In my last entry, I made mention of our struggle to have more children and that the story would be a post in itself. This is the post. I only hope that it will encourage others who have gone through the struggles of infertility as we have, and can give some sort of hope that God is in control of every situation, even when it seems He is far away.
As I shared before, Katie is our pride and joy. She’s our only daughter, our only child, and we love her so very much! God gave us such a special gift in her!
When we decided it was time to have children, it all happened pretty easily. Though my pregnancy with Katie was difficult, the end result was a sweet little girl! It was when she was about a year and half old that our struggles began.
We decided it was time for Katie to have a brother or sister and began “trying” again for pregnancy. It didn’t happen so quickly this time. Month after month I’d pee on a stick just to see a negative result. When one of the doctors I worked for, Dr. Brown, realized that we were attempting pregnancy and not achieving it, she asked if she could intervene. I was, after all, considered “advanced maternal age” at this point since I was around 34 years old. She told me that the sooner we worked on achieving pregnancy at this age, the better chance we would have. We went through some testing and decided that it was an ovulation problem (sorry if this is getting too personal for some of you….you can always stop reading if you’re uncomfortable!). This began a regimen of daily temperature charting and careful documentation of symptoms and cycles. Now instead of peeing on a stick to see if pregnancy had been achieved, it was peeing on a stick to see if ovulation was occurring. Clomid therapy was added to help “boost” ovulation. Each month that pregnancy did not occur, the dose of Clomid was increased. We thought that pregnancy would never come.
Finally, those familiar symptoms of nausea and fatigue began, and sure enough, this time the test was positive! Woohoo! Pregnancy #2 had been achieved! I was happy to report a positive test to Dr. Brown. She suggested we monitor the pregnancy closely by drawing blood levels to make sure things were progressing as they should. The levels were not rising as fast as they should (they should double every 48 hours) and when we finally reached the magical number where we should be able to see a heartbeat via ultrasound, no heartbeat could be seen. Not even a baby could be seen. We continued with blood work and finally, the number doubled like it should for a few days. But then it dropped. A few more ultrasounds later, Dr. Brown told me news I didn’t want to hear. “This isn’t a good pregnancy. We can’t find a fetus anywhere, and I’m afraid you have an ectopic pregnancy.”
Now, an ectopic pregnancy doesn’t always occur in the fallopian tubes, as was my case. When an ectopic pregnancy occurs, immediate action needs to take place to ensure the health of the mother. A ruptured ectopic pregnancy can mean death to the mother. Being that a pregnancy couldn’t be seen, Dr. Brown suggested we treat the pregnancy with Methotrexate. This is a chemotherapy medication, and in pregnancy, will find the pregnancy (where ever it was) and “dissolve” it. I was not happy at all with this option, but it was really our only option. I spoke with my pastor. I was reassured that this was the “right” thing to do. His sister had almost died from an ectopic pregnancy and he convinced us that for Katie’s sake, I should proceed. Dave and I agreed, even though deep down, I felt it was wrong. I felt I wasn’t giving this child a chance. What if the tests were wrong? Dave was worried and wanted us to take care of things as soon as possible and so we proceeded.
I was sent to the emergency room, as this was not a medication that was kept at the office. The emergency room staff was clueless as to how to give this medication. I knew how it was given and proceeded to talk the nurse through the steps of giving the injection and the disposal of the “radioactive” syringe. The ER didn’t handle things well. I was given a bed in the hallway, because I was after all, just there for a shot. I refused to get the shot until I was moved to a room as this injection goes into your hip. (Not something I wanted to have done in plain sight for all to see.) I also wanted some place where I could collect myself and cry as I received the treatment that would take care of a failed pregnancy. The nurses I had were clueless as to what to say, yet alone what to do. I was sent home without any instructions (though I knew what was going to happen) and no kind words were given.
I was devastated. Since Methotrexate is a chemotherapy drug and I was given a rather high dose of it, I experienced the nausea and fatigue that came with receiving chemo. This lasted for a couple of days. Those days were spent alone with Katie at home. I spent all that time crying. Katie wasn’t old enough to understand what was going on. She just knew I was sad. This all occurred over our wedding anniversary that year. It was one anniversary that we didn’t really want to celebrate.
To make sure the Methotrexate was doing what it was supposed to do, I had to have weekly blood work to make sure my hormonal levels were going back down to zero. Once at zero, we knew that everything would be resolved. So, from June until September, I went every week to 2 weeks for these labs. Each one was ordered “STAT” so that we would get the results back the same day. I remember one trip to the lab. I was escorted to a small waiting area right outside the “drawing” area. I overheard one lab tech say to the other, “Here’s a stat lab. How “stat” can this be? It was given to her last week and she just now shows up for the lab. Great! Now we have to call a courier to come get this just because she was too lazy to come last week.”
I lost it. I went off on the lab tech. I know she was talking about my lab slip. Dr. Brown would give me a new lab slip each week for the following week. “Before you call me lazy, and before you jump to conclusions about why I came to have my blood drawn today instead of last week, perhaps you should look at the diagnosis on the slip and the fact that I have been here every week at this time for this same lab. It’s hard enough to have to go through getting these labs drawn every week for a pregnancy that you know is over, yet alone having to hear how I’m inconviencing you.”
The lab tech was speechless. She apologized. She drew my blood as tears poured down my face and dripped into my lap. She had no clue. She had no idea the pain I was feeling or how depressed I was. Later, when I was back at work, the phone rang and it was the lab tech. “You taught me a lesson today. I am so sorry for saying what I did. From now on, I’ll not jump to conclusions about why a patient is there. I didn’t mean to hurt you.” Apology accepted.
From June until September 10 (my birthday) I had these labs drawn. Finally, on my birthday, the level was zero. Over all those months, I continued to have pregnancy symptoms for a pregnancy that “didn’t exist”. I wasn’t sure I’d ever want to be pregnant again.
This was the beginning of my terminal case of baby envy.
This post is to be continued………