Sunday, April 24, 2016

Infertility Awareness Week


Struggling with Infertility? You Are Not Alone My Dear

April 24 - April 30th is infertility awareness week. I am not usually one to jump on all of the different "awareness" weeks, but this one hits home for my family and I so I thought I would shed light on the issue and talk about what our journey with this has looked like over the last three years.

infertility, infertility awareness, infertility awareness week, pcos, hypothyroidism, hashimoto's disease, Magee Woman's Hospital, miscarriage, unexplained infertility, sarah griffith,

I wish I could go back and sit down with the newly pregnant version of my younger self and tell her to enjoy it. Every single minute of it because doing this again will never be promised. I was so naive when I had my son. We wanted to start trying for a little one in June (I was a teacher so the summer was the right time.) I ended up getting pregnant in May. No planning, no worrying, no fertility drugs just a blessing in Gods timing. I sailed thru 10 months of pregnancy like a breeze. I made it look easy. No stretch marks, no issues with the baby, hardly any morning sickness, and a labor that lasted... wait for it... 2 hours. Yep I got lucky all around.

infertility, infertility awareness, infertility awareness week, pcos, hypothyroidism, hashimoto's disease, Magee Woman's Hospital, miscarriage, unexplained infertility, sarah griffith,

When he arrived we felt a love that we never knew existed. Motherhood changed me; but absolutely for the better. As he grew we shared many conversations about "when the next one comes" and his someday brother or sister. We never had any doubts that we would have a few more children. Shortly after his first birthday we started to try for another one.

infertility, infertility awareness, infertility awareness week, pcos, hypothyroidism, hashimoto's disease, Magee Woman's Hospital, miscarriage, unexplained infertility, sarah griffith,

Months turned into years and we started to question why it wasn't happening. After one year of trying with no luck the doctors were willing to move forward with testing to be certain the two of us had no fertility issues that we were now dealing with. They always began the conversations with "the good news is you have been pregnant before." It used to annoy the daylights out of me. Yes I realize we were able to get pregnant but we can't now. That's why we are here so help us figure this out.

We went thru a battery of expensive tests to figure out if anything was wrong with is. Your husband has to be a good sport if your going to travel this road, because they analyze his fertility too. None of these tests are fun and often times, none of them are comforting because many come back showing nothing is wrong with you or him. It leaves you scratching your head and having to go thru more tests to rule other things out. It often will begin with many different blood tests for both of you. That is actually how I learned about my thyroid condition. It is one of the first things they check for actually because your thyroid controls your entire endocrine system which plays a huge role in your fertility. If your thyroid is off, your wasting your time trying to get pregnant. You need that regulated first. Any level between 0 - 4.0 is considered normal but for fertility reasons they like it to be between .5 and 1.0. Mine started out in the high 13's. Which for us was clearly one of our big issues were were up against. It took from November to January to get those levels down to where they needed to be. The medication helped a lot.

Once we got the thyroid issues taken care of, we moved forward with seeing a fertility specialist. I shopped around a few times before settling with Magee Women's Hospital in Pittsburgh. You have to like who you are working with. If you feel like just another number when you are there, keep looking. There are plenty of compassionate doctors out there who are great to work with. Sadly, there are also others who will treat you like just another number.

After lots of blood work, they often will do a test to be certain your tubes are not blocked. This is called a hysterosalpingogram. Good luck trying to pronounce that one. ;) You are awake for the test. It is often done at the hospital. They put a catheter up thru your cervix then push dye thru it and watch it with x ray monitoring. They are looking for the fluids to "spill out" thru your tubes. This tells them if there is a blockage and where. That test hurt a bit. Lots of cramping and burning during it. They will let your spouse in the room while they do it. At least they did let mine in. It was nice to have him there because that test made me nervous. They also tell you that often times after that test your fertility goes up a bit because things have been "cleaned out."

You can't move forward with any fertility treatments until you do that test because if your tubes are blocked your wasting your time trying. So be prepared to cross this test off pretty quickly. We did this in January of last year. They suggested waiting three months to see if things happened on their own because of things being cleared out.

Three months passed by very slowly with no luck so we moved forward with our next try. Clomid. It's an oral pill you take that will stimulate your follicles to make certain you are producing an egg or quite often many eggs. You take this at the beginning of your cycle then are monitored thru ultrasound to see where the egg follicles are in regards to ovulation. Once they give you the green light to try, you do that then wait to see what happens. I should warn you though, Clomid comes with a boat load of pardon my french, but shitty side effects. It made me a monster. Headaches, sweating, emotional, cranky and flat out mean while I took it. My husband dreaded Clomid time in our house and quite honestly so did I. It also increases your chances of having multiples and not just two babies but sometimes several. We were nervous about that part but knew we wanted to grow our family and if it meant a few more than we planned for than so be it, we just wanted more children however we had to go about doing it.

After three months of taking clomid and not having it work each time, it got us pretty down. I went thru a hard time emotionally trying to accept that fact that we STILL had no luck. It also made us start to rethink all of this and start to look at parenting thru new eyes. We began to realize that we may only ever have one. We spent the summer and fall just taking in our sweet little one. Everything became different. We stopped saying things like when we have another one or when we do this next time around. Those conversations came to a bit of a halt and we started to just live in the moment with our son. Which we should have been doing all along.

infertility, infertility awareness, infertility awareness week, pcos, hypothyroidism, hashimoto's disease, Magee Woman's Hospital, miscarriage, unexplained infertility, sarah griffith,

While we were okay with the break we had taken from the fertility options, we knew if we wanted to have another one our next step was IUI or Intrauterine Insemination. It starts with blood testing during your period, then you take a drug similar to clomid (some do clomid.) I was supposed to do femera instead for a few days at the beginning of your cycle. Then you go for ultrasound testing. Once they give you the go ahead you take a trigger shot (in the butt) called ovidrel. This causes the egg to drop then you have a very short window to get your butt to the hospital where they are caring for you. Then they take your husbands sperm and "spin it or wash it" this takes a few hours and its so that they can ensure the have the best ones to use. Shortly after using a catheter, they inject the sperm into your uterus and you wait and hope that it works. At best you have between a 10 - 20% chance of it working each cycle. Depending on where you go it can cost you between $1,000.00 - $4,000.00 each round. They tell you up front you will most likely need to try three to four rounds. Many do not have success on the first round.

We explored it actually before we tried clomid but didn't want to take this aggressive step until we ruled out the easier methods first. As you know most often these types of treatments are not covered by your insurance company so it leaves you footing the bill for these procedures that often have very small guarantees of success rates. Not only do they have your heart and emotions tied up in all of this, but also your wallet. We finally decided to go forward with IUI this past January. We didn't want to question for the rest of our lives if we should have tried. We needed to rule it out so we could begin to move forward. It was ironic, the day I went to Magee for my ultra sounds and blood work I was supposed to start the drug that night but it all came to a halt. I had an endocrinologist appointment that same day. She put the brakes on me going forward because she did not think my body was up for the challenge just yet. My blood work was telling her something other than my thyroid was wrong. Thyroid was fine, it was either my cortisol levels or insulin that was wrong. She said not to lose faith, we could figure it out but she needed time and we needed to do more tests. It was a huge let down but we knew it was for the best. We were glad that we did not invest our emotions and our money in the IUI  that day. Shortly after we learned from doing the 6 hour insulin resistance test, that I was struggling with some major blood sugar issues that we needed to fix.

infertility, infertility awareness, infertility awareness week, pcos, hypothyroidism, hashimoto's disease, Magee Woman's Hospital, miscarriage, unexplained infertility, sarah griffith,
The morning of my insulin resistance testing. He was by my side thru all of these tests we have encountered. It's absolutely been our journey not just mine. He's amazing. 
That was our sign to stop. My husband and I were sick of the let downs, the sadness and the emptiness that goes along with infertility. We both knew what the other was thinking. Enough is enough. We were done. We knew there were lots of other and even more expensive options we could try but we had enough. We had to stop living in this place of uncertainty of will we have another or not? We both agreed we would be okay with the cards we were dealt and we would pick up and move forward as a family of three blessed as can be. No more wishing for more. Just living in the moment loving and appreciating the one that we do have. We even made a plan that we would give all of our sons childhood belongings to a mother in need this coming winter when our son turns five. We were okay with our plan and we were finally at ease with our decision.

Then a month later, we found out we were expecting. All on our own. No fertility drugs, no help,  just a special blessing from God. Sadly the blessing only stayed with us for six weeks and tomorrow I will be having surgery to remove the babies remains. It was a hard pill to swallow after having such a hard few years with infertility. To have been given this blessing and have it taken away so quickly rocked us and tested our faith.

infertility, infertility awareness, infertility awareness week, pcos, hypothyroidism, hashimoto's disease, Magee Woman's Hospital, miscarriage, unexplained infertility, sarah griffith,


Like all of the other disappointments we have experienced with infertility we will move forward and with time we will be okay. For now, we are not, but with time we know that we will. God has a plan that is bigger than ours. Somedays it's just hard to understand the plan.

To make a long story short. My advice to anyone going thru this awful storm is to keep the faith. Lean on your husband or partner and go thru this together. Let them know how hard it is for you and listen while they share their feelings with you too. It is just as sad for them as it is for you. Make it your journey together. This has made our marriage stronger but for some it can cause marriages to fall apart. Don't let that happen to you and yours. Know that it's absolutely okay to be sad, mad and even question your faith some days. Realize that it's going to hurt when your friends all around you are getting pregnant. Stay out of the baby section in department stores and Target and know that it's okay to skip out on baby showers and visiting new babies if your not ready. I had my share of skips. I was not in a place where I could go. With time, I am sure I will be able to, but that time is not right now and thats OKAY! Know that there are people you can talk with who are professionals if the sadness is too much for you and lastly I encourage you to SHARE your story. Share it with your friends and your family and own it. Do not be embarrassed that you are struggling with infertility. You are not alone. There are SO many women out there who are going thru the same thing or who have went thru it and went on to have successful pregnancies. Use those people as hope for you. Keep praying about it and keep your chin up. God's plan is playing out. Your time will come and if it never does, know that there are children out there who need someone to love them. While I realize giving birth to your own child is something that many long for, it is not always in the cards. If it isn't and you truly from the bottom of your heart want one, be brave enough to take the steps to move forward with a different approach. If you want to be a mother you can be. You just have to have patience my dear.

God bless you all! I pray your walk with infertility is a short one with sun at the end of your rainstorm. Please share this post with your friends or family who could benefit. Let me know if I can pray for you! I would be glad to!
Love,
Sarah

8 comments :

  1. Love this post and sending prayers! I, too, am in the secondary infertility boat, so reading others stories gives me so much hope that whatever happens, all will be well! You have so much courage! :)


    ashleetibbetts.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. If you could pray for me, that would be wonderful. My husband and I have tried everything and spent $$$ and still have not had any success. Please pray for Tricia and Mike. This has been so awful.

    ReplyDelete
  3. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete