quick enough to swivel around in my chair and aim for my rubbish bin. Everyone who sits in my area burst out laughing they thought it was the best thing they’d ever seen. I can’t even describe to you how disgusting that herbal stuff tastes. I’ve tried 3 more doses and vomited 3 more times. It just triggers my gag reflex! I’m trying to drink it in juice and it’s still not helping.

I’ll try to stick with it until our appointment with the specialist in a few weeks. But I’m not too sure if this herbal stuff is for me…….

 

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A hopeful Tuesday

Some progress today!

My friend at work gave me the number of her ob/gyn who also happens to deal with infertility. I phoned the reception and asked if we needed to have been trying to conceive for 12 months before we can get in to see him. I explained that I have prediagnosed fertility issues. She said it was absolutely fine and I made an appointment for September 19th. I’m really hoping he will be able to help me.

I’m also going to visit a naturopath this week to see if they can help me. One of Doug’s work colleagues was having trouble conceiving and a naturopath helped her. Can’t hurt, right?

Only a short post today. I have an essay due tomorrow which I wouldn’t exactly describe as complete.

I will update again on Thursday after my appointment with the naturopath.

Conception hurdle three: irregular cycles

The simplest of my conception hurdles is my irregular cycles. I’ve never had a regular cycle in my life when I’ve been off the contraceptive pill.

Before going on the pill at 14 years of age my cycle was all over the place. I would have my period for anywhere between 12 to 18 days, then go any number of weeks or months before I got my period again.

I’ve been off the pill for several months now. My cycles to date have been 8 days, 13 days, 34 days, 12 days, 55 days and I’m currently on day 26 of my current cycle.

Absolutely nothing about my cycles make sense and it makes it extremely hard to track anything like ovulation, when my period is due or anything else.

A common and annoying problem that just adds to my misery when all my other conception hurdles are piled on top of it.

Conception hurdle two: prolactinemia

When I was seventeen years old I was in bed with my first serious boyfriend. It was the school holidays, his mum was at work and we’d been fooling around at his house. I was naked from the waist up and lying face down on the mattress with my elbows propping my body up. I looked down and noticed something dripping out of my left breast. I was alarmed and quickly put my bra back on.

When I went home I told my mother (thankfully I’ve always felt I could be very open with her) and she took me to the doctor. I was shocked and upset when I found out I was leaking breast milk. The doctor thought it was the contraceptive pill interfering with my hormones and changed me to a different pill. After a couple of months the problem went away. End of story, or so I thought.

When I was in my early 20s the problem came back again. This time switching contraceptive pills did nothing to stop it and I was forced to wear nursing pads inside my bras. On the positive side, at least I was single. I went to see an endocrinologist. They did a CT scan and found what they thought was a pituitary adenoma. But when I had a follow up MRI it came back clear. So the endocrinologist ran a whole bunch of blood work that also all came back clear. She then told me she had no idea what was causing my breast milk and prescribed me norprolac. She said I could only stay on the drug for 3 years and after that it would start to scar my heart valves, so if the problem wasn’t fixed by then I would be “up shit creek without a paddle.” Yes, she actually used those words.

The drugs did work. For about 12 months. Then my boobs got sore. Really really sore. So sore that I would burst into tears just shaking shampoo out of the bottle when I was in the shower in the morning. And the leaking came back. It felt like I was completely battered and bruised. My lymph nodes were always swollen. I was absolutely miserable. And by this time I was dating my husband. We were in the early stages of our relationship and I didn’t know how to explain to him the reason I didn’t want to take my bra off when we were in bed together. Eventually he guessed the problem. Luckily he was blinded by love and didn’t care haha.

My problems only got worse. More soreness, leaking, and terrible moodiness. I also started putting on weight and couldn’t seem to control it. Eventually I decided I’d had enough and went off the norprolac tablets but the problems only got worse. One day I was getting in the bathroom getting ready to take a shower. It was raining heavily outside and when I bent down to pick up my discarded clothing and put them into the laundry basket I noticed liquid all over the floor. I panicked and thought the roof was leaking. Eventually, I realised it wasn’t the roof. It was me. My milk had “come in” and I was gushing breast milk unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. I was horrified.

I went to see a new endocrinologist. He ran some blood work, telling me that ideally my prolactin levels should be under 300 mIU/L at the very most. The results? 1900 mIU/L. I had more prolactin than a woman in her third trimester of pregnancy. It explained so very much about my life.

The new endocrinologist was much more understanding and put me onto bromocriptine tablets. He said my body hadn’t responded to the norprolac and I’d been having “break through” leakage. He was impressed I’d managed to deal with the pain as well as I had for such a long period of time. The bromocriptine made me feel sick in my stomach and sometimes made me vomit first thing in the morning but the soreness and the leaking eventually started to go away. Six months later a test showed my prolactin levels had dropped to 500 mIU/L. I was so happy. But my levels are still high and often I get a tiny bit of leakage (only notice it in the evening when I’m taking off my bra).

High prolactin levels stop you from ovulating. They cause infertility. As if having endometriosis isn’t enough, the prolactin is now another hurdle I have to overcome on our quest to have a child.

Conception hurdle one: endometriosis

My grandmother had endometriosis. My mother had endometriosis. My aunt had endometriosis. It was running in a direct line through all the females on my mother’s side of my family. They all had it bad. They all had hysterectomies before they were 40 years old. I remember my mother’s emergency surgery to remove her uterus. It was completely fused to all of her other organs and they had to basically scrape it off her bladder and bowels. But endometriosis was never something that I ever really contemplated until I got my first period when I was 13.

My first period was heavy, painful and prolonged. It lasted 18 days. I was so sick I could hardly drag myself out of bed by the end of the second week and my mother had to help me to the bathroom. After that, I didn’t get my period again for a few months. But when it came back it was just as bad, if not worse. I got dizzy, vomited, and can recall laying on the kitchen floor sobbing and clutching at my pelvis while my mother cooked dinner.

About 12 months and several excrutiating periods later, my mother took me to see a doctor. She explained to him my problems and suggested that I had endometriosis. The doctor actually laughed at her. “Don’t worry,” he said merrily. “It’s impossible for a 14 year old girl to have endometriosis.” He gave me a prescription for the contraceptive pill to regulate my cycle and sent us on our way.

The pill became my lifeline. After a while I started skipping every second month of sugar pills, then two months at a time and then three. Soon I was only having my period a couple of times a year. They were still ridiculously painful but they only lasted for 8 days or so.

Over the years I went and saw several doctors and specialists about my heavy, painful periods. None of them had any real suggestions about what was causing my problems. One doctor suggested my symptoms might ease if I got pregnant (I was 16 years old and my mother never took me to see her again), another doctor suggested a hysterectomy might help (another doctor I never saw again).

Finally when I was 24 I went to see a new gynecologist for a totally unrelated reason and I mentioned to him my problems with pain. He said it was probably not endometriosis for two logical reasons:

a) I’d been on the pill since I was 14 years old and the pill slows and stops endometriosis from growing; and
b) I’d also been a vegetarian since I was 14 and leading a vegetarian lifestyle significantly inhibits the growth of endometriosis.

But he suggested if I was really that worried he would be willing to perform a laparoscopy for diagnostic purposes to have a look at what was going on inside my reproductive system. On the day of my surgery as the anaesthetist put me to sleep I remember sobbing because I was so nervous. When I woke up the doctor told me not only did I have endometriosis, but it was severe. It was on both my ovaries, my bladder, my bowels, my pouch of douglas. Basically everywhere you could have it, I had it. And for me it was most severe in the most rarest of places. He said I should start thinking about having children immediately if I wanted to have them at all. He said to start trying as soon as possible, but even at 24 years old I might have to resort to IVF.

The colour drained out of my husband’s face when I told him that. He said he wasn’t ready. He had never envisioned himself having children until he was in his 30s. Here we were in our early 20s and the clock was suddenly ticking for me. We argued about it for a few months. I would break down in tears and say I was missing my chance, he would accuse me of pressuring him unnecessarily.

18 months later, we are in a much better place emotionally and financially. We have money in the bank which is important because we know how expensive babies are. We have a rock solid relationship and are both emotionally and mentally prepared to bring a life into this world.

Endometriosis is going to be one of our biggest hurdles to conceiving. It also significantly increases our chances of miscarriage.

I had an internal ultrasound about 6 months ago and the radiographer told me she couldn’t see too much endometriosis growing back, and that it was growing back as far away from my uterus as it could get (which is a good sign and will make it easier for me to fall pregnant) but only time will tell what will happen with my endometriosis and whether I will need to have surgery again to remove more of it.

Perspectives

Five years ago I was 21 years old and my life was….cool.

I’d just started my own fabulous dream job, rented a chic apartment in the inner city, spent my Saturday nights partying with my friends, used my largely disposable income to deck myself out in designer clothes, never had to watch my weight, wasn’t tied down by anything or anyone and had relatively no health issues at all. I was yet to be burned in life, my friends were all hipsters, boys bought drinks for me in bars and I knew if I got into any real trouble my parents would just bail me out.

Today I’m 26 and things are pretty different.

To begin with I have a mortgage now. For a year I struggled to pay that mortgage and all of my bills while I lived alone in my newly acquired house. I nearly hit rock bottom. Three years ago my boyfriend (now husband) moved in. Sure, it meant I had someone to share my bills. But we’ve been through some really tough times financially and emotionally. My fabulous job was ripped away from me through no fault of my own when my employers unexpectedly closed their company. I was one of the lucky ones – I found a new job at the university where I studied as an undergraduate but I had to take a $30,000 a year pay cut (no more designer clothes!).

I also have a myriad of health problems now and I’ve had surgery twice in the past five years. I spend half of my life in doctor’s offices but keep hearing them say things like “sorry I can’t help you” and “well aren’t you just a medical mystery” which is increasingly frustrating. I also have to watch my weight now. After my second round of surgery last year I put on 14kg. I’ve managed to lose 8kg but have another 6kg to go. I’ve also started studying a masters degree to improve my employment prospects. Postgraduate study is more stressful than I imagined it would be.

But somehow life is also good now – life is better now. I’ve learned to appreciate the simple things in life. My husband and I love each other and our puppy Arnold. We feel like we’re ready to start a family now.

It’s exciting when you realise you’re ready to bring a child into the world. It makes you feel loved, loving and powerful. I became extremely excited about the prospect of feeling a life growing inside of me, knowing we had created it from and through our love.

But our journey has so far been nothing but stressful. There are so many hurdles and obstacles standing in our way. I can only talk to my husband about them so much before I know he will start to go insane.

I can’t talk to family and friends about my problems because most of them don’t even know about most of my health issues – they’re embarrassing and personal. I also don’t want to tell people and have them constantly asking “are you pregnant yet?” because I have an awful feeling this is going to take a long time or maybe won’t happen at all. I don’t want people to congratulate me and then miscarry. I don’t want this to be a public battle at all. I want to do it privately, with my partner.

But I also need someone to talk to about my problems. Even if that someone is actually no one. By allowing myself to anonymously write these words on this blog I am freeing myself and taking a heavy weight off my own shoulders. This blog is my emotional outlet and will track every step of my journey to becoming a parent from here on out.

Every blog needs a beginning

My name is Sadie. I’m 26 years old and live in Melbourne, Australia with my husband Doug who is 27 and our poodle puppy Arnold.

Doug and I have been trying to start a family since the beginning of the year, but something just isn’t right. For starters OPK’s don’t work for me. If I pee on an OPK 20 days in a row I’ll get a positive result 20 days in a row. Obviously this is impossible – you can’t just keep ovulating indefinitely. Plus….I’m still not pregnant!

We have been to see three different GPs who have basically told us we’re too young and haven’t been trying long enough to be concerned that we aren’t getting results. This is despite the fact I’ve already been diagnosed with a few different conditions which cause infertility  (which I’ll outline in later posts).

I have started this blog because I’m tired and frustrated by the lack of resources available on the internet specifically targeted to young people suffering through infertility. It’s even more frustrating that I couldn’t find any blogs dedicated to infertility in your 20s. If another young and infertile person stumbles across this blog and feels less alone then this will all be worthwhile for me.

Stay tuned for more posts.