Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Fighting For Fertility: When You Can't Have Children

The Headlines:

Do you know someone who fought to have kids?

I can tell you... it's a lonely, humiliating and hard battle.

But giving up is never the best option.

One day when your children are driving you nuts... stop and think about the women who would absolutely LOVE to be driven to straight to crazy town by their kids...  but can't.

I have long thought about writing on this topic.  I just haven't had the guts yet.  It's just that important to me.  Chances are... it's important to someone you know too.

This story is simple: I was told it was impossible for me to have a second child.  I should give up.  But I didn't.

Let me back up to the beginning.  I was a career woman.  A Television News Reporter and Anchor all throughout my 20's and well into my 30's.  I didn't want to get married until I was 30.  I had a plan.  I always do.  I knew I wanted to live my life, no regrets, do and see things and then be well prepared to have and "serve" my kids.  Many women are now doing this... and yet some are then surprised when they have trouble conceiving.  Why?  That's a whole other blog (which I wrote... to read it click HERE)! But for now, let's stick to this script.  When I was 34 I had my first child.

She was glorious and beautiful and we loved her with every bone in our body.  We worked for her, she didn't happen right away, about 6 months.  But when I went to have my second child it was harder.   After about 10 months - I got pregnant.  Then I lost it.  This, unbeknownst to me, happens to many women.  I had no idea.  I also had no idea what a horribly difficult loss it would be.  The baby was almost 3 months.  We hadn't told anyone but my parents.  Not even our daughter who was only 2 at the time.  But the complete and utter devastation I felt - I was totally and completely unprepared for.

If you've had a miscarriage you know exactly what I'm talking about.  The minute you're told you're pregnant... you start thinking of baby names!  In your head, you're already a Mom to that unborn baby.  Loss doesn't come into the equation.  Just baby coos, colors and clothes!  So when you see that look on a nurses face - she calls the doctor in - you're not prepared for what they're about to say:  there's no longer a heart beat.  I was in shock.  How could that be?  I'd seen the heart beat a few weeks earlier.  I had already planned my Maternity leave (in my head).  Now, none of that was to be.

I cried all afternoon.  I felt as if I lost a part of me.  It was so strange because I never understood why women were so upset after losing someone (a baby) they had never met.  But I did now.  I went to work the next day and I told no one.  I was to have a surgery to remove the baby the following week.  It was hard.  But I survived and I was determined.  We continued to try and have another baby.

But there was clearly a problem.  It just wasn't happening.  Why?  When I had already successfully had a child?  That, by the way, was a blessing and a bit of a curse because she was giving me so much joy on the one hand... on the other it was confusing having her and not being able to "repeat her" if that makes sense?  It's like a road you've traveled down before but is now closed for no reasonable explanation.  But it is a real thing and it's called "Secondary Infertility".

During this time, of course, it seems like everywhere you turn women are having babies.  You notice all the pregnant ladies, you wish, you hope, you cry a little.  But you're getting sadder, more desperate and downright angry too.  It's right about now you hear countless conception stories.  And if people know you're trying to get pregnant - you hear even more.  Everyone knows someone who tried and tried and "low and behold" they did it!  Those are the people you really want to kill.  They're so irritating because even though they're trying to cheer you up - they're just making you feel worse.  I always told people there are "miracle" stories but there are just as many stories (if not more) that go like this:  we tried to have a baby - but it didn't work out.  You just don't hear about those.  That's not good dinner conversation!  Those stories stay in people's heads.  And right now... that was exactly how my story read.

Let's talk about feelings at this point.  Pregnancy is almost a given for women in our society.  Not that they have to have children but that they CAN.  Women can have babies, if they want.  It's how women are built, it's what they do, it somewhat defines their societal "role."  Therefore, if a woman is stripped of that ability - I'll tell ya - it makes them (at least it made me) feel less woman-ly.  I felt as if I was less of a woman because I couldn't do thee most basic woman thing.  And that was embarrassing.  It's also during this time that you feel very alone.  Though you're not... you feel as if you're the only person on the planet who can NOT have a baby.  If you reach out, you will find there are many many many of you out there.  And there is comfort in numbers.  But there isn't much from your husband.  He may be a good man, as mine is (and was) but he just doesn't get it.  It's not in his DNA.  They try, these husbands of ours and they are there but they're also at a loss.  Pregnancy is a foreign concept to them.  One they can never fully understand... cut them some genetic slack.  But because the husband is most likely your best friend... it's even more difficult.  My husband really was doing his best... but it didn't get me pregnant.  And it made me wonder was I doing my VERY BEST?  Or could I do more?

At this point, we started to look into IVF.

Since I was a reporter I happened to interview a local fertility doctor.   We started talking about my own  fertility goals.  His advice: see him right away.  So I did.  After a few short tests it was determined I was experiencing low ovarian reserve.  I was running out of eggs.  Apparently, every woman has a pre-determined genetic rate of ovarian aging.  Mine, was premature.  I was 35.  But my FSH levels were very low.  They should have been higher for my age.  FSH stands for Follicle Stimulating Hormone.  It's one of the most important naturally occurring hormones in the menstrual cycle.  It stimulates the follicles to grow eggs in the ovaries.  When a woman is approaching menopause (I wasn't),  she's running out of eggs so the brain makes more FSH and the level goes up.  It's like stepping on the gas pedal in a car.  The more the pedal is pushed, to stimulate the ovaries, the higher the number.  Mine was 15 and that was considered very high for a 35 year old woman.  So it was determined we would try a round of IVF.

It's not an easy road.  It's a lot of drugs, a lot of needles, a lot of appointments.  It's a lot of money.  But we believed it was our last hope.  My Scottsdale Fertility Doctor made it seem as if I was so OLD if I didn't hurry and do this... I'd never have a baby again.

But after all of that - it didn't work.  There was no baby.

To make matters worse, my doctor told me he would not attempt IVF on me again.  Unless,  I went with a DONOR EGG.  I was stunned, saddened, confused, broke and a little pissed!  Sidenote, many IVF doctors rely HEAVILY on their stats.  It's the way he/she shows potential patients how successful they are at getting women pregnant.  My doctor would no longer take a chance on me because he thought I would negatively impact his numbers.  He specifically said there was no way I'd have a baby on my own.  The clock was counting down and the ship had sailed.

Which is exactly what I needed to hear.

Okay, fertility guy... WATCH ME!

Please share with any friends who may be going through the same thing.  They'll appreciate it, I promise.  Coming up next... How I did it!  How I got pregnant when they said it was a lost cause. Read it HERE

Watch me talk about my fertility fight on Periscope below!
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