Aaron and my journey to have a child began two days into our honeymoon when I started a new cycle. Oh joy... cramping and bleeding on our honeymoon?? Such fun! Haha We weren't trying to get pregnant, but we also weren't always using protection either. We found out on Feb 13th of '07 that I was pregnant! I was excited and Aaron was scared out of his mind! Everything seemed to be progressing normally. I even had to get some maternity clothes a few weeks later because I was so uncomfortable in my regular clothing. At my first ultrasound appointment (11 weeks) we found out I had a missed miscarriage. It was DEVASTATING. We named the baby Jonah Dominic, which means "a dove belonging to God." I had a horrible time dealing with the loss and, long story short, made a serious attempt on my life at the end of June. I took 90+ blood pressure pills, wrote a note to my family, went to bed and did not expect to wake up. God totally did a miracle and saved my life. I honestly should have died or AT LEAST had some major organ damage. I didn't. I DID have a stay in a mental hospital and it was honestly the best thing that could have happened. MORAL OF THIS PART OF the STORY: it is so important to deal with the loss of a child, even if it is an early loss and people around you think you should just 'get over it.' I did not let myself grieve and that was the worst thing I could have done.
Moving on... I started temping in July of '07 (basal body temp) and found right away that I had wacky cycles. I called my Dr and got some blood work done and also got her to give me Metformin. She wanted to just throw me on Clomid, but I knew (with the help of some APA friends) that would not be a good idea. With PCOS (I was diagnosed with PCOS several years previous to this at my first OB/GYN appointment), the first thing one should do is get on Metformin ASAP. Metformin is a medication typically used to treat diabetes and since insulin resistance is a big part of PCOS, it has become standard treatment for women with PCOS. Metformin also helps reduce male hormones which are also something that plagues women with PCOS. So, I have been on Met since July or August of '07.
Shortly after this I started bleeding..... and bleeding... and bleeding. Seriously, 65/70 days I was bleeding. At one point I was bleeding so heavily that I was using a DIAPER as a pad. We found that somewhere in all that bleeding I had a chemical pregnancy, which in simple terms is a very early miscarriage. Shocked the hell out of me. That was in September ‘07. I continued to bleed through September and October. In November it stopped and I ovulated. I again got an early positive pregnancy test (9Days past ovulation, I think) that turned into a negative a few days later. That time I had to induce a miscarriage with Provera (synthetic progesterone) because my body was not completing the miscarriage on it’s own. Then, once again, I was bleeding. It went on, and on, and on. During this time I changed OBs THREE TIMES in hopes to find just one that would help me. Ya.... that didn't happen. In Jan of '08 I was scheduled to get an ultra sound (because I demanded it) to check for endometriosis, but our insurance ran out right before I had it. I continued to suffer with this horrible bleeding and pain that was getting progressively worse. In March, I had yet another chemical pregnancy and at that point decided it was time to avoid pregnancy until I could get someone to help me figure out what was wrong with my body.
This brings me to April ‘08. I had been having heavy bleeding off and on for a long time at that point, but one day I started bleeding so heavily that I passed out at work. I was taken by ambulance to the hospital where I was passing HUGE clots. Clots so big my cervix was actually dilated to a 2 to be able to pass them. But, in the ER all they have to do is stabilize you and then they can send you home. So, by the end of the day I was still NO WHERE. Aaron found out about a low cost clinic in town and made me an appointment. This Doctor was VERY concerned and wanted to do some tests. FINALLY! A Doctor who wanted to figure this out! I was prescribed Provera to stop the bleeding and had an endometrial biopsy a few days later. She was concerned all the bleeding was indicating a problem with the lining of my uterus.
A couple weeks later I got the devastating news that I had Complex Endometrial Hyperplasia (CEH). It is a condition that is precancerous. I was told at that time that I would take Provera for 21 days and then stop for 7 to get a withdrawal bleed and repeat this for three months. If the hyperplasia was not gone after this I would have to have a hysterectomy. This was a totally old school Dr that did not have a clue about the new studies concerning CEH.... In three months (August '08) I had another biopsy and there was absolutely no change in the condition. I started freaking out thinking I was going to have to have a hysterectomy. Thank GOD there was a different OB treating me that day! He knew of this med called MEGACE and told me it is a new treatment that he did not know a lot about, but I should try it first. Megace is a cancer medication.... it made me feel like crap 24/7 and I lost a lot of hair. While on the Megace, we got insurance again (through my new job at the time) and I made an appointment with an OB/GYN/RE. I saw him in November '08 and had yet another biopsy. This new Dr had treated two other women with CEH in the last year and both of them had the CEH resolve and got pregnant. I was so excited... until I got the biopsy results. It was WORSE. The lab could not tell if it was atypical (which is the last stage of the disease before it turns cancerous) or cancerous. I had to have surgery (D&C) to get a larger sample to make sure it was not cancerous. This new doctor started me on the highest dose of Megace and he upped my Metformin to 2000mg. THANK GOD- it was not cancerous, but still very serious. Atypia means it is just one step below cancerous... I continued the Megace and Metformin until March '09 when I had yet ANOTHER biopsy. THE CEH-A WAS TOTALLY GONE! No trace of it at all! HOORAY!
Now the baby making was on full force! 150mg Clomid for 5 days in the first cycle- no viable follicles. Tried it again- same outcome. 150mg for EIGHT days- had 1 slow growing follie that made a VERY weak ovulation. I was planning to do ovarian drilling (a surgical procedure where they literally drill microscopic holes into the ovaries) until we had to change insurance plans to Kaiser which meant I had to start all over again. *sigh* I did all the paperwork and initial appointments with Kaiser in September and October of '09 and thought we were moving right along. Until the dreaded semen analysis (s/a). Aaron had one done in July with the previous insurance but we never got the results. Come to find out... it was HORRIBLE- 1.5 mil TOTAL, ugh. You may be thinking “1.5 million sounds like a lot” but it is not. A normal ejaculate will have at least 20-60 million sperm.) They repeated it- 500,000 TOTAL. The Doctors started Aaron on Clomid, 50mg a day for THREE MONTHS STRAIGHT. Clomid tricks the man’s mind into thinking his hormone levels are off which is supposed to kick the body into overdrive, thus causing him to make more sperm. In January '10, his s/a was a little better as far as mobility (forward movement) and such, but was still only 1.5 mil total. We decided to go ahead with an IUI- or at least that was the intention. I started on injectable medication and was just SURE it would work. ummm.... nope. The doctor estimated that I had 75 +/- small follicles after stimulation. Because of my severe PCOS, I had many follicles being stimulated but none of them were growing anywhere NEAR large enough. I was told at this point it would be near impossible to get me to stim even for IVF w/o having a severe risk of ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome (OHSS). Plus, due to my weight it would be near impossible to even get to my uterus through my fat not to mention and my ovaries hide behind my uterus which would make it even harder. I was told to "try to get on Biggest Loser because I have such a compelling story" or look seriously into weight loss surgery. I REALLY wanted to do biggest loser, but Aaron would not have it. He said he did not want to be apart from me for that long. So, I started the process for weight loss surgery. It was a very hard decision to make because I knew I would have to wait a good amount of time before trying to have a baby. My surgeon was very understanding and sensitive to our situation and told me when I made weight goal I could go forward with trying to conceive again. He estimated it would take about 1 year. That’s a LOOOOONG time to wait after everything we had gone through, but it was THE BEST decision for my health.
On April 12th '10 I started the pre-op diet and did really well, but I still decided to go ahead with weight loss surgery. On June 21st I had the vertical sleeve gastrectomy ('the sleeve') where they take out 80% of my stomach leaving a small sleeve of stomach. To date I have lost approximately 130 pounds and gone from size 26 to a size 12/14. I reached the medical weight loss goal at the end of October and my own goal of being less than 200 lb at the end of November.
Aaron continued on the Clomid for a full year since his infertility urologist said it can take up to a year to see the full results from the Clomid. He did his latest s/a and it showed only 200,000 swimmers- NO GOOD. The infertility urologist called and told Aaron our only options were to do IVF or use donor sperm. Aaron did some of his own research and found out SSRIs (anti-depressants) can cause male factor infertility. This was HUGE shock to us and all Aaron’s physicians… infertility specialists included. In the studies he found men with normal sperm counts would go on SSRIs for three months then do another s/a. The study showed a significant decrease in sperm count. After three months of discontinuing the SSRIs their counts were again back to normal ranges. This made complete sense with our circumstances since it seemed pretty obvious that Aaron’s sperm count had to be pretty normal in the first year of our marriage since he was able to get me pregnant 4 times. Aaron wasn’t on SSRIs at this point, so the correlation seems to make complete sense. He stopped taking his Prozac and we were planning to check his numbers again in January to see if going off the SSRIs helped.
When I reached the medical weight loss goal in October I was cleared to not prevent pregnancy, so we were excited to see if the weight loss would make a difference in our fertility. My cycle did not return on it’s own like I hoped it would. I did a round of Provera at the end of October and we had our first cycle back to trying/not preventing in November. I ovulated and we hoped to be successful and give our family the great gift of us expecting a baby, but unfortunately that did not happen. It was a beautiful cycle, everything seemed to go perfectly and my chart looks gorgeous. The second cycle was not quite so pretty… actually I was not even sure I ovulated! I had a nice downward trend to my temps leading up to Christmas day and a nice jump on Christmas Day, but my temps were all over the place and I didn’t have my typical post-o symptoms. On day 8 after ovulation I still wasn’t quite convinced I ovulated. I was having some abdominal tenderness which I typically get around ovulation so I decided to use an OPK (ovulation predictor) to see if I was about to ovulate. When I went to grab an OPK test strip, I noticed one of my pregnancy test packages was open, so I though “what the heck” and did both the OPK and pregnancy test. I was shocked to see a very faint line on the HPT! I thought for SURE it must be a faulty test. When I used another HPT a couple days later and got a negative I thought that definitely confirmed it was just a defective test or had been exposed to the air causing it to give me an evap line. I decided from that point I would wait until I was 14 days past ovulation to test. Friday, 14DPO, came and I woke up to POAS. I was pretty positive it would be negative and I still wasn’t even convinced at this point that I had even ovulated! Anyway, I tested.... I went and checked it within a couple minutes and didn't see a line. I took a picture to show all my TTC friends who were excited to hear results, went ahead and dipped a different brand of test since I knew they would tell me to test again, left it to develop. When I came back again a minute later there was a line on the first test! O-M-G! But, I was convinced it was an evap line. I took pictures and showed them to all my friends who were CONVINCED it was the real deal. So I went and used the same brand of test again to prove to them they were wrong, but instead I proved them right! There was indeed a line! Later that day I tested again on a couple more tests and they were a little darker and then once more again when Aaron was home from work. All tests had lines on them and they were getting progressively darker. I called my Doctors office right away on Friday morning and was told to get a blood pregnancy test. I was told I would not get results until the following Monday so I waited to get blood work until Saturday since I was CONVINCED I would have to do a repeat test again on Monday to make sure my hormones were progressing like they should. Of course, I had to pee on a few more tests over the weekend… Ok more than a few! I have a total of twelve positive tests! LOL but the most important test was yet to come…
And that brings me to today. This morning I woke up knowing I would get positive results from the blood test, I mean… 12 tests can’t be wrong, right?? But, it still made me cry to hear the nurse say “Your test is positive! Congrats, you are pregnant!” My hormone level was so good I do not need to do a repeat draw, which is perfectly fine with me!! The less pokes the better! I have an ultrasound scheduled for January 24th where we hope to see an itty bitty chickadee growing and even possibly a heartbeat. Aaron and I are praying hard for a viable pregnancy and we ask for you to do the same. I will be followed closely by many different doctors through this pregnancy, which is awesome, but The Great Physician is who Aaron and I place our faith, hope and trust.
Thank you EVERYONE for being such a positive force in Aaron and my life. Everyone has been so amazing in your support and love through all the amazingly hard times and the more recent positive victories. Please Keep Aaron, me and our little chickadee (due September 16th 2011) in your thoughts and prayers. We will, of course, keep you posted as the journey progresses.
Pregnancy Symptoms and other clues:
* I had a dream about a baby girl on Christmas Night
* Aaron's mom, Janis had a dream that we had a baby boy sometime sin the week after Christmas. She told us about the dream on Saturday night only a few hours after I got a line on the first tests and wondered if I could possible really be pregnant. I jokingly told her to ask what the baby's name is next time she dreams about our baby since we have had such a hard time coming up with any boy names! hahaha
* For our anniversary Aaron for me a bouquet with four roses in it. We have always given each other THREE roses to signify the two of us keeping God as the center of our relationship. When I saw the FOUR roses instead of THREE roses I started crying and told him I hoped this year I could give him the gift of that 4th rose (meaning a child).
* I started having some abdominal tenderness on new years day. It feels like my bladder is always full even after I urinate. And, no.... it is not because I need to poo!
* My boobs started feeling tingly around 9DPO and then at 12DPO that turned into very tender breasts. They are SUPER tender and hurt.
* Emotional/ mood swings
* Increased Appetite. I am not hungry, really. I just can't stop eating!
* I am FREEZING... ALL. THE. TIME! especially in my extremities
Two of the positive tests:
Me holding one of the positive tests:
(This blog entry was actually written Monday January 10th but publishing was delayed...)