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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Get Comfy. This is gonna be a long one...

I have been putting this off for awhile but today I finally decided the time is right to tell everyone about something that has been going on in my life for a couple of months (the term "Everyone" being used loosely in this case as there really aren't THAT many people who read my blog that don't already know...). I wasn't necessarily keeping it a secret but I also wasn't exactly telling everyone either- in September, after having been off birth control for 5 months and never getting a period, I found out from my OBGYN that I have something called Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome or PCOS...it's kind of hard to explain really...it basically means that I'm not ovulating properly, or possibly not at all. The best thing you can do if you're really interested is to Google it rather than have me try to explain. It's one of those things that has a million random symptoms that may or may not occur in everyone, as well as a whole mix of possible outcomes for the fertility of someone who has it. If you DO Google the term, probably the first “fun fact” you'll come across, as I did, is that it is the #1 cause of infertility in the US and it also has a high risk of miscarriage. However, my doctor put the whole thing in a better light when she explained that PCOS is the #1 cause of infertility in untreated patients in the US (we haven't discussed yet if this is true of the possibility of miscarriage as well) and with the proper treatment and a little weight loss on my part, my doctor is hopeful that I will not turn out to be infertile. For now, I'm letting myself hope that she is right.

The Path So Far

For those of you who would rather just forget that women have periods and experience a myriad of emotional ups and downs each month along with certain “symptoms” that are altogether not that pleasant, you may want to stop reading here. I won't be describing anything gross or graphic but I am going to speak frankly about menstrual cycles- sorry:) I may also explain things that you already know but please, bear with me! I've learned a lot in the last few months and one of those things is that women (including me) are largely in the dark about what really goes on with their bodies, so all-in-all at least I'm learning something?! And now I can pass that knowledge on to you! Yay.

So now it's been 3 months since I started taking a drug called Metformin (brand name for Glucophage) at 500mg twice a day, and though I have started getting a cycle again it has been far from regular. With 40-50 days between periods it is unlikely that I am ovulating at all- a lack of ovulation means that my ovaries are not releasing eggs -therefore there is nothing to be fertilized, and in turn, no chance of getting pregnant. Since my eggs are not being released on their own, they have been sitting in/on my ovaries and turning into little cysts (thus the poly-cystic part). My hormones where also all out of whack and causing things like acne (awesome) and the whole never-being-able-to-lose-weight thing. Metformin was supposed to regulate this as it is essentially an insulin-regulating drug and in many ways PCOS is a pre-diabetic condition, but so far we haven't seen the desired results.

Last week I called my doctor's office to let them know that though I do have periods again, I do not have a regular cycle. My OBGYN decided it was a good idea to up the dosage of Metformin to 3 times a day instead of 2. I spoke with Jamie, the nurse practitioner today and she also recommended I begin taking my Basal Body Temperature and charting it daily. This means waking up to take my temperature at about the same time every morning before I get out of bed and writing the number on a little graph. When (if) my temperature spikes, then I'm ovulating. It's supposed to be the most accurate (and inexpensive!) way to check for ovulation.

Step 2 is to lose more weight. I've lost a little from taking Metformin and a little dieting alone, but my new doctor-imposed-goal is to lose 15lbs by March 4th, which is my next appointment with my OBGYN. If, by March 4th I have lost the weight and my cycle is still not regular they will most likely start me on a fertility medication called Chlomid (Clomid? I've seen both spellings) in addition to the Metformin. I haven't read up a lot on Chlomid yet but I do know you take it in “rounds” and that you cannot continue to take it for long periods of time.

So, that is the long and short (not so short) of it. If you are looking for ways to pray for me (and Andy, though in all honesty the only real effect on him right now is dealing with my emotions), keep in mind that I have always had problems with both anxiety and depression. Though I try to keep myself positive and know its not good for either my health or my relationships (or oddly enough, regulating a menstrual cycle) to dwell on the bad, it's not always easy. Also, when (if) we do reach the point of a regular cycle and ovulation, we have a built-in stumbling-block in the fact that Andy's job keeps him away from home quite frequently. We estimate he is only home about 40% of the time...this doesn't bode well when there is really only a 4-day window for getting pregnant each month. Timing will have to be perfect for things to work out the way we'd like. Thankfully Someone Else is in charge of timing and not me, but it can still be very difficult to Trust.

Finally, not entirely but partly thanks to the miracle that is Facebook, I am hearing about new pregnancies among my friends and acquaintances everyday. I feel inundated by pictures, blogs, and a bazillion updates on each and every single one of my friends' and families' healthy children. As a girl that has really never wanted anything more than to have children and be a stay-at-home-mom, this whole situation is quite literally one of my worst nightmares. It also doesn't help when well-meaning people try to "look on the bright side" and inform me that I should be happy I get to spend more time with just my husband and "practice" without all the stress of kids. While I agree that God's timing is perfect and I know He has a reason for all of this, I'd love to remind those people that THEY decided when THEY wanted to have kids and for most of them, it happened...they usually aren't thinking about how they really would have felt if they'd been told to "wait."

I put off blogging about this for so long. I think in many ways it felt like admitting we might be in for a long road ahead, and that was a truly scary thought. I was also wary of posting a whole long entry about this only to find out I was pregnant a week later (but since I'm at the beginning of my “cycle” the earliest that can happen is a month, so it's pretty unlikely), and I really hate to cry wolf. I also always had this image in my head of surprising friends and family with a pregnancy, so it is hard for me to expose (literally) myself and the entire situation in this way. I guess though I've just decided that's not an option for us, I'll have to give up that image in exchange for prayers and support from friends and family.

So pray that I stay positive, that Andy and I continue to deal (pretty)well with his schedule, and that we also continue to resist the temptation to become bitter over all of the new babies around us and our distinct lack of one of our own. In turn, the best I can offer is to keep you updated, and one day to give you lots of lap time with our child, however we are finally blessed with one!


~Krista (for Andy)