Hope: as soon as possible

I don’t think there is anything that can fix the heartache I’m facing of NEVER becoming a biological mother. There is grieving and mourning that can and will be done. But I don’t know how one is meant to “get over” a loss like this. 
I will learn to be ok with never having biological children. There was a long time in my history when I believed that I would be unable to do so. During that time I reconciled with adopting as my road to parenthood. And that was what I always thought I’d pursue in my future. And then I saw a glimmer of hope for a more traditional approach ….
In 2010, there was a doctor on my path who said he thought I could bear children; I followed his advice. I am angry with that doctor. I want to tell him off – to look him in the eye and show him my pain, my heartache. I want to blame him for giving me hope. (I also want to help him understand that if it weren’t for his advice, I may have never taken the form of injectable birth control that ended up being like poison to me, the one that threatened to take the very life from my flesh. To tell him that I wonder if so much of what I have experienced in the last 4 years might have been avoided or different if I had never taken that medication.) l want to ask him to erase all of what I’ve gone through based on his advice. But I know that even that won’t help heal this heartache.
Then there were other doctors who agreed that I could have my own child. And that gave me some more hope. Right now, I want to yell at all of them. Shout and scream and cry in their faces and tell them they were ALL WRONG.  Because now it seems this hope was false.
I didn’t know that at the beginning. All I knew was that there was hope down this path. So I had to go there; I had to follow and see where it lead. For if not for hope, the human experience is entirely void.
For a while there was hope that I’d even be able to bear my own child – in my own body. And so I followed that down that road too. I ran a full hearted sprint towards the hope that would bring my dream come true. And even though I was slightly reluctant to hope against all odds, I did it anyway. 
The path of hope has been a long and complicated path. And at the end of the road, my hope fell flat. Reality hit and it stung like a bee. And now, in my head, this is the resounding chorus: “No. No. You won’t have a child. No dream come true for you. Your hope was misleading you this whole time. You never should have hoped for this. You aren’t good enough to be a mother…You are so foolish…” Eventually I force myself to stop, but it’s a very ugly place and I am stuck in it right now.  
My desire to parent is paramount. And I’m determined not to let biology stand in my way for long. I will grieve. I will mourn. I will be angry. In some ways these things will probably be true for the rest of my natural life. 
But before too long I hope – yes I dare use that word again! – that my journey will come full circle and I’ll reconcile with not contributing DNA to a child, as I once had done in my former experience. I will become a parent by different means than biological ones. I will reconcile and rejoice in the idea of creating and loving a family even more precious than I can ask for or imagine. I know it will be quite a journey with bumps & bruises along the way. I also know I want to start it as soon as possible. 

Clarity

Yesterday was my repeat follicular ultrasound, and we were able to see about my ovarian reserve. But unfortunately, we did not get a “good news” day. We got a very bad news day; a worst case scenario, end of the road kind of day. I am, medically speaking, completely infertile. It was heartbreaking to hear. It is more heartbreaking to process. 

I’ve been praying for clarity since this journey began. So many brave souls have joined me in that prayer. I am thankful that our diagnostic testing was very clear. I’m glad for the clarity but I fear that I am breaking apart. I really needed a good news day. 

There were two tests for me that were all the evidence that Dr. Feinberg needed to make this fertility potential determination. I failed both miserably.  There is nothing about this that is borderline or questionable. It’s one of the first things I have ever experienced in a medical setting that seems very black and white. One of the tests was an AMH level. The other test was the antral follicle count. (The links provide more detail on these terms if you are interested.)  For the AMH level, I was informed that anything around 1 would be a “good score.” My AMH result was 0.03. For the antral follicle count the doc didn’t actually say what number would be a passing score, or a number she could work with and expect successful outcomes in the lab. She just said my number wasn’t it. I have done my own research that suggests an average number would have been between 15-24. A number less than 5 means a woman is not likely to reproduce, even with assisted technology. My number was 2. I’m not used to failing so miserably, not even in the medical realm. 

Dr. Feinberg’s facial expression yesterday when giving me news is one I will not soon forget. She was pained. She is in the business of and has dedicated her work to changing challenging fertility situations. She had to tell me she recommend that I pursue other avenues to parenthood. She also reminded me not to give up hope and said that, “sometimes babies fall out of the sky.” It is, and will always remain true that we have other options to establish parenthood in the future, if we decide down that path. But I left the doctor’s office yesterday with the knowledge that, barring a miracle of biblical proportions (see Abraham, Sarah, & Isaac), there will be no children in this world who share my DNA.

I am proud of myself for walking all the way out of the medical building before (actually twice because I forgot my jacket the first time) I broke down in tears. Today has been a sea of tears – salty, angry, and sad. 

A friend sent me this bible verse today. Psalm 34:18 reads “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
As I reflect on the last week, these words honestly seem a little empty. I know they are not. I know and I trust that these words are a true promise of the true God. But my grief is overshadowing everything that is knowledge right now. I am in a place of emotional brokenness that previously could never have imagined. 

Needing a “Good News” Day

I have a bit good news! I made it to 10/17 without the cyst scare from last week landing me in an OR. This means, as long as I make it through the next 1.5 hours, I should have more answers by the end of the day. My appointment with Dr. Feinberg today is sure to be an interesting one! 

The last couple of days have been stress-filled and just all around berserk. I could write a much longer list, but just a few highlights include: unplanned car repairs, bf locked out of house for 2 hours waiting for me to resuce him, was running 1.5 hours behind all of yesterday and was super frazzled all day because of a schedule mishap, forgot the beans & tomatoes I was supposed to bring for the chili I committed to making for a friends party, burned the chili, burned the cornbread. (Saved the chili. The cornbread was ok too.)  
I’m just hoping the rest of today is filled with good news and encouraging things because right now, I feel like I will crack in half if it is not. 

Some relief

My appointment today with my gyn left me feeling some relief from the craziness of yesterday. He assured me that the cyst I have now is not similar to the ones I had in July & September. He said I need to relax. We will watch it closely, but he believes it will resolve on its own and not become surgical. I am not in much pain and that also helps the relaxing. I am a little bit waiting for the “shoe to drop” but I am trying to relax and rest a bit.  I revisit with Dr. Feinberg on 10/17.  Praying for viable egg reserve. Praying my gyn is correct. Praying. Just praying. Will you brave souls join me in prayer?

Bumps in the Road

This journey has bumps. We are ultimately hoping for and longing for that to take shape in a baby-sized bump at some point, today the baby-bump experience seems dauntingly far away. 

The second opinion confirmed the first; that natural pregnancy is inadvisable for me. If we are able to harvest eggs (still unknown at this point) we will need to pursue using a gestational carrier. I won’t lie, I was hoping the second opinion would be laced with magic and that I would be “allowed” to experience the miracle of growing life inside myself. However, I am oddly comforted today that two opinions match – even if to a disappointing reality. I’m not built to carry a baby on the inside. This saddens me deeply. I will need to grieve this point thoroughly in the coming weeks and months ahead, and maybe partially for the rest of my natural life. But it’s clear, confirmed and true.  

If we pursue pregnancy, it will be in the form of what is referred to legally as Third Party Reproduction. It will be expensive. It will be risky. It will be stressful. It will be crazy. We still have to investigate a lot to be determine how expensive, how risky, and how crazy-stressful it will be. There is a VERY long road ahead even to get to the place where we make that decision. 

I am much more comfortable with the demeanor & communication style of our new doctor. While their opinions mirror each other, their approaches are different enough to confirm my suspicions that Dr. Feinberg is a better fit for us. I’m thrilled to be inviting her and her staff on this journey with us. I’m thrilled that she is willing to work with my existing physicians to figure out what will be best for me. I’m also comforted that one of her first warnings to me is that she has self-imposed, hippocratic oath based limits as to how far she will recommend we carry this journey. 

So begins the real journey. The legwork is scary. There is a legal component that (I think) would drive most lawyers crazy. There are physical, biological, psychological, and hormonal tests for at least three people (four if our carrier is married) that all have to be in line for us to proceed. There is an financial component that needs to be ironed out and figured out and funded. Then there is the risk/benefit assessment of the success rate and …. So on and so on until I turn shares of blue I’ve never seen. 

Oh – and, for those of you who don’t know yet, which is probably most of you – there is this small 3.5cm problem we found today on the ultrasound. It seems I am forming another cyst. Just another little bump in the road. Or possibly a really massive bump. We can’t know just yet.

I go for more evaluations with my regular GYN tomorrow. He’s not yet concerned because size wise, it would have to double to be surgical. But I will be reminding him kindly that for that last cyst’s occurrence, he advised me to ” take 4 ibuprofen and call me in a couple days.” That approach landed him in an OR for 2.5 hours on Labor Day Weekend removing a 9cm hemorrhagic cyst and most of my remaining ovary.  I don’t want another surgery – to be sure!! But he was rather blasé about it on the phone today and I was honestly off-put by his tone. Maybe he was expecting a bigger cyst from me. I mean 3cm hardly competes with the 9cm & 11cm ones I presented with the last two times. Maybe 3cm deserves the blasé response that undoubtedly pulled him away from another patient. Our chat in the afternoon shall be a lively one…if I can keep myself out of the ER tonight. 

Sweet dreams, oh, brave souls. Have some for me please? Of bumps baby-sized and cysts that disappear. Tomorrow the journey continues and tonight I am feeling weary.


Crazy Katy Train

Today the newest member of my healthcare team joined aboard the Crazy Katy Train. I think the thing I will most remember from today was not even remotely medically related. She told me this: ” ‘Best friend’ is a level, not a person.” [She quoted this from a woman she knows who wrote this in her book & blog (sorry can’t remember the name to credit the right person)]

I am so blessed by all my “bests” and I want shout it from the roof-tops. You are all amazing people for being on the journey that is my life; it is forever changed by all of you who care for me on that level. 

Welcome to my world, Dr. Eve Feinberg. It’s a pretty great, incredibly unique, crazy-train kind of world. And today you made it a little better by entering it. 

A Bit of Birthday Philosphy

I have lived an incredibly blessed life thus far. On this, my 33rd birthday, I just want to take a moment to acknowledge the amazingness that is ME. I am pretty freakin’ incredible. I don’t say that lightly or pridefully. See, last week my therapist brought to my attention that she is astounded by how many “near death experiences” I have faced throughout my life. I don’t often think of my past and current medical drama in terms like that, but she is 100% correct that I have faced multiple life threating moments/situations. Yet, here I sit today, celebrating the beginning of my 34th year of this crazy thing we call life. I am overwhelmed by a sense of joy and awe as I begin this next year of my life. I have this deep sense that, dispite the challenges that may very soon present themselves, it will be the best one yet!

I don’t often think about how very fragile and temporary life is, and it’s a strange thought to be contemplating on my birthday. But it is so very fitting at the same time. I think we, as a human race, are incredibly guilty of taking for grated how lucky any one of us are to take each breath we breathe. There are a millon complex relationships that have to work precisely and correctly in our physical bodies to make that very life giving breath possible. Nevermind the daily interactions we have with external factors that could cause our instant demise. While a small percentage of people have terribly tragic encounters with this physical existence of humanness, I think those of us who do not tend to get lazy about appreciating every day we are given. I know I do.

So as I conclude a great day of celebrating ME, I want to commit my year to being joyful (even if it’s hard) and thankful (even when I’d rather complain). As we look down the path of creating another little life (that is also so very temporary & fragile) I want to do so with respect, wonder, and the same joy & awe I have today about my own. Happy Birthday, Me. Happy Birthday.