Last week I was told that I am basically (but not completely) infertile. The chances of having a "natural" pregnancy are microscopic, will likely have complications, and there will be a 1:35 chance of Down's Syndrome. We are currently learning about the process of IVF with donor eggs.
The first day was incredibly difficult. One of my first thoughts was that when I have a child, she won't look like me. I don't need a baby clone, but the thought that I'll never be able to look at the baby and see my nose or eyes or smile or hair... that's rough. I've noticed that I have an eye for seeing this in other's people's babies. I don't go looking for it though, it's always some random moment, in the right light, the right position, and POP! "wow, she really has her father's eyes!". Hopefully the randomness of it will mean I won't dwell on it for my own child.
I was very happy when I decided I was going to go forward with IVF instead of adoption, but as the week has gone by before this afternoon's appointment to learn more, my confidence has disappeared. Mostly, I am afraid of the complications. I will still have a higher likelihood of complications, like miscarriage. I try not to think about that, but it's niggling in the back of my brain too often.
So many thoughts going through my head those first few days, but never surprise, or blame. It would be easy to blame me, but there's no point. I could be selfish and blame Eric for putting this off for so long, but I agreed with him all the way every time we re-examined the decision on when to start a family. And a very large part of me does not think it would have made a difference.
Because it wasn't a surprise. I was expecting it. I've been using ovulation predictor kits for a year now, and have NEVER gotten a positive result. My Basal Body Temperature tracking was occasionally optimistic, but mostly was sporadic and inconclusive. For the 3rd month in a row, I have had NO temperature shifts at all to even hint at ovulation. This is while I'm on Clomid, which is supposed to make sure you ovulate, and there was never any indication it ever happened. Going to the Fertility specialist a few weeks ago for the first time, I was convinced they would tell me I was in pre-menopause, infertile. Despite my misgivings, no one has ever suggested that to me. But when she did an ultrasound to look at my ovaries, she couldn't find one, and the other she couldn't see well enough to get a good idea of its condition because it was tucked behind something else. She didn't say this was bad at the time, but it certainly seemed like a bad sign to me. Last week she told me the "invisible" ovary probably had no follicles or eggs to be seen.
But there's more. My history of horrific periods that started when I was 8/9 and only ever got worse. No one could ever tell me why, they just ran tests that revealed nothing. Over the years, I have developed a tolerance for tylenol, then ibuprofen, and finally aleve. I am currently taking prescription Tylenol+Codein, 1 every 4 hours, with 2 aleve every 4 hours. And it is usually enough to keep me from screaming, but not to feel well enough to leave the house. The pills take too long to kick in, and then wear off sometime between hours 2 and 3. The codein makes me sleepy. The constant adding of medications that doesn't do enough for the pain builds up until sometime during day 2 I begin to get really sick from having too much drugs in my system.
I was told to either remove or scar my uterus if I wanted any kind of relief. For years we tried to suppress my periods through special birth control pills that are known to make women stop having periods after a few months. Not me. I tried an IUD for the same purpose, and was in constant pain for over 3 weeks until I finally made them remove the thing. 3 weeks of feeling like I'm having day 1 menstrual cramps and pain relievers didn't help at all. It was a nightmare.
So came the laprascopy, which finally showed that I did indeed have endomitriosis - something doctors had been testing for and getting negative results for for years. I was told the type I had, which grew within the walls of the uterus, doesn't usually affect fertility. She found my ovaries, but didn't examine them except to see that they didn't have growths as well.
Also, this doctor diagnosed me with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) without telling me - a new doctor going over my notes mentioned it and freaked me out.
That's a lot of stuff stacked against me. Now throw in the fact that most of my high school sex life was unprotected. I wasn't promiscuous, but I was... very, very active. Zero teen pregnancies. No pregnancies later in life despite the requisite condom rupture "oh-my-god-oh-my-god-oh-my-god!!!" moment that Murphy has declared everyone should experience AT LEAST once in their life.
All of these things are separate facts, not necessarily linked at all. It's not very scientific to think all this adds up to guaranteed infertility. But I've been living this for almost 30 years now. It seems impossible to me that I wouldn't have fertility issues. I was just holding out a little hope that it wouldn't be actual infertility.
So, here I am, waiting for my 3pm appointment to learn more about IVF. It's been just over a week since I went in for a follow-up ultrasound that never happened because of bloodwork results.
It was for a "Clomid Challenge". I had been on Clomid 4 times, but never done this challenge. They draw blood on day 3 of your cycle to measure your FSH (follicle stimulation hormone) levels, put you on clomid days 4-9, take your blood again on day 10, and do an ultrasound on day 12. I was told on the evening of day 10 that my FSH was abnormally high. Low numbers are good, somewhere around 10-15 on day 10 of your cycle. Mine was 28. I found some alarming information online, but waited until that ultrasound appointment to actually talk to the doctor.
I was told that indeed it was bad. It meant that if I had any follicles/eggs left, they were likely unusable. AND that my FSH score combined with my age meant that my eggs were likely too fragile to harvest for IVF - they would be destroyed during the process. The ultra sound was cancelled. I was given a packet of info on IVF, and made the appointment for today to go over specifics.
And that's that. I'm just kind of empty right now. Where did my confidence from this last weekend go? I was so sure of my decision to use donor eggs for IVF, so happy there was going to be a next step that could lead to pregnancy. Today, I'm just feeling very dull, almost numb. I fear I have already made a bad association with the clinic and the doctor that triggers panic. As I get older, I've developed a few panic-attack triggers, and now I seem to be collecting them.
I told my brother-in-law last night that it is scientific fact that physical and psychological reoccuring stimulations cause a person to develop a tolerance to them. The more drugs you take, the less affective they become over time. The more you run, the easier it becomes to run the next time. The treatment of phobias is desensitizing, showing the arachnaphobic patient spiders over multiple sessions.
However, there is a contradicting response when food is involved, called food aversion. In a controlled experiment, if you shock or cause physical pain to an animal every time they try to eat, the animal will keep trying. Maybe not as gung-ho, but the animal needs to eat, so it continues to try. But if you put something in the food that makes the animal ill, it will develop an aversion to the food, something that will easily last a life-time. Cancer patients are told to eat the same thing every time they're about to have chemotherapy. Something small that they don't love to eat. Like LifeSavers. Because they've discovered that the nausea and vomiting following chemotherapy causes very strong food aversion. Personally, I got really sick after having too much cherry pie when I was a kid, and it took me over 15 years to try another cherry pie after that.
For some reason, I develop aversions to actions and events as well as food. My tolerance for pain gets lower and lower, I now get panic attacks at the MENTION of blood tests needing to be done. I cannot go to a dentist without first taking valium. I can't be in the same room with my father. When I'm depressed, I have social aversion - the thought of using the telephone or email makes me nauseated.
And now I have a new one. Involving a small fertility clinic in Kirkland, the office staff there, and my doctor.
ps: maybe you noticed that anxiety affects my ability to spell?