“I have never seen a HSG like this before”

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I have not been doing well, which is why I have not been writing lately. I just could not stand to be around anything pregnancy/baby related and I now regret having the word “mom” in the name of my website. I saw my doctor last week and he confirmed my fears. With the current condition of my uterus, I have very low fertility and will not be able to get pregnant. He told me that he has never seen results of an HSG test like mine. And this is coming from a very experienced, older doctor. Once again, I prove to be an exception and continue to keep my special patient status aka “pain in his ass” (verbatim from him). Gotta love his blunt sense of humor.

This fucking Judas uterus.

My right fallopian tube is distorted and blocked, possibly by a fibroid. So he wanted me to see what the fertility clinic he referred me to would say. I just had my consultation. $200 for a 15 min. telephone consultation. The doctor pretty much verified some information on the patient history form I had filled out online. She told me that my doctor will have to do surgery to remove the fibroids as a last ditch effort. That he will need to be aggressive and optimize my uterus for pregnancy as much as he can. If this is possible, I am supposed to contact them again to proceed with IVF. I inquired about the pricing and as I had suspected, the price is astronomical once you add everything up.

I promptly booked an appointment with my doctor to discuss surgery once again. We were originally holding off to help preserve my fertility but guess at this point I don’t have it anyway. Maybe my uterus is too ravaged with fibroids to save anyway. I know I need to start refocusing from hoping to become a mom to getting used to the very real possibility that I can avoid a hysterectomy no longer.

A couple of weeks ago, my brother, who’s a doctor, voiced his concerns about my medical situation to me. He believes that both my OB-GYN and family doctor are irresponsible and wrong in supporting my decision to try for pregnancy. He warned me of how anemia gets worse with pregnancy and also the possibility of post-delivery hemorraghing (as a single mother, who would take care of my baby if I’m gone?). He is adamant that with my consistently low hemoglobin levels, I am risking my life by continuing trying to become pregnant.

Initially I was very upset and defensive when he brought all this up. He made me cry. But after a while of carefully considering the points he brought up, passing on his concerns to my OB-GYN as he requested, and looking things up online, I realized that what he was saying was valid. He has a right to be concerned and I know he was only telling me these things because he cares. He doesn’t want me to sacrifice my life in order to bring a baby into this world. He is a good, thoughtful and intelligent brother so there is certainly weight to his words.

I have not told him yet that I have thought over what he said. I had simply thanked him for his concern at the end of our conversation. On some level, though it pains me to admit it, I know what he is saying is true. I ended up having to go to the ER again this past weekend for another blood transfusion since my hemoglobin level dropped again. Though I am a bit ashamed to admit it, I was not even planning to let my family know this since it only justifies that I am barely hanging in there. But by chance, my mom called me while I was in the waiting room and I was never one to lie.

Right now, I continue to stay suspended in this fog of sadness, wrapped up in avoidance by eating my sorrows away and playing this mind-numbing zombie game on my phone. At least when I am working, I am busy enough to forget my troubles for those few hours. But even in my dreams, the feeling of my baby hopes slipping away continues to haunt me. I woke up in the wee hours of this morning, hyperventilating in a panic from a dream of my best friend (who is due next week) having a daughter and was asking me about my pregnancy situation. That is how badly I am dread talking about my infertility to the people in my life.

I feel myself drifting away into depression once again. Good thing I have an appointment with my therapist this Friday.

I really wish I had named my blog differently. At this moment in time, I am most definitely not hopeful, nor is there a good chance that I will be becoming a mom anytime soon.

M

Dear Kindred Spirits

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To my sisters in the online infertility community…

I read about your struggles, your joys, each step along the way in trying to bring forth a life you already deeply love even before it materializes into flesh and blood. We are bonded by this indescribable desire for a baby and we somehow manage to face these incredible challenges with the insurmountable strength, will and courage of a superhero(ine).

I admire each and every one of you, and I feel so grateful that there is such a supportive online community of ladies who have the dream of motherhood ever-present in their hearts.

Since my HSG test a couple of days ago when I found out that there is a problem with one of my fallopian tubes (hopefully just one…) and that this is yet another hurdle I will have to face, along with the innumerable amount of fibroids and polyps I have; my spirits have been shot. I feel numb; like a zombie going through the motions of everyday life. It’s been a beautiful start to Spring here and I feel like I should be reveling in the sunshine, breathing in the much warmer air, and looking forward to finally packing away my boots and winter gear and doing all of the wonderful outdoor activities we only have 6 months of the year (sometimes less!) to enjoy.

I did go online and found some success stories of women who have been able to deliver healthy babies even though they only had one working tube and fibroids/polyps. This definitely did make me feel a little better and I no longer felt like the world was crashing down on me like I did on Tuesday.

But the anxiety of seeing my doctor next Tuesday to find out the final results of the HSG test and whether or not IUI is off the table now with IVF being the only option left, has me on edge. If this is the case, my brief journey may then be over. I looked up the costs (our provincial healthcare as well as my work insurance does not cover anything fertility related) and for one cycle of IVF, it will be at least triple the amount I had planned for a couple cycles of IUI. I am limited in finances as a preschool teacher since my fibroids condition and thalassemia prevents me from being able to work full-time. I had tried to apply for a loan last year for some major emergency dental work (damn rollerblading accident years ago!) and they rejected me since I wasn’t making enough income. So I know that won’t be an option unless I maybe try another bank…The only other possibility that has entered my mind is maybe selling my beloved little loft and moving in with my mom…She is great but of course this is not ideal after being accustomed to living on my own for what feels like eternity.

Facing this possible fork in the road, I am struggling these days.

I am surrounded by pregnant teachers all around me at work and my best friend is due with her first in the next little while. I have been avoiding contacting another friend who gave birth recently. Yes, I do feel guilty about that. My baby niece and her parents will be in town this weekend and I will be babysitting her for the very first time. Originally, I was over the moon excited about it but now I admit that I am dreading it. I know, it’s selfish. Must stifle this green-eyed monster. Unfortunately, (or rather, fortunately I suppose) I do not have any family or friends (that I know of anyway) who have or had any fertility issues so I feel really alone in that regard. I know that if I really wanted to talk to some of them, I could; but how can someone understand when they don’t face infertility themselves? I tried to look up to see if there are any local infertility meet-ups but so far, I have been unsuccessful. There must be though and I will continue looking. Although these last couple of days, with the exception of S, I have isolated myself from everyone and have absolutely no desire to converse with anyone.

I know that I am a bit more short at work with people, shameful to say, that this includes the little ones. Good thing the weekend is coming up. I will also admit (so much easier to type it rather than to say it out loud to someone) that my relatively clean and healthy diet has been straight out the window and has been replaced with ranch chips, pizza, cookies and cream chocolate and vanilla wafers. I know I will need to stop this self-pity and emerge from this saturated fat, black hole at some point soon. I know that doing some meditation, yoga or Buddhist reading would probably help my emotions but it is just one of those times that I just cannot muster the strength or motivation to do it. I am glad that the antidepressants are preventing me from falling down too far and I have been trying to book an appointment with my therapist for next week. I am aware of all the resources and ways to help raise my spirits again. I just wish I could somehow reach deep inside my soul and find that yearning again soon to give me enough strength and guidance to keep me standing in this battle.

After tirelessly crusading against the inevitable treatment of these inoperable fibroids being a hysterectomy, and suffering from the constant bloodshed and literally having my life drain away for the last 9 years or so, I don’t know how much longer I can stick it out for.

Maybe fate is telling me I can put off the hysterectomy no longer.

If I am somehow miraculously able to conceive, it will be another battle in itself to keep that pregnancy. I see how many of you out there face pregnancy loss after pregnancy loss, over and over again and I don’t know if I am strong enough to be like you.

I have lived through an abusive childhood, depression and being suicidal, losing all my hair to Alopecia, a couple of cancer scares, going about each day with a hemoglobin level averaging around 80, major financial debt, heartbreaks from men all along the way, and the presence of a real-life Mommie Dearest in my relationship with S.

And yet I feel like this is what is finally going to break me.

To my fellow sisters alongside me on this long-winding road – How do you do it? How do you manage to always pick yourself up after each and every setback and keep staying hopeful??

M

 

Should I Blowdry Your Shirt?

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I had my HSG test today. I didn’t think anything of it beforehand. My doctor had said it was going to be a quick procedure so I was planning to go to work right afterwards. There were never any concerns about my tubes. I had the basic understanding of what the procedure was about – the dye was going to tell us whether or not my tubes were clear. I did not feel the need to google “HSG test.” I was fortunate that it was my doctor who was going to be doing the test. As he was getting set up, I had the opportunity to ask him if all of my fertility bloodwork came back okay, which he said it did.

As he had recommended, I had taken Advil 30 mins before the procedure since there was going to be “some cramping.” I don’t know how many injections of dye he did but I think it was after the second one when I cursed “f***!” clutched my abdomen (forgetting that this was an x-ray so the nurse had to remind me to move my hands as they were blocking it) and nearly passed out from the pain. I do not have a low pain threshold. Every 6 weeks for the past 6 years, I morph into the guy from Hellraiser when I get my cortisone injections (with a decent sized needle) all throughout my scalp for Alopecia. Today’s test was definitely the most painful medical procedure I have ever had done and with my cornucopia of health issues, I have had many.

As I am doubling over with pain, which thankfully does not last very long, my doctor was telling me that I might have to do IVF now since it was looking like one side is blocked. I had no idea what I was looking at on the screen and as he and the radiologist were confirming through the speakers what they were seeing, all I registered was “oh okay, there it is now. Some of it is coming through.” So one side seemed okay. I think. To me, it looked like barely a trickle on the screen. Near the end of the procedure, he got an emergency call from the OR so he had to make a quick exit. I anxiously asked him if I need to now do IVF instead of IUI and he said that he will need to talk to the radiologist about my results. The nurse came to give me a towel to put between my legs “while you waddle like a duck to the washroom” and asked me if I was able to get any news. I must’ve not said anything because I remembered her asking me if it was bad news and I think I said “yeah, kinda.” The bed and the towel were soaked with fluid. Likely not a good sign.

Holding back tears, I dressed with home as the target in my mind. Thankfully, I only had a quick train ride to the next station. As I walked up the platform and wiped away a couple of tears that escaped, I was grateful that I had huge sunglasses and that it was mid-day on a weekday. Other than a lone cyclist, there was no one. Until of course, a smiling, 20something-year-old mom with her beautiful baby daughter lovingly wrapped up in bright, tauntingly cheerful colors in front of her, came to ask me if I knew when the next train would be coming. Thank god, the train arrived within the next couple of minutes. I was practically counting the steps towards the mirage of my little yellow brick apartment, hoping and hoping that I would make it past the threshold of my place before breaking down. Maybe about 40 steps to go (something like that anyway. Was never good at math…yes, even though I am Chinese), a man who was probably not as old as he looked, just ravaged by life, asked me for change. After I apologized and said that I didn’t, he replied with a “God bless you.” Really. Yeah with a defunct pipe(s) and uterus. Thanks, God.

Before the door was even closed behind me, it came out. I had a fleeting thought that I should maybe try to keep my eye makeup intact as I was supposed to be leaving for work right away but I knew that it was not going to happen. Creating a gray, grainy trail of mixed mascara/tears on my laminate towards my couch, I buried myself like a child in my blanket and pillows and sobbed like I haven’t sobbed for a long time. I didn’t give a s*** if my neighbours, who are often home during the day, could hear through the paper-thin walls. Since hearing the words “IVF” come out of my doctor’s mouth, I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience. I was there but not really. My mind was trying to protect myself. I had never planned on doing IVF. With my very limited funds and with the bleeding from these cursed fibroids getting worse and worse each day, I had planned on trying maybe a few months of IUI until my bank and my body could hold no longer. Maybe if I had done a better job at “managing my expectations” as my therapist had advised or if I was more a pessimist, I would have been worried about my tubes and not be as stunned and upset. I was not mentally prepared for the possibility of the long, emotional journey of IVF.

I try not to have regrets in my life as I always try to believe that there is something to learn in every challenge but I could not help thinking today that I regret ever using birth control during my adulthood. Maybe then I would have already had a baby or two. It would be Russian roulette on who the father would be and I would probably be embroiled in some nasty custody/financial battle and have some man I didn’t really care for in my life. But I would have a child. Well I guess it wasn’t meant to happen that way and it is looking like it may not be meant to happen the way I am hoping for either. I knew that with my uterus packed with submucousal fibroids, polyps and scar tissue from hysteroscopies, chances of having a baby were going to be slim. Now with this newfound discovery of issues with my fallopian tubes, are my chances now down to the equivalent of being struck by lightning?

My one and only ex-boyfriend, Z, has never stopped pursuing me even though I ended things nearly 10 years ago and knows that I have someone in my life. I received another one of his texts recently asking me when we can get together for coffee. As usual, I have not responded. Since realizing that I wanted to be a mother, once in a while I will have this very short-lived reflection float up and appear on the surface. Maybe if I really, really wanted a child, I would go back with Z. He would love to have a houseful of children and a housewife. He is very successful and so money would never be an issue. His family is nice and similar to mine. He loves me and is nice, caring, intelligent, tall, and decent-looking. We have 7 years of history together. And then I think…I don’t love him. Yes, I would maybe have children but I would also have my life entrenched with someone I did not love. Yes I long for a baby but not enough to grow deceit and pretense in my heart and in another’s life. And then it disappears.

In my distressed state after getting home earlier, I had called S. I am rarely in a state like that and hearing my delirious hyperventilation on the phone, he initially thought it was a dire emergency. After piecing together my blubbering words of “IVF, “blocked tubes,” and “can’t afford,” calm and steadfast as he always is, he told me to contact my work to let them know I wasn’t going to go in. It took me about an hour before I calmed myself down enough to call them. I also tried to call my therapist’s office but I was unable to get through to anyone. When I was sedated enough, I started looking up info and pricing on IVF and also on blocked fallopian tubes. In my state of semi-consciousness, I could not even remember which tube he said was blocked. Maybe it was left?? I also could not remember if he had told me to book an appointment to see him next week so I luckily I remembered just in time to call the office before they closed for the day. He will be away after next week and so his schedule was jammed. I briefly explained the situation to the receptionist and told her that I could not wait until May as my consultation with the fertility clinic will be in the last week of April. She warned me that there will be a long wait but she managed to squeeze me in for 6:30 pm next Tuesday, which means that I probably won’t get into actually seeing him until 9:00 pm or so.

S came by after he finished work. I just laid in his arms and cried. There was not much to say. I did tell him that at least I have him in my life. No matter how imperfect our love and relationship is, I know I have somehow managed to get this one amazing blessing in life. He eventually had to go as he had an appointment at the clinic to donate blood. He tried to convince me to accompany him to get my mind off of things. I said no and asked him if I should blowdry his shirt after I saw the sprawling wet mark I had left on his left shoulder. Literally a shoulder to cry on.

I tried to distract myself with dishwashing and Lykke Li but as the occasional tear dropped into the sink, I realized that I have never really, really wanted anything in life. I never had a burning desire for massive loads of money, shiny things, possessions, or even a Prince Charming. My desire to do international humanitarian work was in my heart but it did not consume it. I realized that I have never, in my 35 years, truly wanted something until now. And that is why it hurts so much when there are setbacks along the way. I knew that this was going to be a rough journey. I didn’t realize that if it does suddenly come to an abrupt end, that this will be the worst heartbreak of my life.

M