Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Journey to Parenthood

This months A Journey to Parenthood is a story that I truly treasure and admire.  
I've relied on her more times than I can count for advice, support, guidance and love. 
 She encapsulates the true meaning of finding the silver lining.
I know it's not easy to be successful at that, and it didn't come easy for her.  
I've witnessed her struggle for years now; I've seen her morph before my eyes, and she's even more of an inspiration now than she was when I first met her. 
She was with me through all my initial cycles-I even had to have injections administered at her apartment when we were visiting. 
She's been with me through it all-three times now.
And I, again, have to ask G-d why?
Why me and not her?
I don't know the answer, and I know she doesn't know the answer, but I'm so thankful for the preservation of our friendship through my success and her trying times.  
I could have easily lost her-in fact, I thought I would, I knew I would. 
However, she's stood by me, and this battle is not easy, but if there's anyone who can handle this journey with such grace, beauty and determination-it's her.  
I can't wait to see what the future holds!

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I’m not sure when things changed. There was a certain point during our infertility journey when I transitioned from feeling depressed and miserable with our situation, to feeling love and satisfaction with the life that God has given us. That’s not to say that I don’t still want a child. I do, very much. But in the interim, between fertility treatments, I’m learning to focus on the good that I’ve been given in my life. And I can say with certainty that this wasn’t always the case.

I was diagnosed with PCOS in high school and my OB-GYN put me on birth control to regulate my periods. Before I got married, I mentioned to my husband that I had this condition but he wasn’t worried. He explained that he was marrying me and was willing to go through any potential struggles together.
I wasn’t too concerned about having babies at the beginning of our marriage. I knew that my parents had struggled with infertility for 5 years before they had me, so I didn’t feel pressure to try getting pregnant immediately. Anyways, the issues that my parents had encountered were totally unrelated to anything that my husband and I had.

After one and a half years of marriage, we started trying for a baby. I went to the Reproductive Endocrinologist from the very beginning, knowing that I had PCOS and probably would need assistance. We tried Clomid for three months with zero results, besides for me feeling moody. During that time, my husband and I took a belated honeymoon to Israel. I remember crying and crying on that trip. We stayed in an area of Israel that was heavily populated with young families. I was feeling so emotional from the medication and had an ominous feeling that our struggle with infertility wouldn’t be short-term.

That summer, we moved from New York to Chicago and were referred to a new Reproductive Endocrinologist. This new doctor was part of FCI – Fertility Clinic of Illinois – a huge corporation specializing in fertility treatment, especially catering towards women starting families in their late thirties and early forties. The doctor at FCI decided not to put me on another round of Clomid because it made me very depressed. Instead, he decided to start preparing me for IUI (intrauterine insemination). Usually doctors try other ways of inducing ovulation (such as Metformin) before moving onto IUI’s but I think we skipped this step after the doctor saw how little I responded to Clomid.

I was not a candidate for IUI because my ovaries hyperstimulated, producing so many eggs that it was dangerous and near-impossible for me to become pregnant like this. The doctor took another look at my ovaries, saw that I continued to present with signs of PCOS, and decided I was a prime candidate for IVF. So at the age of 23 years old and after 6 months off of birth control – we began cycling.

Shortly before we married, I had been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis – an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) that affects the lining of the large intestine (colon) and rectum. Crohn's disease is a related condition. I had been in remission approximately 6 months before we started IVF. Once we began treatment, I consistently experienced ulcerative colitis symptoms, including frequent and painful diarrhea, bloody BM’s, and nutritional deficiencies. I needed to go on short doses of steroids to keep my GI system running smoothly in addition to the strain that the fertility drugs put upon my reproductive system.     

We underwent 2 back-to-back IVF cycles, and both failed. At this point, we had been cycling for the better part of 8 months. I was exhausted physically, emotionally, and mentally. I needed to take a break from fertility treatment and regain my health.

I was accepted to graduate school around this point in time and so I chose to take a more laid-back approach to fertility treatments as a result of extra demands on my time. About one year into graduate school, a friend who had also been suffering from infertility, underwent a laproscopy –  a surgery that uses a thin, lighted tube put through an incision in the belly to look at the female pelvic organs to find problems such as cysts, adhesions, fibroids , and infection. She also underwent ovarian drilling. While this procedure is controversial, it has a fairly high success rate in treating PCOS.

This surgery proved to be enormously effective in my friend’s case. Adhesions and scarring were found on her uterus, and the doctor was able to scrape these out. Soon after, my friend was able to conceive naturally. Inspired, I decided to try the laproscopy and ovarian drilling procedures also. We switched from the RE practice that we had been using, to my friend’s doctor, part of IHR (Institute for Human Production) in Illinois. I underwent the surgery and soon after, I experienced a light period without any medication. I was so excited! I was convinced that this was the end of my fertility journey.

But this was not the case. I went off birth control, became an avid subscriber of acupuncture and homeopathic medicine, and still wasn’t pregnant after a year. Finally, we decided to do our third IVF. I entered this cycle very optimistic and determined to really take care of my overall health with this treatment.
I became pregnant last summer. The emotions that ran through me were amazing! I never thought this day would come. But as I underwent blood tests to confirm a healthy pregnancy, my doctor noticed that my beta levels weren’t rising appropriately. After 2 weeks, the doctor determined this was an ectopic pregnancy, and I needed two doses of Methotrexate to completely abort the embryo. This was a painful and devastating experience and my GI symptoms also spun out of control.

Finally, this past spring, we underwent another IVF cycle and the embryo transfer was unsuccessful. But we still have hope. I don’t know when God will provide us with a baby, but I believe that it will happen. And I continue to look at this entire journey as a gift – for appreciating the beauty and miracle of life, understanding the power of kindness, love, and friendship; and the intimacy with God that comes with tears and heartfelt prayer.    

1 comment:

  1. What a powerful story--will be thinking of you and hoping for your miracle to come soon!

    ReplyDelete

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