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Surgery Recap

The surgery is now officially over!!! I am so glad that to be done with it and to leave behind all the anticipation and anxiety! It took me a while to write these posts, first because the pain medication had me very high and I was unable to easily compose paragraphs that were coherent. Then I was glad to have the experience behind me and didn’t feel like revisiting it – not that it was really that bad at all. I had just spent so much time thinking about it prior that I was glad to have some carefree space back in my mind again! I want to capture my experience though for other woman who are preparing for a laproscopic surgery for endometriosis. I hope reading my experience can ease their minds by helping them know what to expect. The unknown is always so much more scary than it has to be.

After work last Tuesday, I came home and began to get ready for the big day. Unfortunately, I had a throbbing headache behind my right eye from stress, eating small meals all day (in fear of the enema), and not being able to take any pain killers. I think there was one type of pain killer I could take pre-surgery, but I couldn’t remember and didn’t want to risk taking anything that would thin my blood. Because of the headache, I was very crabby towards my husband, but he was very sweet at dealing with my very grouchy self. All I wanted to do was crawl into bed and pull the covers over my head, but we had to go through the pre-surgery checklist. Wash the sheets, wash the towels, clean the bathroom, wash the clothes I’d be wearing pre and post surgery, wash myself – everything had to be very very clean to minimize infection risks. I really wish that the nurse had warned me that the special soap they sent home with me to wash pre-surgery was bright red before I poured it on my new white washcloths, but in the end the pink color washed out. I was convinced it was ruined, which only enhanced my already pissy mood.

That evening, a pregnant friend stopped by to drop off a pan of lasagna for us to eat while I was recovering. It was incredibly sweet of her, but all I could do was stare with envy at her tiny baby bump and think about how my head felt like it was splitting in half. After she left, there was no escaping the enema! I definitely built it up in my head to be a much bigger deal than it was in reality. I can almost see how people do them just to find relief from constipation – ALMOST see! Eventually all the tasks on the list were done, I curled up in bed and amazingly fell right asleep. I slept the entire night without waking up once. I was so grateful to not have to deal with anxious tossing and turning.

We had a very relaxed morning, picking up the house and packing my bag, as we had until 10am to arrive at the hospital for the noon surgery. I showered again with the red hospital soap that morning. My mom arrived at our house exactly on time and with plenty of time to spare we all arrived at the hospital early – let me assure you, that neither my mom nor I EVER get anywhere early! After checking-in, we took a seat in the waiting area. By this point, I hadn’t eaten since 8pm the night before and was starving! All I could do was talk about how I would kill for a pizza!

After waiting about 15 minutes, a nurse came to lead us back to a patient room in the outpatient surgery wing, meanwhile I was still obsessing over pizza. Once back in the patient room, I went over my basic info with the nurse, I peed in a cup for a pregnancy test (BFN – not exactly a shocker) and was handed my surgical “outfit.” There were the ever so sexy, thigh high, white compression stockings, extra large surgical gown (but with good coverage when tied), and purple slippers. My husband teased that he wanted a photo to remember how hot I looked. After getting dressed, the main nurse came back with nurse number two. She again asked me the basics – I was asked four times my name , my birthday and what procedure I would be having done. They really do not want to do the wrong operation on the wrong person!

Nurse number two had me lay in the bed and put on these leg warmer, floaty looking things which connect to a machine that compresses and decompresses them to help reduce the risk of blood clots. Then she hooked my hospital gown up to a vacuum looking tube that pumped in air controlled by a personal thermostat remote. This was probably the best part of the whole experience!

I’m not sure why but I was expecting the IV to be inserted in the crux of my elbow where they draw blood, so I was a little taken a back when the IV nurse (nurse #3) started preparing my hand. While she was inserting the IV, nurse #1 was asking me some more questions, including if I had any open wounds. I responded that I had a paper cut from the other day still flapping about. Immediately I realized the ridiculousness of my response and started laughing at the exact moment she inserting the IV. Knowing that I should not be laughing, caused me to laugh even more – vibrating my entire body. The nurse was the IV pro though, so it hardly hurt.

During all this prep, my husband was asking questions about why and how things work. He is very analytical and likes to understand things like me. The IV nurse asked him if he was an engineer, which I found humorous as I work with engineers all the time and he is sooooo not the engineering personality.

Next up to visit was the anesthesiologist, who thank goodness was not the man I had met with during my pre-op appointment. He was very handsome and a little dismissive during our conversation. So first off, I was afraid I would declare him to be handsome once under the drugs, making a fool of myself. Second, his bed side manner did not conjure up great feelings of trust regarding my life. I felt a wave of relief wash over me as his partner, a woman doctor walked in who had a very pleasant way of speaking. It is irrational, but I just instinctively trusted her to do a good job.

Then my OBGYN came in the room. I wanted to clarify before surgery what he would do if he got in there and saw that ovaries and tubes were damaged by endometriosis. My biggest fear was to wake up and be told that both ovaries or tubes had been removed. He assured me that he would not be taking anything out unless it was something extreme like cancer (which was so highly unlikely). If by chance my appendix looked bad (I have a family history of bursting appendixes), he would call in a general surgeon to remove it. After our chat, I felt confident that I knew the limits to the surgery scope. I could see the crowd of people congregating outside the door at this point and knew it was about time.

After a quick prayer, the crowd of people swooped into the little room. It felt like I was completely surrounded on all sides of the bed by people. It was a little overwhelming. The new OR nurses quickly introduced themselves, and all I could respond was, “so many people.” This was the only time where I started to tear up, because it was surreal to be the center of all this medical attention. My husband gave me a quick kiss and I said bye to him and my mom. Later, My husband told me it was really hard for him, because I looked so scared and he could only sit there and watch me roll away.

It was literally only within a minute of their descent upon my room, I was being pushed down the hall. Leading up to surgery, I thought the journey from the room to the operating room might be the hardest part emotionally. I was thankfully wrong, because before leaving the room, the anesthesiologist gave me a shot of ‘happy meds’ in my IV to relax me and begin the sedation process. By the end of the first short corridor, I felt completly drunk! When we got to the operating room, I remember moving myself from the bed to the table. It was a very small table and the nurses asked me to make sure I was centered. That was the last thing I remember…

I woke up in a large room where there were patients recovering in beds all around the perimeter. I was only half awake but asked for nausea medication the first time the nurse (yet another new person) asked me how I felt. Nurse #1 had given me a pep talk before surgery to not be shy about saying I was nauseous or in pain. I was a squeaky wheel and was given the big gun anti-nausea medicine. I told the nurse that the pain was a 5 after surgery and after some meds it was down to a 3. I was very groggy in the room and I could hear them discussing my blood pressure. I normally have very low blood pressure – sometimes as low as 90/60. It dipped even lower than that after surgery, so I spent some extra time in recovery until it raised to a pressure they liked.

Around 3:30, I was rolled back into the patient room. I was so happy to see my husband and my mom! Nurse #1 brought me a tray with a jello and a sprite. I inhaled both, so she brought me more which also quickly disappeared. She then said I could try some solid food and brought me a bag of pretzels, which never tasted so good. The last step before getting released was that I had to pee. I was very relieved when it worked (2 bags of IV fluids and 2 sprites and I didn’t feel the urge at all!). Walking back to the bed, I was hit with a rush of nausea from moving around. The nurse called my OB and got me a nausea pill prescription. She kept saying that the pills would make me very drowsy. I did not understand why she kept saying it like that was a bad thing. Sleeping and waking up when I felt better, sounded fantastic! Before surgery the nurse had stressed that most patients get sick from the anesthesia and having their insides manipulated. I am so grateful that the meds were able to protect me from that added bonus!

While I was stuffing my face, my husband and mom told me what the doctor found. He removed endometriosis from my right ovary and cervix. The unexpected finding was a golfball sized cyst on my left Fallopian tube that was drained. The fluid drained was clear and not infected, which was good. The dye test run on my tubes flowed well on both sides and everything else looked good. The overall message from the doctor was that nothing he did would be a magic bullet fix, but everything that was done would help our chances of getting pregnant. My husband seemed to think the doctor was saying that the tubular cyst would not have been effecting my fertility, but I really can’t believe that when I see the pictures! He felt the cyst was probably causing most of my pain. He feels that the MTHFR blood clotting disorder might be playing a larger role and that we’d discuss that more at my post-op appointment. Overall it felt like mildly good news. He gave us the go ahead to try this month and mentioned trying Clomid again next month. So we’ll just have to wait and see if the proof is in the pudding as they say!

Spots of Endometriosis on right ovary

Tubular cyst on left fallopian tube

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NY Trip

Some good friends got married in the Catskills of NY two weekends ago, so 8 couples hopped on an airplane.  First we had a few days in the big city and then we drove up state for some good old-fashioned wedding fun!  All in all, I had a great time, but there were definitely moments I had to give myself some pep talks to keep up the good attitude.  I did not enjoy NYC as much this time around as I have in the past – period disappointment put a damper on my spirits a bit.  Also, I am not 22 like the last time I visited, now I am older and need more sleep =)   Everyone was trying to act like we were 22 again and when you’re trying to take better care of your body, drinking and hardly sleeping did not interest me much.  The baby talk though was fairly minimized though by this endeavor by everyone to act like college kids again. So that was refreshing!

It was a little exhausting to be with friends for 5 days straight and be “happy” all the time.  I am definitely an introvert so this would have been trying without burying my disappointment that my period started.  Plus on the first day, I felt awful!  And as the weekend went on my bloating was out of control!

This was sort of our infertile “coming out” trip.  A few couples knew before the trip, but spending 5 days with your friends definitely gives you a lot of time to talk.  So a few people asked in conversation about when we might start trying to have kids and that is a pretty good opening to let them know.  Two couples brought it up because they had been told by others and wanted to let us know that they were there for us.  Feeling all the support of our friends and finally not having to tell little white lies all the time helped to put me in a much better mood.  It was curious though, the only person whom I did not talk to about it at all was the wife of my husband’s  good friend (whom he had told a few weeks before the trip) who is dealing with PCOS, who had previously found out she’d had a spontaneous conception only when it was miscarrying, and is on doing her third IUI cycle this month.  Everyone has their own ways of dealing and self-preservation, so I know someday we will talk about it, but if now she doesn’t want to, I completely understand.

I felt very self-conscious though about a small crying breakdown I had that she witnessed.  The night of the rehearsal dinner, despite my intentions to take better care of myself, I had a few drinks and was feeling very giddy and clumsy.  Up in the hotel room, I couldn’t find my contact case and was going to use two of the glasses to store my contacts overnight.  I knocked one off the counter and it shattered all over the ceramic tile.  The broken pieces bounced up and cut my legs in several places.  At first, I was laughing because it was so typical of me to be clumsy.  As I was picking up the pieces, I realized that I was bleeding.  I sat down on the toilet to put compression on the nicks to stop the bleeding.  These were not gashes at all – they were like small shaving nicks.  But they would not stop bleeding!  She helped me go and get some band-aids.  I had already felt sort of gloomy under the surface all day and knew that I just wanted a good cry.  Well now I had a reason, I started crying because I was mad at the stupid blood thinners I have to take, I was mad at infertility, and I was a little drunk.  So there I was crying about some stupid little cuts when she got back.  I was so embarrassed that I was making such a fuss in front of her, who has been through sooo much more!  She was the best though and helped to make it not such a big deal!

The wedding the next day was beautiful!  The scenery was beautiful, the food was amazing and the dancing was so very much fun!  It was a very emotional ceremony as the bride had lost her mother the year before to Ovarian cancer.  There a moment during the ceremony to pause and remember those who could not be there and this huge breeze came through.  It honestly felt like it was her saying – hey honey, I’m here!  There wasn’t a dry eye in the crowd.  I heard a few of the boys say, I’m glad I had sunglasses on!

One of my new mommy friends, who complained all the time about not being able to drink while pregnant, said to me twice that night “I feel so bad for M, not being able to drink this weekend.”  Really, you’re going to say that to the girl who wants to be pregnant but can’t, about the actual pregnant girl!?!  No I really don’t feel bad for her at all.  I was glad that I finally got the chance to tell E that yes, I too had been sober at both weddings last fall when she was making such a huge fuss over her pregnancy and the small sacrifices that required and really it is not that big of a deal!  It did spark a small conversation about how yes, she was so very lucky to get pregnant so easily and I think the light went on in her head a bit that she should think before speaking.

All in all it was a great trip, but I definitely pushed it too hard and came down with wicked head cold that is just today (almost two weeks later), finally clearing up completely.   I’m glad to be rid of my souvenir from New York!

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Emotional Roller Coaster Weekend

This weekend was an emotional roller coaster!  It started with a phone call into the doctor to schedule the laparoscopic endometriosis surgery, then a pregnancy announcement by close friends that caused me to dissolve into public tears, followed by a day of complete depression and not getting off the couch, finally tearing myself off the couch and putting on a brave smile for a 30th birthday party Saturday night, and waking up feeling optimistic on a very sunny, Mother’s Day Sunday that ended with two open conversations where we acknowledged our reproductive challenges.

At my lastOBvisit, I left with two options on how to proceed.  The first was to start Clomid after my next period and see if that was what I needed to get my ovaries jump started or to go forward with the laparoscopic endometriosis surgery.  I had told my husband before the appointment that I was ready for the surgery if the doctor suggested it, but somehow having him put that option out on the table freaked me out.  It took me a few days to come to terms with the reality that endometriosis might be a health issue actually affecting me.  I knew logically that this had been suggested at earlier appointments, I had reported this fact to several people, but I didn’t realize until this week that I didn’t really believe it.  I was still holding out hope that all these unsuccessful attempts at getting pregnant were isolated events that could each be explained away.  My initial reservations to not doing the surgery came from worrying that I’d be embarrassed after the surgery when the doctor did not find anything and being exactly where we started only with a new sizable medical bill (although still a fraction of what IVF would be).  A couple of days later, a close friend sent updates to her blog with pictures of her darling baby girl.  After the cute baby pictures and some surfing online to convince myself that yes, I do exhibit some classic endometriosis symptoms, I decided my husband was right, why was I hesitating, just go for it!  So I called up on Friday and scheduled the surgery for the beginning of June. 

That evening, we had low-key BBQ plans with three couples who are our close friends.  My husband had taken the day off to finish constructing our ambitious veggie garden and was very cranky from the day of manual labor.  I have a major deadline approaching at work with not enough support and hours to successfully finish.  I had spent most of the day, locked in a conference room red-lining drawings with my mind occasionally wandering into my pity party causing me to tear up a bit.  Up until this weekend, I had only really lost it and cried once.  My typical M.O. is to have my eyes swell a bit but push back all the feelings before the waterworks really get turned on.  Needless to say, I was not in the best place walking into that BBQ.

We had just arrived at the party and I was unpacking my grocery bag to begin chopping up some veggies to barbeque when the new mom-to-be walked into the kitchen and someone offered her a beer and she responded, “No, not tonight.  Well… actually I won’t be able to have one until next January!”  I had been looking down at the cutting board and the real meaning of her words began to sink in.  My mind began racing, hadn’t she just told me that she started her period last month?  Was that last month?  

I looked up and saw that she was looking directly at me, waiting for my reaction.  Well she got one, I almost immediately started welling up and getting that little lip quiver thing.  I pulled it together for a minute and walked over and gave her a hug.  She whispered in my ear – I’m so sorry!  I was really starting to cry and my husband noticed that I was not taking the news well and leaned over and whispered in my ear, “step out – go to the bathroom.”  Luckily, because everyone else was so – I was able to sneak away without anyone noticing.  Although at that moment, it felt like everyone knew. 

The new mom-to-be and her husband were some of the few people whom we had told about our situation.  They had also confided in us that they had just started trying to conceive.  She had always declared before starting to try that she just knew she would have difficulties because she had ovarian cysts.  For this reason, I too was expecting it to take her a little while.  I had also always figured that when they did conceive that I’d be able to figure it out because she would not have mentioned anything about her period that month.  I was completely unprepared emotionally for this announcement.  Their wedding had been during our second month of trying and now here they were pregnant on their second month trying and we were still waiting!

The rest of the night was not very enjoyable as there was almost non-stop baby talk as the BBQ hosts have a 2 month old too.  Luckily, the night ended earlier than I expected and I was able to go home and completely crumple. 

In the car, I pretty much dissolved into a teary-eyed mess.  I was sad about our situation and upset at the way she told us.  I never imagined that she would tell me in a group setting if she got pregnant before I did.  I totally understand that she wanted the fun of getting to make the big announcement, but it felt insensitive to not give us a heads up beforehand.  I was mad that I wasn’t able to be happy for them, because I am, but naturally a pregnancy announcement just highlights your sadness.  I had read a few blogs previously that suggested emailing is the best way to announce a pregnancy to friends who are having difficulties.  I have to admit, I now totally agree.  Being able to process the information in your own way before having to speak to the couple, allows you to be in a place where you can genuinely express your happiness.  It just takes a little time to wade past your own feelings.

I cried myself to sleep that night, woke up with my eyes crusted shut as I had also forgotten to take out my contacts.  I pulled myself out of bed and ran a few errands with my husband – while periodically crying again.  Luckily, he had plans to go watch local horse races with his family in honor of the Derbyat noon and I was able to sit by myself and cope.  I sat on the couch doing nothing but feeling sorry for myself for a bit and then started to blog.  Amazingly, diving into the memories of this process and my feelings help me snap out of it and did not push me further into the sadness abyss. 

Earlier in the day, I was prepared to pull a total prima donna move and not show up to the 30th birthday party that evening.  But I managed to get up off the couch, get the shower, put on makeup and go and have a fairly enjoyable time.  It helped to think about the friend I was showing up for – it was a birthday party for her new boyfriend.  She is a great girl, who always shows up for all the showers, bachelorette parties, weddings, couple centric dinners even though she was single, wanted not to be and the constant couple-dome of her social life could be upsetting.  I figured that if she was always there for her friends that I could put on my brave face and show up too now that it was her turn. 

On Sunday I woke up feeling great, almost as if nothing had happened at all.  I had a productive day working outside in the sun in the yard and garden.  I was genuinely enjoying life and not worried about baby things.  It was great!  My giant dose of crying and moping had worked. 

The events of the weekend had also slightly shifted my husband’s view on being honest with those around us about our pregnancy struggles.  We agreed that we should tell the BBQ hosts from Friday.  My tears probably did not go without notice and I hate the thought of friends knowing that something is wrong, but not being able to acknowledge it because we haven’t acknowledged it.

Then on Mother’s Day, I found my husband having a side bar conversation with his cousin.  She and her husband are very open about what they went through to conceive their first child – 7 miscarriages, multiple IUI and IVF procedures.  It turns out that she also has the MTHFR mutation.  I was so happy to see that my husband was opening up to someone about this.  I would prefer to be completely open with everyone, but have been staying private because he felt strongly about it.  I’m glad to see that his view is slowing shifting.  Our conversation was cut short, but hopefully I can talk to her again soon about all this!  They are a great story to focus on – tons of roadblocks and heartbreak, but now they have three amazing kids.  She reassured me that all this will be worth it in the end!

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Hello world!

I have decided to start a blog to chronicle my journey to motherhood – and secretly hoping that quickly this blog will turn into a mommy blog!  My husband and I decided to start trying to get pregnant last October.  We had talked hypothetically about it for many months, but then one day just decided that it was time.  We had just celebrated our first anniversary and I had just taken the last exam (out of 7) to  become a licensed architect.  We realized all of a sudden that we were ready – but apparently my body was not.

We are both Catholic and had been intrigued with Natural Family Planning – for both the religious and natural aspects.   I had stopped using the Nuva Ring birth control that spring and had started charting using the Marquette method – temps, mucus and some more modern help from the Clearblue Easy fertility monitor.  So that first month, we were already equipped with the knowledge of when exactly to do it and a pretty good understanding of how it all worked.  So as the months ticked off and my period kept making it’s appearance, we had this feeling that maybe things weren’t working quite right.

After 5 months of trying, I scanned in my charts and emailed them to the nurse who had taught our NFP class who suggested an OBGYN who specialized in NFP.  I made my first appointment and sat in the waiting room nervously wondering if he’d think I was totally overly anxious and wound too tight about the whole thing.  It had only been 5 months!  Medically you aren’t reproductively challenged until it has been a year.  Thankfully he was amazingly patient and caring.

After some blood work, we discovered that I had one copy of the C677T mutation of the MTHFR gene.  Just a little road bump that requires a cocktail of over the counter vitamins (Folic Acid, B12, B6) and baby aspirin.  Because I have some limited mucus, he also suggested adding Mucinex.  We checked my husbands boys and he was very relieved to find out that everything was perfect in that area.

The latest development the past two months is my fertility monitor has not picked up a peak day.  Meaning quite likely that I did not ovulate.  I may have Endometriosis.  I am currently pondering the choices the doctor laid out – a) try Clomid for a few months to encourage ovulation or b) a laparoscopic surgery to check for and remove the Endometriosis.  I’m not keen on surgery – even if it is out-patient, but don’t really want to waste any time.  Decisions, decisions!

Through it all – I try to keep a sense of humor about the current circumstances and hope for the future!  I look forward to sharing my journey with you!

best,

Kelly

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