PROJECT PARENTHOOD

July 31 – August 31, 2015

Don’t ever get me wrong. Being a DINK couple does have its benefits. You heard me right. We’re DINKs. A Duel Income No Kids kind of couple. It’s July 31st. Four days after my surgery and my period came right on time. It’s go time for us.

JM and I decided to move full speed ahead so we can start our first Intrauterine Insemination (IUI) ASAP. However, before we do, our Reproductive Endocrinologist aka. RE aka “Baby Salesman” had a laundry list of things we needed to do before we could start with any fertility procedures. All these things, of course, require more money out of our pocket since we still have not hit our out-of-pocket maximum with our insurance. On a separate note, our 3-year wedding anniversary is coming up over Labor Day weekend and we have every intension to continue our tradition of going on a nice vacation to celebrate. We were not going to let some doctors’ appointments or anything else stop us from continuing our tradition. See? Being a DINK has its advantages.

Four days after my surgery, I still didn’t feel fully recovered, but I felt well enough to take care of some things at my rental property to get it prepared for a tenant turn-over in a couple days. More importantly, I felt well enough to start knocking some things off of the Baby Salesman’s “to-do” list. One thing he wanted me to do was update my blood work and set a new baseline for my hormones, thyroid, test for auto-immune diseases, and vitamin D since it has been over 6 months since the last time I had these tests done. I’m sure there was some more items on that list and I simply can’t remember. Separately, my RE also requires all patients – both male and female – to have blood work for all sexually transmitted diseases. I went ahead to a local blood lab and was shocked to see they literally had to take 7… yes 7 different vials of blood from me. It’s beyond me why they needed so much, but after I saw a 4-page printout containing my results for every test, I can see why now they needed 7 freggin’ tubes of my blood.

The Baby Business office had me come in August 4th to test my day-3 hormone levels and ultrasound. Little did I know that this day would forever mark the day I officially became the “stirup queen!” As the RE is doing the ultrasound, he’s measuring everything – my uterine lining, follicle count and size… and my ovary cysts. After listening to my RE, I start panicking internally. This time I really was ovary-acting. He tells me the measurement of my cysts. They are pretty much only a centimeter smaller than what they were before my surgery. This is just fabulous. My OBGYN’s idea of draining my cysts did jack crap – except eliminate my pain. (But, honestly, I’m convinced becoming a glutard is really what eliminated my pain. I’ll get more into that later.)

On August 7th, JM and I had an appointment to get a 2nd opinion from a different Baby Business to see what they thought about our situation. Really, we just wanted to know if another RE also thought IVF was truly our only option or if we have any chance at pregnancy with an IUI. This appointment lasted a little over 90 minutes, and we left… disappointed. Disappointed because we heard what we didn’t want to hear. Long story short, the 2nd opinion RE said the same thing as our primary RE. Once again, we listened to the words of “IVF is our only hope” and “IUI’s likely will not work.” Oh, and a “Good luck and if you change your mind, I’d love to be your chosen doctor.” OF COURSE YOU WOULD! YOU WOULD JUST LOVE OUR $15,000, NOW WOULD’T YOU!?!?!?!

This wasn’t exactly how JM and I wanted to start off our weekend, so we decided to make some “us” time and do a date night. Plus, we needed a breather and something to get us prepared for the upcoming week. Lets not forget that my Dad is still living with us and we’re still caring for him watching his health. In just 3 days, my Dad is going to have prostate surgery. Just when I’m finally recovering from my own surgery, we now have to help him recover from a surgery next week. It. Just. Doesn’t. End. Now I’m probably sounding like a babbling bitch, huh?

Moving on.

During the week of my Dad’s surgery, I had my 2-week surgery follow-up appointment with my vagina doctor (aka. OBGYN). She checked over my incisions, and did a lovely exam – making it the 2nd time I’ve had to encounter a date with the stirrups this month. Then my vagina doctor did what I feared… she showed me the photos that she took during my operation and went over in greater detail the damage my stage 4 endometriosis has done to my pelvic region. Not to mention, she also went over what she was not able to do to help me. Don’t get me wrong, I really like my OBGYN and I know she wished she could have done more for me, but I was not her biggest fan during this hour.

On August 18th, JM and I had a follow-up appointment with our Baby Salesman to go over all of our blood work results, my ultrasound, and discuss a “plan” going forward. The good news is that all of our blood work for all hormones, vitamin and nutrient levels, diseases and STDs came back completely normal. Besides my cysts, my ultrasound was completely normal. You’d think we weren’t baby-challenged with such great results. We are now ready to put all these tests behind us and move forward with a plan. We explain to the RE that we are going to the Dominican Republic for our anniversary next week, but as soon as my period starts after we get back, we will be ready to start our first IUI.

The only thing we had left to do before our first IUI were two more things. I needed to have my annual pap and an optional blood work to test to see if we are carriers of 200 major, but rare, recessive diseases. We decided to take care of both things two days later. This made it my 3rd time having a date with some stirrups this month. (See? Stirrup Queen!) Trust me, I was getting really tired of seeing my OBGYN and I told her that I didn’t want to see her again unless I was getting fat and pregnant. In the meantime, JM and I decided, “why not” and lets go ahead and pay the $99 for the recessive disease blood tests for peace of mind. Since apparently IVF may be our only option, the technology is out there so that if we are both carriers of a major recessive disease, then the Baby Business has the ability to select the egg and sperm to use to avoid ones with any specific diseases we may be carriers of.

My next period was once again right on time… August 24th. I did my math and estimated that I should get my next period sometime around September 18th. Finally JM and I have some positive things to look forward to and put all these fertility tests and surgeries behind us. Never in my life did I think I’d be so obsessive over the timing of my period like I have been recently.

My brother Tyler flew into town the day JM and I left for our vacation to the Dominican Republic to stay with our Dad and care for him while we are away. I’m forever grateful and can’t thank Tyler enough for helping JM and I when we really needed help.

Before we knew it, our summer was gone. It was a summer of medical needs, broken bones, and surgeries. Sayonara Summer! Hello 8-day all-inclusive Dominican Republic vacation. We realized this is quite possibly the last vacation we can comfortably spend our money on without thinking twice … at least until we’re done saving and paying for fertility treatments. When we return, operation Project Parenthood will officially begin!

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SORRY, NOT SORRY FOR “OVARY”-ACTING

July 27 – 31, 2015

Disclaimer: This is a super long post and is the first “big event” of our “in pursuit of baby” journey.

It’s Monday, 27 July. The big day I’ve been waiting for. The day JM and I have been preparing for. We’ve been so busy. Too busy. Busy enough where I didn’t have time to think about being angry about my recent endometriosis diagnosis. A serious blessing and a curse all in one.

Since 4th of July weekend, JM and I have been busy taking care of my Dad and getting him to numerous doctor appointments. I can’t make this up, but between the time my father arrived to my house, we’ve taken my him to eight different doctor appointments. Besides taking care of him and while suffering through daily chronic pain, I’ve attended a farewell party for a close friend moving across the giant pond called the Atlantic Ocean, attended a farewell party for a friend moving to Florida, and attended a bachelorette party weekend which was a 7-hour drive away, all while in the middle of trying to get our rental property prepared for tenant turnover for the 1st of August.

Needless to say, July 2015 has seriously been one of the most challenging months of my life. If there is anything I learned this month, it’s that my husband is seriously a Saint and the most patient creature I’ve ever met. Boy am I blessed to have JM. *sigh*! Moving on.

I’m not one to often admit or ask for help when I need it. I knew my recovery after surgery would be roughly 5 days, and I knew I couldn’t ask JM to take care of me AND my Dad at the same time. I decided to call my brother Tyler and asked him to come stay at our house and help us out with our Dad. I’m forever grateful Tyler’s job allowed him to work from my house and be away from the office for over a week. I manage to set up six doctor appointments for Tyler to take our Dad while he’s here. Aggressive? Probably. JM and I were feeling the insane stress from this month and needed a break from life for just a minute.

Who am I kidding?  We needed a break from life for a couple days! Minimum.

My mother decided to also come stay with us, too, during my surgery week to help JM take care of me and to see Tyler. (My parents are divorced.) So, needless to say, it’s a full house, but this is why JM and I have 3 guest bedrooms. (Finally, I can “humble” brag about something positive!)

So about my surgery. It’s the 27th. The big day. I decided to go to work for 3.5 hours in the morning since I didn’t have to be at the hospital until 1130AM. I needed to close out some things at work before being off for the entire week, plus I needed a distraction primarily from food since I wasn’t allowed to eat anything since midnight. You, know, the usual surgery preparation. Here’s a first for me. I went into work with no make-up and yoga pants. Somehow I managed to dodge everyone from seeing my scary naked face. My face was so pale from the chronic pain this morning. I didn’t care what I looked like at this point; I just wanted the pain gone.

Once I got to the hospital, I see my mom and JM. They arrive together so that one of them can drive my car back afterwards. A nurse calls me in to get me prepped for the procedure and says I can bring one person back with me. I find myself starting to get a bit nervous about the procedure and choose to have my Mom come back with me. My mother has a 30-something year career as a registered nurse and I know she has the eye to be able to determine if something is done right or not. (No offense, JM!)

The nurse starts getting me prepared for surgery with the IV and begins asking a ton of questions and goes over everything discussed from the pre-op interview. The anesthesiologist comes in and asks me even more questions and explains what will happen in the next few minutes. Then my OBGYN comes in and goes over everything with my mom. My little 8’x6’ tiny room is like a circus with all these hospital staff members coming in and out of my room. Can we say “overwhelming”?

My mom gives me a hug and kiss and leaves to get JM so he can see me before they wheel me back into the operating room. Next thing I know immediately after JM gives me a kiss, the anesthesiologist and nurse begin to wheel me out of my tiny room towards what I think is the operating room. Last thing I remember is how fuzzy things begin to look. The anesthesiologist must have put the good meds in my IV drip. “FINALLY,” I’m thinking. FINALLY I CAN GET GOOD SLEEP WITHOUT PAIN WAKING ME UP! Then, I’m out. Cold.

Fast forward to about 2 hours later. My surgery lasted roughly an hour. My OBGYN met with JM and my mom to deliver the not-so-good, but good news. Good news? I did great in surgery. Bad news? Just thinking about this makes me so angry. Get ready, it’s a butt-load of crap. Not literally.

After my OBGYN delivers the bad news to JM, he asks my doctor if he can be with me when she tells me the news. From JM’s point of view, she said he can, but this didn’t quite happen. Once I was finally awake from the anesthesia, my OBGYN came to talk to me. I quickly realize how groggy and tired I am from the anesthesia and do my best to make out what my doctor is telling me. She goes on to first tell me the good news. Both of my ovaries are still in tact. (Thanks, lady!)

I know, I know. I’m stalling on the bad news. Augh. Basically my OBGYN started off the conversation with, “it’s a mess in there.” “There” being my pelvis, ovaries, bladder, colon. Yup. All of it. She then continues to go on with the bad news. She couldn’t do anything except drain the cysts because it’s such a mess. She then continues to tell me I definitely have stage 4 endo and it has spread and developed adhesions everywhere. Everything in my pelvis was connected to one another and my bladder and colon have endo everywhere. Awesome. Well isn’t that just fabulous.

So now what?

My OBGYN said she didn’t want to mess with the adhesions close to my colon because she believes I should see a urologist first about it and it was too close for her comfort. She explains to me that the cysts will likely come back, but hopefully this will be temporary relief from the pain I been having. Next she shows me the photos she took of my insides. Talk about a wild sight!

My doctor continues to explain that if I don’t get pregnant soon or begin with fertility treatments, she recommends I go on Lupron for about 6 months. EXCUSE ME? Lupron? As in, the “menopause” drug? No. Absolutely not. I absolutely did not like the sound of that and absolutely terrified of hearing the three-syllabol word “memo-o-pause.” I’m not going there.  Besides, isn’t that the exact opposite of what I want to be doing? I basically ignore her as she goes into the Lupron discussion.

Finally she delivers the worst of the worst news. She said, as soon as JM and I are done having kids, she recommends I get a hysterectomy because my endo is so aggressive and she is afraid it would spread beyond my pelvic region and cause even worse damages.

\Lovely. Just lovely.

I’m still feeling a big groggy and all I want to do is vomit at this point. I’m not sure if I feel nauseous because of the news I just heard or because of the anesthesia in me. JM is allowed to come back into the recovery room and immediately he can tell I got the news from my OBGYN without me even saying a word. He just looks at me and holds my hand and says, “I asked her to let me be with you when she delivers the outcome.” I said it was okay. But really, it was not okay.

This was all just too much for me to handle at this point, and all I want to do at this point is to throw up, but also get a fruit smoothie. I’m not sure where or how the vomit bag got into my hands, but next thing I know, I’m throwing up some sort of fluid that is in me. I’m guessing it’s the IV fluids. I realize this is only the 2nd time JM has been around me when I’ve gotten sick. For better or for worst, huh? At least the first time I threw-up in front of JM it was more entertaining and after eating red velvet cupcakes at an open-bar wedding. I’ll save that story for another time when I need to lighten the mood.

My mother, JM and I get back to the house roughly around 5PM. The best part about leaving that hospital, is that I got to walk out of there with no boot on my foot for the first time in over 2 months. Damn, it felt good.

After we got home, JM went to get me the acai smoothie I’ve been wanting all day. My mom must have asked me 20 times what I want to eat. Food is the last thing on my mind after anesthesia and not to mention after throwing up 3 more times after the initial time in the hospital. Lesson learned. Jane and anesthesia do not get along. Not at all. My mom (being a mom), insists I eat. I told her whatever she makes, I want it to be bland, simple… and GLUTEN FREE. Why suddenly gluten free (GF), you ask? I’ll get to that in a minute. My mother decides to make my Sito’s (grandmother’s) chicken and rice recipe. No matter how old you are, you will always still need your Mom.

For the rest of the evening I laid in bed. The only time I got up was when JM or my mom had to help me get up to use the bathroom. My ab muscles are non-existant after the surgery. It felt as though I did a high intensity interval training ab workout for 72 hours straight and then got punched in the stomach until it bruised. I have no other way to describe how weak I felt after surgery. On the plus side, I had no ovary pain. And, no boot.

Fast forward…

For the next 4 days, I pretty much stayed in bed or laid on the couch and remained on the pain killers my OBGYN prescribed me. Honestly, I couldn’t do anything that required me to walk or move around even if I tried. I still couldn’t use much of my ab muscles and required the help of someone to assist me so I could get up every time I wanted to use the bathroom. I felt pretty helpless and super antsy because I couldn’t do anything productive. It was a nice distraction whenever friends and family members called or texted to see how I was doing. Also, having my mother around was a huge help. She stayed to help so JM could go back to work. She cooked every meal and even stocked up the freezer with homemade meals. She did some grocery shopping for staple gluten free items, and helped clean my house.

So about the gluten free thing. Remember I said in a previous post I have a degree in “Google”? In the weeks leading up to my surgery, I did nothing but Google, Google, Google. I Googled everything possible about endometriosis and fertility. To make a very long Google search history very short, I came across a lot of blogs, studies, and articles about certain foods causing endometriosis to flare up which results in pain and inflammation. I even read the book, It Starts with Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. Lets put it this way, the pain I was experiencing from my endometriosis was so bad, I was desperate and willing to do anything to get rid of it – even if it meant giving up pizza. GASP! A New Yorker give up pizza? And bagels? Yup, I was about to commit a sin.

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I went cold turkey. I decided days leading up to my surgery that I would officially give up gluten for at least a couple of months and see if I notice a difference. Looking back, I probably should have given up dairy as well, but I didn’t want to make myself go too crazy. I already do eat a limited amount of dairy, so I decided to just start with gluten and go from there. I’ll be sure to update you in later posts on my gluten-free situation.

Finally on Friday, 31 July I was beginning to feel “good” and didn’t need the prescription pain meds anymore. My mother went back to her house, and I was able to finally move around pretty well to the point where I was able to drive to my rental property to let the cleaners into the unit. That was the most exciting thing about my day.

Actually I lied.

Fast forward to the late evening. My period was right on schedule and started Friday night. Yes, you read right. Getting my period on the Friday after my surgery was a really positive thing. It meant I could move forward with additional fertility testing and possibly an IUI next month with our reproductive endocrinologist (RE). I make a mental note to immediately call my RE Saturday morning to schedule an appointment for blood work and ultrasound for day 3 of my cycle.

I couldn’t have been happier to check the box and put my laparoscopic surgery behind me. Moving on. Let’s go. I have no more endometriosis pain. Let’s make a baby!

BACHELORETTE, BEACH, BOOZE, BOOT…and BLOATED

July 17-19, 2015

Ever have one of those friends in your life who you’d do anything for and adore with all your heart? I’m sure many of you are nodding your head in agreement and can instantly say “yes” without hesitation. I certainly do, and so blessed to say I have several friends in my life who have earned that credibility. Well, this weekend was a weekend to honor one of those said friends – my former college roommate and beautiful kind friend of 11-years.

I committed months ago to a bachelorette party weekend 7.5 hours away in Ocracoke, NC for one of my favorite people in the world. There was no way I was backing out … even if it meant driving 7.5 hours in a freakin’ boot, hobbling on sand in a clunky boot and vomiting every night in pain (and not because of “bachelorette party bad decision” shots of tequila). I made sure to pack enough Advil to get me through three full days, and tripled checked that I had packed my heating pad and wine. The only thing that kept me going is knowing I’m going to celebrate the engagement and future marriage of someone who I adore. I wouldn’t have missed this for the world.

My outfit decisions were on point for this trip. I made sure every outfit coordinated appropriately with my one-of-a-kind accessory – Mr. Boot. Who am I kidding? No one can possibly look cute in a clunky boot when bar hobbling around town with a bunch of beautiful women.

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This entire trip I fought my own internal “negative Nancy” battle and refused to let it show and refused to verbally vomit up negative complaints. There was no way was I letting this bachelorette be concerned about me when this weekend was all about her. I was in a ridiculous amount of constant pain that words really can’t describe and my stomach was so poofy and bloated this entire weekend. I hate that I’m saying this, but it didn’t help that there were two adorable prego woman at the bachelorette party weekend – clearly reminding me of the belly I wish to have one day. It was the final countdown. I was literally counting down the minutes until my surgery … 10 days, 2 hours and 24 minutes to be exact from the time I got into the car for the drive to the beach.

In my own internal thoughts, I unfortunately remind myself that I’m going through one of those lovely life events that, you know, pretty much take you out over several days, weeks, but now merging into months. Sure, I’m knocked down, but not out! I managed to laugh at the thought for just a second and remind myself of the light at the end of the tunnel that will help get rid of my pain. On a separate note, my boot comes off the same day as my upcoming surgery. Onward, Jane…. to a couple of late nights with neon colored penis straws and tequila!

Eventually during the weekend I had to break it to my beautiful bachelorette friend the immense pain I was experiencing and gave her literally the 5-second long cliff notes version of what’s going on with me. I didn’t want her to worry about me by any means, but there was a point during both party nights I had to leave the bars early to go back to the hotel to have a date with the heating pad and Motrin PM. I was disappointed in that I told her, but I didn’t want to come across that I wasn’t happy to be there to celebrate her.

So what’s the point of this post? Just know this… whether you’re going through personal struggles or health hurdles, a tube of bright pink lipstick and a cute little black dress can be two of life’s greatest accessories. (grin!)

WELCOME TO THE BABY BUSINESS

July 8, 2015

After my appointment with my OBGYN from a couple weeks ago, I decided to make a consultation appointment with the dreaded place I call “the baby business”, aka “fertility clinic”, aka “fertility specialist”, aka Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE). Even though my doctor said to give it 6 months after surgery before seeing one, I decided to make this appointment sooner for three reasons: (1) simply because I’m type-A and not waiting freggin’ 6 months, (2) to get a second opinion whether or not surgery is the right next step and (3) to see if there are any other tests JM and I need to do before turning to fertility treatments and procedures.

The morning of my appointment I gathered copies of all of our fertility testing paperwork. I put them in chronological order because I’m OCD like that. JM and I took two separate cars so that we could go to work after our appointment. The RE’s office is literally only 5 minutes away which can’t get better than that. I have a sense of angst running through me, but also excitement knowing we are continuously moving forward in pursuit of baby. I start my car, turn on the old-school radio (who needs to turn on an iPod when it’s only a 5 minute drive?) and a Jordin Sparks song I haven’t heard in years comes on. Remember “One Step At A Time”? Perhaps the timing was some weird coincidence, but I made a note to myself this is going to be my theme song for a while.

“Hurry up and wait
So close, but so far away
Everything that you’ve always dreamed of
Close enough for you to taste
But you just can’t touch…..

When you can’t wait any longer
But there’s no end in sight
when you need to find the strength
It’s your faith that makes you stronger
The only way you get there
Is one step at a time.”

If any of you know someone currently going through infertility or fertility treatments, send them that song and I guarantee it will make them feel better even if it’s only for a moment. Remember, there are no words you can ever say to a “baby challenged” couple that will make them feel better. Sorry for the side note. Moving on.

JM and I walk into the double doors of the “baby business” and begin to fill out paperwork answering all kinds of questions that remind us of how hard this time in our life truly is. There are a his and hers separate stack of papers to fill out. “How long have you been trying?”, “Do family members have history of infertility?”, “Usual cycle length?”, “Do you have symptoms at time of ovulation?” “Is cramping none, minimal, moderate, or severe?”, “Is intercourse painful?”, “Have you ever fathered a pregnancy?”, “Is there difficulty maintaining an erection?”, “Any history of X, Y, Z?”

TALK ABOUT PERSONAL QUESTIONS!

We’re called into the RE’s office once we’re done with the paperwork and assume our positions in the typical dark brown leather chairs every doctors’ office seems to have. I swear one day I’m going to have a strong hatred for dark brown leather chairs as often as I’ve been sitting in them these days. Anyways, I present all of our medical records related to our fertility tests to the RE. He goes through them one-by-one:

hormone blood work = check
thyroid blood word = check
ovarian reserve blood work = check
HSG = check
semen analysis = check
Ultrasound results = pump the brakes!

At this point of the consultation we began discussing my recent endometriosis diagnosis. The RE asked if I was experiencing any pelvic pain. I literally laughed out loud when he asked this question. I turn and look at my husband and begin to describe my pain. I begin saying, “Well, lets just say I have to take Advil every 4 hours, carry around a heating pad everywhere I go and I vomit at least once a day along with waking up in the middle of the night bawling my eyes out in fetal position because it has been longer than 4 hours since my last pill.”

Honestly, folks, I’m putting JM through hell these last couple of weeks. I’m literally waking up in the middle of the night vomiting and crying because the pain is so unbearable. It has gotten to the point now where JM began setting an alarm to go off in the middle of the night so I can take pain meds before waking up on my own in pain. The pain is now everyday, all day and I’m using my heating pad like it’s another ligament to my body.

The RE begins to go over results explaining the meaning behind the size of my cysts. He said, “I can tell you right now by the size of your cysts. You have stage 4 endo.” I explain to him I have surgery at the end of the month and ask if I should go through with it. The RE said because of the sheer amount of pain I’m experiencing right now, I absolutely should move forward with the surgery. He says, “You are going to have surgery to help with your pain, not fertility. This surgery won’t do anything for you for fertility benefits, only pain.” I’m glad he told me this because here I was thinking that the surgery will remove some of the endo which will help with fertility. I was freggin’ wrong! We conclude the surgery conversation with the RE saying he is going to call my OBGYN and tell her to definitely not remove either of my ovaries. (Um… yea, like I said earlier, I need those things.)

Then we shift the conversation to fertility treatment options and possible plan for after surgery. Long story short, the RE immediately says to me that because I have stage 4, nothing will work for me except IVF. (See? Baby business!)

This is where I start taking control of our consultation. I explain that absolutely under no circumstances do I want to just jump right into IVF without trying less invasive options first. First of all, IVF is like at least $10k out of pocket. My insurance only gives me $5k maximum for the lifetime of the insurance. Plus, my insurance doesn’t cover the cost of fertility medications. However, my insurance will cover 80% of an intrauterine insemination (IUI). For the obvious financial reasons, JM and I want to at least give a couple IUIs a try before jumping into IVF.

The RE understands my logic and said we can certainly begin with IUIs, but is convinced IVF is my only option. The Dr. had the nerve to say afterwards, “miracles do happen.” Perhaps I was too shocked that he said that, but looking back at it now, I should have walked out of his office right then and there. If it weren’t for this RE’s reputation and success rates, I probably would have.

After the hour-long consultation, we concluded that we will agree to meet again after my surgery – specifically three days after my first period after surgery for hormone blood work. Then, we’d circle back and settle on a fertility treatment plan and move forward. Surgery, here I come!

PLANS? WHAT PLANS?

July 2-5, 2015

It’s July 4th weekend and JM and I couldn’t be more excited to have my brother Tyler and his girlfriend fly into town. My brother lives very far away and we only get to see him a couple times a year. We have a bunch of plans lined up for the holiday weekend and can’t wait to spend this weekend with family and just relax before my upcoming surgery scheduled for the end of the month. More importantly, I can drink without worrying whether or not I’m pregnant. We needed this weekend for more reasons than I can possibly list.

Since I can enjoy a drink or two, I may or may not have influenced my mom and my brother’s girlfriend to go venture out to some vineyards. Ok, so it wasn’t hard to twist their arms to go to the vineyards at all. So while we went wine tasting, the guys decided to do a little golfing. After the guys finished golfing, they joined us at the vineyard! And, by some bizarre coincidence, my sister-in-law and her mom just so happened to be at the same vineyard at the same time when the guys showed up! ALRIGHT! PARTY TIME! Now we’re talking! BRING ON THE BOTTLES!

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Remember in my diagnosis post I left off asking what could possibly go wrong next? Get ready for the detour I’m about to tell you.

Fast forward to a few hours after a lovely time at the vineyard. Tyler and I got a phone call from our Father who lives 7 hours away from me. He’s in the hospital. Now, my father has been having some health issues the last couple of weeks, but not to the point where he had to go to the hospital. Tyler immediately goes into panic mode and decides he needs to be with our Dad. Tyler and I have a quick, but very serious sibling talk (yes, after having quite a bit of wine) and decide it’s time to bring our Dad up to stay with JM and I so we can take care of him. With his health issues lately and no family close by to help him, he needed us and there was no way we could put him on a plane to stay with Tyler in his current state.

The next 36 hours turn into complete chaos for Tyler and his girlfriend. They decided to rent a SUV, drive 7 hours to stay with our Dad at the hospital, pack up as much stuff as possible from his house, and bring him up to our house. This whole situation happened way too fast.

Let me break down for you all the things going on at once at a level everyone and their three-year old can understand. JM and I are dealing with our fertility challenges, I’m about to have surgery in 3 weeks, I still have a freakin’ boot on my foot, and now my Dad is living with us so we can take care of his health. ALL ABOARD THE PITY BOAT!

The day my dad arrives, I start running a mental list of 200 things I need to do in the upcoming days for him besides the obvious of finding him doctors in my area. At this moment, anything from my past I may have considered stressful was now viewed as a complete joke and so not stressful at all. This. This is the definition of stress.

I find myself pausing from my “to do” thoughts and remind myself of my high school yearbook quote – “Everything happens for a reason. The hard part is finding that reason.” Well, I think I found another reason why the big man upstairs hasn’t sent a Stork our way yet… he had it in his plans for JM and I to take care of my father and get him back to good health first.

TESTING, DIAGNOSIS, AND SURGERY… OH MY!

June 29, 2015

It’s Monday and like every woman in the world, the way we want to start off the week is by going to the OBGYN…. said no woman ever. It’s my follow-up appointment after the ultrasound. I’ve been so anxious to hear the official results from my doctor and next steps. Like I said, I’m type-A and I want to get this all fixed and figured out so I can move on and start a family.

It turns out endometriosis is not that simple at all. It’s not curable unless I want a hysterectomy – which is totally not an option at this stage of my life. My OBGYN confirmed that the ultrasound showed what looks like endometriomas on my ovaries. Endometriomas are what is also known as “chocolate cysts” on the ovary. (How disgusting!) It’s a benign cyst that can cause chronic pelvic pain and infertility.

Immediately I had so many questions. Why was this never diagnosed before? Why am I just now experiencing pain? How did I get this disease? How do I get rid of this pain? Is there something I did to get this? Is there something I can do naturally to get rid of it? Will I ever be able to give my husband (4) children? Is this why my period is suddenly so painful? Will I pass this down to my daughter (if I can even have a daughter)? Why aren’t ultrasounds part of a routine annual check-up? Was this inherited? Do I blame my Mom or Dad for this? Why me?

My OBGYN explains to me in greater detail what endometriosis is. Basically it’s the uterine lining growing outside the uterus. So every time I get my period, not only is my uterus bleeding, but all the lining outside my uterus is bleeding as well. Again, W.T.F? She said typically it’s on the outer surface of the uterus, but can grow and spread on the ovaries, abdomen, bladder, colon, and in extreme cases it can be found in the lungs. However, she doesn’t know the extent of how much it has spread until she performs laparoscopic surgery.

SURGERY? I’ve never had surgery before in my life. I’m Jane and healthy! Jane and surgery do not belong in the same sentence. Not at the age of 31! Suddenly I start thinking dollars. My health insurance has a $3k deductible. I make a mental note that I should anticipate this being a couple grand out of pocket since we still haven’t met our deductible and then it’s 20% out of pocket after the deductible and coinsurance.

All of a sudden I find myself developing a whole new vocabulary. I ask my doctor how in the world I could possibly get this disease. She explains that the cause is unknown but studies have found that it is inherited. Apparently I was just born with these cells outside my uterus. Again, the fertility Gods forgot about me. She also said that birth control likely saved me from my ovaries and fallopian tubes being completely scared and destroyed (HA! Take that, Mom and church!) Apparently birth control suppresses the endometriosis growth since typically a period is light and short when on birth control. Since I’ve been off of birth control for a year and a half, my cycle is now longer and heavier causing the endometrial tissue to grow and spread.

My doctor and I decide to move forward with scheduling a laparoscopic surgery. The intension is to either (a) remove the endometrial tissue or (b) drain the cysts. However, we won’t know what the outcome will look like until she gets in there with the camera. My OBGYN said she will do everything possible to save my ovaries since I’m looking to get pregnant (UMMM yea lady. I kinda need those things if I want to make a baby with my own eggs!) She said I should hear from the hospital scheduler this week with a date for my surgery – which my doctor anticipates will be sometime in July. This conversation was going great until my doctor said she will want her partner OBGYN there for the surgery as well because of the size of my cysts.

Now I’m beginning to freak out and I ask my doctor why its necessary to have two highly skilled doctors there. This is where I wish JM came with me to the appointment. JM is seriously the most calm human being I’ve ever met in my life and suddenly I find that I really wish he was here with me to calm down my nerves.

I’m trying to listen to her but everything at this point was in one ear and out the other. My mind is racing, panicking and thinking that this is now serious if she wants the other doctor there performing the surgery with her. I ask my doctor at what point should I start seeing a fertility specialist (aka reproductive endocrinologist). She suggested that if I’m still not pregnant within six months after having surgery then I should see a specialist. SIX MONTHS? That’s way too long. I mentally make a note to myself to call one tomorrow to make a consultation.

I’ve never had surgery before. I’ve been blessed to be very healthy my whole life. I’ve never had a damn thing wrong with me except childhood asthma and a dairy allergy. I look down at the floor and suddenly remind myself “oh, and this stupid stress fracture.” AUGH. This is now all of a sudden turning into a summer of hell. I’m dealing with infertility, a fractured foot, endometriosis, and now I need surgery. What could possibly be next?

WHEN LIFE GIVES YOU THE GOOSIES #NIAW

April 25, 2016

Let me preface this with a clear message that this is a one-off post. I should probably start off by explaining why I jumped from my last post date of June 2015 to today. Don’t worry, I will fill in the blanks. Something happened yesterday afternoon and just had to write a post explaining. I know what you are all thinking. No, #ImNotPregnant #Yet Trust me, I’m way more creative than choosing to announce a pregnancy on a blog. 🙂

It always catches me by surprise when the stars align, when things happen coincidentally, or when things are “meant to be.” It never gets old. Remember last week when I launched my blog and in my “About Me” post  I said I’m doing this to raise awareness about the disease of infertility and to let those struggling with it also know that they are not alone? So, yesterday someone in a Facebook (FB) group I’m on posted a link to Resolve – The National Infertility Association. I heard of Resolve, but just simply never had time to dig into what it’s all about. (No offense, Resolve!) Well, they announced yesterday it was the first day of National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW).

WELL CALL ME PSYCHIC!!! Call it a coincidence!! Seriously people, what are the odds that I launched my blog just last week – the week before it’s NIAW?  And get this… the theme is #StartAsking. Did I not just post about all my internal questions in my diagnosis post? I’m going to call this coincidence with a side of “meant to be.” I had no idea that NIAW was even a thing, but let me tell you I instantly got the goosies when found out. After I saw the post, I did what I habitually always do; naturally, I texted my husband right away. His response was “it needs to be more than a week in my opinion.” What a guy, I tell ya!

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Call me selfish or perhaps my upcoming ask is purely a shameless request. I’m a former New Yorker and honestly don’t care. You guys know I created this blog to raise awareness. Well, I’m asking for your help. So many of you have left some incredibly kind and thoughtful messages – both publicly and privately – since I launched my blog, and what’s even more amazing is that a number of you decided to “come out” and share your personal infertility stories with me. I had no idea this blog could have that kind of impact right away. (I think I just measured my first “measure of effectiveness.” Only a select few will get that nerdy joke.) Well, I want to raise even more awareness beyond my inner FB circle and family. I mean, after all I did make this blog public so it can reach those at a distance. So, here’s my selfish request… help me spread awareness!

Perhaps making this post at almost 9pm on a Monday night won’t make it go viral, but let me break this down for you using my #MathNerd skills. I didn’t major in math for nothin’.

I have 700 FB friends. The average number of FB friends people have is nearly 340, according to Pew Research in 2014 (like what I did there?). About two-thirds of FB users access FB daily. So, let me simplify this for you. If 467 of my friends (that’s 2/3rds of my total, you non-math folks) spread my blog onto their page, then 2/3rds of their friends (226 people) spread it onto their page, we’re looking at my story reaching over 105k people in one day with just 2-degrees of separation. Now, don’t ask me to calculate the confidence interval on this. Let’s just fudge it + or – 5%.

I may not be the best writer, in fact I majored in math because I’m a terrible speller, a slow reader, and never enjoyed writing. Yet, here I am out of my comfort zone blogging. Sometimes we just have to step out and do things to make a difference even if it’s a little out of our element.

Happy National Infertility Awareness Week, y’all!

LET’S TALK ABOUT SEX

June 24, 2015

At this point in our lives, JM and I are still very private about our baby making challenges. We really only told a couple of people that we were “trying” to include my mother, a couple of my cousins and maybe two of my girl friends. That’s it. I know one thing for sure is that we have not told JM’s parents.

Let me fill you in on something. I’m married to a pastor’s son. If someone told me back in college marring  “the son of a preacher man” was in God’s plan I would have never believed it in a million years. The last thing on earth I’m comfortable with is discussing anything about sex with my in-laws and I’m about 110% certain JM feels the same way. However, after all the recent tests and endometriosis diagnosis, I felt that it is now time to tell JM’s parents we are “trying.” At this point in our lives, we need a lot of prayers and comfort.

Tonight we have plans to see a live show with JM’s parents. My father-in-law (FIL) dropped my mother-in-law (MIL) and I off at the front door since I still have this stupid boot on. Something inside my head told me to just go ahead and tell my MIL what is going on – at least a cliff notes version. I didn’t ask my husband in advance if he wanted to tell his parents, and afterwards I realized I probably should have. But, I knew JM is supportive in my decisions and in the end I knew he’d be relieved we finally told his parents. After all, we did tell my side of the family so why can’t we tell his, too?

My MIL and I are sitting outside waiting for the guys to park the car, and I proceed to ask her if JM told her we are “trying.” There was no subtle way to bring this up and it’s not like we were talking about anything else related to this topic where I could just segue this in to conversation. My MIL immediate gasps, covers her mouth with her hands and I can clearly see the excitement run through her veins. I put my hand on her arm and begin to tell her we’re having trouble, been going through a ton of fertility tests and learned yesterday that I have endometriosis. She grabs my hand and says, “well, this is certainly something to pray about.” As she said that, I look up to find my husband and FIL only a couple feet away. My MIL jumps up and immediately blurts out to my FIL the news. (She didn’t hesitate for 5 seconds!) I whisper to JM that I told his mom what has been going on. I could tell JM was happy and a weight lifted off his shoulders. We were relieved to see his parents recognize we need some prayers and support.

My in-laws only have one grandchild from their eldest son. They want nothing more than to be grandparents of more. My FIL’s sister has something like 19 grandkids, so clearly my FIL is losing the grandchildren count competition. If there is one thing I can thank my in-laws for it is that they never, not once ever begged, or asked for us to give them grand-babies. We never got the sense of any pressure from them, yet we know this is something they want so badly. Both JM’s parents and my parents are going to be the best grandparents around, and hopefully we can give them that gift.

I knew this conversation would change my relationship with my in-laws, but for the better. The sex talk wasn’t too bad after all!

ENDOMETRI… WHAAAAATTTT???

June 23, 2015

It’s 8AM and I’m at the appointment for the ultrasound my OBGYN wants me to get. I’ve never had an ultrasound before so I really didn’t know what to expect other than what I’ve seen in the movies – cold gel, a weird wand, and a fuzzy black and white image on the screen. For once, Hollywood didn’t lie to me or make this up!

A nurse comes in – probably about my age – and first does an ultrasound on my stomach – well, reproductive areas. She casually asks what brought me in for the ultrasound. I give her the cliff notes version of my recent ovary pain and proceed to tell her I’ve never had an ultrasound before. She sounded shocked and couldn’t believe my OBGYN hasn’t had me get an ultrasound yet with all my infertility testing. I explained we were still in the beginning stages of fertility tests.

Then… pure…awkward…silence. An awkward silence is not exactly what you want to happen when you’re naked waist down. The nurse stops moving the ultrasound wand thingy and looks me in the eye and says, “are you dealing with endometriosis?”

I attempt to repeat the “e” word she just said. I literally begin laughing nervously and ask “endometri- what? I don’t even know what word you just said.” Seriously – I never heard of the word “endometriosis” before in my life. It’s not even in my vocabulary. This has got to be the funniest sounding word I’ve ever heard – yet I couldn’t even pronounce it.

The nurse then proceeds to ask me how long JM and I have been trying. When I told her about a year and a half she then says to me, “Look, I’m telling you this as a friend…” [Listen, nurse lady, first of all you’re not my “friend”, but I think you totally could be. You seem pretty cool, but I’m not sure if I’m going to like what you’re about to say.] The nurse continues “…I say stop trying. As a friend, just stop trying. It’s not worth working yourself up over a negative pregnancy test every month until you get everything checked out.”

SAYYYY WHATTTTT????!!!!!????? Who does this nurse think she is?

Next the doctor walked in and did a vaginal ultrasound. This has got to be the most bizarre thing I’ve ever had done. It’s a wand. With a camera. Looking up in my insides. Weird. The doctor proceeds to say it looks like I have what’s called “endometriomas” on my ovaries. The endometrioma on my right ovary was about 6cm in size and the one on the left is about 4cm. Needless to say, they were “HUUUUU-GGGGGGEEEEE.”

Now this appointment is getting a bit overwhelming, but oddly it also provided relief. For the first time since doing all these infertility tests, I left the office with a smile. I was actually happy to hear I have something called endometriosis.

It meant an answer. It meant there was a solution (maybe) down the road. It meant that we have something to work with here in the baby making department. It also left a ton of questions in my head.

I got in my car and immediately called my mother to tell her what I was just told. Let me back up here for a minute and fill in a minor detail. I only just told my mother that JM and I were “trying” a couple weeks ago. I don’t have that kind of relationship with my mother where I can just openly talk about my sex life. I didn’t want to tell her, but it got to the point where her nagging for grand-babies was getting to me. I couldn’t visit my mother or have a single phone conversation without her bringing up “when are you going to give me grand-babies?” Every time she brought it up, she thought she was being funny asking for grandkids. Little did she know every time she asked me, nagged me or begged for them it crushed JM and I. She is going to make one hell of an amazing “Sito” (Grandma in Arabic) one day. I broke down and finally told her jthat JM and I were working on it.

I couldn’t believe how excited I was to tell my mother that we finally have an answer as to what is causing our infertility, but most importantly the crazy pain these last two months. I was literally smiling and a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

I have a follow-up appointment with my OBGYN in a few days to go over the ultrasound results. Being type-A a wait for a couple of days is pure torture. Now that I finally have an answer, I want to hear what the solution and plan is going forward. This is TORTURE I tell you.

In the meantime, let the “googling” begin! Did I ever mention that I have a college degree in “google”? I needed to know what in the heck endometriosis is all about. Not only do I need to know how to say this word, I need to learn what it is. I need to learn everything. How did I get this disease? What treatments are out there? How does it impact fertility? When will it go away (if it goes away)? How do others out there deal with it?

So, now you know how I came up with the title of my blog. I hope others who either have endometriosis or think they may have it can find comfort in my blog knowing they aren’t the only ones out there who have never heard of this disease. I’m thoroughly confused why I never knew I had this before. I never experienced any symptoms and it baffles me that ultrasounds aren’t a part of an annual pap/OBGYN visit – especially for women of child-bearing years. None of this makes any sense to me.

Suddenly, my sense of relief turns into guilt– guilt in a sense that I didn’t know I had this before getting married to JM– and then the “why me” questions begin.

TYPE A – THERE’S NO OTHER WAY

June 22, 2015

I waste no time. None. Give me a problem, throw a challenge at me, give me a goal to accomplish and there is no stopping me. I really am a very determined person. I was born into a family of overachievers. It’s a blessing and a curse all at the same time.

Remember I said I was going to call my OBGYN first thing Monday after my Myrtle Beach trip? I wasted no time. I called my OBGYN when they opened and got myself a 2:30PM appointment with one of the doctors who isn’t my usual doctor. I didn’t care. At this point I was desperate to find out what was causing my pain. I purposely didn’t take any Alive or Ibuprofen today so that I could describe and show the doctor exactly where my pain was taking place. Lets just say it was a very long morning at work today.

The OBGYN asked me to describe what has been going on. I explain to her about the pain patterns I’ve noticed my last two cycles. I proceed to tell her that the pain feels like someone is seriously ripping out my insides, rolling them in porcupine needles, and explosives were going off on my ovaries. I literally chuckle while telling her I feel like it’s my ovaries in pain. The doctor then smiles and says usually when patients tell her their ovaries hurt it’s not even the location where their ovaries are. She asks me to point to where the pain is coming from. I show her and she says, “Yup, and that’s your ovaries. You are right about that.”

The doctor hands me a referral to get an ultrasound within the next couple of days to see if maybe it is cysts bursting on my ovaries. CYSTS??!! ON MY OVARIES??? WTF? Cysts aren’t even in my vocabulary. Did I seriously just hear the doctor correctly? The thought of cysts on my ovaries started to freak me out a bit.

After my appointment ended, the second I got in my car I called the place my OBGYN recommended to get the ultrasound done. I was able to get an appointment for the next day. Again, I don’t waste any time. Type-A.