Tuesday, August 16, 2005

A Tale of Infertility

Tom and I started “trying” to get pregnant in July of 2000. That is, no longer actively preventing. Anyway, when I didn’t get a period in August I bought a pregnancy test. It came up negative. OH well, I thought – it’s just the first month. After a year, with still no period, I asked my doctor who nonchalantly replied, “it could take a month or it could take 18 months. You just have to wait.” I waited another six months and then asked to see a fertility specialist. She took some blood, asked some questions, did an exam and diagnosed me with a case of “arrested development”. It was her feeling that my reproductive development was somewhat stunted by a very athletic teenage-hood. In my case, the pituitary gland wasn’t getting the message to the ovaries to make the eggs. She ordered an MRI of my pituitary to rule out a tumor or blockage, as well as, a hysterosalpingogram, which is an x-ray of the uterus to make sure there was no blockage in the fallopian tubes. She also performed an ultrasound of the ovaries to make sure there were no cysts. All tests came back negative, meaning there were no problems with the uterus, pituitary or ovaries. Good news! Then she checked Tom’s sperm count. He had a somewhat low count and low mobility, which basically means they didn’t travel well.

So for us, the question was: How do we get Kelsi to ovulate? And, how do we get Tom’s sperm where they need to be? The answer: hormones for Kelsi and then, artificial insemination for Kelsi.

We started with Clomid, a medication in pill form that is designed to send a message to the brain to send a message to the ovaries to make eggs. The doctor didn’t think it would work since the trouble seemed to be my brain (no jokes, please) but she wanted to give it a try since it was the least invasive. I started my dose in January of 2002 and ovulated right on schedule after 14 days. But, we didn’t get pregnant. After my period (my first in over 18 months), we tried it again. After 16 days, I still hadn’t ovulated. 17, 18, 19, 20. Still, no ovulation. The doctor told us that she hadn’t expected the Clomid to work and here was the proof so let’s begin the injectable hormones. We did a little tutorial in the office so Tom could learn how to give me a shot and away we went with a batch of needles and little jars of hormones. Tom gave me shots daily for several days and I went into the doctor’s office about every 3rd day for an ultrasound to see how many eggs were being created. Nothing was happening. Doc was perplexed. She increased the medication. A few days passed and during one ultrasound she announced that I had spontaneously ovulated and it must have been due to the Clomid. BIZARRE!!! She liked me because I was a challenge. She told us to discontinue the shots until after I got my period, then start ‘em up again. We did as instructed and more ultrasounds followed. It was now the middle of April, 2002. After a few days with very little happening, she increased my dosage and monkeyed around a little with different medications. Then we started to see some eggs! First there were 2 that were growing at about the same rate. A few days later, a third one seemed to be catching up. A few days later, there was a veritable easter basket of eggs in each ovary with 13 in one and 15 in the other. She eased up on my dosage to keep the first 3 growing but to slow the growth of the other 25. Then one day she announced that it was time to trigger the release of the 3 eggs. It was still going to be a shot but with different medication. Tom and I were at a party in Woodland Hills and at 6:00pm sharp we sneaked off to a back bedroom to trigger the release. That was Sunday, April 28. On Tuesday, April 30, 2002 I drove to the doctor’s office with very precious cargo in my passenger seat – Tom’s sperm. I dropped it off with the doctor to be prepped and I killed some time in the drug store across the street. At 9:00am, I walked back to the office and was shown into a room. The doctor inserted the catheter into my vagina and injected the sperm into my uterus. Then I was left to rest for 20 minutes. Ok, so there was no candlelight or romantic music but at that moment, life was created and that’s magic. From then on, it was a waiting game. On Monday, May 13, 2002 I woke up, quietly walked into the bathroom and peed on a stick. Two faint blue lines appeared. I went back into the bedroom and whispered to Tom, “I think we’re pregnant.” After I had showered and dressed, I went to the doctor’s office for the blood test, then went to work. I told everyone in the doctor’s office that I had taken a pregnancy test that morning and seen two faint lines. Later, while on the one line with Tom, the doctor called on my other line to say, “You saw a FAINT line? You are very, very pregnant!” I clicked over to Tom and said, “we did it!”

Two weeks later, we went into the doctor’s office for an ultrasound to see if we could see exactly how pregnant I was. The doctor was pretty certain that we had more than one baby because my hcg levels were much higher than they would be with just one. Sure enough, we saw 2 sacs on the ultrasound which confirmed that we were pregnant with twins. Our due date was January 21, 2003. We were positively overjoyed and felt so very lucky. Even though we experienced infertility, the treatment worked for us and relatively quickly. Other friends of ours spent years exhausting treatment after treatment, not to mention their bank accounts so what we went through was easy by comparison.

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