Sometimes I feel like people forget that Jason and I have infertility. No one really asks about it anymore, or asks how I’m doing or how I’m feeling about it. Which is fine-I totally get it! I’ve done the same thing with others. But now that I’m living it, it’s hard. We haven’t “moved on”, even if it seems like it because we are pursuing foster care. It’s still something we grieve every day. September of this year will officially mark one year since we started trying.
11 months ago, I had no idea this journey would be so hard. After I stopped taking Clomid in January to help me ovulate, we took a break from fertility treatments because I had lost a good amount of weight. I gained the weight back easily, but still wasn’t ready to start treatments back. It was just so emotional and very difficult. Unfortunately, once I stopped the Clomid, I started bleeding in the middle of my cycle for a few days. Then, it became I bled almost the entire month, with just a few days off. This is what had originally caused us to seek answers and how we found out I didn’t ovulate, meaning we had infertility. So I finally called my OB in April and he started me back on birth control just to control the bleeding. That was really hard on me because I had just hoped that we would become pregnant by accident, without us “trying” or being on a fertility treatment.
But these entire 11 months, all I’ve wanted is answers. Why don’t I ovulate? Was it because I was too thin? Did I not have enough weight on me? Was this my fault? I just wanted to know.
In January, my OB had suggested I make an appointment with a fertility specialist and then get a procedure done to check if I had endometriosis, polyps, or if my tubes were blocked. This would hopefully give us some answers for why I wasn’t ovulating. I decided to wait on the procedure-I wasn’t ready for that yet-but I went ahead and made an appointment with Dr. Phy (who came highly recommended to me). I’m still waiting for that appointment day to come as she was booked an entire year out! I decided to keep that January 2021 appointment so I could have time to figure out what I wanted.
Jason and I talked a few times about getting the procedure done. We weren’t sure how much it was going to cost us, since fertility treatments and procedures are not really covered by insurance. We decided that since we had already met our deductible and our max out of pocket, that we should go ahead and do the procedure. And if it wasn’t covered, depending on the price, we would still do it. So eventually, when I was ready, I called the surgery scheduler at Grace (where my OB is), as well as our insurance to determine what would be covered and how much this procedure would be if nothing was covered. It was confirmed that no, it would not be covered. This was going to be costly, but honestly, it was not as costly as I thought it would be! The procedure has to be done within days 7-11 of the start of a woman’s cycle, so I waited until the first day of my period to call and schedule it.
Well, the day of that procedure was yesterday, August 7.
August 6th (our 4th wedding anniversary), I spent the morning at Grace Clinic to get labs done and complete a pre-op appointment with my OB/surgeon, Dr. Burkholder (who also happened to deliver me as a baby). He explained the procedure to me, which consisted of a diagnostic laparoscopy (a small incision in my belly button and 1-2 other small incisions near my pelvic bone), a hysteroscopy and a chromotubation. The hysteroscopy would take pictures of my cervix, the laparoscopy would also take pictures and look for the polyps, endometriosis, etc, while also treating them if they existed, and the chromotubation is where he would insert dye into my fallopian tubes to see if they were blocked.
I then had to go to Grace Medical Center, where I would be having the outpatient procedure, to check in and get a COVID-19 test done (this was my first COVID test! I’m pretty sure it was negative as they never told me otherwise, lol). I got a call from Grace later that afternoon letting me know I was to arrive for my procedure the following morning at 6 AM. Yep, too early.
Jason and I woke up at 5:15 AM. I couldn’t have anything after midnight to eat or drink (not even water), so I was happy that the procedure was going to be early. We showed up and got checked in, and then we were taken to my hospital room on the Day Surgery floor. I had an IV placed, met with the anesthesiologist, OR nurse and Dr. Burkholder one more time. Jason stayed in the room while I was taken back to the OR around 7:45.
This whole time, I was feeling pretty good! I was just a little nervous, but mainly glad to be getting it over with and ready to have answers. Dr. Burkholder told me I would be fine after the procedure and that I would likely only have a little pain in my abdomen. What I learned the morning of the procedure, was that I had to have a catheter placed in order to fully drain my bladder, and that I may have some irritation afterwards. I had never had a catheter placed before, so I made sure I was going to be asleep for that, and thankfully, I was.
Once the general anesthesia (propofol) was in me, I was out. The procedure took about 30 minutes after the catheter was placed and the OR nurses had prepped me. I woke up in the Post-Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU) in a LOT of pain. I wasn’t sure where the pain was coming from, but I was in tears. They gave me dilaudid and that really did the trick! I was feeling so good. Normally after having propofol (I was given this every time I had my feeding tube replaced), I am forgetful and would repeat things. But I was very aware of every conversation I had with the nurse who was taking care of me, that I didn’t repeat anything. I’m not really sure what was different this time. The nurse’s name was Mike and we talked about our work history and his family-he was really nice!
Soon, I was wheeled back to my room where Jason was waiting on me. He said the anesthesiologist had come by and let him know that I was awake and in a lot of pain, but that I had a high pain tolerance (what a compliment!). Dr. Burkholder had also come by with pictures that he took and explained everything to Jason. It turns out, I have endometriosis. There was a small patch that Dr. Burkholder was able to burn off. When he performed the chromotubation, he thought there was a small part of my right fallopian tube that gave some resistance, but the dye went through fine, so they were not blocked. I didn’t see Dr. Burkholder after the procedure, so I didn’t get to ask him my questions-does this mean I can come off of birth control and not bleed outside of my regular period? Can we start trying again? I assume yes, but I always like to be sure!
Since I had the catheter placed, I had to pee before I could be discharged home. When that had to happen, I realized they had placed a large pad “underneath” and I was also given some lovely, large underwear to wear, as I would have some bleeding. I was also pretty dizzy and nauseous, so they gave me a coke to sip on in the mean time. But it wasn’t long before I was in the car and Jason was driving me home.
When we arrived home, I started noticing more pain “down below” and found I couldn’t really sit down and be comfortable, so I immediately went to bed and laid down. I ended up sleeping on and off the entire day (which is why I’m up at 5 AM writing this, lol). The pain began to get worse-both down below and a little bit in my abdomen. They had given me some pain meds (Tramadol), and I was told I didn’t have to take it with food. Which was good, because I felt nauseous all day long and found I couldn’t eat much the entire day. In total, I had a Jell-O cup, a few Ritz crackers, and maybe 4 oz of coke. I got Chick-Fil-A soup delivered to me for lunch-I took one bite and thought I might throw up. I was able to eat a few bites of a baked potato for dinner, but that was all I had-I felt SO terrible all day.
At one point, I decided to get up and take a short walk to the living room (with Jason’s help-I was still dizzy and in so much pain). They told me walking would help with the bloating, “gross” feeling I would have. I also had some air pockets in my right shoulder/neck area that were hurting pretty badly, so I wanted to relieve that pain. I made it from our bedroom to a chair in the living room (about 20 feet). I sat down for a few minutes until I decided my “undercarriage” was too uncomfortable. I made it back into the bedroom before I realized I was going to throw up. Thankfully, they had given me a bag to do so and I had it in my hands within seconds. I didn’t get out of bed again for a while.
The only time I got out of bed the rest of the day was to pee. I dreaded needing to pee. It would burn so much, that I was in tears. I thought I would only have some irritation?! I really was not prepared for all of this. I was taking the tramadol about every 4-5 hours and never felt like it was helping with the pain. The pain in my abdomen seemed to only get worse, along with the pain in my shoulder. The pain “down below” stayed constant and never wavered. My parents came by and brought me a beautiful vase of Sunflowers and a sweet card, and I was able to FaceTime with Karli for a while as well. Since I had slept most of the day, I was finally ready for bed about 11PM. I took two doses of Melatonin to help me go to sleep, along with more Tramadol, hoping the pain would subside.
I did end up going to sleep, and then woke up about 3:15 AM feeling pretty good! I tried to stay as still as possible in case moving was going to cause me pain. I couldn’t go back to sleep, so I decided to write this blog post and here we are now. Currently, I’m still nauseated, and have some pain in my abdomen. The pain in my shoulder seems to be gone, as well as the uncomfortable feeling “down below”. I haven’t peed yet, so we will see how that goes later on.
This has truly been an adventure. Jason has been so incredibly sweet and compassionate, as he always is. He has helped me out of bed and helped me go to the bathroom every time. He has served me food and pills, and made sure the dogs didn’t bother me too much (they wanted to cuddle so bad, but didn’t know that I was hurting so much). He even did laundry for me and got blood out of my t-shirt that I had worn home from the hospital. I’m really thankful for him and love that we were able to celebrate four years of marriage the day before.
What’s crazy to me, is that I didn’t think I had any symptoms of endometriosis. It’s supposedly a disorder that can cause severe pain during a menstrual cycle, which I never really had. I always felt like I had the normal cramps, which eventually turned into back cramps (also a symptom). But I never considered it a severe pain (I guess I really do have a high pain tolerance?). I also never had heavy bleeding, but I did have the bleeding in between my periods, which is a symptom. Other symptoms are pain with intercourse, pain with bowel movements, infertility (of course), and fatigue, diarrhea, constipation, bloating or nausea, especially during menstrual periods. Turns out, I have most of the symptoms and didn’t realize it.
Today I have permission to shower, so I’m hoping that will make me feel a little better. Please be praying for quick healing and that all pain and nausea would go away. I really need to eat today and drink more water. I have a post-op appointment with Dr. Burkholder six weeks from now and will ask him my questions then. I am SO GLAD this is over and I no longer have to stress about it. I’m even more thankful we have answers.
Jason and I aren’t sure if we want to pursue pregnancy any more. Especially after yesterday, I was like, “No thank you!”. We will continue to pray about this and ask that you pray for us as well. We are trusting the Lord with our future and know His timing is perfect. Speaking of that, we hope to be sharing more about our foster care journey soon! Thank you for reading this blog post, and know that if you’re struggling with infertility, I am here to talk anytime.