Monday, March 28, 2011


I return to my desk after helping a guest and see a missed call on my phone. Damn, it was the nurse from my OBGYN. She tried to call me with my lab results on Thursday and I missed the call. I called her back, but as of Monday morning she still hadn't returned the message. Until the two seconds I am away from my phone.

I call the office, patiently navigate my way through the automated phone system (which tries as hard as it can to prevent a patient from speaking to an Actual Person) and wait on hold for Nurse.

She picks up the phone an apologizes profusely for us missing each other so much, but she has my lab results. My LH was normal, and my FSH was high.

That's it.

I have to prod her for the actual numbers (13.1 in case you're curious - lower than last time and thank God not higher). She then says, "Wait, she (Dr. A) has some notes here..."

I wait.

When it comes it comes in a babbling, blathering storm.

"She wants you to go ahead and see your fertility doctor, Dr. C, about getting some eggs frozen."

I see. Except that I. Don't. HAVE. A fertility doctor. Never heard of him. Never.

I say as much to Nurse.

"Oh, well maybe she just wants you to have it done since you're still undergoing treatment (for cancer)."

I see. Except that I. Don't. HAVE. Cancer. Not anymore. Haven't had a treatment for more than 10 years.

I say as much to Nurse.

"Oh, well maybe she's just thinking that fertility drugs like Clomid aren't going to work so she's going to send you to him."




My doctor has not once even mentioned fertility drugs. These blood tests were a pre-screening process before we started trying to see if my chemo regimen had damaged my ability to have kids.

Me to Nurse: "I'm sorry, I'm just confused here. I don't have a fertility doctor and have never even heard of him. I have a meeting with Dr. A on Thursday to discuss my results."

Nurse: "Oh, okay, well just talk to her about it then!"

I hang up the phone and the silence in my office is thick. I feel coolness on my legs and realize that I have been crying for God knows how long and haven't even noticed. I raise my trembling hand to write my new FSH level down. I set the pen down.

I break.

Huge, gasping sobs come flooding out of me, racking my body. I can't breathe. I am so terrified. So scared.

A terrifying future looms in front of me - a future full of shots and tests and hormones and terror and grief. I don't know anything about infertility. I don't know how the treatments work. I don't know how the diagnoses are made - except I can't help thinking that it should involve something a bit more intensive than an FSH test.

Once I have myself calmed down, I leave work (with permission), drive home, gather my dogs and my overnight bag and head to my grandmother's house. She raised me and is my complete rock. I call her to tell her that I am coming, and two hours later I am in her arms, smelling her wonderful familiar smells and finding the comfort than can come from no one else, not even Mr. M.

I sit, exhausted, at her kitchen table while she and my (disabled) mother finish their lunch. The cozy familiarity of my surroundings, the house I grew up in, soothes me. A few hours and a splash of cold water later and my eyes have lost some of that deeply haunted look.

That phone call shocked me. I was prepared to hear my numbers, and that's it. I have been trying to mentally prepare myself for the consult with the doctor tomorrow, and all of these words, thrown so carelessly at me by an equally careless nurse, knocked me to my knees.

Mo co-workers know something is wrong. Yesterday I stumbled in two hours late, huge dark circles under my eyes. I tell them I'm having some health problems, reassure them it's not cancer; not life-threatening, but that's all I can say.

Today I am exhausted but seem to have recovered at least some of my equilibrium. I'm spending the afternoon writing down questions to ask Dr. A. tomorrow. And yes, I WILL be speaking to her about Nurse's careless attitude and her penchant for opening her mouth when she has NO IDEA what is going on and it only making assumptions.

The terror hasn't returned yet. I'm fairly calm at the moment.

But I can still see the dried saltwater stains on my desk. And I know they'll be back.

Think of me tomorrow, friends. I will write about the experience as soon as I am able.

Oh, and I do have two dear friends lines up to babysit me after the appointment, when Mr. M has to go back to work. Our plan is to get thoroughly drunk and screechy, then have Mr. M drive us home.

The Date Has Been Set

From my journal:

"3/11/11 Friday

Going for my second blood test in a matter of hours. I've been so busy today that I haven't really had time to worry or think about it.

Until now. It just hit me like a ton of bricks in my pizza-filled stomach, and now I'm terrified. Pulse racing and sick with dread.

Please be better. Please, please be lower. Dear God, please get me below a 12. I don't deserve this. I don't deserve to have to go through this.

I deserve children. I deserve happiness.

Please let it be lower. Please, please, please.


The lab tech got my vein on the first try. That was heartening at least. The whole time my blood was draining out of my I said a feverent prayer silently to myself.

"Please be good, please be good, please be good."

The date has been set. I have an appointment with my OBGYN on Thursday, March 24 at 9:20 a.m. At that time she will go over my blood test results. My husband has taken off work to go with me, which is absolutely terrifying with its seriousness. I don't want him to come with me. If he comes it all becomes real.

I have no idea what to expect. Maybe the number will be higher. Maybe the number will be lower, but still on the high side. Maybe it will have miraculously fallen down into the "don't worry, everything's all right" range.

Will she advise us to even try to conceive naturally? Will she just throw some vague and disheartening statistics at us and immediately refer us to an RE?

What does the future hold for us?

I can't stand the waiting. I shall just go very quietly crazy until one day I abruptly implode.

A Toilet Shower Makes for a Crappy Day

My day literally, LITERALLY started out with a toilet shower. After taking a sick day yesterday, I stumbled into work bleary-eyed and already hating the world. At 8:30 I headed to the bathroom. After finishing my "business" I stood up and the automatic toilet flusher thing went off.

And fired a huge spray of water up and out from the pipes at the top of the toilet.

My back was drenched and I was in total disbelief of what had just happened. Luckily, it was the clean water that sprayed me and not the ACTUAL toilet water, or I might still be on the floor in hysterics.

My day did not improve from then on. Working on huge projects all day and the receptionist called in sick so I had to man the front desk while also trying to get my own work done. Not a great day.

Last night I journeyed to the wonderful haven of Barnes and Noble to pick out a notebook. It took me a good twenty minutes of comparing and contrasting design, sturdiness, line width and number of pages. I am a writer and very specific about being comfortable when I write. I chose a spiral-bound so I can write with ease on both the fronts and backs of the pages. It's a brightly-colored design of owls, made of recycled materials.

I paid for the notebook (and an inspirational bookmark which I shall share later), bought myself a coffee, and wandered to the fertility books. I picked out three of them ("Infertility for Dummies" being among them) and settled in a comfy chair. I opened my notebook with a satisfying creak and proceeded to write the following entry:

"I spent an inordinate amount of time choosing the journal, searching for one that was Just Right. If has to feel right - sturdy, cheerful and supportive enough to bear the weight of a pen in distress. I believe this one will do the job. I also purchased a bookmark that says:

'BE courageous! HAVE faith! GO forward!' - Edison

It seems an appropriate sentiment as I go forward with this journey. I just hope I don't lose the stupid bookmark.


So much time choosing the bookmark, in fact, that I didn't even get a chance to glance at the three fertility books I had picked out in the store. I had to rush off to a meeting and sit with a pregnant girl on my left and a girl holding a newborn on my right. Super fun, I assure you.

It's probably a good thing I didn't read the books. I'm trying to limit those types of activities as much as I can until I actually talk to the doctor, with a few slip-ups (frantically searching the Web for any nugget of information or hope).

Right now I'm just suspended in an awful kind of stasis as I wait for the opportunity to do my blood work again, wait for the results, and wait to speak with the doctor.

Far too much waiting on an issue that will affect my life immeasureably."

The notebook will become my journal, my notebook, my haven of ideas, book titles and research. I hope it will help me to write out my feelings instead of letting them boil inside of me.

On the very first page I wrote:

"Journal Started March 1, 2011"

with a lot of blank space beneath it.

Hopefully someday, that blank space will contain the names and birthdates of my children.

The Wait. Is Killing Me.

Increasingly I find that the worst part of this experience (so far, of course) is WAITING. Waiting for Aunt Flo to visit again, which won’t happen until March. Tenth. Next MONTH. God, it always seems like I want the time between “visits” to last as long as possible. Never in my life have I wanted it to HURRY UP like I do right now.

Once Aunt F. arrives I will be able to go have my bloodwork done again. Then I will be (again) waiting for the results. Then waiting to meet with my doctor.

Essentially, waiting to see how the rest of my life is going to turn out.

I am restless. I can’t focus on anything. I can’t make myself do my work; work that really needs to be done. I can’t keep myself away from the Internet and the countless blogs and Web sites about infertility. I can’t make myself stop.

I haven’t even started trying to get pregnant yet, and already I feel like I’m losing my mind.

I Always Thought it Would Be Easy

I always thought it would be easy.

I mean, it sounds easy right? That’s the way to the Great American Dream – go to college, get a job, get married, have kids, and THEN start living your life.

Sometimes it isn’t that easy, turns out.

I got the phone call from my OBGYN office on Friday morning. The nurse was bright, cheerful – too cheerful – telling me all of my great test results, without mentioning the super-important blood work that had me a nervous wreck. I finally had to ask her about it, and her voice changed.

My heart thudded painfully in my chest.

My LH (lutenizing hormone) was normal – a 6. My FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) - a 14.

Not good.

Google it if you’d like, but it all basically boils down to this – the more your eggs drop in quantity or quality, the higher your FSH number goes. They want my FSH number to be closer to my LH number.

The good news (right?) was that my ovaries are still functioning. The chemo hadn’t killed them completely.

So that’s…something…right?

The nurse was all full of reassurances and said we needed to do the test one more time to make sure it wasn’t a fluke reading. So now I have to wait another three weeks, drive 40 minutes out of my way on a Saturday again, and then wait in complete terror for another week to get the results. More terror that before – terror with a terrible weight behind it.

If the FSH number is high again, I will have to go in and meet with the doctor to talk about it. I am terrified of it.

I think the worst part, to me, is the shock. Given my medical history, I tend to be a pessimist when waiting for test results, expecting the worst. This time, for some reason, I actually expected it to go my way.

Oh, I wish so badly it had gone my way.

I never, ever thought it would be this hard.

I keep trying to tell myself that I don’t have anything to worry about yet. First, I need to do the test again and see if the number is still high. If it is, then I can allow myself some worry. Next, I meet with my doctor to talk about it. That meeting I am dreading more that anything else. What if she tells me it’s hopeless? What if she gives me some awful, depressing statistics about my chance of actually conceiving and/or carrying to term? What if she just flat-out tells me it’s not going to happen?

Sheer. Terror.

Right now, I’m going through a complete roller coaster of emotions. Sometimes I find a curious peace with it. This was my initial response after I cried my eyes out for a good hour. I thought, “Hey, I am dealing with this SO WELL!” And then, of course, by the next day I was a total wreck about it.

It doesn’t help that my peer group is completely booming with babies right now. They are literally falling from the sky around me. You know those women who want babies who cry when someone in a trashy romance novel gets pregnant or who stare with wistful jealousy at Facebook photos of baby showers and pregnancy portraits? I have already become That Woman, and I’m not even trying to get pregnant yet!

Bless Mr. M. for being so sweetly patient and supportive (he even researched FSH himself) and for rubbing my back while I was sobbing in the bathtub last night. Bless my amazing mother for being so supportive, for letting me cut short my visit to her house late Saturday night so I could drive an hour back through the country to my bed and my husband’s arms. Bless my wonderful sister for helping me find some humor in it even as she is going through some awful times of her own.

I haven’t really done any research about high FSH levels and their possible treatments and options. In fact, I’m kind of forbidding myself to do so. I feel like I need to get the second test done, and then if it’s still high I need to get my doctor visit over with (luckily I LOVE my OBGYN), and then I will allow myself to spend eight hours a day on Web sites and message boards and forums.

I did research it a bit after the phone call, just so I could learn what it was. In my browsing I even found a support group message board where women were posting their success stories of pregnancy with high FSH levels. I am so glad I found that page. It has now become kind of a beacon of hope in my tossed and shattered psyche that I turn to when the sadness threatens to overwhelm me.

Today, however, I did start researching natural and herbal fertility boosters, and found some really helpful articles. This one especially I love. It shows me there is plenty that I can do to help boost my own fertility, especially in the months before we start trying.

It gives me hope, and hope is pretty thin on the ground in the M household right now.

Stay with me…

And So It Begins...

Went for my yearly OBGYN appointment last week. Never a fun experience, especially since they always seem to be running at LEAST 30 minutes behind every time I’m there.

After all the “fun stuff” was over with, I was able to ask my doctor some questions and let her know that we were considering having kids sometime in the near future.

And then the question, “Will I be able to have kids?”

A pause.

Let me give you a brief rundown of my medical history:

Cancer: I had it. At the age of 17. Complete with chemotherapy, radiation and a LOT of drugs. My cycle stopped completely for a few months, and then after I was “cured” I started taking an oral contraceptive that helped it regulate again.

Retroverted uterus: I has one. This means that my uterus is tilted in the opposite direction from normal uteruses. Uteri? Crap, I’m so new to this baby stuff I can’t even speak the lingo!

Ovarian cysts: I have had two that I know of, one recently.

Ninja-style left ovary that ultrasound technicians have to search for every single time: I has one of those, too!

Mostly, I am just worried about the cancer treatment, because cancer treatment drugs and radiation can both cause infertility. And I want to know what my chances are before we start trying to have children. I want to know how high I can allow my hopes to me, or how cautiously to guard my heart.

My doctor couldn’t really tell me what my chances are without knowing more details about my treatment. She suggested that I obtain a list of all the medicines I was given during chemo, then take that list to an oncologist (she referred me to one) who could go over the list with me and tell be if any of the medicines I took cause either infertility of birth defects.

Then, she said, we would have to see if the chemo had killed my ovaries.

I’m sorry, WHAT?? Did the words, “killed my ovaries” actually just come out of this medical professional’s mouth.

Once I recovered from the shock (still grappling with the concept of “dead” ovaries), I learned that a simple blood test could determine my egg production levels. I just had to go get the blood drawn on the second or third day of my cycle.

She did throw one tiny, teensy bone my way, though. She said that the fact that I have regular cycles is a good sign.

So I left the appointment with my head whirling as I tried to grasp all the information and the concepts. The next day, I submitted a medical records request to the hospital where I was treated. I have no idea how long it will take to get the records, but at least I’m not in a hurry.

I had my blood drawn on Saturday, having to drive to a lab 30 minutes away from home because it was the only lab in my area that drew blood on Saturdays and my cycle just happened to fall that way.

So right now I am very anxiously awaiting the results of the blood tests. I don’t know how you tell someone news like this over the phone, although I’m sure this office is used to it by now. But what will they do, just say, “Well, sorry, your egg productions is like a 50 year-olds, no kids in the picture. Have a nice day!”

The awful thing is I have no idea how long it will take to get the results in so I have no idea how long I’ll have to worry!

So for a while, I will sit anxiously awaiting and turn pale every time a number I don’t recognize turns up on my phone.