in the beginning, it was spring (part two)
To read part one first, click here.
We thought surgery was going to resolve the problem. We thought we’d still be able to have a baby when I healed and we were ready to try. How wrong we were.
Healing was a long process. Because of my risk of uterine rupture, we were advised to wait 6-12 months before trying to conceive. At the one-year mark, I had an HSG and the aftermath began to unfold: new smaller fibroids had grown back, adhesions had formed, and a blocked tube was detected. But I still had one good tube, the fibroids were small, and the scarring was limited to one area. Because I was not anxious to have another round of surgery, we took a less aggressive or wait-and-see approach. I guess we were being optimistic, or naive. Looking back, this was a bad idea. But I wanted to believe my body would still work. Hope is a real bitch that way.
Eventually, after we tried without success for a year, we sought help from my ob/gyn who did standard bloodwork and prescribed the obligatory three months of clomid. On top of everything else, I was now 34 and my hormones were borderline troubling (sometimes anovulatory cycles with a short luteal phase). Clomid gave me nothing but agitation and a headache. We officially needed professional help.
In August 2005, through a friend of a friend we were squeezed in for a consult with a highly respected RE at a top clinic in the area. I trusted her immediately. She said the fibroids were small but in bad locations, with one acting as an IUD blocking my good tube. She didn’t think I could get pregnant without surgery. So we made a plan. We would switch my insurance so she could do the surgery ASAP, then try on our own with my newly fixed girl parts.
Now this next part is fucking bizarre so bear with me. Between September and December 2005, I was preparing for surgery. I switched insurance. I went to a well-known acupuncturist who specialized in fertility and prescribed herbs to shrink the fibroid. I had already cut out soy and coffee but became more strict about not eating hormone-treated foods. I cut back on sugar. I read books and articles on healing fibroids naturally. I started yoga. I was doing everything I could do to heal myself and avoid surgery, or at least reduce the risks of a complicated procedure.
In the meantime, we took a “break” from trying since we were told by the best expert in town that it just wasn’t going to happen. We freed ourselves from the calendar. We enjoyed and re-discovered each other. We feng shui’d our bedroom. We burned sage throughout the house. We placed some proven fertility juju. I know, I know.
You can guess what’s coming next, right? It’s true. To everyone’s surprise, I miraculously became pregnant the very next month without intervention. I know, I always thought those stories were total bullshit perpetuated by some fertile bitch in disguise telling women to just relax. That was so not me. Seriously, every thing seemed stacked against us: irregular cycles, my crusty tube, the IUD fibroid, scar tissue, a luteal defect, my husband’s poor morphology. Pretty much combination infertility all around. We had been trying diligently for a year and a half. We had given up hope of conceiving on our own.
To be honest, when I began spotting instead of a period I was frustrated because I thought my body was just fucking with me. When I missed the next period, I thought my cycle was just wacky. With our litany of problems, there was no way I was pregnant without intervention. Even when I poas’d, I was sure it was a false positive. It was not until I saw with my own eyes through an ultrasound that I finally embraced the truth. It may have been a fluke, but it was glorious. Everything looked perfect. He was our miracle baby.
Sadly though, we all know how that ended. We were so close. We were halfway there. I thought the hard part was done. Wrong again.
And so it was back to the beginning. That was two years ago. As it turned out, I never healed properly from that first surgery in the spring of 2002. It was truly a miracle that I got pregnant at all, a fluke really. After another (unsuccessful) surgery in April 2006 and six more months of trying on our own — forever the optimists we were I guess, or really just in denial — I finally went back to my RE.
In December 2006 and February 2007, my RE tried to fix the damage. I spent hours under the knife, again, with a laproscopic and two more hysteroscopic procedures. She repaired extensive pelvic adhesions including a twisted ovary and my colon that had fused to my ute when it “healed” before. Did you get that? She also removed several fibroids and did extensive repairs on both tubes. She considered removing the bad tube but left it in because it was open, though I was now at risk for ectopic pregnancy. She had never seen a case like mine. I was a fucking mess inside. But when it was done and I was healed, we tried again. She was very encouraged by my earlier natural pregnancy and the successful surgeries. We made a plan. First try on our own, then IUIs, then IVF…
There is simply no room in my life for regret. But looking back there are so many things I would have done differently with my medical care, including being way more proactive and heading to the RE sooner. While I can’t say the result would have been different, we may have avoided a few missteps and saved some time. I still cannot believe it’s been six years since my first surgery. We wasted so much time. Waiting to try, waiting for all those procedures, waiting to heal, waiting for the green light to try again, waiting to see if I could get pregnant on my own… Somehow, I still believed my body would still work, in spite of itself. And yes, we are still trying to forgive each other, my body and me.
Ultimately, I believe fibroids were responsible for my pre-term rupture. Not everyone agrees. At my 18 week ultrasound, the fibroids were safely out of the way (even the one that had grown from 1.5/2cm to 5cm during pregnancy), the placenta appeared to have attached in a good spot, and baby boy was looking beautiful. But three weeks later he was gone. I had no other risk factors. While many women with fibroids have successful pregnancies, some don’t. And I seem to fall on the crap side of the odds with these things.
So six years later, after four years of trying, four surgeries, one P-PROM, one dead baby, three IUIs and one failed IVF, here I am. Waiting for our final hope in the form of an FET. Which will be Monday, by the way. My lining is still just a whopping 7mm, which I can’t understand with all I’m doing to try to build it. But my RE convinced me it’s fine (she says pregnancy rates are the same for 7mm-12mm), so we’re going for it.
And that, my friends, is a part of the story that leads us to this moment in my (in)fertility history. And anyone who suggests I’m a newbie because it’s my first FET can read it and weep. It may be my first, but it’s probably my last too. We’re giving this old girl one last chance to step up and show us what she’s made of.