Saturday, May 9, 2009

Let's Start at the Very Beginning, A Very Good Place to Start

How are you supposed to start these things? This is all so new to me; and to be honest, I never thought that I would actually start a blog. I consider myself a fairly open person, but that's typically in the realm of friends and family. And yet, here I am, opening up my heart, mind, and (in a way) even my uterus to the whole world. (By the way, my doctor tells me I have a "beautiful uterus").

My blogs won't always be this long, but I feel like like I need to recap our situation to get anyone who might stumble upon this blog caught up. The last two years have been filled with so many ups and downs, valleys and peaks. I have experienced life to the fullest potential, and I have experienced loss so deep that my foundation trembled. But through it all--I've been blessed. I've been blessed with a husband who runs barefoot into the desert to retrieve papers blowing in the wind; I've been blessed with family who will hop on a plane to care for me after a trip to the emergency room; I've been blessed with a doctor who gives me her email address so I can check in with her even when she's busy; I've been blessed with friends and colleagues who care so deeply for me that they too cry at the pain I've felt and beam when I share good news. But most importantly, I'm blessed with a Lord who loves me and stands by me and will never leave me, no matter how hard it gets.

As I write this, I'm currently 7 Weeks pregnant. This is my third pregnancy, and yet I'm still waiting to hold my first child. I've been blessed to be able to conceive naturally three times in the last year. (I fear I may have lost a lot of readers who are trying to go through IUI and IVF, but please bear with me--I have my scars too).

Things did not start out that way. You know those commercials that refer to AF as "the curse"? I hate those commercials! A cycle is a beautiful thing that is so vital to fertility! I once went 112 days with no "curse". And when you're TTC with no "curse", that adds up to a lot of HPTs. My doctor was able to "induce" a cycle with progesterone supplements once, and we hoped that would "kick-start" my regular cycles again. But that didn't necessarily happen, as my cycle remained abnormally and unbearably long. All of the tests that she ran came by normal, which is a huge blessing, yet my cycle was still so screwed up! But this is a story of blessings, and the Lord blessed us with our first BFP.

I was ecstatic, but since I've already stated that I do not have a child in my arms, you know this doesn't finish with a happy ending. I spotted on and off through the 12 Weeks, but tried to chalk it up to the information I found online about how something like 30% of all women experience spotting. But the night before our appointment when we hoped to hear the baby's heartbeat on the doppler, I experience spotting with a consistency of blackberry jam. Based on what I was experiencing and the results of the 8 Week ultrasound, my doctor didn't even touch the doppler sitting on the counter. She shared with us that it sounded like I was experiencing a loss, and that my body would probably handle the loss naturally. My husband and I were devastated, and had a good cry in the Prayer Garden of our church. He then left for a business trip to Alabama that afternoon, and I went back to work, determined to move on. I made it through that day, and the next, but that night got bad. I'm blessed that I never bled heavily at work, but the blood kept coming all evening on September 17th, my husband's birthday. It's like I was dropping blood-filled water balloons every time I sat on the toilet. Exhausted, I finally crawled into bed at midnight, just to awake an hour later and realized that I had bled through three beach towels. I knew it was time to drive myself to the hospital. Upon arriving, I promptly passed out in the bathroom, hitting my head in the process. I woke up in just my bra and hospital-throw-away-panties on the bathroom floor, shivering. By the time the nurses found me, they thought I would need a blood transfusion. I just remember trying to focus on Psalm 23: "though I walk through the valley of the shadow of darkness, I will fear no evil, for you are with me, your rod and your staff, they comfort me".

That was the darkest day of my life, and it breaks my heart that my husband's birthday will always be associated with the loss of our first child. It's hard to find a blessing in a miscarriage, but the "silver lining" is that my relationship with my husband was refined. If we could get through something of this magnitude apart (he was still in Alabama), then we could get through anything together. And I was reminded of just how much support I have from everyone else--my family, my friends, my supervisor, my church. And I started spending time with God in daily devotion, something that I had been neglecting for so long.

After the requisite wait following a D&C, my husband and I were given the green light to try again. And again, we conceived naturally. We were thrilled, but the joy was short-lived. Less than a week after the BFP, I started bleeding again, and miscarried on Valentine's Day. Had I not taken a HPT, I would have thought it was just AF. I was barely 5 Weeks along. Again, there is no blessings in a second miscarriage, but the Lord was good to us, and this loss happened quickly without any physical pain or trauma. My poor husband--why is it that all of the "guaranteed lovin'" days are associated with sadness?

This time, my doctor lovingly told me to see a specialist. She specializes in Family Medicine, not infertility concerns. So we saw an RE, who told me that I have a "beautiful uterus", and seemed excited to take me on as a patient to figure out why an otherwise perfectly healthy women would lose two pregnancies. A dozen vials of blood later, he determined that my FSH and LH levels were reversed, thus indicating a hormone imbalance, thus indicating slight PCOS, even though I showed no other symptoms. Well that explained that previous year of crazy cycles (or should I say "lack thereof"). He prescribed Metformin to help regulate my cycles, potentially creating a more normal ovulation. And he also found that I have a Protein C Deficiency. My levels were 68, but the normal range starts at 81. So for that, he prescribed Heparin injections in the stomach twice a day once we became pregnant again. Oh, and he also recommended 60 minutes of cardio and 200 crunches a day and to cut out all potato and corn products and anything that has High Fructose Corn Syrup. Do you realize just how many foods have HFCS in them? Even Ritz Crackers!

But we started putting all of his recommendations into place, and my first cycle after seeing him was 30 days! I think I even ovulated before starting the Metformin! The next month, we got our third BFP.

So that is where I find myself today--in a world of cardio, crunches, no HFCS, and Heparin injections twice a day. I thought I was tough, and I know that the shots will be worth it when I'm finally holding this child in my arms--but these shots hurt more than I thought they would! I am anxiously awaiting our first ultrasound on May 18th, and praying for a healthy baby in December.

If you happened to find this blog, and if I happened to keep your attention until this point, thank you. This is scary, but I know that there are others out there who share the same ups and downs as us. It's nice to know that you're out there.

In closing, I want to try to end with a "blessing of the day", which today would simply be the blessing of being able to crawl back into bed on a lazy Saturday with my amazing husband.

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