October 1, 2009

The Fertility Clinic

It has been an appointment-filled week (both medically and socially), yesterday was my appointment with my naturopath and today’s was with the fertility clinic.

I nearly cancelled the naturopathic appointment and asked for my herbals tinctures to be mailed out, as there hasn’t really been a change in my wellbeing or cycles. Sure, last cycle was a short one (24 days) but I did ovulate early and still managed to have a 12-day luteal phase. In the end, I’m glad I went – it was a sunny day, the scenery on drive over to her practice was gorgeous (as per usual; there are vineyards, fields and distant mountains... I think that’s natural therapy within itself!). My herbs are more of the same and I’ve been challenged to eat an organic banana – no small feat seeing as though I can’t stand that taste/texture of bananas, yet I find myself craving them often!

She also reassured me about today’s appointment, and that even though the specialist I would be seeing is western medicine-based, she won’t condone eastern/natural therapies either. She had some tests she wanted the results of (updated iron work and B12), so to get them tacked onto whatever blood work was being ordered.

Which brings me today, and the pseudo-adventure that was the fertility clinic. First thing I noticed? Sterile building (near-new) and long white walkway. Silence, my shoes make squeaking sounds down the hallway of doom hope. In the waiting room sits three other women, their body language echoing mine... drooping shoulders. One is clutching the hand of her partner, another dabbing her left eye with a tissue, and the last knitting while staring out into the distance. And then there’s me – trying to absorb myself in a magazine while the receptionist is busy on the phone with call after answered call about medications, menstruation and IVF.

The doctor is running a little late, but finally she calls my name (yes, a female specialist!) and I’m drawn into her office, which is less sterile than the surrounding areas. We discuss my history (ovarian cysts and endometriosis, Zoladex and contraceptives) and my cycles. I had printed out some of my charts, which she had a look at. I showed her the comparisons of before and after natural therapies and how it’s lengthened my luteal phase, but pushed back ovulation time. The doctor still thinks my cycles “need improvement” (yes... I’d like to see them improved too – to show pregnancy!).

While she doesn’t think my endometriosis has returned (because it’s only been just over a year since the Zoladex treatments; I beg to differ on this one), she showed an interest in what had been discovered in my laparoscopy and where (chocolate brown cysts on the back of my uterus and on my bowel) and that it must have been “severe” for “Zoladex to be implemented”... no, I wasn’t aware of that.

I sat quietly while the doctor explained reproduction and what needs to happen for conception to take place (again... who’d have thought it was sex that caused pregnancy... wow!!!), before she made her recommendations. This was where I could have done with my husband's moral support.

Three tests were ordered (which I was expecting, so no big surprises there) –

* General ultrasound of my pelvic area (no dye in my tubes at this point, unless the below tests come back normal)
* Blood tests for oestrogen/progesterone levels (to prove ovulation; taken 7 days after it typically occurs)
* Semen analysis for my husband

The last one was what got to me the most – even though my husband said he’d be willing to go along with it (previously; he doesn’t know that it’s actually been recommended today yet), I still felt saddened that he’s going to have go through this process... how demeaning!

The best way to deal with all of this is to get you pregnant, and fast” said the doctor, as if to notify me of a goal I didn’t know existed. If my tests and my husband's tests all come back normal, then the next step is most likely going to be IVF. To be honest, I’m scared s**tless about the idea of this and am trying to think positive thoughts and that maybe, just maybe, something tangible comes up on the analysis or my ultrasound that explains everything.

My ultrasound is next Thursday morning.

September 2, 2009

Endo is Back

And here I am, absent from this blog for a while but still without child in my womb.

Truth be told, there has been a lot going on in life right now, and I wonder if I've take on too much. Running a Kindergarten, househunting (trying to break the rental cycle), trying for a baby... sometimes it all feels like too much at once and something will have to give.

My naturopath visits have been going really well, and it's almost as if she is my emotional support right now... more and more I have been confiding in her my hopes and my fears.

I've been in denial for the past couple of months about my health, and am sad to say that my endometriosis has now returned. Painful symptoms are back (the old daily ovulation-style pains, along with excrutiating pains for the first 2-3 days of my cycle, ascending up almost into my abdomen/diaphragm. Absolutely crushing news, as I really didn't want to have to go down the western medical route again for endometriosis management.

My husband (and several friends) have commented that perhaps it's time to give the natural route the flick and see a fertility specialist - it's been almost a year now since we started our TTC journey.

I'm devestated. :(

July 24, 2009

Cautiously Optimistic

I ovulated a little earlier this month that usual, which was a surprise... but luckily my husband and I were ready. Trusting one's instincts really pays off at times! ;)

When a couple is trying to conceive, they usually get a lot of information from other people (generally well-meaning) about sex. The what, how, when, why... and I've seen many couples succumb to the monotony of babymaking (as opposed to lovemaking). You know what I mean - when sex becomes a chore and not an act of love.

I can understand how it's easy to fall into that way of thinking - and there have been times of choosing sex instead of sleep simply because the timing is good (etc). But never once have we let it become monotonous or endgame-driven. In fact, to keep us sane and the pressure off, my husband prefers me not to tell him when I'm fertile and just initiate (though I'm sure he realises... he's an intelligent thinker).

So here I am, four days post-ovulation and feeling those ovulation-type twangs (which are also endometriosis-style twangs... but I'd rather not be regressing again) and secretly hoping that for once it's an implantation twang and not simply my body ready to shed its womb once more.

A rose quartz carried on my body at all times (a loan from a good friend)... the herbal conconctions that I drink twice daily... the cleansing of my diet and plenty of fresh air and laughter. Will this ninth month finally be our charm? I should know the answer in about a week, give or take...

July 15, 2009

That's Where my Dust Went

I think that I’ve figured out what has happened to my baby dust... it’s gone to many of the families in my Kindergarten group!

In the last month, not one...or two...but THREE of the parents have announced that they’re expecting (all in the first trimester), leaving me dolling out many congratulations – all genuine, I might add. However, if any more families in my group of 25 make an announcement, then I’ll probably lie on the floor while kicking and screaming... which would make a nice spectacle for the four year-olds. ;)

July 7, 2009

Career and Nurturing

Here I am, on the first day of a new cycle today.

That makes nine months of actively trying for our first child (and almost unimaginably, we would be on the verge of having a newborn in our lives if we’d conceived in our first couple of months).

As anyone that’s reading this who has been through the whole TTC journey would know, it has its ups and downs. My frustrations have been extreme at times, but I have faith that one day soon my husband and I will be blessed with a child of our own. I know that there’s so much I’ve been doing ‘right’ (ie, cutting out caffeine, getting healthier and in a more positive headspace) in the past year, I just hope know that it’s all enough.

Time for me to reveal a little more about the person that I am... I work with children on a daily basis as a Kindergarten teacher (here in Australia, our Kindergarten year is more like what some of you would know as preschool – very much play-based). I adore my job, and for a year the children that I nurture and teach become my children. My days are filled with laughter, joy and sunshine...I honestly can’t think of a better way to spend them. When the families that I work with ask about my own family, I’m good at smiling and saying that it’ll happen when it happens (but at the same time it hurts, too...).

For the time being, I keep honing my Hokey Pokey skills. ;)

July 2, 2009

Kicking the Caffeine

I cut caffeine out from my life just under a month ago.

While it’s given me more energy throughout the day and made me realise my overreliance on what is really essentially a scary drug, the withdrawals were terrible. Cold sweats, nausea, headaches and snappiness... my poor husband and my best friend copped the brunt of it (sorry guys!).

But I’m proud to say that I’m officially caffeine-free and not looking back!

I've always been a tea drinker - my parents introduced it to me when I was only twelve years old. Black teas, green teas, white teas... you name it, and I've probably had it in my pantry at some point.

Socially it can be difficult to refuse, especially when coffee is an after-meal custom and a hot chocolate just doesn’t provide the same ‘warmth’. But I’m getting there...and no longer taking deep breaths in an attempt to breathe in other people’s coffee steam!

Rooibus tea has become my saviour. African in origin, it’s high in trace minerals (such as iron, potassium and magnesium), full-bodied like a black tea and tastes delicious... as well as being 100% caffeine-free. My naturopath - or herbalist, for those in the US – put recommended it a while back and though I was sceptical at first, it’s absolutely delicious! Luckily for me, it’s available at my local supermarket too.
Can you tell I'm eating breakfast while typing this? I'm a food fiend. ;)

July 1, 2009

My Story

Starting a blog can be a daunting experience... an open page with a lack of words, a heart full of promise for the times to come. And the anticipation... oh, the anticipation.

Growing up, I boldly told family and friends that I would one day be a single parent because I just didn’t think I would settle down. Did I fully understand an impact a statement like that would make? Probably not. However, situations changed as I sped through my teenage years and early twenties, and I found myself a newlywed a few months shy of my twenty-seventh birthday.

Another thing I took for granted was my fertility – that no matter what, it’d be there for me because that was the job of a woman’s body...to grow and nurture babies. Like a lot of women of my generation, I spent many years on the contraceptive Pill to regulate my cycles and protect me from pregnancy before I was ready to become a parent. What I didn’t know was that the artificial hormones were holding my (at this point undiagnosed) endometriosis at bay, which I discovered three years after going off the Pill.

A lovely female doctor set me on the right path, thrusting a wealth of information at me about a condition I’d never really heard of before – and something clicked into place... my painful and heavy periods, back pain, inability to wear a tampon or even have intercourse without tears welling up in my eyes (not from pleasure, either!)... I wasn’t alone and these symptoms had a name. Something real to grasp onto, at last!

My suspicions were confirmed in January 2008 by laparoscopic surgery (with endometrial ‘nodules’ found on the back of my uterus and on my bowel), and I now have a lovely picture of my insides on the fridge for all to see.

... Just kidding (it’s in a folder with my bills, and tax receipts).

But in all seriousness, this surgery changed my life. Daily tasks became manageable, and sex became a wonderful thing (especially now that I had a husband to share it with!). It did also force me to think more about having children, as my specialist said that the best time to fall pregnant was immediately after a laparoscopy cycle. He (yes, I had a male specialist) also recommended Zoladex as a follow-up to the surgery. I naively started the monthly injectables without truly understanding the impact that it was going to make on my life.

Did you know that Zoladex is an oestrogen-suppressant? Or that it puts you into a state of artificial menopause to stop the growth rate of endometrial growth? (it’s also used in conjunction with chemotherapy to treat breast and prostate cancers It’s also a drug not widely used by medical practitioners for managing endometriosis anymore, but I didn’t know my options at the time.

I won’t say that the time spent on this drug (six months) wasn’t the most pleasant of my life. Without the support of my husband and family, I don’t think I would have coped as well as I did... and even that wasn’t very well at times. I did get to experience menopause at the same time as my mother, and I don’t think many mothers-and-daughters could say that’s a journey they’ve made together! But within six weeks of finishing the last injection, my menstrual cycle returned and I began to feel like a woman again.

By this point, my husband and I were ready to start trying for a baby – the mythical “right time” had arrived. Or had it?

Over a year on from making that decision, and here I am... sitting here writing a blog about not being blessed with pregnancy as yet, while friends and loved ones around me are walking examples of female fertility. I’m neither bitter nor angry, but I am frustrated that our time hasn’t arrived yet.

I hope that my husband and I are to be biological parents of a child someday.

But in the meantime... I write.