Monday, September 6, 2021

My Infertility Story

 Recently I started watching/following a young couple, Reid and Cari, and their family on You Tube.  They live in Honolulu, HI.  They also started a Podcast talking about different subjects.  I haven't listened to all of the podcasts, they've done 7 so far.  Today they shared their very personal story of their journey regarding infertility.  I was very interested in listening to it, so I did.

I have my own story of dealing with infertility and so I thought maybe I should share my here it is...

I struggled with my monthly periods during my teen years.  I was always regular, however dealt with very painful periods.  There was a time after I graduated from high school that I was having very painful cramps and so my mother took me to the family doctor, a Chinese doctor.  It would be the first time that I would have a pelvic examination.  He told my mother that I had "pus bags" on my ovaries and told me to use a hot water bottle on my stomach and it should pass.  So I did and I did have some relief after a few days.

I married the first time in November of 1961.  A few months later my then husband took me to the clinic on base at Camp Pendleton in Oceanside, CA.  I was 3 months pregnant.  Unfortunately that pregnancy would not last and I lost that baby.  I then began to experience all kinds of problems with my monthly periods.  I went as long as 7 months without a period and was not pregnant.  We were living in Pasadena, CA by then, doctors I went to could not figure out what was wrong.

In 1965 we moved back to Oceanside, CA where we bought our first home.  I was still having problems with my monthly periods.  In 1967 I was referred to a gynecologist who specialized in infertility and menstrual problems.  First, he advised we needed to find out why my menstrual cycle was so messed up.  He wanted to do some exploratory surgery.  I agreed and so the surgery was performed.  The exploratory part was done first.  I was put on my stomach, resting on my knees and elbows and a scope was inserted through the vagina...a very awkward position,  There were 4 nurses helping to hold me in that position.  It was discovered that both my ovaries were enlarged and covered with cysts.  (This may have been the "pus bags" my family doctor mentioned back in 1960).  There was a lot of fluid there also.  My fallopian tubes were clear which was a good sign.  I was immediately turned over, given a general anesthesia and surgery was performed.  The cysts were cleared away, a wedge section of each of my ovaries was removed and the fluid cleared.  The prognosis was that I should begin to ovulate, have regular periods and hopefully then be able to conceive.

I was put on birth control pills to see it that would help with having my monthly.  As long as I took them everything was fine.  As soon as I went off of them, the problems returned.  In late 1968 I was referred to another gynecologist that also specialized in infertility and menstrual problems.  He had me start taking my temperature every morning before I got out of bed.  That was to see if and when I ovulated.  We did that for a few months to establish a pattern.  In January of 1969, I was put on Clomid, a fertility pill, for 5 days.  I continued to take my temperature and when my temperature spiked (that meant I was ovulating), we were to have sex.  After the 5 days, I went back to the doctor and had my blood taken.  We had to do 2 tests, the first one came back negative, the second one was positive.

And so the long journey had come to an end (of sorts), I was finally pregnant, February 1969.  The pregnancy was full of apprehension and uncertainty.  I had to have a hormone shot each month, one every week towards the end, just to ensure that I was able to carry to full term.

In November 1969 I delivered a beautiful baby girl via C-section.  Even the labor/delivery part was full of problems.  She was definitely an answer to my prayers.

Reid and Cari talked about the emotional ups and downs they have experienced in their continuing journey.  I can certainly relate to that.  There was utter frustration and disappointment when each month passed and I was not pregnant or was not having a period.  I resented friends who were pregnant and avoided being around them.  There was one family who lived across the street from us.  They had a son and daughter.  The husband went to Viet Nam and soon after he got home, they were expecting another child.  I spent every day at their house and was with my friend the day she went into labor.  After their daughter was born, I was there at their house spending time with their baby.  I became so attached to her.

My marriage ended a year after my daughter was born.

When I met my present husband I was relieved when he shared he was not interested in having more children.  His youngest was 8 years old at the time.  I had had a hysterectomy about 3 years before meeting him.  My menstrual problems continued after my pregnancy, I was divorced and had no plans for another child and so having a hysterectomy seemed like the perfect solution to take care of the problem.

Over the years I have known other women who have had similar problems as I did.  The emotional toll can be unbearable at times.

I am so grateful to the two doctors who helped me with my problems.  My Denise is so precious to me.  I am so absolutely blessed to be her mother.  My prayers were answered!

In closing, I should mention that I was the first Clomid patient in North San Diego County.  It was also thought I was going to have twins due to an enlarged uterus.  Taking Clomid did sometimes result in multiple births.

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