my uterus is a unicorn

The Last Unicorn

I have a unicornuate uterus.

Basically, it all boils down to this one unalterable fact.

When I was first told this a few years ago, after having a laparoscopy, the words kind of floated around in the air above me, never quite making contact and sinking in. Okay, so I have a misshaped uterus. My RE seemed unconcerned by this fact, so I put it out of my mind.

Fast forward to a few days ago, when I met with our new RE at a new infertility clinic. He went into great detail about what our options are, considering this abnormality. There is only one option: IVF. See, with a unicornuate uterus, I cannot have multiple births. Twins are completely out of the question because the risk is too high for a host of complications (highest on the list being preterm delivery). So, that rules out inject-able hormones.

Did you know that the risk of twins jumps from (approximately) 5% to (approximately) 35% with inject-able hormones?

Yeah, I had no clue.

Naturally, I went home and immediately googled the term unicorneate uterus. Here are some of the facts I found:

  1. A unicornuate uterus occurs in the womb, when the uterus never full develops. It is half the size of a normal uterus and there is only one fallopian tube.
  2. It is the rarest form of uterine abnormalities (present in 0.1% of the unselected population, or approx. 1 in 1000 women).
  3. It is associated with an increased risk of preterm birth, preterm premature rupture of membranes, breech presentation, cesarean section, placenta previa, placental abruption and intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR). (Yikes!)
  4. Considered to have the second worst obstetric outcome.
  5. Spontaneous abortion rates are reported to range from 41-62%. Premature birth rates (reported) range from 10-20%.
  6. Fetal survival rate is approx. 40%.

Frankly, those stats scare me half to death.

As much as I may wish for some sort of different outcome, there is no procedure that exists to fix this sort of problem. They cannot fix what, in essence, never existed. I am left with a feeling of, “Lord, what now?”

However, I refuse to give up. Not yet. I have read lots of successful birth stories with this abnormality (thank you, Internet), and Dr. Allemand seems confident that it can be done. So, despite this immense dose of reality, a flicker of hope still remains. We will continue with the process of preparing for IVF. I feel like I have to give it at least one shot, exhaust all my options, you know?

Otherwise, I would always be plagued with the dreaded “what-if…”

D.

Unicorn in featured image (c) The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle. 

autumn musings

I miss fall on the east coast. That crisp air and the crinkling of leaves underfoot. Red, amber, orange, and gold that explodes in a kaleidoscope of color everywhere I turn. The scent of wood burning from chimneys and fire pits. Pumpkin everything.

Okay, so living down south still has a lot of those things. Certainly the pumpkin. But, it’s hard to enjoy fall when the mornings are frigid but, by midday, the temperature has shot up 40 or 50 degrees. Mother Nature has a serious case of menopause down here.

Also, Halloween. Growing up, Halloween was always a favorite (only second to Christmas, because, c’mon. Christmas. But that’s another post altogether). I am finding that as the years pass, Halloween has dropped farther and farther down the list. And, it’s not getting older. If I am completely honest with myself, Halloween is one of those holidays – like Valentine’s Day to a single person. I get to watch all the families out with their kids, dressing them up in sickeningly adorable costumes, and I feel bitter.

Frankly, it has gotten to the point where I avoid it altogether. Last year, DH and I went out to dinner and a movie. I mean, who does that? (Well, apparently I now do.)

I don’t want to feel that way. I want to enjoy the holidays, with or without children. And, I do still enjoy Christmas. Oh, sure, I get twinges here and there when I see the Christmas photos and all the fun things families can do (I have a list THIS long of traditions I am dying to start…)

(You see? Christmas.)

Back to Halloween. Or, more generally, fall. Fall is a time of reflection, a season for balancing light and dark, yin and yang. It is also a time of letting go and – wait for it – acceptance.

Oooh, dirty word in the infertility crowd. No woman wants to accept that this is the way things may just end up. That, no matter how much she wishes, begs, pleads, spends thousands of dollars… that sometimes, things are not meant to happen the way she envisions. (And, by she, of course I mean me).

That’s where I am right now.

I think I have begun to truly accept that I cannot control this, and that I have to let it go. I’ve mentioned that phrase before. I’ve tried to do that phrase before. It is a constant struggle. I give it away, then yank it back and fret, and on and on the cycle goes.

But, I am realizing that the best thing for me is to let things be and to continue down the path I am on. The path to self-betterment (if that’s a word. It should be). I have noticed significant changes to my body in the past few months. My cycles have always been regular, but I have noticed that they seem to be lengthening a bit. I am ovulating each month. I’ve had symptoms that I used to never have. My body temperature is regulating. My thyroid levels are regulating (I’ve actually had to lower my dosage because my body is starting to really fix itself!)

Oh! And, I have lost 50 lbs to date. 50 lbs! I am no longer obese! I have a BMI of 28.6 and I am continuing to lose weight. I have 30 more pounds I am looking to lose, but just losing what I have has made such a significant impact.

In the midst of all these physical improvements, my hubby and I are also going to take an adoption class my church is having. I didn’t even realize they did anything like this, and I am excited to go and check it out. We’ve always talked about adoption, and I have no problems with adoption at all (other than the immense costs). I feel like this class may be a God-send. We shall see.

So, those are my reflections. I am sorry for the silence. A lot of things have been going on in my life (some good, some not so good) and it was time for reflection.

I hope that this post finds all of you in a good place in your lives. If not, maybe you need to do some reflection of your own.

hormonal

The human body never ceases to amaze me. We are like a tapestry with hundreds and thousands of tiny little threads that interweave to make up the whole. When even one thread gets pulled out of alignment, the tapestry can completely unravel. Likewise, when even one tiny piece of our bodies are out of sync, it affects the whole body – and that makes conception (which is already a slim chance) next to impossible.

I know I have been quiet for about two weeks. Sorry about that. I just need to take some time to get my bearings. You see, my hubby and I thought I was pregnant (ah, how many times have I uttered those words in the past 5 years?), so for one of the weeks, I was too anxious and (naively) hopeful so I didn’t want to write about anything and jinx it. Then, when I got my period, well – the second week was a period of mourning. By now, you would think I would not let myself get too hopeful. I know, it’s kind of a morbid thing to say, but when you wish for something so much and then have to watch the dream get dashed over and over, it really takes a psychological toll.

So, no, I’m not pregnant. But, I think this is a positive step (or at least that’s what I am trying to convince myself of) because of a few reasons:

  1. (And, to me, most important,) I was not on any medication that enhances “pregnancy symptoms” (like Clomid). I’ve done that before, and I loathe Clomid because (before I figured out that the drug can make you feel like you’re pregnant when you’re not) I would get so excited only to be so completely wrong.
  2. I had stronger symptoms then those times on Clomid.
  3. I had symptoms I never had before.

That tells me that the supplements I am taking must be getting all the out-of-whack things in my body straightened out. Not quite there yet, but I must be getting closer, right?

In the meantime I have been instructed to begin checking ovulation. So far this month I haven’t had any indication other than a faint pink line on cycle day 9. Oh, and that’s another thing. My periods seem to be getting closer together. They are averaging 26 days, and I have no clue if this is bad or not. I guess it doesn’t matter if I’m not even ovulating. Or maybe I am ovulating but the hormones are not getting to the level they need to be…

Like the title states: I am hormonal. There are so many hormones that play a part in this process and with my autoimmune disorder, it’s so hard to tell what’s working and what isn’t. Progesterone, estrogen, thyroid hormones, etc. Ugh. And, I have an appointment to check my thyroid levels next week (here’s hoping they’re correct!).

I feel like an old puzzle that you pull out and start to put together, only to find at the very end that the last couple of pieces are missing, and you can’t finish it.

Yep, that’s exactly how I feel.

treading water

A new baby is like the beginning of all things – wonder, hope, a dream of possibilities. -Eda J. Le Shan

I think we have all, at one point or another, wanted something so much that it consumes us. The hope becomes a dream, the dream becomes an obsession, and the obsession becomes an all-encompassing addiction.

Addictions hurt.

We start to neglect the ones we love. We start to neglect ourselves. Daily, I have to force myself to remember that I am a wife, a daughter, a sister, and a friend.  The title of mother does not make up my entire identity, and I should never shove aside those other roles because they are here, and they are now, and there are people who love me and need me to give them my time and my love. I owe them that much, and I cannot free myself to be the best wife (daughter/sister, etc.) possible if all my energy is focused on the one thing I am not.

It isn’t easy. In fact, it may be the hardest thing I have ever had to do. The desire is so strong inside me that it constantly threatens to burst forth. And, my body has become my worst enemy. When you struggle through infertility, and you want it so bad, you start to see things that aren’t there. Phantom symptoms. Wishful thinking. “I’ve got all the signs, I must be pregnant!”

Infertility treatment makes it no easier. Many of the drugs we take literally enhance PMS symptoms (which, coincidentally, are very similar to pregnancy symptoms. As if things aren’t complicated enough, let’s make those identical!). I can remember taking Clomid before an IUI and then, during the two-week-wait, thinking, “Oh my gosh, I’ve never experienced [enter symptom here] before, this must be it!” Only to be severely disappointed; often after being an entire week late (which I never am).

Yeah, infertility sucks.

Unless you have been through it, infertility is also not an easy thing to describe. I cannot put into words the immense sense of loss and longing. Or, the feeling of being irrevocably broken. The inadequacy, like you have failed your significant other. It’s like treading water in the middle of the ocean. You keep moving your limbs and pray that you see land, but all around you is water. The only thing you can do is try to keep from being pulled under.