Friday, March 21, 2014

Our (In)Fertility Journey - Part One

Many people have absolutely no idea the journey Tim and I have been through to conceive our little girl. Although it's personal and emotional (and will be graphic at times), I want to share it because I'm not ashamed that it happened this way and I want others to know that someone else out there went through the same (or similar) things to have this precious little baby.

*This is the short version*

Tim and I have always talked about having kids; it was never a matter of if, but when. Even in college, we talked about it. I figured that CF and my health were going to be a major factor, and I wanted to get pregnant when I was the healthiest version of myself. And unfortunately, I was uneducated about my own disease and thought there was no chance of ever regaining the lung function I had lost, so I assumed there was no better time than now (at age 18-19) to start trying to get pregnant before I lost more of my lung function. Thankfully, the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college, I transferred to the adult CF clinic! Tim and I presented my crazy ideas to my new CF doctor who again thankfully informed me that if I take care of myself much better than what I was doing the first 18 years of my life, then I can actually regain some of my lung function and be an even healthier version of myself. So over the next few years, I worked hard on making myself healthier with the end goal in mind of getting pregnant when we were actually ready. :)

After Tim and I got married, I decided to stop taking my birth control and let nature do it's thing. Well, I soon realized that my body was not doing it's thing. My periods were very irregular which was not allowing me to figure out if/when I was ovulating. *They do not teach you this stuff in health class! And even if I did, I was not taking notes on how to get pregnant at that time!* I had done minimal research on CF and pregnancy because there really wasn't too much out there. I had no idea if this was CF related or what, so I decided to set up an appointment with a local high-risk OB because I knew that when I eventually did get pregnant, I'd be considered high-risk. I went into the appointment basically asking if he knew anything about CF and pregnancy, which he knew very little, and also asking about my irregular periods. He suggested seeing a fertility specialist and that just blew my mind! I was not ready for those words and they crushed me. When I heard infertility, my mind automatically went to shots, IVF, hormones, multiples, etc and that freaked me out....but at the same time, we weren't getting anywhere doing things the natural way, so I knew this was where we had to go.

It was about a year later now, October 2011, (one year after we were married) and I had my first appointment with a fertility specialist about 45 minutes from where we were living/working. I met with him and discussed my CF, trying to get pregnant, my irregular cycles, etc and he automatically asked if we had Tim tested to see if he was a carrier of the CF gene. We had not. His reaction was that we were "playing with dynamite" every time we had sex because we could end up with a baby with CF.
Side note: Tim and I had talked about getting him tested when we first started trying to get pregnant, but it didn't matter to us. We figured that whatever was meant to be, was meant to be. We knew that if we did have a child with CF, we would be positive role models in his/her life, and felt that he/she would have an excellent prospective on life, especially because of all of the new treatments that were available now versus when I was growing up. 
This doctor said that he "would not be doing his job" if he tried to help me get pregnant without knowing if Tim was a carrier or not. This pissed me off! Who was he to tell me that I couldn't have a child with CF? Am I not a productive member of society? Should I never have been born in his eyes? It just rubbed me the wrong way. I left that appointment very discouraged, offended and annoyed. I also left the appointment questioning whether we should have Tim tested. The doctor gave me the contact information of the genetic counselor at the hospital, and Tim and I decided to go talk to him. We didn't have a lot of local options for fertility help and figured that if we wanted to get the help we needed, then we should at least have the discussion with a professional. After several meetings with the amazing genetic counselor (he was SO nice), lots of long discussions between Tim and I, and months of me debating, we finally decided to have Tim tested to see if he was a carrier. One of the things that still sticks with me that the counselor said was, "If you were to get pregnant right now without knowing, would you be worried/concerned/thinking about it the entire pregnancy?" And my answer was yes, and that's what convinced me to have him tested. I was worried about what we would do if the results came back positive because that would mean our child would have CF for sure, and I still wasn't 100% okay with that like Tim was, so it was ultimately up to me. I needed to know. I We needed to know so we could make the best decision for our future family. So Tim ended up giving two cheek swabs (which somehow didn't produce enough DNA), and then a blood test and it was determined that he is NOT a carrier of CF! Which meant that if/when we got pregnant, our child would only be a carrier of CF, not have CF themselves. Phew!!

This brings us to the spring of 2012 when we finally learned Tim wasn't a carrier and decided to continue to seek help from the jerk because we felt it was our only option. They did some blood work on certain days of my cycle and confirmed that I have irregular periods and most likely wasn't ovulating normally...duh! They decided to put me on Clomid - a drug that would help my body produce mature follicles (where the egg grows) and then I'd give myself an injection to ensure that my body ovulated before we 'did the deed'. I started my first round of Clomid in late spring or early summer, but unfortunately my body did not respond as it was supposed to, to the drug. I was supposed to produce one or more "mature" follicles of 18-20mm in about 14 days. After 21 days, my largest follicle was only 8-9mm, so we stopped the cycle. We didn't go any further with the medication or injections because my follicles would not be mature enough that cycle to create an embryo if they were fertilized. It was kind of a bummer and a let down because after a year and a half, I felt like we were finally starting to get somewhere and then it didn't even work....little did I know what was in store for us...this was nothing!

Shortly after this cycle got canceled, I learned that I got my first teaching job three hours south of where we were currently living. Yay! I was super excited to finally have my own classroom after being an assistant for two years, and I was also super excited to move closer to my in-laws (not many people can say that - I'm very lucky!). We decided with the stress of packing, moving, and setting up my first classroom, we would not do any further cycles through the place we were going through. We decided to keep trying on our own and once we got settled, we could look for a place near our new city that could help us out. It was a bit hard knowing that it was super unlikely that I'd get pregnant without help, but I had a new job to focus on which helped take away some of the stress/emotions of trying to get pregnant....but not for long...

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