Sunday, January 13, 2013

Proof You Should Never Give Up - Molly

 Don't give up. Ever.

We had been married for less than a year when I had the distinct impression that I was ready to start trying to have a family. My husband was ready too, so I went off the pill. A lot of physical changes took place in my body, but none of them were due to pregnancy. I could go 2 months without my period, but not be pregnant. Very frustrating! Instead of pregnancy, I got major acne, and started gaining weight, going bald, and growing back that hair in weird places. I know, TMI. I went to the doctor, but I was told because I was so young, I had to wait a whole year of trying before I got an infertility appointment—that's Kaiser's way. In the eyes of the modern world, I was still young, but in the Mormon world, I was already almost a decade behind!

A year passed, and at 29, I had my first infertility appointment—right after our visit to Provo to see my little brother’s first baby.  I was told had PCOS—polycystic ovarian syndrome—which was a hormonal wackiness that explained all of those lovely symptoms previously mentioned. I am a classic PCOS patient. I responded really well to Clomid (fertility drug), so my first endocrinologist was really hopeful that we would get pregnant. We were too. He gave us a schedule of exactly what days we should conduct our business, and we would likely conceive on our Costa Rican adventure. My husband had to rush home from work early before we caught our flight. :-)
  Although it was a fabulous trip, no Costa Rican baby came out of it. More test results showed that we both had issues that would make it very unlikely that the timing would work out perfectly enough to conceive on our own. My husband had “premature aging,” low count, low motility, and morphed sperm.  We were told we could try all the fertility treatments covered by our insurance, but he felt most likely the only thing that would work for us would be in-vitro fertilization. I was stunned. I had friends who were a little older than me that had been going through the same issues, but I never imagined that I would be in that same position. I have learned that the more exposure I get from friends who are going through troubling times, the more likely I am to experience those things myself. I think it's Heavenly Father's way of preparing me for rough waters. We made an appointment with Dr. Lisa Farah-Eways, an IVF doctor, for October '07. I was then 30, and very depressed about it.

We were lucky to get bumped up on a waiting list due to a cancellation, and we had an IVF date set for January '08.  I had laparoscopic exploratory surgery in October '07 to remove cysts, a polyp, and a fibroid to prepare for the IVF procedure. I also had two consecutive hysteroscopies in November and December '07. In January '08 we had our first attempt in what is called a "fresh cycle."
33 eggs were extracted from my ovaries (which ovaries are still enlarged to this day).

19 of them fertilized.
8 embryos were viable.
2 of them were implanted.
6 of them were frozen.

I did not get pregnant. WHAT? That was not supposed to happen. Success rates run around 30%. Why I didn't think I'd be part of that unsuccessful 70% is beyond me. But there was hope. We had some frozen guys. In March '08 we tried a frozen cycle with another two embryos. One of them took, and I got pregnant. We were thrilled. All was going smoothly in the pregnancy. I finished the school year at 4 months pregnant, with plans to take a leave of absence for the following year. I had a big goodbye, packed everything up and closed my classroom, and then I got sick. Really sick.

It started with rapid weight gain and swelling. I then realized my blood pressure was really high. At 17 weeks, I was admitted to the hospital in the beginning stages of multiple organ failure. My kidneys were failing, liver inflamed, blood platelets dropping, and hemorrhaging was possible. But our baby was alive and I was sure everything would work out. I was a human pin-cushion as doctors tried to figure out what happened. Steroids seem to help, but not enough.

We lost Wyatt at 20 weeks due to my body’s inability to fight a disease and maintain the pregnancy at the same time. That was the most devastating thing to ever happen to us. Then my health improved. My case was analyzed by physicians all over the Bay Area. My nephrologist (kidney MD) originally diagnosed me with a chronic kidney disease, then changed the diagnosis to early pre-eclampsia. My perinatologist (high risk pregnancy MD) disagrees and says that is impossible. To this day, we still do not know for sure what exactly happened.  I recently read an abstract from a medical journal that mentioned that women whose ovaries are hyperstimulated during fertility treatments can have kidney damage.  So that’s what I think happened—my kidneys were damaged to the point that my body was unable to sustain the pregnancy.  I still have to write my doctors about my hypothesis. As soon as I got cleared of the steroids, we were ready for attempt number 3 at in-vitro. Some were skeptical and wondering why we would even try again. BAH!!

In January '09 I was completely clean of steroids and de-greased from my recent muscle-building competitions (ha ha), and cleared for attempt #3 of IVF. These 2 embryos were implanted. We were told by the nurses they were as perfect as we could hope for. My fraternal twin boys were born in September of 2009.  I did my last frozen cycle, implanting my last two embryos, in January of 2011.  My third son was born in Oct. 2011.