Sunday, June 12, 2011

Infertility


Tomorrow I am seeing a fertility specialist. 

I’ve wanted to write about this when Steve and I started the process about a month ago, but I was unsure about putting it “out there”. 

This isn’t the first time we have seen a fertility specialist. It’s actually our third attempt. 

A little back history is needed here: 

In 2009, when Steve was nineteen, he was diagnosed with Hodgkins Nodular Lymphoma stage 2A. His younger sister had been diagnosed with the same cancer in late 2008 (stage 3). She had been in remission for less than six months when Steve was diagnosed. 

Steve was put on a test trial of medication (Cap-Cab) and chemotherapy for nine months. After five months of treatment there was no sign of cancer cells, but he was encouraged to complete the full nine months. 

Like many cancer patients, especially in men, fertility is often compromised. And obviously, in the mind of a nineteen year old man, having children in the future was far from Steve’s mind. From what we have read and have been told, if fertility is to return it would within ten years.
Steve is a wonderful father to Chase. He is more of a father than Chase’s biological father is (Chase recognizes Steve as his dad, not my ex-husband). We are a perfect three person family unit. But we still want to have a family. We want to have a baby.
 
When we lived in the Carolinas, Steve and I saw a fertility specialist who prescribed topical medication for six months. After six months, Steve still was not producing sperm. The specialist prescribed another six months of treatment. By this time, we were preparing to move back to Michigan via a job transfer for Steve. What we thought was going to be a thirty to sixty day stay at his parents while we closed on our house turned into eighteen months (that is a completely different story). Needless to say, for the first year, conceiving a child was not at the top of our list (and I should mention here that not only did Steve’s parents graciously open their door to our family and our fuzzies, but they also have three additional adult children living at home!). 

Eventually I brought it up again to Steve that we still didn’t have any clear answers to if we would be able to conceive a child together so we returned to finding a new specialist. This specialist informed us that the treatment that our first specialist put Steve on was completely incorrect and actually would have hindered our attempts. With stressing news, we started the process again. New prescriptions were to be called in. At that time we were supposed to be closing on our home but were fighting with the bank and actually were three months delayed in closing. The specialist never did fax in the prescription and we realized earlier this year that he had actually retired.

Once again (and I certainly feel this will be the last hunt), we found another specialist. I absolutely love Dr. A. We knew going in to our first appointment that we would need to start over from the beginning. We are both willing to take those steps. I was defensive going in. I didn’t want to put the blame on Steve, nor did I want the blame out on me (my weight – I stressed there and now that I was actually nearly one hundred pounds heavier when I had Chase so I feel my weight shouldn’t be a major factor) and we certainly don’t want to put the blame on him. 

The first step with Dr. A was blood work for both us and a semen analysis for Steve. I was to schedule an ultrasound during ovulation to make sure there were no cysts or growths on my ovaries. It was funny because at this time my period was late and I was ever so hopeful that maybe, just maybe, everything worked out on their own. They didn’t, of course, so I played the waiting game to see what happened. 

My blood work came back normal, as did Steve’s, but his analysis results were what we expected: nothing is there. Steve was prescribed medication (which I am making sure he takes on schedule) and I finally was able to schedule the ultrasound appointment. One thing that leaves us to be hopeful is that Dr. A said one of the tests they ran on Steve showed that the level was normal. This was good news for a former chemotherapy patient (gosh I wish I could remember what it was at this moment). He said most male patients had a lower level so this was considered a good sign.

So yes, if you’re still with me, tomorrow I have my ultrasound appointment. I’m nervous. I want to believe everything is fine, but they still make me nervous. I know this is just another step that needs to be taken, and I should remain optimistic. 

Through all of this, my best friend has had two children. There was a point about a year ago I didn’t want to be near her or family. Or anyone and their children. I saw so many knitting patterns I wanted to try but I kept saying “I don’t want a baby to put in them, so why bother?”.

The worst part that Steve and I have heard from strangers “Well, at least you have one child.” Or “If it was meant to be, it would happen.” (Steve says it’s not for a lack of trying on his part!). 

Those comments, especially from strangers, always anger me. I am forever grateful that I have Chase. But is it wrong that I want to have another child? We are open to adoption (we both have parents who were adopted – my mom when she was nine, Steve’s dad when he was an infant). We just want to exhaust our options with fertility treatments. 

The first comment, my mother heard after my sister died at 36 hours (congenital heart failure). How is that supposed to be comforting to a grieving parent? And how is that supposed to be comforting to a couple struggling with infertility? The second comment hurts because I think we are meant to have more children, either biologically or via adoption. It just may not be our time yet. 

That period in my life when I didn’t want to be around my friend and her family, or babies in general, I admit was a dark time for me. I was desperate. I would read online to see if there was something herbal Steve and I could be taking. I wondered if there was someone other than just God I should be praying to. Should I build a shrine? Sacrifice a lamb? Like I said.. I was desperate. I was depressed.
After meeting with Dr. A and being given a solid plan of action, I feel better about our situation. Right now we are going through the motions and remaining hopeful. I’m still praying. I’ve changed my mindset about all of this. I will make those cute baby clothes. If not for a baby of our own, perhaps for a future niece or nephew (or even a grandchild??). It’s a waiting game. I pray for patience. I try not to think about it all the time, but for anyone who is trying to conceive and is having issues, it’s hard not to. 

For now… hope.

UPDATE:

According to our doctor, I have a "happy, healthy uterus". This puts me at ease. We're now going to put me on the back burner and focus on Steve.


Still remaining hopeful.

4 comments:

  1. Best wishes to your family! Thanks, too, for sharing your story -- I'm sure that it will be a help to others on the same journey.

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  2. @Kathy

    Thank you -- we appreciate it!

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  3. I wish you both the best of luck!

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