Infertility Bites

Infertile, Trying to Conceive, and Forty-One Years Old – Ain't THAT a Bummer!?!

Um, if you’re the squeamish type…don’t read this! Graphic female stuff ahead January 29, 2008

Feeling better today after yesterday’s vent session.  Coolness.  Just putting those words down releases me from their power within my addled brain. 

Thinking today about how things have turned out this way.  In other words, why am I almost 40 and not a mother yet?  The reasons are simple, actually.  I don’t have regular menstrual cycles, and I’m not even sure I ovulate each time when I do have a semi-regular cycle.  Therefore, if one can’t predict their approximate ovulation time, one can’t say with any certainty when a good time would be to have intercourse to fertilize any egg that may or may not have dropped.  It makes for a very frustrating conversation with your significant other each month or so.  

The conversations usually go something like this:  F says, “Honey, are you ovulating?”  My answer, “I have no idea.”  F replies, “Well, when was your last period?”  My answer, “X days ago, on (insert date here).”  His response, “OK, so when would you normally ovulate after that date?”  My answer, “That’s the thing, honey.  My periods aren’t normal, so there’s no way to tell.  One cycle will be 35 days long, the next more than 60.  I hionestly have no frickin’ clue.” 

Okay, so why in the name of all that’s holy did we wait so long to go to someone for help, you may be asking.  The reasons are legion.  When we first got married almost 8 years ago, I was 32.  I knew that I was approaching the dreaded age of 35 that so many OBs warn you about.  Yet, for the first six months, I wasn’t that concerned.  I chalked it up to adjusting to married life, adjusting to a new location, bad timing, etc.  Plus, my periods had been weird before I got married.  I knew that was probably contributing to our bad timing. 

After that first six months, I was still not on birth control, but it’s not like we were actively trying for a child.  Being the good Catholics we are, we’d decided if we got pregnant at that time, it was meant to be.  Yet, the more time went by, the more I worried.  Finally, I knew I needed to get it checked out, if I wanted to ever have kids.  I hastened to my family doc, who told me to chart my cycles for six months using a basal body thermometer.  Then, I was supposed to come back to see her.  Gee, wish I’d thought of that. 

So, while I’m charting with no visible changes to show for it, I manage to fall in San Antonio while I was there for the TESOL conference.  I ended up breaking my elbow, and severely spraining both wrists, my right elbow, and my right arm.  While that was going on and during my therapy, I was out of work for a month, and on serious pain meds.  I knew that I couldn’t have a child while on those meds (or in such pain), so we decided to take preventative measures until I was back up to par.   

 Then I got most of my arm mobility back in both arms.  Things again looked good for me.  That’s when hubby got ill.  He wound up being out of work for about 4 months out of the year, off and on.  Just to let you know, when F doesn’t work, he doesn’t get paid a thin dime.  It knocked our cash flow down considerably.  We couldn’t afford much of anything, because his insurance was beyond sucky too.   

Next came the migraines.  I developed migraines for the first time in my life.  My neurologist prescribed some hellacious meds that knocked out the migraines, but would’ve had devastating effects on a developing unborn child. 

We’d taken care of the migraines after one month of them going (seemingly) undiagnosed.  My regular pool of doctors just kept telling me it was just a big cluster headache, and that it would go away once I’d rested.  They immediately ruled out migraines, because (get this) I’d never had one before, so that couldn’t be what I had.  Finally, at the end of my doctor visit, they’d give me a shot of some painkiller to help me sleep, and I’d go home, not knowing anything more than when I went in to see the doctor.   

So…I’d go home, sleep like the dead, and wake up once the meds had worn off, with the same intense pain.  After doing this for about three times, my husband and I decided enough was enough.  We went one last time to my regular docs, to get a referral to a neurologist. 

I went to the neurologist, and lo and behold, I have migraines.  Practically an immediate diagnosis.  Umm… duh!  He put me on some new meds that wiped out the headaches within two days.  It was such a relief! 

The only bad thing about getting the migraines treated was that he kept me on a medicine to prevent migraines which specified that I shouldn’t get pregnant while on this medication.  Hell’s bells.  It was so frustrating!  Still, not wanting a child with a tail, we again took preventative measures when it came to intercourse. 

You know, the ironic thing about the timing of the migraines was this:  I’d finally taken measures and made an appointment to go and see a reproductive endocrinologist about my infertility problems when the nasty migraines hit.  I had to cancel the first time I made an appointment because I was so sick. 

Anyway, I remain on the migraine medication until 8 months later.  I was told one last time to not try to get pregnant until at least one month after I stopped taking the medication.  ”Perfect,” I think, “now I can finally get my arse into a RE to see why the hell we can’t get me pregnant.”

So, while I’m weaning off of the migraine med, guess who has to find a new job and consequently loses her insurance?  You guessed right.  Sigh.  The good news is I found a new teaching job by the end of this past summer, and as soon as the insurance kicked in, I started shopping around for a RE.

I again had a delay in getting treatment for the infertility.  This time, it was a problem related to my period.  All during the July, August, , September, and most of October, I was on my period in one stage or another.  Either I was just experiencing breakthrough bleeding, or it was heavier bleeding like I do in the middle of my period, or the color changed back to a brown, as if I were getting ready to stop my period. 

Oh…just in case you’re wondering?  Hell yes, I was concerned.  I kept thinking that maybe I was starting menopause early or something.  I had no clue, and couldn’t really afford to get it checked out, due to no insurance.  Then in October, as soon as my insurance kicked in, I went to the doctor to find out what was going on.  The doctor I saw prescribed (ugh) birth control pills, saying that they ought to regulate my period, and that at the end of the week, I ought to come in for a pap smear and biopsy to find out what was the cause of the bleeding.  The doc told me to call and cancel the apointment if I was still on my period by Friday.    

When that Friday came, I had already arranged to have a sub for the second half of the day.  Yes, I was still bleeding.  However, that morning, I began to hemorrhage, boys and girls.  Seriously.  I bled through a super maxipad plus a super tampon within an hour.  By the time I got home at 10:30, I’d again bled through another 4 of the same setup.  Once I got home, I immediately changed my yucky clothes, and went to the restroom.  That’s when I noticed that not only was I bleeding, but I was passing massive clots.  Big ones.  

I called my doctor’s office, to tell them that I was still bleeding, but that I was going to come in anyways because I was bleeding so heavily.  The doctor’s office didn’t call back until after their lunch was over, and when he did call back over an hour later, he told me to just go ahead to the emergency room.  He said they more than likely couldn’t do anything for me at the family medicine clinic, and that since it’s a Friday, he didn’t want this to continue over the weekend.  

I called my mom and sister, who said they would drive me to the ER.  (My parents were in town visiting my sister and her family at the time.)  I waited for them and when they got there 35 minutes later, we took off for the ER. 

After hours of waiting, I finally got seen by a doctor.  By the time I got to the back, I’d managed to bleed through all of the pads and tampons I’d brought with me.  Needless to say, my sweatpants and undies suffered as a result.  The staff decided to do an ultrasound on me, so I went through that wearing what I can only equate to an adult diaper.  All the while, I can feel clots steadily leaving my body.  Bleah. 

Now, my regular doc comes in to do a pelvic exam.  She freaks – that’s the only way I can describe her reaction.  She sees that I am now passing fist-sized clots of blood.  My sister can attest to it – poor thing had to help the doctor get me a new “diaper”.  The doctor tells me that they are going to keep me overnight for observation and start me on something to stop the bleeding.  I was diagnosed as having a condition known as abnormal uterine bleeding, which is bleeding that’s basically gone haywire,  The doctors seemed to believe it had to do with my thyroid being too low. 

That was rather frustrating, to say the least.  I’d just had my thyroid checked less than a month before, and the findings from the lab they sent the test to stated that my TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) levels were in the normal range.    

I stayed overnight, and was sent home the next day with iron supplements,  because I’d lost so much blood.  I went to the RE two weeks later, after all of these delays.  She proceeded to get an ultrasound and to prescribe me prometrium to start my period again, since who really knew when the last time was that I’d actually had my true period?  LOL.  Thank God, this time I started and stopped my period, like most normal females during their reproductive years do.