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. 

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.

my holistic journey

I mentioned in an earlier post that my dear husband (DH) and I decided to forgo further infertility treatments until we exhaust all avenues to get my body as baby-ready as possible.holistic1

To date, I have:

1. Lost 30 pounds

Ten of those pounds I lost twice – once before vacation, and once after vacation when I gained it back and had to lose it again. 😉 Seriously, though, I’m feeling better than I have in a while. More energy (and we work out like fiends six days a week!), better attitude, less brain-fog… the list goes on. While I’m not where I want to be, even this small improvement is a very positive thing, I think.

2. Gone gluten-and-casein free

We-ell… 99% gluten-free. It’s not so easy! But I honestly feel so much better when I am NOT eating gluten. And, no, I’m not doing this as part of the fad “gluten-free diet.” I have a legitimate intolerance to the stuff. I do NOT have celiac disease – and for that I am extremely grateful! But while gluten intolerance is on the mild end of the spectrum of gluten issues, there’s really something to it. Apparently it’s most common for people with an autoimmune disease (lucky us!). I’ve been doing immense amounts of research on it, and I’ll probably do a series of posts on gluten-intolerance, autoimmune disorders, and infertility. But, I digress.

3. Begun taking supplements

And I’m not talking about a couple of supplements. I’ve been seeing a licensed pharmacist in our area who has a holistic compounding pharmacy. He has been working with me to find a customized plan to fix many of the underlying issues I have that are linked to having hypothyroidism (low body temperature, acne/skin issues, things like that). I have to say, it’s really working well! I started with a body temp in the low 97s, and now I average 98.4-98.6! Huge improvement. My skin has been clearing up, as well, which is a plus. I mean, come on, who likes to be 30 and still have acne?

4. Started focusing on the positive

Let’s face it, one of the hardest parts of being infertile is keeping an optimistic outlook. So, that’s definitely something I’ve begun working on. When I start dwelling on the negatives, I force myself to think of things that make me happy and that I am blessed with (often going back to my post on ten ways i am blessed to remind me!)

That being said, I had my follow-up appointment with the pharmacist on Tuesday. He seemed really happy about the good results I am having, and we are going to add ovulation tests to make sure I am actually ovulating. My cycles are, in general, like clockwork, but that doesn’t necessarily equal ovulation. So, that starts this month. In the midst of all that, I’ll continue to work on the other points above. And, celebrating six years with my DH this week is just another reason to be blissfully happy. 🙂

once upon a time

Every story has a beginning. This is mine.

Almost ten years ago, I met my husband. We had quite an unconventional courtship – we are both gamers, and met on an MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role-playing game, for those of you non-geeks reading this). What started in-game moved to e-mails, then phone, until we finally met in person and began dating. We dated for a few years before getting married. And we lived happily ever after.

Mostly.

All couples reach a point in their relationship, a huge fork in the road where they must decide which path to take. Children or no children? For my husband and I, it was a no-brainer. “We’re ready. Let’s start a family.” We reached our one-year anniversary and decided unanimously that we wanted children starting then. Together, we stared down our new path with hearts full of excitement and hope for the future.

Little by little, our hope began to wither with each month that passed with no baby. The first few months, it is easy to brush it off. After six months, I started to worry that something may be wrong. After a year, we booked an appointment with my OBGYN. She did all the necessary bloodwork, but the only thing she noticed was that my progesterone levels were “slightly” low. Because we had been trying a year, however, she booked us with a nearby reproductive endocrinologist (RE) and thus, we began our first attempt at infertility treatment.

During this first attempt, I was diagnosed with “unexplained infertility,” which basically means, “We don’t have a clue what the issue is.” They even did a laparoscopy on me, only to find that one fallopian tube never developed. But, I was told that should not affect conception at all (only that multiple births are a very bad idea for me). I should also mention that I have thyroid dysfunction, but that was not once addressed by my RE. My husband was checked and given a clean bill of health. The problem is most definitely me, but what the problem is, is a mystery.

**Now, I have some serious issues with REs, and with “unexplained infertility” as a diagnosis (or at least my own personal RE, because I’m sure not all are the same), but I’ll save that for another post.**

We have tried infertility treatments (including meds and trigger shots and IUIs) off and on for almost five years now, with no luck. Years of heartbreak have taken their toll, and I have decided that I am done with having treatments shoved down my throat without any attempts to identify and fix my underlying problems.

I have begun focusing inward. Weight loss, getting off blood pressure meds, and making my body as baby-ready as possible are just a few of my goals. I would love to know if any of you are following a similar path, and if so, what types of things you are doing.

~*~