Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Baby Subject

In less than two weeks, Chad and I will have been trying for a baby for three years.  It won't be a very happy day, because it marks three very emotionally rough years in my life and marriage.  As you can probably guess, we haven't yet had a baby.

I'm not really even sure where to begin with this subject.  Back in 2012, I was all full of hope and ready to take on the responsibilities of raising a baby.  I had plans of having a home birth, moving to the country, maybe home schooling, and raising some great kids.  Around 8 months in, I started tracking my temperature and other fertility signs, but knowing when I ovulated didn't do too much to help the process.  In December of 2012, I think I had a very early miscarriage, but I've never had another one since then.

I didn't want to go to the doctor for this problem.  First, because I have a very deep dislike of visiting a doctor; they tend to not listen to you, spend very little time with you, and throw a pill at you to make the symptoms of your problem go away.  Second, because I have a strong belief that with knowledge and good food, a person can take better care of themselves than a doctor can.  So I set out on the low carb diet with high hopes that it would help us conceive.  I didn't know if the problem was me or Chad, but I figured good food would help us both.

That didn't exactly work, though.  I really thought the problem was me, because I had a history of PCOS symptoms from my teen years until my early 20s.  However, according to my records I was keeping, I was ovulating pretty regularly, so the low carb diet definitely helped in that department.  That's one thing I can say for sure about going low carb; my cycle has gotten so much more regular and predictable.  I think women who are having PCOS problems should really give it a try before going on drugs.

Well, long ago, we decided that we would start getting fertility testing once I turned 30, which I finally did last September (woo, I'm old now).  For insurance reasons, we actually didn't start until this January.  What fun that's been!  No, actually, it's been pretty terrible.  The tests aren't difficult or anything.  It's just...  I've been to the doctor's office like five times for myself, and Chad's had to go to the doctor/hospital six times, all between January and March.  For people who are anti-doctor, this has been very stressful.  It's been less expensive than I feared, thank goodness, but I think it's because Chad's new insurance is so remarkably good.  If we didn't have insurance, or we had our old bad insurance, we'd be out of money already.

So the tests we've done so far are:

Blood tests:
Leutinizing hormone
Lipid panel
Comprehensive metabolic panel
2 CBCs
Post-ovulation progesterone
Fasting serum insulin
Blood sedimentation rate

Transvaginal ultrasound

Blood tests:
Leutinizing hormone

2 semen analyses
Testicular ultrasound

Yes, I did give a lot of blood.  Chad didn't give quite as much as I did, but when he did, he passed out.  And all because his mom warned him that he'd done that once before, and that he should be careful in case it happens again (to which he rolled his eyes, lol).  As far as testing goes, there's only one more test that needs to be done, but I'll get to that in a minute.

The results of the tests were pretty boring.  Everything on my end is very normal.  I'm ovulating, have a good level of hormones, have super excellent blood lipids (no surprise there!  I'll have to post the results sometime); there is one thing that was wrong, though, and this one makes me scratch my head.  I have a high red blood cell count.  Not very high, and when I went in to get another test done (after two weeks of making sure I drank plenty of water), it was lower but still just a hair over normal.  I don't know what this means, but the nurse taking care of my fertility stuff didn't seem to think it was something to worry about.  It could be lots of things, from cancer, to breathing problems, to being dehydrated (I think this last one is most likely; I did have the test done in February, a particularly dry month).  I had a very small cyst on one of my ovaries, but the nurse said this is physiologic and just part of a normal cycle. 

Chad's story is a little more interesting than mine.  Although his blood work came out perfectly normal, both semen analyses came out kind of low.  Not actually low in most ways, but at the low edge of normal.  The doctor he talked to told him that the normal range is actually what's normal for men between 15 and 85, so to be at the low end of  normal was indeed low.

Still, I don't think that having a lower sperm count is the only reason we haven't had a baby.  Researching Google tells me that most men with a low sperm count go on to have no trouble getting a woman pregnant.  And this is where the final test comes in.  I'm still not sure if I want to get this test done, partially because of how it's done, and partially because of what it may find.

It's called HSG, and basically it's an x-ray done on my abdomen while a dye is injected into my uterus so the doctors can see if my tubes are free of blocks.  It really doesn't sound very pleasant, does it?  I don't like x-rays, and there's a risk for infection and tearing the uterus, plus it's uncomfortable (or so I hear).  Plus, what if it does show that I have a block, or endometriosis, or scar tissue, or something worse?  What if it doesn't show anything at all?

But you want to know the silliest reason I've been avoiding getting the test done?  It's because there is an increased chance of becoming pregnant for three months after an HSG, most likely because the dye clears away blockages.

Say what?  I'm afraid to get a fertility test because I might get pregnant?  Yeah, silly, I know.  Well...  I can't explain it.  It might help to say that Chad and I have decided that we're not going to pursue fertility treatment, no matter what the tests show.  After the heartbreak of having infertility, and then the stress of going through testing, we just don't think we want to go through twice as much heartbreak and stress of treatment, not to mention the tens of thousands of dollars it would cost with no guaranteed outcome.  It's been kind of freeing, actually.  It's nice to know that we're almost to the end of the long painful slog. 

Plus, there's something else, too.  I've never been sure I've even wanted to have children.  I mean really, honestly, truly wanted kids and all the ups and downs they bring.  I know I want a family, someone to care for and love, to be here with us after our parents die and our only real family is gone (we have siblings, but Chad's brother lives very far away, and my sister and I aren't close).  I've been trying to trust God on guiding me, and I have a strong sense that us getting fertility treatment would be like forcing the subject without God's blessing.  I don't mean to say that fertility treatment is bad, not at all, but for us, it would be reckless, because we don't exactly know what we want.  If I got pregnant naturally, I would know that God had finally blessed us, and I know I would be a lot happier and more ready to take on the task of being a parent.  At least that's what I feel.  I'm not really a religious person, even though I keep referring to God; what I'm really trying to say when I say I trust God is that I trust the forces of nature, the rhythms of the body, and my own wisdom more than I trust doctors with pills and operations.

So this is where we stand; I'm normal, he's mostly normal, we're both very healthy, but we're childless.  I still don't know if I'm going to get the HSG test.  Afterall, if we're not going to get treatment, what's the point?  It would only add fuel to the small part of me that desperately, obsessively wants to fix the problem.  But is there really a problem?  Chad and I are very happy.  If we have to spend our lives childless, at least we'll have plenty of time to spend together.

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