Tuesday, May 21, 2013

TTC: Trying to Conceive

When I was in 7th grade, I wrote out a life plan.  It was a school project, but I was very serious when I put it together.  I planned to graduate at the top of my class, get a scholarship, go to college then law school, be an established attorney be the time I was 25 so that I could get married at 27 (after dating for 2 years), then at 30 we would have our 2 lovely children (one boy and one girl) while I worked on to become a judge. 

Yeah, I had a plan.  I actually stuck to most of it until college when I realized that I would never make it as a lawyer.  I don't like being told I'm wrong... which is a large part of legal work... rules, someone else's judgement, and accepting the decision.  So I moved in another direction, and from there my life plan morphed.

I had always been involved with performing, but found myself getting back into fine art as well.  Long story short, we come to today.  I didn't meet the love of my life and marry until I was 36.  (10 years+ after the plan!)  Because of a disorder called PCOS, I had been told for many years I would have trouble conceiving.  Due to other health concerns from my 20s, there was a higher chance for complications.  My fiance and I were (bad examples of waiting until marriage to follow) already trying to see if I could get pregnant naturally.

It never happened.  We made it through our first stressful year of marriage with one miscarriage, unplanned and unexpected because I hadn't realized I was pregnant yet.  At this point, I realized that of all my "planning" the thought of being a mother was actually the most important.  I was devastated to think that I would fail in the basic function of the female of  a species - to bring forth life.  Especially one of the love my husband and I share...

Thankfully, I'm married to a man that is patient and supportive.  We've since embarked on this TTC journey - and along the way I've discovered I'm not alone.  Only no one really talks about it - it's a big secret because either the woman feels like a failure or faulty because of the problems OR people feel like "that's too private to share".

Most difficult experiences are, but the support of others can make getting through them easier.  Information can ease your mind and help you realize you're not alone, abnormal, nor faulty.  So, I decided to be brave enough to discuss it here.

For the sake of the squeamish, I won't get into the medical technicalities but I think it's important to talk about the process and the emotions.

First:  Poke and Prod

When you start going to the OB/GYN to find out "what the heck do I do now", they need a ton of information.  They ask a number of personal questions and the first couple visits you blush to discuss with detail things about your cycle or marital bedroom antics.  But after they start the various testing and have seen every part of you from the inside out - some of it painfully so - you stop blushign and consider it old hat.

I've been told by many new mothers that after giving birth you lose all sense of modesty or shyness in discussing your body.  When you start with the TTC journey, you lose it much sooner.  The desperation to "be fixed" outweighs social niceties.

For me, the OB/GYN stated what I knew.  My biggest issue was PCOS or Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome.  This basically screws up all the hormones in my body, causes a lack of ovulation and if not monitored or treated can lead to forms of cancer or death.  In my case, it's the large part of my fight with my weight and migraines.  Usually treated with birth control, I am so sensitive to the hormones in those that I cannot take them.  Long story short - it's a problem.  But we're dealing with it.

There were some other minor discoveries along the way, but the ultimate decision was that I needed to seek a fertility expert and was sent to Shady Grove.

We've just started our work with them. They have been great and they focus on the mother since usually that's the issue.  We had genetic testing done and are being very cautious to make sure that if we do get pregnant, the child will be healthy.  Suffice to say, I am on to step two in the process.

Two:  A little push

PCOS is primarily an issue of hormones not being where they should / doing what they should when they should.  Modern science has found a way to replicate the hormones needed to force your body to ovulate, protect an embryo, etc. 

Enter Clomid. 

Let me first express my frustration that insurance doesn't cover any of this.  Even if it's medically necessary, it's not covered.  So you pay out of pocket for the labs and bloodwork every time.  We'll go with, the basic stuff is cheap at under 2000 total.  If the basic drug therapies don't work for you, then it gets much more expensive.

So far, this is my experience... I'm all tied up in the drug therapy portion.  I'll write more once things happen or don't happen.  But for you ladies going through this process as well, just know - you're not alone.  The rollercoaster of emotions from joy to grief when you don't keep the pregnancy (we've had 2 miscarriages) to the fear and hope involved with starting the fertility process is overwhelming.  I feel bad for my poor husband who puts up with it all in stride.  I know he goes through his own versions of the rollercoaster as well. 

It's a tough road but I'm trusting the reward will be worth it. 

For the record,  I still would love to have a boy and a girl.

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