Thursday, July 17, 2008


Up until recently, I had a very clear vision for this blog. It was to be about Clio, not about me. Now I'm at a loss. Please tell me, in the fall, if I start complaining too much about my workload grading student papers. I don't want to turn into a whiny blogger. Too late? :)

Anyhow, now that the blog is not focused in the same way, it's time for true confessions.

Back in May something big happened and I haven't told many people about it.

***Warning, if you know me in real life and you're not interested in TMI (too much information), stop reading now***

Here's the full story, leading up to what happened in May:

I'd been having what was referred to in the 19th Century as "female troubles" for awhile. I never experienced this as a teenager, never knew that "endometriosis" applied to me, until I went off the pill in the winter of '03-'04 and my cycles went haywire to the extent that my OB/Gyn agreed to treat me with clomid even before J and I had been "trying" for 6 months and I was referred to an RE (reproductive endocrinologist) shortly thereafter.

By the way, my RE looks exactly like Dr. Green from ER (the one that died of a brain tumor a few seasons back) and so of course I instintively trusted him and wrote him lots of checks for treatment even though his office is an hour from my house. Sigh. He's great, though.

Anyhow, during the course of attempting IUIs, Dr. G found a cyst on my right ovary that he predicted was endometriosis. Shock to me at the time. He did surgery in January of '06 to confirm the endo, discovered Stage III (moderate) endo in my abdomen and removed it and the cyst. We then proceeded to try IUIs after my surgery. Needless to say, they failed. Dr. G recommended IVF and we decided to try adoption.

My "female troubles" got much better after the surgery, but gradually returned to just as bad, and then worse, than they had been before my first surgery. I didn't want another surgery, though, and was in denial, until it finally became too much to handle because I became almost incapacitated a couple of days each month.

I went back to Dr. G in May of this year ('08), which felt illicit because as part of our adoption contract we promised not to seek fertility treatment. Our social worker does this to make sure that couples coming to her for adoption are really serious about it, serious enough to grieve and accept that they will no longer try for a pregnancy. Meaning that, if we do decide to do IVF next summer, we will have to call her and take ourselves off of her list until we are done trying IVF.

So, when I went to see Dr. G I told him that I wasn't there for fertility treatment, but to treat my "female issues" because he had done my surgery almost 2.5 years before. He did an ultrasound and found that I had a huge fibroid cyst growing in my uterus and another endometriosis cyst on my left ovary. Wow, that really explained my incapacitation! I also felt like an idiot for not going to him sooner because when you're an infertile woman, about the last thing you want to find out is that there is a huge fibroid growing in your uterus, making it a very inhospitable environment for a pregnancy.

Dr. G recommended surgery right away to alleviate my symptoms (thanks, Dr. G, you're the best!) and the date was set for May 30, which also happened to be the day I was going to have my church baby shower for Clio. My friend, Holly, had already sent out invitations to the shower, so she had to then send out another round of cards letting people know the shower was being moved back a week. (Thanks Holly, you're the best, too.)

The surgery went well. Dr. G removed a softball-sized fibroid and my uterus sighed with relief. No, really. In other good news, the endometriosis was minimal and there wasn't much to remove, but he did also remove one large and a couple of small cysts from my left ovary. My recovery was a lot easier than it had been in '06. During that first surgery, I had a severe hyper-emetic (vomiting) response to anesthesia and was almost admitted to the hospital even though my surgery both times has been laproscopic and considered outpatient surgery. This time my anesthesiologist actually listened to me when I told him that I get really sick from anesthesia and I didn't suffer with the same reaction. So, everything seemed fine until I went back to see Dr. G for my follow-up to check my stitches.

At that point Dr. G told me some good news (my fallopian tubes are still clear and not scarred from endo, yay!) and some bad news. In removing my fibroid, Dr. G had to cut pretty far into the uterine wall. At my follow up, he let me know that I will never be able to have a vaginal birth if I were to become pregnant. I asked him if I could have a vaginal birth and would it be like a VBAC? He said no, it would not be like a VBAC and no doctor would support my decision to have a vaginal birth if I tell them about my surgery. He told me a horror story about a woman he'd treated when he was a much younger doctor who ignored the doctors' recommendations and had a vaginal birth after a surgery like mine, only to have her uterus rupture and the baby die.

The gist is that my uterus will probably be fine with a pregnancy, but won't tolerate contractions and I'll need a scheduled C-section. Ever since I started reading Amy's iParenting diary (years ago now!) about her pregnancy with Peter and her home birth, I've wanted to have a medication-free birth with a midwife, or at least a doula, if I were ever to get pregnant. I read a lot about it and felt very good about my decision. (By the way, the title of Henci Goer's wonderful The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth always made me wonder if there is a companion volume: The Complete Idiot's Guide to an OK Birth. :) Sorry, bad joke.)

It might seem silly for me to care so much about this since I've never been pregnant and we are trying to adopt, but it became very important to me during my years of fertility treatments, etc. I've never completely given up hope of pregnancy; even though it hasn't happened, it is possible. It has been difficult for me to come to terms with the fact that I'll never have that idealized natural birth I've been wishing for for years. I don't like the words "never," "can't," and "won't" being directed at things I want. I'm stubborn. I get it from my Norwegian great-grandpa.

I didn't ask Dr. G about twins, but I would imagine that the condition of my uterus would make a twin pregnancy even higher risk than it already is. Given that twins are more common with IVF (statistics online range from 25-40% of IVF treatments resulting in twins), this worries me a lot. The only thing I can think of worse than never being pregnant or never having an adoption go through is the idea of a late-term miscarriage, stillbirth or SIDS death. Our social worker told us to grieve Lucy as though she were a SIDS death but I know it's not the same. We never had to find her lying lifeless and although we bonded with her enormously during those four days in the hospital, I didn't bond with her as she wiggled and kicked inside of me for months. I can't imagine the horror if I had a successful IVF cycle and then lost the baby/babies to a uterine rupture. I don't know how I would possibly recover from such a thing.

So, that's the story. The surgery that was supposed to make me feel better has instead brought frustration and more things to worry about. On top of everything, Dr. G thought for a few days that the fibroid might have had cancerous qualities and sent a tissue sample to the Mayo Clinic for analysis. Mayo concluded that it was a fast-growing fibroid but not cancerous, but we had a scary couple of days in early June. They were so scary that we didn't tell anyone, even our parents, until we heard back from Mayo, because we didn't want to burden anyone else with worrying about something so horrifying and unconfirmed.

Now, a month and a half later, my external scars are completely healed and I assume the scar on my uterus is the same. I pray that it healed perfectly and that my uterus is now happy and ready to accept the challenge of a pregnancy if the opportunity arises in the future.


  1. I'm 3/4 Norwegian and the stubborn gene is only present in males! :-)

    Your story today was interesting. I have PCOS and a husband who is skeptical about adoption - plus I am in my 40s; he's in his 50s. So chances are we will remain childless. :-(

  2. I just wanted to say that you can have a beatiful and perfect birth even if it's a c-section. They aren't nearly as scary or horrible as some people make them out to be. I went into my pregnancy wanting to try for a non-medicated hospital birth (I was too high risk to do a homebirth) but the only thing I cared was that my daughter and I came through everything safe. I ended up with a c-section and threw the non-medicated idea out the window after the first 24 hours of being induced. My c-section experience was awesome and perfect and I have a healthy daughter. Just wanted to share my thoughts. :)

    You and your hubby are in my thoughts and prayers.

  3. I'm honored that my birth meant so much to you :) Jeanette's (now of was the same for me.

    That said, if you need a c-section -- and you very well might by the sounds of it -- there are ways to make it a great experience. Particularly with a scheduled section where you'd know the doctor, there are lots of ways to personalize it and help you and the baby bond as quickly and well as possible. I have a friend who had a doula at her scheduled section and that made a big difference. I think it's totally reasonable to mourn the loss of a possible vaginal birth if that is indeed the case (I'd get a second opinion before assuming anything), but there are ways to make a c-section empowering too.

  4. My sister is a friend of a friend of yours and she directed me to your blog...I've become an avid/emotional reader! It kills me to hear what you're going thru. And I finally had to comment. I fortunately have never had to suffer thru infertility, so I can't relate there and I can't even imagine how frustrating it can be!! BUT I too had a fibroid removed, last May, with a myomectomy surgery-- after having two children vaginally. It was rough. I had to do it to avoid any future infertility troubles & I had horrible menstural cycles. The downfall, like you said, all future babies had to come via cesarean! I was totally bummed! I recently had that 3rd baby cesarean...after lots of pleading with my dr. to try a vaginal delivery. He refused. And ya know what, it really wasn't that bad. The recovery was a little longer, but the delivery was scheduled, quick and just as wonderful. Here it is 2 1/2 weeks later and I'm chasing my kids around again. So it really isn't that bad. And after reading after the girl that had her uterus rupture and baby die-- I'm glad I didn't persist for a vaginal delivery.

    Thanks for sharing all your experiences with is touching and humbling to read. I'm sure everything will work out and you will be blessed with a baby. It sounds like you will be amazing and terrifc parents...and this experience will make you an even more wonderful, loving parent!! I'm sure of it.


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