Thursday, August 23, 2012

9 days...And a in-depth desciption of fertility treatments

9 more days.  The wait is killing me!!  And my brain is super fried.  Good thing I have learned to preform well under pressure.  Plus staying busy at home and work keeps me from obsessing.  Ha Ha.  Not really.

I realized that some people reading this may not be familiar with a lot of the technical stuff that goes into diagnosing and treating infertility so I'm going to explain.   And I'm going to print this off and wave it in front of any offspring that I have (adopted or biological) when they inevitably tell me that "I don't love them".  The medical procedures and public humiliation that Mikey and I have undergone proves otherwise.

Recognizing you are having trouble reproducing can take a while.  All the Internet info will tell you that if you are under 25, don't worry if it takes a year or two to conceive, so I didn't.  By 26 I started to wonder.  We had been using no protection for years, and nothing was happening, I was starting to question if we might have a problem.  I REALLY hate going to the doctor for "female issues" though (I don't want any lectures, but I have only had 3 pap smears in my entire life ) so I kept putting it off.  Finally though, my sister in law got pregnant with after seeking medical help so I sucked it up., went in, and hoped for the same results.

The first doctors appointment is awkward.  You have to go over your sexual history in great detail.  With a total stranger.  Lots of blood tests were ordered and they have to get them done on certain days of your cycle, so for a month I felt like a human pin cushion.  All my bloodwork came back normal.  Normal levels of progesterone, follicle stimulating hormone, ect, so it was on to the next step.  Apparently any abdominal surgery can cause scarring that could potentially block Fallopian tubes and I"ve had a hernia repair surgery as an infant and my appendix out as an adult (awesome story, I refused to go to the hospital until it burst, and spent the day trying to work while periodically laying under my co-workers desk crying and throwing up when the pain got too bad.  Sorry Jess), so an HSG test was requested.  The doctor didn't tell me much about the procedure and I didn't ask.  I figured it couldn't be that bad or the doctor would have warned me.  Plus medical procedures kind of freak me out and I didn't want to give myself anxiety over nothing. HSG has some long involved name, which is irrelevant cause all you need to know is it HURTS !!  To undergo this emotionally and physically traumatic experience I first had to pay $1500.  Then I was admitted to Davis County hospital where the entire radiology department (8 people both male and female) decided to get an up close and personal view of me.  Apparently this isn't a common procedure at Davis and it was a "training opportunity".  I still cringe when I hear these words in any context.  Sitting on the freezing table, I first realized that there might be a little more to this procedure than I thought.  Then I saw the largest needle of my life.  Seriously, the thing was 12 inches long and at least a half inch wide.  When I questioned one of the many techs wandering around, I was assured that I wasn't going to be poked with the needle and given some lame excuse about the reason it was there.  Stupidly, I bought the excuse, being somewhat distracted by the large group of people staring at me while I was naked from the waist down. Apparently the needle was used to allegedly "numb" my cervix.  Yeah right.  Still hurt.

Then the procedure began.  OMG.  Worst pain of my life.  The idea of the HSG test is to inject dye into your fallopian tubes to look for blockages.  It feels like really bad period cramps unless they find a blockage.  Then they send this balloon inside and push the balloon and the dye against the blockage in an attempt to dislodge it.  That really really really hurts.   Worst pain of my life.  Worst than my appendix.  I couldn't even stand up straight for several hours after the procedure. 

The verdict?  One blocked fallopian tube.  Not good, but at least one was functioning, so it was Mikey's turn.  He had to provide a "sample" for mobility and quantity testing.  The sample had to be provided in a cup, at the doctor's office to get an accurate reading.  Poor guy. They handed him a cup and sent him to the bathroom of the Tanner Clinic.  Everyone knew what he was doing.  I probably should have been a bit more sympathetic, but I was still recovering emotionally from my HSG test and glad he was getting a taste of what I went through. 

Mike's verdict?  A very low sperm count with poor mobility.  If I remember correctly, he was at 19 million per "sample".  Seems like a lot right?  Not when normal is 40 million plus.  Male factor infertility accounts for 40% of all infertility cases.  The downside to male factor infertility is that you can't provide men with the range of medications available to women.  The doctor informed us it was time to seek out a specialist. 

Time passed and we finally decided to follow through with the specialist.  Utah fertility clinic was great.  Pricey ($350 per apt), but good.  Dr Heiner requested a special test to determine my egg quality.  I can't remember the name, but thankfully it was only a blood test.  The test determined the "age" of your eggs based on a chemical level in your blood while ovulating.  If the level is high, its indicative of polycystic ovarian syndrome, a disease in which your body doesn't release eggs during ovulation.  If the level is low, you have old eggs and it can indicate an early onset of menopause.  Apparently I have the eggs of a 40 year old woman.  I was 27 years old at the time of the test.  There is nothing that can fix this problem.  Your body only has so many eggs and when they are gone, so is your chance of having a biological child. 

The recommendation from the doctor is trying a round of Inter Utero Insemination (IUI).  This procedure involves the male providing a "sample".  The sample is taken at the fertility center, filtered to obtain only the highest quality sperm, and then the sperm is placed in a special nourishing solution to increase mobility.  Then a turkey baster is shoved up inside the woman and the solution is injected.  We tried this procedure 3 times.  The first time, Mikey's count was 10 million.  It had dropped in half from the previous sample.  The second try, the count was 3 million.  The third try, it was 900,000. 

There was no medical reason or treatment for this rapid decrease.  It's simply genetic.  By the second IUI, donor sperm or IVF was strongly suggested by the doctor.  The cost of IVF was and still is impossible for our financial situation.  Sperm donation is not something I'm comfortable with, mostly cause I've chatted with a few men who have donated or who thought about donating and that thought of my having their child (we wouldn't know the donors name, but still, I would always question it) made me realize that I'd rather stay childless.  And in some cases, if it was a case of life and death, I would rather die.

That brings us pretty much to present day.  I've had 2 miscarriages, which could be related to the poor sperm quality, my old eggs, or some other undiagnosed issue within me.  The first one was with our first IUI attempt.  It broke my heart.  The second happened three months ago in the bathroom of the Syracuse movie theater.  We stopped pursuing fertility treatments for few years after the 3rd IUI attempt because of the emotional trauma and difficulties it brought to our marriage and embraced the philosophy that whatever happens is meant to be. We started up again recently(at the time of the second miscarriage) and I've been taking a medication called clomid in hopes of producing multiple eggs during each ovulation cycle to compensate for Mikey's low sperm and my one blocked tube.  Clomid sucks.  I'm absolutely an emotional basket case.  I want to scream for no reason at times and have NO patience. It takes every thing I have not to yell at people sometimes for silly things, such as loud breathing. I've had some pretty fantastic meltdowns over the past 3 months.  Sorry Jess (just realized that there is a lot of apologizing to Jess in this) and Mikey.  You guys are rock stars for putting up with my crazy.

9 mores days till I find out if this time it will be different.  But even if it isn't, there will be some amazing lesson or reason for the failed attempt.  Just a matter of figuring out what it is. 

Next topic, relationships (cause I just didn't feel like discussing them today, but there has been a large effect on them) and adoption.

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