Well, unfortunately due to my computer being down for the last week and a half, I've fallen behind in my blog again and now have forgotten what "Part Two" was supposed to cover. Let's see how best to catch everyone up on the fun of the last few weeks.
My cyst has been feeling much better. So very thankful for that.
Well, after several weeks in February of thinking that maybe...just maybe things worked this time, they didn't. This last failed cycle was just another reminder of the absence of a baby. It also marked the beginning of a whirlwind of fertility tests, appointments and tracking of almost everything under the sun. After just one month of doing this, I have new respect for those parents who've had to deal with fertility issues for months and years. It takes a lot out of you emotionally.
In a nutshell, I started Clomid this past cycle. That's the fertility drug that helps you ovulate. I was so nervous to take the medicine. I'm not much of a medicine woman--I'd much rather avoid putting drugs into my system but obviously there are times when medicines are necessary, I just hope and pray they don't have too many side effects.
I pretty much lucked out this time and and so thankful that I did. Vomiting is a really common side effect and I skipped it. I had a few bad headaches but they didn't last long. I also had some vision trouble one night and that scared me half to death but it passed after about 10 minutes. When I contacted my doctor about it, she said it was more of a rare symptom and joked about how I love stats--especially the rare ones. She said I could skip my last pill but that taking a full 5-day dose was better than 4, so I went for it and just prayed that it wouldn't mess with my eyes again. It didn't and I thank God for that.
So. I took my Clomid and went for an FSH test right before and then after. That's when the bomb hit. I say bomb, as in just one bomb not several, and I truly hope that it's just one because it's been a serious emotional tug of war since then.
After talking with me about my Clomid concerns, my doctor said she had my first test results back and "they weren't stellar." She only explained a little and said she'd have the specialist go into more detail.
Our appointment was Thursday, March 3. We met with an RE (a reproductive endocrinologist). He was very knowledgeable and reasonably nice. I just don't know how to explain what happened at this appointment. It was a rough and very confusing hour and half.
It seems that my FSH levels (a hormone) were pretty high and significant of a possible start of the transition to menopause. Menopause. Yes, you read that right. I about died when I heard that word. I was like, "menopause?" That word was nowhere in my vocabulary. Seriously. Here I was fretting over various fertility issues and I find out that in a nutshell, my time could be running out? It could be that simple. And depressing. And horrifically confusing and uncertain.
You see, they can't say for sure that that's what's happening. While some of my results showed numbers indicative of the transition to it, they can't say when I'll actually hit menopause. The doctor said the extremes were this--I may not hit it for another 10 years or more. Or I may hit it in 6 mos. Six months???? That was so hard to hear. It was even harder knowing that I was all over the board. It could simply take longer to conceive. Who knows. I had been prepared for pregnancy to take time at this age, but not for the fact that I'm potentially running out of time.
What was so frustrating was that the RE at times spoke out of both sides of his mouth. He would paint this horribly gloomy picture of all of the statistics for women my age. Our chances for conceiving are lower, our rates for miscarriage are higher as are chances of birth defects. It was horrible. Yes, I knew a lot of this in broad terms, but not in such specifics. I know I'm not a spring chicken but jeez. I felt like I was watching a painting unfold before me...full of blacks, browns...the darkest and most dismal colors you can imagine. But then there were also a few patches of white--of hope, and I desperately wanted to cling to those.
The RE said several times that I still could get pregnant--that women my age and older do it all the time. Even those who have already hit menopause can go for a year in it and then suddenly ovulate and have a baby out of nowhere. He also said that my FSH levels could have been high due to a simple hormone surge or something like that. And that I could cycle in and out of the transition for years before fully hitting menopause.
Our RE wanted to see my next set of test results--another FSH test to see if the Clomid did what it was supposed to...also to spike the FSH levels? That's where I got confused and don't quite understand how everything relates. He also asked me to get my progesterone tested again 7-9 days after I detect an LH surge (which happens right before you ovulate) so he can see how those levels look.
What I left with from that meeting were so many more questions than answers. I was also frustrated because he didn't set a follow-up appointment with me to suggest what we'd do next. Another medication to boost something else? Who knows. Perhaps he's just waiting to see how this cycle turns out.
I can't tell you how many times I cried after that visit. I know my thoughts are jumbly right now since it's been awhile but after that day everything got more stressful than before.
You know what I think is a serious crime in our world? Extinguishing the hope of another. Yes, I think it's a horrible thing to do when you take away another person's hope. Now I'm not saying that's exactly what our RE did, as so much of his talk was positive and optimistic but then it's like he countered himself with stats after stats about all of the negative. Once or twice, he'd pause, not say anything and just look at me. I found myself wondering if he was hoping I'd say, "Okay, doctor. Thanks so much for filling us in. I guess you're right, we should just quit and save you time to spend on someone more worth it." Seriously. I felt that way. Perhaps he was just pausing and wondering what I was feeling. I don't know but it made me very uncomfortable.
After that appointment I talked again with my doctor (ob/gyn). I forget what it was about--some other follow-up, I think. She asked how the appointment went with the RE. She did say again that I had options. Not just one option but options...with an S. I'm taking that. I'm holding on to that. She suggested other medications to try so I'm hoping the RE will agree that it's worth it to at least try. She also reminded me to tell the RE of my side effects with Clomid so we may not use that again.
What about killed me though was the last thing my doc said. I asked her just as a final thought, "So we don't need to quit and throw in the towel?" She said no but that she and the RE would be very honest with me and that "they would tell me when it's time to stop trying."
Who says anyone can tell me to 'stop trying?' Didn't the RE just spend a lot of time telling me about how women have beat the odds, and how women even in a menopausal state can suddenly conceive out of the middle of nowhere? And I haven't even hit menopause yet. JEEZ!!! Yes my numbers were a little high but it could have been an off month, both doctors agreed to that. Perhaps my doc thought I wanted to hear that--that I didn't want false hope. I'm not sure why she said that but I wasn't pleased to hear it.
I'm at a point now where I want to BEG both my doc and RE to please stay on my team. Don't give up on me. If timing is critical, then let's please try everything and anything out there before my time really does run out. I did a lot of research and found so many 'success stories'. Women like me, with high FSH levels, have gone on to have babies and healthy ones at that. One women went to 5 different REs before she found one who would work with her. You know what? At age 42 she delivered a healthy baby girl.
Man, I just can't say enough about hope. Feeling like at times the RE was trying to extinguish my hope was just awful. Hope is so hard to hold on to. It surely doesn't help when someone is trying to blow out the little flame that shines before you. It made me think of the song I sing with my boys and that I loved as a kid, "This Little Light of Mine." The one verse kids have always loved singing and doing the motions too (and Sammy and Benny do too) says, "Don't you try to puff (you pretend to blow your candle) it out, I'm gonna let it shine!" That was me. Desperately protecting my candle of hope while the doctor blew so much negative in our faces.
Did I mention something else the RE said during our appointment that really hit me hard? At one point he was quoting general stats about older eggs and defects. He said something like, "Thank God women's bodies normally recognize this and force a miscarriage or we'd have tons of humans walking the earth with all sorts of horrible chromosomal defects."
I know when I heard this I felt sick. It was just his words. I'm sure he meant nothing by it but the way his words came out...it just painted such a visual picture that no woman who lost a baby should have to see. All of this happened in milliseconds as I reacted to hearing his words. I remember thinking of my precious Jacob. Then it's like I saw visions of hideous zombie like creatures walking around like from some spooky sci-fi show. I cried when I told my mom this that night. I asked her, "So what...is the doctor telling me that that's what would happen...that even if I did get pregnant we'd make a little monster? Is that what Jacob was? Was my little baby, who kicked and squirmed and wiggled just a little monster? Was that what he was? So, I shouldn't even try??" My eyes are flooding while I write this. My baby was not a monster. He simply had things that didn't work here on earth...but he's perfect in Heaven. Perfect and in Jesus' arms. That thought brings me so much comfort.
Well, as you can see, there's a lot of emotion here. I'm sorry if anything I'm saying is offensive. I don't mean to hurt anyone. Please understand how difficult hearing all of that has been for me--it was beyond a smack in the face. It struck my very core. I loved and still love my little baby Jacob so very much. I'm a momma of three boys. No one can take that away from me. No one.
Thankfully my emotions have settled a bit because we're back in waiting stage but let's just say it's been rough, especially when I think too much about it. I guess writing about it is bringing everything back. If my computer wouldn't have been on the fritz, I would have written about this sooner.
So what's going on now? Well, we're just taking it day by day. It's too hard to know where this is going. You know, I looked at my bill/receipt--that form you get at the doctor's office when you leave. There were four types of office visits listed--straightforward, mildly complex, moderately complex and highly complex. I'd never seen that before, have you? Which one was checked on my form? You guessed it. "Highly complex." That almost made me laugh. Leave it to me to be complex. I wondered what was so complex about my situation? I guess it could be because there are so many unknowns with when women will totally transition or not. Maybe it's just not as simple as someone with a blocked tube or slow sperm. I don't know. But if it is that complex, then that tells me there still is hope.
My hubby has been great. We've discussed this several times and plan to keep trying. Like Alex mentioned, we did just conceive a few months back and ON OUR OWN. Yes, it ended sadly but we did make a baby on our own...no meds or doctor visits or test results to analyze. I could still have some good eggs in there and no one can predict what egg will come out. He and I agreed that the doc has to give you facts and generalizations. That they look at your numbers but that even they don't know for sure. Especially when you're 'highly complex'.
My hope is that I can keep medical people at an arm's length for awhile. If I have to start new meds this next cycle or more tests, that's fine. But I do plan on being a bit more assertive and asking them not to give up on me, nor to tell me when to quit. Unless my life is on the line or something funky, no one can tell me to quit. I don't care what stats say. Other than seeing a doctor/RE when I have to, I don't want to be around them too much. I don't want to talk to them about stats anymore. All I want to focus on are possibilities. Things we can try. Things we'll plan to try. Attitude is everything and I can't afford any more negative weighing me down.
That's it. I know if I can do that, it will be better for me. During the last 3 months of trying (following the miscarriage), I was stressed but nothing like this. I knew my chances were getting harder being older, but I wasn't obsessed with every last percentage of this hormone and that hormone like I am now. That's the mental state that I want to get back to. That of "anything is possible", we just have to keep trying and see what happens.
Hope. Funny how that theme has truly touched every part of this journey. I hoped that I would make the right decision about Jacob--I knew that I couldn't terminate and that decision was right, no matter the pain I'd have to go through. God took my precious baby after only 5 days of uncertainty. I have to hold on to hope. I just don't know that I can ever give it up, you know? I just keep praying that God will keep leading me on this journey and that if it's His will that we conceive again that the baby will make it. And that if the baby has some problem, that He'll guide me to be the best mommy possible of that little baby. I know I'll hug that little baby and thank the Lord every day for him or her.
I read a quote somewhere recently that said, "If God leads you to it, He will see you through it." Man, I love that. I'm keeping that in my head. Whatever He leads me to, He will help me through. And also the story about Abraham and Sarah--I was flipping through the Bible a few weeks ago--before hearing of my test results--and literally stumbled on the story of how Sarah got pregnant WAY past her prime. It was a miracle and all part of God's plan and will. Anything is possible with the Lord leading me. I know and trust this. It may be a baby, it may not. But I can't just give up all hope just because some doctor is telling me how difficult it may be. Aren't the difficult things worth fighting for? Isn't that what we all grew up learning?
Complex, yup, that's me. Lots of darks but with light shining through. It's my candle, doc. Only God knows where my light will lead.
Thanks for reading friends. I appreciate your thoughts, prayers and interest. Please feel free to contact me if you have any words of advice, suggestions of alternate treatments, medications, etc. My email is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time, hold your candle high. The more candles we hold up, the brighter the light of Hope for all of us. Even if it's just a tiny flicker of hope--I'm holding on and holding on tight.