Monday, March 26, 2007

The Other Side

There are two types of people who beat infertility. By beating infertility I mean that, despite the odds, a couple who at one time struggled has a successful pregnancy thanks to a drug, treatment, or just plain luck.

The first type I would call the chameleon. Once their dream comes true, their colors change. Suddenly, what has happened for them will happen for everyone. They find themselves telling other girls the same things that they themselves hated to hear. Relax, it will happen when you least expect it, have faith. But, now it is okay to say these things because, they are actually true after all!!!

One chameleon’s name is Jamie*. Jamie went to church with me. Jamie struggled for years to become pregnant. Jamie knew how it felt to be the only married girl at church without kids. Jamie experienced walking by the girls who were expecting or pregnant in the hallway and feeling unable to join in the conversation. Jamie stumbled her way through awkward chats with friends about potty training or colic, with no life experience to lean on. Jamie skipped out on baby showers. Jamie was like me.

So, Jamie would talk to me. We weren’t the best of friends who shared all of each other’s hopes and dreams. But we did share one dream, to have a child of our own. Jamie became a friendly face to turn to during those “being-a-good-mother-type” church lessons. She taught me tricks to ease the pain, such as buying an expecting mother a Target gift card, so you don’t have to brave the baby department. She was even there during Mother’s Day, quite possibly the worst day of the year for a childless woman, who each year at church gets a flower with the remark “You can have one, even though you’re not a mom”, or something as equally unintentionally heart wrenching. From a glance in the hall to a quick word in the parking lot, I had a friend in Jamie.

Then one day, after several failed treatments, Jamie became pregnant by surprise. No one had an explanation, it just happened.

Jamie’s metamorphosis happened instantly and without warning. The exclusive nightclub Pregnancy&Motherhood had waved her in and she wasn’t turning back, even to waive good-bye. In other words, Jamie literally never spoke to me again.

Maybe you're wondering if I stopped talking to her. Maybe I felt she had nothing in common with me anymore. Maybe I pushed her away because I was jealous. The answer to these would be no. I was ecstatic when I learned of her pregnancy. Finally, someone like me had made it to the other side!! But, she didn't want to share this experience with me. I wouldn't understand. This is why I found out she was pregnant from someone else. Simply put...I tried, she didn't.

Jamie joined the other girls my age with tummy bumps and babies in tow and discussed breastfeeding and leg cramps in the hallway. I was invited to her baby shower. I got her a Target gift card.

Soon after the baby was born, they moved. I saw her once more when they came back to visit. Still not a word was spoken, but I thought I saw some sadness in her eyes when she saw my arms were still empty. Or maybe that's what I wanted to see...or didn't want to see? Regardless, I haven’t seen her since.

So, the chameleon would be one type of “recovered infertility”. But there is another type out there.

This second type remembers with vivid clarity the heartache of infertility. They ask you how it’s going and they respond with empathy, not sympathy. They acknowledge your existence and that you differ from them in stage of life only. They are not overly optimistic about your situation and don’t assume success will happen for everyone, like it did for them. When they look at you, their eyes don’t say, “I feel sorry for you” but rather “I know how you feel; I haven’t forgotten the sorrow. My infertility has left a mark on me that will last forever and we will always be connected by that experience”. I have been fortunate to meet a few of these strong women. Many times, I am introduced to a person who once struggled like me. When they learn that I, too, have had this trial, I cannot express the relief that comes over me when I realize they are in this second category.

And should my dream ever come true, I have promised myself I will never be a chameleon.

*Name changed

Monday, March 5, 2007

A New Plan

Okay, so I lied…It’s barely the beginning of March, but I have another update. My plans for treatment are changing somewhat. I have been having some symptoms (I’ll spare you the details) that are reminiscent of endometriosis.

Endometriosis is a condition where tissue similar to the lining of the uterus (the endometrial stroma and glands, which should only be located inside the uterus) is found elsewhere in the body, from the outside of the uterine wall in mild cases to all throughout the body in more severe cases. Apparently, I have a family history of this disease and I match a few of the symptoms, one of these being… infertility.

So here’s my conundrum: Do I stop all treatments, wait until we have better health insurance through the PD, and investigate this possibility ~OR~ Do I save up money and continue on with treatments as planned, after all the “cure” for endometriosis is pregnancy.

There is a good chance I don’t have this disease, but then again there’s a chance I do. Our infertility is considered “unexplained”, meaning all our tests look perfect. I have plenty of good eggs, my hormone levels look good, and Ryan has a high amount of “team members” so-to-speak. Could endometriosis be causing our problems? There’s only one way to find out, which involves surgery as described below:

Laparoscopy is the most common procedure used to diagnose and remove mild to moderate endometriosis. The surgeon inserts a lighted viewing instrument called a laparoscope through a small incision. The doctor can view the internal organs to look for signs of endometriosis or other possible problems. This is the only way that endometriosis can be diagnosed with certainty. Then the doctor can remove any visible endometriosis implants and scar tissue that may be causing pain or infertility.

At the same time, this procedure would also be performed:

A hysteroscopy is a procedure in which the doctor uses a hysteroscope to look at the inside of the uterus. A hysteroscope is a thin tube with a tiny camera. The doctor can guide a tool into the uterus to remove a fibroid tumor or just to check for any abnormalities therein.

Recovery time is 1-2 weeks for these procedures. For people who do have endometriosis, the chances of getting pregnant following the surgery are 75%.

After thinking, praying, and talking with my doctor, I feel that I should pursue this possibility. The worst case scenario would be a $200 deductible plus 20% of the cost of the surgery with the conclusion that this possibility is ruled out. Best case scenario would be discovering what might be wrong, repairing it (although this would be a “band-aid”; it will come back again), and getting pregnant. Sounds like a bet worth taking to me…

At the rate they're going, Ryan will start at the PD sometime in late March. He will have to be employed for 30 days and then the health coverage will start at the beginning of the next month following. We have heath insurance coverage now, but with 10 times the deductible amount. So right now it looks like in May I'll be eligible for the new insurance. I have heard some hospitals have waiting lists for this type of procedure so who knows when it will actually happen. But now we have a plan, albeit a new one, but it's still a plan! J