Yesterday I was pointed to this blog by Stephanie (note in case you are confused… Stephanie quoted the other blog on her blog, but she didn’t write that blog… OK you’re probably even more confused now. Ack!). I love blogs and everytime someone recommends a new one or quotes one I go to that blog and start reading at least a few of the posts. When I came across this particular post I realized that a very important element was missing from this diary: the beginning.
Sure, I actually began this thing the day I saw two vivid pink lines and got a confirmation blood test, but that is really almost the middle of the story. So here goes… (also just a warning there might be some TMI stuff in here, but I just want to say it all because it is important to the story line)
Three months before Stephen and I got married in 2003, I began my first round of birth control because supposedly it takes that long to be completely effective. I was still finishing up college and was in no way ready for a baby. I had watched several friends get pregnant on their honeymoons and it scared the crap out of me. Actually it scared me so much that I insisted that we didn’t rely solely on the birth control pills for the first few months just to be sure.
I don’t know why I was so scared. Up until that point I had always wanted to be a mom. I even had a few names picked out: Aubrey (my dad always said he wanted to name me that), Kaziah (the name of one of the daughters from the end of the book of Job), Samuel and Patrick (both names that I just liked). A huge part of it was that I wanted to make sure I finished school. I also really wanted to work. I wanted to find a job that I loved doing and make all that schooling count for something. It was partly family expectations and partly my own. Growing up most my life in Bakersfield there was just this stigma of getting stuck here and marrying the first guy you fell for. Well, I didn’t just marry the first guy that came along and I wanted to get my degree so that if the opportunity came I could “go places,” whatever that means.
I think in a lot of ways this ambition to succeed coupled with the birth control really changed a lot of my goals and wants around. About a year ago I wrote a little tirade on what I felt birth control had done to me, but I can’t seem to find it. Suffice it to say that I’m not so sure messing with all your hormones is such a good idea, especially in the long term. The scientists and drug companies can say whatever they want about the safety and benefits, but I know I was a completely different personality while I was on that stuff even though I didn’t really realize it until after it was out of my system. What should have been a big red flag change though was that I started saying and feeling that I absolutely didn’t ever want to have kids.
I stayed on birth control until Oct. 2006 when the stuff started having a noticeable physical change and impact on my body. I was on “the Patch” (OrthoEvra) and I started hearing about all these blood clot cases which really freaked me out. I’m not sure if they were in my head or not, but I started getting these weird pains in my calves and thighs which after reading all those stories had me convinced that I was developing a blood clot.
Then the biggest thing was that somehow my body got completely confused by the birth control. For those of you that don’t know about how the stuff is supposed to work this is the basics… you take the hormones for 3 weeks (in my case this was done by applying a patch to my abdomen once a week) and then you take a placebo or nothing at all for 1 week so your body has a period (this was done by using no patch for that week). Well, what I mean by confused was that somehow my body started thinking that when I had the patch on that was the placebo week and the placebo week was the hormone week. Let me tell you, 3 week periods are not fun even if they are “milder” or whatever else the manufacturer says. I went through two cycles like this and just couldn’t handle it anymore so I went cold turkey on the stuff.
At this point I still didn’t think I was “ready” to have kids even though I had basically met all my other life goals for success (I was living my dream as a writer, I got two Kern Press Club awards for my writing, and I got promoted to editor all in a matter of a few months). However, the longer I was off the birth control the more I started to notice how different I felt and acted now that I was no longer on it. By Dec. 2006 I was determined to have a baby.
My parents never really had any trouble (as far as I know) getting pregnant… that’s sort of how they wound up with four of us. So I just figured it would be the same for me. I figured I had inhereted all those genes that had made having me and my sisters so easy. So when I didn’t have a period in January and February of 2007 I thought I had to be pregnant and the negative home pregnancy tests were just wrong.
I went to go see my OB and he confirmed that I was not pregnant. I was a little disappointed, but also freaked out that my body was going to be permanently screwed over because of birth control. I explained that I really wanted a baby, like NOW! So even though we hadn’t been “trying” for a year like most OBs require, my doctor immediately started me on a combination of Prevera and Clomid. He was sure I would get pregnant right away. The drugs were supposed to get my body back into a regular 28 day cycle and I was supposed to start ovulating. The blog I read yesterday explained this whole process way better than I possibly could:
“Oh, the days of fertility drugs: they are days of montonously charting basal body temperatures, peeing on sticks and in cups, thinking of the calendar in terms of Days 1-28, having sex when you are not in the mood and having to abstain when you are. The first cycle made me hyper hormonal–mood-swingy, temper-tantrummy, hot-flashy, and didn’t work for crap. My ovaries laughed in the face of 50 miligrams. “Ha ha,” they said; “you’ll have to come up with something a leetle more potent than that to get us off the couch. Pansies!” So we turned up the heat: 100 miligrams, the do-or-die-dosage. More accurately, the do-or-be-forced-to-start-thinking-how-far-into-debt-you’re-willing-to-go-for-an-ankle-biter dosage.”
The first problem was that even though the drugs were supposed to make my cycles 28 days, they did not (I now know mine are typically around 40-50 days long). I’m not sure how many rounds of Clomid we did, but none of them worked. Or so I thought.
In August 2007, I had what I thought was an early case of the flu combined with a really heavy, clotty period (talk about a miserable experience!). I went in to see my regular doctor to get some kind of treatment for this flu-like bug I had. He couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me except that my liver enzyme levels were abnormally high. He started looking into liver disease, fatty liver, Krohn’s disease and a billion other scary sounding things. I even got sent to a GI doctor for a consult. None of them could figure out what was wrong with me. I had taken a pregnancy test a few weeks before and misread it. I thought it was negative, but apparently even a very faint second line is a positive test (oh the things they don’t teach you in sex education class!). This is actually a friend’s test. After I saw this picture and looked up the symptoms of miscarriage (which include flu-like symptoms, heavy and clotted periods, and elevated liver enzyme levels) I put it all together. I think I may have incorrectly stated on this blog before that I thought I had miscarried in November (which is when my friend’s test is from), I got a little confused with my dates and stuff. I remember it was August that it happened because we were only a few weeks away from moving into our new house and I remember calling Stephen from the guest room at his parents’ in hysterics because of what my regular doctor had said and given me as possiblities for why my liver enzymes were so high (I honestly thought I was going to die at that point).
Well anyway by the time I figured all this out towards the end of December, we had already pretty much given up on the whole having kids thing. We had done our last round of Clomid/Prevera in November without success. Adoption locally seemed too heartbreaking after hearing our friends’ stories and adoption internationally seemed out of our price range. As did getting a referral from my OB to the local fertility specialiist for in-vitro fertilization, which wasn’t guaranteed to work anyway.
So it was decided that I would be a career woman and since I wasn’t happy as an editor (I really missed writing) and all the doors for writing opportunities seemed to be closing, I decided I was going to follow my other passion: the law. I applied and got accepted to The George Washington University’s masters in paralegal studies program. I agreed to continue being an editor until the end of January and began applying for even the lowest of low jobs at local law firms.
Even though the baby thing seemed a lost cause I continued to chart my cycles because I liked knowing what was going on with my body a little better. But the fact that we had given up and a bazillion family events in December is evident if you were to see my last chart. Stephen and I had sex exactly two times that entire cycle and only one of them was remotely close to when I ovulated (which I wasn’t even sure on that because I still hadn’t figured out all the signs or gotten used to reading my charts).
When I started feeling tired a week later I didn’t really think anything of it. I just figured it was from all the stuff we had been doing that month and the stress of changing careers. When I started feeling like I had the stomach flu a week after that I again didn’t think anything of it, just figured I had picked it up from one of the many family members and friends we had been in contact with over the holidays. When I woke up on Jan. 18 and realized that 54 days was a long cycle even for me, I still didn’t think I’d get a positive test that morning. I figured that yet again I was being impatient and that I would start my period any day now. I used the last pregnancy test I had thinking, “This is a stupid waste of a test. There’s no way I’m pregnant.”
And then it was positive.
I truly believe it was a little miraculous. Sometimes knowing that was the only thing that kept me going when I honestly felt like being pregnant was going to be the death of me and the baby.
So there you have it, the beginning of the story.