Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Transparent Moment--Endometriosis

Today's Transparent Moment is written by Katie; author of Being the Browns

For our third wedding anniversary, in August 2006, my husband and I took a trip to New York City. It was on this trip that we decided we would like to start trying for a baby.  Little did we know the years of struggle, pain, fear and disappointment that we were about to embark on.

All of my life, the only thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to have kids and I wanted to be a mom. I was unsure of what to study in college, never really felt that I had any special gifts or talents, but knew for sure that if I was nothing else in this life, I was going to be a mother.

We were living in Vancouver, BC at this time and some friends of ours had recently announced that they were pregnant. We loved that they had kept it a secret as it was such a fun surprise when they told us the big news. So we decided not to tell anyone that we were trying because we thought it would be really exciting to surprise our friends and family. This decision lead to approximately two years of feeling isolated and alone in our struggle to get pregnant. Countless negative pregnancy tests, many alcoholic drinks refused, and I even stopped exercising because I thought that maybe the impact of running was too hard on my body. But I kept it all to myself. When anyone would question when we were going to have kids (as people always do), I would nonchalantly shrug and give a generic answer like “when the time is right” or “when we’re more settled.” I read books, we had sex every single day some months, I had acupuncture and even tried eating or avoiding certain foods.

After a year of trying to conceive, we moved across the pond to Scotland (my husband was embarking on a new schooling adventure) where I continued acupuncture but quit soon after because it obviously wasn’t working and I was spending far too much money on treatment (those elective treatments are sadly not covered by the amazing free health care in Scotland). Within a couple of months, I went to see a doctor. Since we were both young and it had been over a year, my doctor started doing blood tests and referred us to a fertility specialist. I had numerous blood tests at different points in the month and my husband’s sperm count and mobility was also tested. All the tests came back normal. Of course I was relieved that we were normal, but part of me almost wanted something to be wrong so that we could fix it, or so I could know once and for all that I wasn’t going to get pregnant…ever. I started to become bitter, I was angry at God, confused and sad. Slowly, one by one, all of my close friends became pregnant or pregnant again. I was thrilled for them and glad that no one seemed to be having trouble getting pregnant like we were, but at the same time I wanted someone to understand what I was going through (even though we were still keeping it all a secret at this point).

It wasn’t until the end of September 2008 that we finally got our appointment to see the fertility specialist. We met our doctor who reviewed and explained, in more detail, the tests that we had already had done. I was then given an internal exam. Once again, everything seemed fine and normal, except for a small cyst on my right ovary. The doctor was not overly concerned as ovarian cysts are quite common and usually go away on their own.  He also told us that this should not be any cause for infertility. He said that he would monitor the cyst and told me to come back in a couple of months.

On the bus ride home after this appointment was when we decided that we needed to finally share with our close friends and family what was going on. So over the next several months, we slowly began to share our news with those closest to us. The love, prayer and support that came from sharing was overwhelming and incredible. We were sad that we had not shared sooner and relieved that we could now open up to people who loved us.

In the meantime, the cyst had started causing me unbearable pain once a month (during my period). I had to miss days of work, I blacked out on more than one occasion and pain meds didn’t seem to help. It would hit me out of nowhere and I would be down and out. In December 2008, we went back to the fertility specialist to check on the cyst and to continue discussing our fertility options. The cyst was obviously still present, it had not grown but it had not shrunk either. The doctor told me that we could schedule surgery to remove it or leave it alone and see if it goes away on its own. He recommended surgery and I decided to follow his advice. The laparoscopic surgery was scheduled for March 31, 2009.  At this appointment we also began discussing the possibility of IVF treatment. He explained it to us, told us about the waiting lists and said that at our next appointment (post-surgery) we could discuss it further and we could decide if we wanted to begin the IVF process.

In January I had a hysterosalpingogram done. This is the “dye test” where they inject dye into the cervical canal to investigate the shape of the uterine cavity and fallopian tubes. This test was also normal, of course.

After enduring the pain for three more months, on March 31st I checked into the hospital for my surgery. I had several conversations with interns, nurses, the anesthesiologist and the surgeon.  Next thing I knew, I was out of surgery and waking up, through a fog that lasted several hours. I stayed one night in the hospital and the next morning the surgeon came to talk to me about the surgery. Everything had gone very well and they were able to remove all of the cyst. The surgeon then asked me “have you been having difficulties trying to conceive?” It turns out the cyst was an endometrial cyst caused by endometriosis which can be a cause of infertility. We were so happy and relieved that we may have finally found an answer. Though we didn’t know for sure that this was causing our infertility, we had renewed hope and began to feel much more positive about the whole situation.

It took me about two weeks to recover and I have a small scar that will always be there. Life went on as normal for the next couple or months and in early July we took a trip to Italy. It was there without the stress or pressure of ‘trying’, on vacation, having a great time and without even realizing it, that our baby was conceived. And on March 30th, 2010, exactly one day shy of a year after my surgery, our amazing, perfect daughter was born. 10 fingers, 10 toes and more than we could have ever dreamed.
Just recently Katie and her husband celebrated their sweet little girl's 6 month birthday. Thank you Katie for sharing your beautiful story. 

Readers: It's often so hard to share your heart...even with those closest to you. My hope for you and for those around you is that once you've shared your story (whatever your story may be), you too will be surrounded by love, prayer, and support.

5 comments:

  1. Congratulations on enduring a terrible trial and having a helathy baby girl. And thanks for sharing your difficulties. Maybe someone else will feel empowered to share her worries and trials and find relief through opening up to others.

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  2. WOW, what a great story... sweet for them! :)

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  3. i LOVED reading this guest post. i read it twice.:) it is crazy to think that everyone deals with something, even though everyone's "thing" is not the same. it was great to read about all the support that katie and her husband received once they shared what they were going through. and, i am so happy that they now have a sweet baby to hold.:)

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  4. What an amazing story and it feels so close to my heart--so glad you stopped by my blog so I could find this! After dealing with 16 months of trying to have a baby and 2 miscarriages it is comforting to know I am not alone. I, too, have started to tell people and have found a lot of support. It helps so much.
    Thanks for the follow--am now a follower too!

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