Thursday, February 22, 2007

Infertility: The Toddler Years (3 and 4)

OK -- we now join our regularly scheduled journal entry, the ongoing one about me and my fertility woes. If you didn’t catch the previous entry, and you’re interested, you can go back two days to read about our first two years of trying to get pregnant. At this point in the story (imagine me saying that in my very best movie announcer voice) we had just moved to a new base, new city, and were hopeful things would start to happen. We were still optimistic, but starting to feel a little weathered. And annoyed. And cranky. What the hell ... I mean, we had been trying for TWO YEARS!

So, our third military move in two years (granted, the moves slowed us down every time) and once again, a new doctor …. Which meant, if you haven’t guessed by now, a new semen analysis test {Blaine: sigh}, more exams and tests for me. It seems all reproductive endocrinologists want you to gather all old records for their review, then they take new patients back to square one and just start fresh. Thoroughness = good. Starting over for the third time for an impatient anal control freak like myself = very, very frustrating.

So, more bloodwork, more ultrasounds. Again, nothing concrete was wrong, so they started looking at other tests. This was about the time of the infamous cervical mucous test. If you don’t know what this is, and you have a weak stomach, skip ahead. Otherwise, I’ll share with you what had to be the most humiliating moment of my life up until that point.

Bloodwork indicated my hormone levels were fine; although my cycle indicated I was perhaps a “sluggish and irregular” ovulator, meaning my ovaries didn’t release eggs on a regular schedule. Not knowing exactly when you are ovulating makes it hard to “peg that egg” each month. But Clomid, the fertility drug I was taking, takes care of that because you know exactly when you *should* be ovulating and when you should have sex to take advantage. We knew my tubes weren’t blocked, and my lining was good. Those had been tested several times. A laparoscopy had shown normal internal structure, and whatever else laparoscopies test for. I didn’t have poly-cystic ovarian disease, or endometriosis, we’d tested for those as well. And Blaine was fine … so what the heck was the problem?

It was actually very exasperating for test after test after test to come back with normal results. How can you fix a problem, if you can’t find it? This doctor decided it might have something to do with the quality of my cervical mucous. You’ve got an egg *here* (picture me, holding up my left hand) and the sperm *here* (now picture me holding up my right hand) and in between, is the cervical mucous the sperm has to get through. The doctor needed to determine if my mucous was “hospitable” and easy for the sperm to traverse en route to the egg. So, the way they determine that is something called a post-coital test. “Post”, meaning “after” and “coital” meaning “horizontal mambo” So, what you do is ………….. wait for it …. wait for it ……………. You and your husband have sex, then you immediately jump out of bed, into the car, drive to the doctor’s office, get up on a table, put your legs in stirrups and let him take a sample of the love potion to examine under a microscope, to see if the sperm are able to move about with relative ease.

I did not think it was possible to feel any more self-conscious than I did when I lost my 5th grade spelling bee, but laying on that table, with the doctor, a relative stranger, DOWN THERE, knowing what had just gone on IN THERE, was mortifying. And Blaine didn’t help matters any, with his, “You need me to take a long lunch and come home from the base for WHAT? And then you’re going to do WHAT!?!?!”

The results? I had cervical mucous the consistency of rubber cement.

YEAH!!!! YIPPEE!!! Rubber cement!!! At last, now, we had a problem we could focus on ….. something we could actually fix, that would then allow us to finally get pregnant! The magical, high-tech solution for this problem? Over-the-counter decongestant. By the bucket-load. By now, I was on the highest dosage of Clomid (fertility drug) allowed, so I had hot flashes and mood swings and weight gain, pretty much non-stop. "Moody" does not begin to touch it. Blaine gently suggested I was perhaps a tad overly sensitive and defensive, at which point I threw a shoe at him and told him he was a jackass who could keep his opinions to himself. Add in the bucket loads of decongestant, and I also had total insomnia and started pinging off the walls. You can imagine the calm, soothing, loving, attractive wife I had become, and how the idea of rushing home to have sex with my sweaty, bloated carcass on days 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, and 21 would certainly appeal to Blaine.

Then, something happened. I had gone back to the doctor’s office for an appointment one afternoon, to discuss some other humiliating bodily function, I don’t even remember which one at this point, and he walked in, smiled at me in my flimsy paper gown, and said, “Hi ….. sorry, I forgot your name. Oh, here it is, on your chart … hi, Kristie.”

This man had seen my nether regions on many occasions, and believe me, I don't just show those things to everybody, but couldn’t remember my first name. I actually didn’t care that he couldn’t remember my first name, but I was appalled that he couldn’t take two seconds to look at the chart before walking in the room and at least PRETEND like he knew my name!!! I was putting my entire reproductive life in his hands, and entrusting him with our dreams and hopes for the future, and that arrogant dick-weed couldn’t even PRETEND he knew my name??? (Before anyone comments about how "But OB's don't ever look at your FACE! Ha-Ha!" I just want to say that isn't the point. It would have taken him two seconds to look at my damn name on the damn chart ..... it's called bedside manner and this guy didn't have any.)

So, on to doctor #4!

Now, I had managed to keep my pre-occupation with getting pregnant pretty quiet up until this point. We didn’t really tell anyone in North Dakota, it was all so new, and we didn’t know anyone in Kansas to tell. But at this point, we had gotten orders back to our hometown in Oklahoma. Our friends and family started figuring out that something was going on. My co-workers certainly knew, because I was taking off constantly to go in for appointments and bloodwork and ultrasounds. In one way this public knowledge of your fertility struggles can be good, because friends and family can offer a lot of support and encouragement, **IF** you’re the sort of person who likes that thing. Suffice it to say, I am not. I hated people knowing that I couldn’t get pregnant. I hated having to admit something was wrong. I hated having to admit, even to myself, that we didn’t know *what* was wrong. Most of all, I hated, with every fiber of my being, all the asinine comments that were made to me. **More on this later.

Getting offended and changing to doctor #4 was actually a blessing in disguise, as we finally started making some progress. Oh, don’t get me wrong, he started at Square One, all over again, just like the others. {Blaine, “I know, I know, where’s the cup?” --even bigger sigh }*** But he brought us in for a consult and basically told us it was time to quit pussy-footing around and wasting everyone’s time with the amateur stuff. So we moved on to bigger and better things.

Stronger, injectable fertility drugs. Complete with more bloodwork, more ultrasounds, and trigger shots, so you know you will ovulate exactly eighteen hours after the trigger. So you have sex twelve hours after the shot, and thirty-six hours after. Or whatever their instructions are, because Lord knows you will follow every instruction to the letter if you think it will work. And because nothing says, “Hey, big boy, you wanna get frisky?” quite like your cranky, hormonal wife screaming at you to “Get in here, it’s 11:23 pm and you have to impregnate me NOW!” Ahhhh, romance. Hallmark can’t keep up, that’s for sure.

Then, when that didn’t work after six months or so, we moved on to the field of ART. Artificial reproductive technology. Meaning, “Damn, Sam, *nothing* is working and we need some serious help!” We did five rounds of intrauterine inseminations, also called IUI, where I took fertility shots, then the trigger shot, but instead of having sex, Blaine gave a semen sample which they inserted directly into my uterus. In theory, the sperm will have a shorter distance to travel, bypassing that pesky cervical mucous issue. Since your ovaries are being stimulated by the high-dose fertility drugs, you have to give them a rest cycle in between each month. After the first try, Blaine didn’t even bother coming to the insemination appointments with me. Believe me when I say the whole process quickly becomes very, very impersonal. I would leave work, drive across town on my lunch break, have the insemination, and go right back to work. Not exactly flowers and candlelight and boxes of chocolate, was it? But I figured if all those teenagers could get pregnant in the back seats of cars, this should be good enough for me. We also tried one ITI, intratubal insemination, which means the sperm was placed directly into my fallopian tubes, but in the end, a year had gone by and none of the six procedures had worked. The thought of actually getting pregnant laying on a table in my doctor’s office, wearing a hideous paper gown, while my cervix was clamped open with a speculum, while my husband wasn't even present, was so NOT how I ever thought we would wind up, but I didn’t even care. I just wanted this to work … YESTERDAY! At this point, we had been trying for almost four years, with nothing to show for it.

To be continued …… (Seriously, am I, like, the windiest person you have ever met? And I mean “windy” as in talkative …. NOT the other kind of “windy”)

***And for the record, you people who have signed in the comments section and talked about your husband having to do the same thing, but doing it at home and YOU having to take it to the office .... that was NEVER an option for us. Not one of our doctors would allow him to collect the sample anywhere but right there in their office. When they said "fresh", they weren't kidding. Although it certainly wasn't something he looked forward to, Blaine said it wasn't terribly horrible when the doctor's office had a nice private area with comfy couches and good porn. But, the place we wound up at the end, where he did the majority of his collections, sent him to The. Public. Restroom. Down. The. Hall. That's right. And not a single-person bathroom, either, with a lock on the door, but a four-staller. So I would stand guard outside the door and keep men from going in, in an attempt to give him a little more privacy. Like my best friend Kim said in the comments section, afterwards, I liked to joke that Blaine could have been on the Olympic Masturbating Team. Probably the only thing worse for him than actually experiencing it, is me discussing it in such public detail now. I'm sure he'll be thrilled. Um, probably not.


Leeann said...

The best part of this story (because it is really painful to read. It just makes me feel so bad for you guys as you are struggling along) is knowing there are three happy endings at the end!
Whatever you all went through, I look at those pictures along the top of your site, and I am so glad you persevered!

Marcia said...

My hubby only had to make one deposit at the office. The rest were done at home, close to an hour from the office, and I had to drive with the sample bottle between my legs to keep it warm. So romantic!!
When I had my first insemination, on the dare of my best friend and with my hubby in the room, I asked the doc if it was as good for him as it was for me. I thought the poor guy was going to faint. LOL I don't think he ever forgot my name after that! ;O)

Alayna Brooks said...

I totally can relate to your first post - the whole "we've done it 1 time, now I must be pregnant" thing. Then, ending up in fertility treatment. But all that moving around stuff just makes me tired! My husband freaked out when he heard me telling my cousin stuff about him leaving his "deposit" (she's going through fertility treatments right now)I can not even begin to imagine what he would do if I wrote about it on our site! And that whole cervical mucus test - that is HORRIBLE! So gald I didin't have to go there! We did get pregnant after our first round of shots and IUI, and then we got pregnant 3 more times after that on our own - the last time was even a surprise - go figure! I never thought THAT would happen! Thanks for making me laugh - I'm still waiting to hear how you got pregnant on your own!

Alayna Brooks

mamaerin said...

Oh yea, you are in big trouble when he catches up on your BLOG sister. ;) A friend of mine had to bring her husbands fresh catch to the doctors office immediately, and carry it in the condom under her armpit to keep it body temperature.

Erin R
Ps. I am enjoying hearing about this in so much detail....(not the Blaine part!;)...but its all that stuff I never wanted to ask!! I'll be back for part 3 soon.
Miss you!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Kristie for being so windy :-) I also agree w/ leeann who said that part of what makes the story so good is your 3 beautiful kids at home, and the 2 surrogacies (2 right? hell I could be wrong...) Anyway, knowing all you've done for all the babies you've held, makes this story so heartwarming.

Anonymous said...

Blaine you are a god damn hero. I had to supply a sample after my vasectomy just once I nearly died of embarassment. Why do they have two gorgeous young women on the counter to greet you with your surprisingly inadequate looking deposit

kim said...

Ahhhh, Kristie! Reading what the two of you have gone through so far well, now I have to say...BLAINE ROCKS! All of this? True love...and all children should be so lucky to have parents who wanted them SO MUCH. This is not you being windy, Kristie; this is a freakin' public service, because it seems to me that A LOT of people are now traveling this same road. I cannot wait for the next installment. Just to make you feel better about your most humiliating moment...right here, right now on this site that EVERYBODY in the free world reads (they just don't comment), I'll tell you mine. Since I did not have biological children, it doesn't involve THAT. However, think being 18 years old with bad, horrible GI problems for which you are actually HOSPITALIZED for testing. Imagine it's 1975 and they do this fun little procedure called a proctoscope, in places that--I'm sorry--to me should always remain exit only. The doctor was actually so, so caring and understanding but I was still so humiliated I cried all through it and then for hours afterwards! Ah yes, we've had some darn fun times in our lives, huh? HAHAHA!

You already know how I think YOU ROCK, but after reading this...well, YOU TOTALLY ROCK!

~*~Snappz~*~ said...

it amazes me that you can write about all the *challenges* you guys have faced, with such humour and grace. i started out reading kendrie's CB site, and then moved on over to this one. what an amazing mother you are! despite everything you went through simply to become a mum, and everything you've been through since, you still have your sense of humour! rock on, Kristie!

briana said...

The "to be continued" endings of your story are about as bad as the "to be continued" Gray's Anatomy the last couple of weeks!!! I get so into the story that when it stops, I just sit there.... wondering... uggghh. At least with you, I know there is a happy ending at some point.

Stacey, Jefferson City MO said...

I truly love reading your entries. You are hilarious. My husband and I have two wonderful little boys. The first took us a year and half (which I know is not as long as what a lot of people have to endure) but it was like a lifetime for me and it really changed my out look on life. My second son came a long pretty quickly. My first son was only 6 months old and we decided that we would not do anything to prevent getting pregnant but that we really wouldn't get back into the the charting and such; just let mother nature take its course. We were 32ish in age when we had our first son, so lets just say he was pretty spoiled. He liked for us to stay in the room until he fell asleep, so a lot of nights my husband and I were not even in the same room much less doing any kind of extra circular activities. Well, we became pregnant within the first month of just letting mother nature take its course. We were shocked but extremely excited. Now, my sons are 3 and 2 1/2 and we are trying for our third child. We have been trying for 4 months and nothing. I am getting a little discouraged and I know I shouldn't for goodness sakes I have two wonderful, healthy, little boys, so if we are not blessed with a third child I am thankful for the two children I do have AND it has only been 4 months. But I am not sure where my expectations should be (over a year with number one, and one night of sleeping in the same bed for number two)...... I am sorry, I am not sure where I am going with this other than to just say it to someone (and yeah I know you have never met me, so you are probably thinking I am a lunatic...a babbling lunatic at that). Your story is really helping me to not get discouraged, I realize there are lots of things out there to help if we need it. And I have to say I never thought about lying about how long we have been trying.....hmmmm....may have to give that a try. My husband was oh, so not excited about the little deposit needed during the trying stage of your first son but I am sure he would be up for challenge again (no pun intended).

Anyway, I am anxiously awaiting your next entry. Thanks for sharing it really does help.

Becca Parra said...

Thanks so much for sharing your struggles. So many people have these types of troubles, and just not enough people are aware of the emotional toll this takes on a person and a relationship. We've only been trying two years, and granted, we've never had trouble GETTING pregnant so much as staying that way (three miscarriages and so many procedures later). It's nice to know that it happens to others and that their stories have happy endings. The best part? That you were able to not only get pregnant for yourselves (well, we haven't read that part, but I'm insinuating from the biological mother part), but you were able to and DID get pregnant TWICE for someone else! What generosity! Thanks again.

Laura from Michigan said...

I feel guilty. I was one of those teenagers who got pregnant the FIRST TIME. Lost my virginity and got pregnant the same night. Never believe that the "pull out method" works. Wow, I must really feel like we are friends since I am sharing such gory details!!! The product of my joyful night is now 20 years old and thinking about law school!! Thank goodness for happy endings!!

Kristin Hicks said...

Kristie -

I feel like I'm getting one too many 'laughs' out of your struggle. Your writing just cracks me up!

We finally got preggo with my daughter after a year of trying, a laproscopy and several months of a horrifying drug that puts you in menopause. My son, came in the 1st month we tried. My daughter was a year old. Pregnancy is the best thing that can happen to someone with endometriosis, because it keeps the disease at bay. It's been 5+ years since my son and we've tried for 2 solid years to get pregnant. I'm so thankful for the children I have. Wanted a couple more, but God has already blessed me more than I could imagine.

Kristin in NC

Simply Jenn said...

You are an amazing writer. I read your blog every day. Your sense of humor and perseverence make everything you write so wonderful to read. I had four kids no problem and had to have an RE for number 5, so I can sort of understand what you went through, but not really. I remember the RE telling me the only time she had consulted with a patient who wanted more children than me is the Mormon woman in Utah where she did her residency. Thanks for sharing your life with us!

Anonymous said...

How many times has it been said, "You crack me up"? But you really do! And you know what, sometimes we have to laugh or else we'll just cry. A funny story husband is an architect, and he was doing some space planning for a fertility clinic. In doing so, they needed the exact measurements of all the existing rooms in the facility. So he and his assistant go to the facility to do field measurements and write down the exact size of every room. What was very funny was when he and his female assistant walked out of one of the examination rooms with him holding a tape measure. They got some funny looks!
Can't wait for Part 3!

Claire in Indiana

Anonymous said...

I am inpatiently waiting for the next chapter in this story. I sit here though and ponder the irony of what you started with an innocent mention of Brayden's adoption. Isn't that amazing?! Just mentioning her adoption and you brought out the "curiosity" in all of us...and by the way...I have great respect for Blaine with all the deposits he had to make! My husband tried to convince me 100 different ways that I HAD to help him "collect" his post-vasectomy specimen. I convinced him that I had a baby that was 10 days old, 3 other children under age seven and I didn't care if he never "obtained" a specimen because he was NOT coming near me until it was done!
Thanks for updates...can't wait for more!

Anonymous said...

I do apologize.
I know how you are about spelling and was just being polite when I saw the word mispelled in an earlier post (2/19) and did not point it out to you.
I have been supercrazy busy studying for tests at school and have just now read your blogs---or I would have sent a note immediately.
p.s.....I love the "blog". For me, all my children were huge surprises, even coming when I was using birth control, so I never understood the trials of infertility before now.
Now, I get it.
Lots of hugs................regina

Anonymous said...

You definitely have a way with words. We've "been there, done that", too. ART, IUI's (more than a dozen, I don't like to admit defeat), clomid, injectables, tests, etc. We went on to attempt domestic adoption (matched once, birthmom changed her mind), then international adoption, which is how we became a family.

I do agree that "any way you can" is the way to make a family.

Of course, it was a double hit (at least it was to me) that my adorable, sweet. healthy girl was diagnosed with ALL, shortly after turning 3. Here was the child that I longed for, that I WORKED for, so perfect, so loved, so sick.

My hope is that one day we'll be able to look back on it as one more thing we've gotten past...


Amy said...

I can see it now, "What to expect when your NOT expecting" by Kristie Escoe! Definitely a best seller my friend!


PS...maybe you could start mass emailing people about what to do about cervical mucous, etc.....sorta like those "grow your penis 10" emails! I got one today about "what to do if Viagra makes your erection too erect for too long".....sheesh!

Amy said...

Sort of not the same, but I figured this would be an appropriate forum in which to share this little story.

My friend's husband had a vasectomy. He is the most prude person I've EVER met. E.V.E.R. So, when it came to take his "sample" in, she made him do it. So, in he goes with his little brown bag and figures "no biggie, I can do this". He walks up to the desk and told the women at the desk he was bringing in his sample. They opened the bag and told him, "Oops, sorry. You are in the WRONG department"!!!!!!! He was morified. And nope, he never took back the second sample! :)

This is Amy from above, but they wouldn't let me post from my stupid google/blogger account?

Amy said...

Yeah, I'm a dork. It finally let me.

Amy in NJ said...

Okay, I tried to post this before but I think it either got lost or it offended you and you deleted it. In the hopes that it was the former, I'm trying again.

Anyway, when I went for my first IUI the doctor came into the exam room, handed me the vial of sperm and asked me "is this your husband?" I thought he expected me to look at the sperm and determine from visual inspection if it was indeed the product of my husband. I thought this was kind of weird. Is sperm that different looking from man to man that you can tell just by looking at it who it comes from? I didn't really know what to do but this was important so I dutifully took the vial from the doctor. I then proceeded to examine it for an excrutiately embarrassingly long period of time before I noticed the name written on it and realized that all I was expected to do was confirm that the name was that of my husband. Instead I looked like a freaking moron turning the vial around and examining its contents.

By the way, I also had cervical mucous issues and I felt sort of like a black widow spider. "Come into my parlor" said the vagina to the sperm kind of thing. Anyway, the third IUI was the charm for us (although we may never have gotten to that point if my husband had to give his deposit in a public bathroom - holy, moly) While I don't know the details of your whole story yet, we also ended up with an unexpected pregnancy two years later. My husband felt like quite the stud at that point since his manly sperm was then able to get through my inpenetrable mucous wall.

Love your blog.

Amy in NJ

Connie F-G said...

Oh yes, all the donations, tests, post-coital embarassment and IUI. Brings back entertaining memories! One of the funniest evenings was an adoption support group in Turkey talking about our infertility trials. Funny to look back on but painful at the time. Infertility is hard not to take personally and definitely a bump in the road for all us "Patty Planner" types. It was the first big thing I failed at so it was personal!

We had a happy ending to our story as well with the adoption in Turkey of our daughter. She was 3 hours old when we took her home which makes for an awesome adoption story for her.

I've never been afraid to talk about our journey and I think that helps women who are sharing the same pain and helps us as well...cheaper than a counselor! Thanks for putting such an entertaining spin on it.