Saturday, January 06, 2007

Hollow like an egg

Reading this post about infertility made me think about when I was trying to get pregnant. I knew it wouldn't be easy - I had polycystic ovaries (PCOS), irregular periods, and was pretty sure I wasn't ovulating. It was the most important thing I wanted to do, I was focussed and driven.

PCOS is a condition with many aspects, it includes ovaries that don't function properly, hormone imbalance, changes to metabolism and usually, although not in my case, insulin resistance. It is a mean disease - the metabolic effect makes it much easier to gain weight, gaining weight increases the hormone problems, the hormone problems make the ovaries more disfunctional and makes the metabolic effect worse.

But I was determined, I got fit, I lost 20kg. Still not ovulating, I took clomid in ever increasing doses. Still not ovulating.

I realised that my gynaecologist had, a) referred me inappropriately for another condition which she had, b) misdiagnosed, and c) was treating my PCOS according to a recipe that didn't take my particular case into account and where her next step was inappropriate. I changed gynaecologist.

More drugs. Still not ovulating. One of my ovaries was now looking much better but I had two fibrial cysts on that fallopian tube. I had surgery to remove the cysts. They returned within a month.

Focussed and driven but without control. Hope has no power to make that miracle happen. I felt fragile and broken. Aching and dry. Sterile. Barren. Working every day in a world that knew nothing about what I was going through.

We went ahead with injections to induce ovulation. I was injecting myself daily, having blood tests every other day and pelvic ultrasounds every four days. Four follicles matured in the good ovary with the cysts on the fallopian tube, a doctor flippantly said "how do you feel about quads?" It seemed so unlikely that my fallopian tube would manage to catch even one, weighed down as it was by two golf ball sized fluid filled balloons. So unlikely its delicate fingers would reach out be in the right place at the right time. The fertility clinic was not concerned. We went ahead.

One Saturday I rang the clinic for a bizarre conversation where I was told to inject the trigger hormone dose to make ovulation occur and the pleasant, professional nurse instructed me when to have sex.

On Sunday I felt like my internal organs were rearranging themselves. I think my fallopian tubes were struggling, maybe the one with the cysts heaving, pulling and stretching its fingers out to grab two tiny eggs or maybe the other one reaching across my abdomen, far from its usual home to pick them up (it has been known).

For the next days I was injecting an extract purified from the urine of pregnant women (HCG). A meeting of sympathetic magic and science. I felt pregnant in many tiny ways but had to keep telling myself that the hormones I was injecting would tell my body to feel that way empty or not.

We waited.

A forever later it was time to take the test. This is the time that shatters. The time that throws your body's failure in your face. The time of heartbreak and tears. We were lucky, this time my hope met reality on a tiny blue line.

Pregnant. The first tiny sprouts of H & K.

Long before in this process I had realised something - we had to have a limit past which we would not go. I didn't know what it was but we needed to keep an eye out for it. These days the technology is such that it is possible to keep trying until it destroys something in you. I didn't want to 'try everything' but I didn't know what our limit was.

In the end my limit came not in a choice to stop fertility treatment but in a choice to have an operation to stop the most distressing symptoms of my PCOS and lose any chance of even having children again. A choice to act rather than a choice to stop acting. In this and in everything else I am deeply, deeply grateful for D's ongoing generous love and support.

[My pregnancy and birth story is here or for a quick summary of the outcome H & K contributed these:


1 comment:

Mandy said...


Oh, the memories. It affects you. It changes you. I am hoping for the better, but it remains to be seen.