Sunday, February 26, 2012

Back to Square One

After our first miscarriage, we sort of felt like we were back to square one. We were so heartbroken by this loss, but we were also ready to jump back in and try to get pregnant again. I think part of me realized that nothing would ever make this better, but getting pregnant again would be the closest thing to healing this loss. The only good thing we felt came out of this loss was the fact that we learned that I could get pregnant, which was something we were unsure of before. We got pregnant in March of 2011, and miscarried a week later in the beginning of April, so my doctor asked us to take May off for my body to have a break and get back to "normal". My doctor basically wanted me to wait until I started my period before we tried again, but he said that sometimes after a miscarriage it can take a while for your body to adjust back to its normal cycle. He offered to prescribe me a medication that would help me start my period so that we could start trying again sooner, and I opted to do that. After 2 rounds of the medication (the first didn't work for some reason), we were ready to start again.

We started back on Clomid at a higher dose in June (100 mg), and then again in July (150 mg) when that didn't work. After not getting pregnant for 2 more months, my doctor decided to send me for another test, called an HSG. The purpose of this test is to check for blockages in your fallopian tubes, which are obviously an important part of getting pregnant! My doctor scheduled the test, which is actually done at a radiologist's office.

The day of the test, Mike drove me to the appointment, and we got lost so I was super stressed that we were going to miss my appointment. (Luckily, one of the teachers at Mike's school recommended that he go with me; I didn't know much about the procedure so I was initially planning to just go by myself!) We finally found the office, and when it was time for the procedure they wouldn't let Mike come back with me, due to the radiation used in the procedure. I went back by myself, not knowing what would be happening.

Let me explain a little bit about how this procedure works. Basically, the radiologist inserts a catheter (NOT a pleasant experience!) and they pass a balloon up through the catheter. The balloon is filled with dye, and once the balloon is inserted, they inflate the balloon inside you, which shoots the dye out through your fallopian tubes. You are also inside an X-Ray machine as they do this, so they can see the dye contrast and can tell if the dye goes through your tubes and spills out the other side or not.

For me, this procedure was incredibly painful, and I have heard the same thing from other women. First of all, the radiologist couldn't get the catheter in, so that took forever and was very uncomfortable. Also, once they inflate the balloon inside you, it causes severe cramping throughout the procedure and for the rest of the day. But perhaps the worst pain of that day was the result of the test. I didn't expect to get any answers that day; I assumed they would just send the results back to my doctor and he would call me. (That's what was supposed to happen.) Instead, the radiologist sat me down and said, "During the test we discovered that your right fallopian tube is blocked." I was thinking, "Well at least they found something." I asked the radiologist what that meant as far as us getting pregnant, and he said that we basically have a 50% chance of getting pregnant because the tubes alternate which months they release eggs from, and when the egg came from my right side I would not be able to get pregnant. So my response was, "Okay, so what do we do about that?" When the radiologist answered with, "Well, unfortunately there's nothing they can do about it", I freaked out! I had just had this awful, painful procedure, found out bad news, and then learned that there was nothing we could do to fix it...all while Mike was in the waiting room!

I walked out into the waiting room and immediately started bawling when I saw Mike. I broke the news to him, and he was so comforting and strong for me. I went home to rest for the remainder of the day, breaking the news to close family and friends. I knew I still had a 50% chance, but that was a tough pill to swallow after it had already taken us so long to get pregnant and we had lost our first child. Mike and I had been praying that they would find something that they could fix, so hearing that there was nothing we could do about it was devastating. I was so upset that day, but anxious to speak to my doctor and see what he thought the best plan of action would be. The 2 days waiting for my doctor to call felt like years!

When my doctor told me that the test results showed that my right fallopian tube was blocked, I repeated what the radiologist had told me. My doctor was extremely frustrated, because it turns out that the information the radiologist told me was not accurate. My tube was blocked, but Dr. Howell told me that it did not reduce our chances of conceiving to 50%...he said in a perfect world, the tubes alternate each month, but that's not necessarily the case. He also said even if it worked perfectly like that, it didn't reduce our chances to 50%; it would certainly make it more difficult, but wouldn't reduce our chances quite that much. He also told me that the radiologist was wrong about the fact that there was nothing they could do about it. He said there was a laproscopic surgery that they could do to try to get a better look at what was blocking the tube. If it was just some tissue, they could potentially flush that out. If it was tubal decay or just the way my tube was formed, then there wasn't anything they could do. My doctor was extremely frustrated that this doctor had talked to me before he could, especially since he gave me incorrect information!

Based on this information, Dr. Howell decided to try IUI, or Intra-Uterine Insemination, to help us get pregnant. I feel like I should explain this, since many people confuse IUI with IVF (in vitro fertilization). With IUI (also called artificial insemination) the man gives a sperm sample, and they inject the sample into the woman using a catheter, as close to the time of ovulation as possible. Many people think that artificial insemination means using a sperm donor, but that's not the case. They artificial part is referring to the fact that the insemination process is being done by a doctor, rather than through normal intercourse. Just thought I would clear that up!

I went in later that week for a sonogram and to get a shot that would trigger ovulation. Later that week, we did the first round of IUI with my OB. That cycle was not successful for us, and that, coupled with the news about the blocked fallopian tube, made my doctor decide to send us to a specialist. He said that the surgery to fix the blocked tube would have to be done by a specialist, and he felt like he had done all he could do for us at this point. We made an appointment with Dr. Robert Kaufmann, who came very highly recommended by my doctor, and prepared to meet with him for our first consultation.

Throughout this whole process, I was still having a very difficult time dealing with the first miscarriage and the news about my blocked fallopian tube. I was frustrated that we were having to see a specialist, when I should have been 5 months pregnant at this point. The whole situation was scary and frustrating, but we were hopeful that maybe the specialist would have some answers and a plan for us. I also remember that Mike and I were scared that the specialist would automatically recommend In-Vitro for us, which was not something we wanted to jump right into, partly because it's extremely expensive (anywhere from $15,000-$20,000) and partly because it's hard on your body and not a sure thing. Mike and I began praying that if this was the doctor for us, he would not mention in-vitro as our only option. In the next post, I'll begin detailing our journey with the fertility specialist, whom we are still working with today. I know it seems like it's taking me so many posts to get through our history, but a LOT has happened in the past 2 years! Stay tuned! :)

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