Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My Bum Ovaries: The Beginning

So here's the thing. I'm 29. I've been married for a little over two years to a dashing man who couldn't be more perfect for me. We own a house. We both have decent, albeit low salaried jobs and big families who are all intact, all very loving, and very supportive. We have a precious cat (Henry) who likes to follow me around. On the surface? We live a charmed life. Okay, not even on the surface. Until the past year, we actually have lived a charmed life.

Then last May (in 2011), we went on an eight-day vacation to Spain. We had saved and saved and justified the trip as being "our last chance" for a big vacation before kids. A few nights into the trip, tipsy on Spanish beer and overwhelmed with the giddy excitement of being in Europe, we decided we were ready to start trying for a baby. Like immediately. We swore ourselves to secrecy, and I took my last birth control pill on May 21.

Having lived a particularly delightful life to that point, I bought several pregnancy tests in June and July and August and dismissed the fact that I didn't have a single period during that time. When the hot flashes started to come on in late June, a few quick google searches were enough for me to suspect that something was up. But I denied it. After a couple of months of hot flashes, the hubs gently suggested I make a doctor's appointment. I was still in denial and wanted nothing to do with the thought that this whole conceiving thing might be tougher than I originally thought. Besides, I was busy being the Matron of Honor in my sister's mid-October wedding, and that meant bridal showers and bachelorette parties and the like were keeping me too busy to worry about hot flashes and a complete and utter lack of a period. I told myself and my husband that my body was just taking a hot minute to adjust to being off the pill.

I ended up getting a period in early September and the hot flashes went away. "Problem solved!" I announced to the hubs.

As you can probably guess, the problem was not solved. Another six weeks went by: no period. Hot flashes returned (with a vengeance). Sister's wedding came. Sister's wedding went. It was time to call my OBGYN. She was very reassuring. She gave me some Prometrium to "kick start" my period, but also took blood to rule out other issues. I made an appointment to come back in 2 1/2 weeks but she ended up calling a couple days later and left a voicemail to come in sooner.

When I went in (alone - so stupid!), I was nervous. I had already had a minor breakdown in response to the voicemail - the thought of having a problem conceiving was unbearable. I sat down at my OBGYN's desk and she told me, as gently as she could, that my blood work results were alarming. She explained that my "FSH" (which was a new term to me at the time) was very high and my estradiol (fancy word for estrogen) was very low. And that this meant my brain was telling my ovaries to produce an egg and my ovaries won't (or can't) listen and respond.

I tried very hard to take it all in. I took diligent notes on the little notebook I had brought with me. I remember even laughing a little, about how silly my ovaries were being, still thinking that there was surely a drug or something they could give me to make those ovaries get in line and start doing the job I knew they could do. "So what's the treatment?" I asked, ready to embark on some chlomid and some other minor fertility drug.

"They call it 'Premature Ovarian Failure... pre-menopause... There is no treatment. The specialist is going to tell you you need a donor egg. That's your best chance."

That's when the world as I knew it flipped upside down. The words rang in my ears. Donor egg. Donor egg.  Donor egg. DONOR EGG. DONOR EGG. I felt my face get hot and then I could feel the blood draining from my head. Tears were falling. Pouring. I thought I was going to throw up. "I need to lay down," I said in a small voice. I tried to stand. Couldn't. I put my head down and lost consciousness for a minute. Everything sounded distant, quiet.

When I pulled myself together, I had to wait in the doctor's office for a half hour to make sure I could drive myself home. She gave me some referral papers and I nearly ran to my car, trying not to lose it before I was in the comfort of a closed space. I called the hubs, hysterical, sobbing, crying like I've never cried before. He left work and we met at home, where we just held each other and cried all day. Eight hours. Crying.

I didn't want to tell anyone what was going on, but hubs convinced me this was beyond our ability to handle alone. We had my parents over that night and called his parents (they live about 100 miles away) the next night. We told our siblings. Over the past few months, we've slowly been expanding our support network. But for me, it hasn't been enough. Which brings me to: the point of this blog. 

I am not a blogger. I am not sure I will be any good at this. But over the past couple of months I have come to realize that talking about all of this, as painful as it is, is also therapeutic. And sometimes talking to family and friends isn't enough. I feel like a burden sometimes, to those people who are closest to me, and sometimes those people have a hard time knowing the right thing to say. Well here's a place I can get it all out and only talk to the people who want to hear it. Maybe other people who are going through Premature Ovarian Failure or infertility in general will find comfort in this blog, or at least find me to connect. So here goes nothing.