Little by little, I’m slogging through this latest crop of health issues and getting bits of information here and there; though, because how could anyone expect otherwise, I’m not getting firm answers so much as new questions to ask. The root canal was done yesterday, and right now I’m in considerable discomfort and can’t chew on that side, but I’m hoping this is due to swelling and healing rather than, you know, needing more dental work. We’ll see. And I’ve started the process of x-rays and bloodwork for the lower back pain concerns, and have gotten one disturbing positive test result, but until I have the chance to sit down with my doctor and hear her plan – the appointment is Tuesday at 10:00 – I’m doing my best to avoid obsessing and, more importantly, to avoid Googling.
Which leaves the infertility. I’m still not pregnant, after over a year of trying. Having conceived five times – two babies, three losses – while still on the Pill, this seems like an enormous cosmic practical joke. And I hate practical jokes. (By the way, there’s a lot of health-related stuff in this post, perhaps too much information by some standards – consider yourself warned.)
Remember those Choose Your Own Adventure books, where you would read a little and then decide to either flip to page 95 if you wanted the character to jump into a black abyss, or flip to page 63 if you wanted him to learn to bake brownies? Well, consider that option for this post. Just read the next paragraph, if you just want a quick synopsis and no unpleasant details. If you’re interested in the longer version, keep reading after the line.
The short version is, I’m fine. I had an HSG, no blockages were found, and now I will be referred to a fertility specialist.
The long version is…
The whole concept of birth control has always been a tricky one, for me. I was good about taking the Pill at close to the same time, every night – I kept the package on my nightstand, on top of my alarm clock, so I had to move it to see the time – and was careful to use backup methods whenever I was on an antibiotic or thought I’d missed a dose or whatever.
And yet, five different times, a few days before my period was due, I would find myself completely exhausted, slightly nauseous, and a bit more, ahem, endowed than I had been the day or two before… and, sure enough, I’d get a positive pregnancy test. These were followed, in varying degrees of horribleness, by lost pregnancies in 1997, 2003 and 2006. Emily was born in 2000, and Jacob, after a high-risk and endless pregnancy, came along in 2004.
Each of these pregnancies were surprises, but none were accidents. Willem and I had a running joke that we would be talking about our plans and goals, one of us would mention, “Maybe we should think about trying to have a baby,” and *poof*, the mere act of saying the words made it so. We would joke about how I could get pregnant just by having prolonged eye contact with Willem; how we had to wash our underwear in separate loads just in case. So funny, such a joke, ha ha ha… Whatever.
After I had Jacob, I breastfed for 18 months, and took a progesterone-only Pill during that time. After he weaned, I got a Mirena IUD. I had heard good things about it, how eay it was, minimal side effects, blah blah blah. I had installed (doctors seem to hate that word for it, but the whole concept is so strange and mechanical that I can’t think of a better term) in June 2006, and in September 2006, within days of finally getting health insurance after a year-plus without, I begged my new OB-GYN to take it out. The whole time it was in place, I had low grade nausea, cramping, spotting-to-bleeding every day… I just hated it.
From there, I briefly went back on the once-a-week birth control patch, which I’d used for the years between Emily and Jacob with no problems. Then insurance stopped covering it, so I switched to a pill called Kariva. Which almost immediately led to no periods at all, and therefore a crap-ton of money spent on home pregnancy tests once a month. I hated that – I might once have thought that I’d have loved to just stop having periods, but then when they actually do stop, you don’t have a clear sign that you’re not pregnant or that your body is simply plugging along the way it’s supposed to. By the time I stopped taking the Kariva, with plans to try to conceive, I hadn’t had a period in over a year.
I spent the first half of 2008 trying to get pregnant and waiting until a reasonable amount of time had passed so that I could call my doctor and figure out what was going on. My cycles were anywhere from 35-60 days long each time, with a very light, two-day period in between. I had no pain, either along the lines of menstrual cramping or in between times.
Being under 35, the rule of thumb is for a woman to try to get pregnant for a full year before calling her doctor; in my case, because my cycles were so irregular and I had successfully – and easily – conceived in the past, I was seen after about 7 months. Willem got to make his contribution to science, a process he was allowed to do in the comfort of his own home but then had to take it to the hospital lab himself, which involves an intrusive and possibly HIPAA-violating conversation with the guard at the front desk and then a handing over of, um, evidence to the women at the lab, whom Willem described as Swedish bikini models, one and all. Poor guy. He passed his test with flying colors, so the spotlight remains on me.