Right up front I'll tell you that this post is about my infertility. And it includes some photo evidence, so stop right now if you are the least bit squeamish about such things. For those of you who are leaving, here's a gratuitous baby photo, just to thank you for stopping by. :)
What? Haven't you ever taken a bath in a sink?
My monthly visitor arrived yesterday, right on time. Even though I was under no illusions that I might actually be pregnant, it still knocks me down, every time.
When Olivia turned 6 months old, we started working with my FABULOUS Ob/Gyn again to continue exploring/fixing the causes of my infertility. As a Catholic and a teacher/promoter of Natural Family Planning (FertilityCare System) our treatment options are quite different from what most people pursue. What we are trying to do is figure out what's causing the infertility and fix it so we might achieve pregnancy in the old-fashioned way.
We discovered the endometriosis in 2006. My doc did everything he could within the limits of laparoscopic surgery. But endometriosis is almost never an isolated cause of infertility. It typically comes with baggage, such as ovulatory dysfunction, which seems to be another problem of ours.
Once the endo was mostly lasered, our course of action was to get ovulation back into shape. My hormones were sluggish. To get ovulation operational, we tried several things to kick the hormones up a notch.
My main symptom of screwed up hormones was the presence of persistent spotting for several days at the end of each cycle. Other than this spotting, my cycles have always been darn near perfect. They are the perfect length (27-30 days), with normal menstrual bleeding and a stellar buildup of cervical mucus. I even had ovulation cramping near the end of my mucus cycle. All the signs of fertility were there. But I kept having this dang spotting for 5-7 days before my period.
Progesterone supplements weren't doing the trick, so we tried other hormonal tricks to get the ovaries to produce more progesterone on their own. Even though progesterone levels would sometimes go up, the spotting continued on.
Now we are onto another avenue of treatment, still trying to accomplish the same end. Get the hormones into balance and eliminate the spotting. And although this was our first cycle on this new medication, I am still discouraged by the persistence of this spotting.
In the back of my mind, I always wonder if the endometriosis is still our primary barrier to fertility. It was pretty extensive.
Yes, those are my organs. Nasty adhesions and all. I won't torture you with the dozen other photos we have of adhesions on the ovaries, in the cul-de-sac, on the bladder. Just trust me, it was a lot.
The endo had fused my tubes to my round ligaments. They were "kinked" like a garden hose. Still, they were technically open. The doctor sent dye through them and took pictures. Stuff was flowing. Once he lasered off all the endo, they should have been even more open.
But endometriosis is a funny thing. One tiny spot here or there can cause screwed up hormones, deficiencies in ovulation, all kinds of weird things. And we know there were spots that the doc couldn't reach without doing a full laparotomy, so there's still stuff in there that hasn't been removed.
We thought it would be enough to restore fertility. It is sufficient for lots of couples...those who get pregnant after laparoscopy. But I continue to have the same screwed up cycle spotting that I had before the laparoscopy. Maybe we just haven't fixed the hormonal problem yet. Or maybe the endometriosis is still the primary culprit.
I kind of see this as my monthly reminder of God calling us to a different sort of parenthood. Yeah, I know it seems strange that we still work on fixing fertility even though we are happy with adoption and intend to pursue it again, but I look at it like the disease that it is...infertility is not the normal, healthy state of human function. There's a cause there, and I want to know what it is. I want to fix it, just to know that it can be fixed.
I know I've said this here before, but I have a feeling that this infertility is always going to be something of a mystery to me. We may never figure it out. And the start of every new cycle is a reminder of that fact. Sometimes it's a painful reminder, sometimes it's not. As I continue to make peace with my infertility, though, I can thank God every day for the gift it has brought to us. And in thanksgiving for this precious gift, we continue to carry this cross of infertility together, with as much joyfulness as we can muster.
Although, it's not hard to muster up some joy when you see a smile like this.