Warning: the following is a decidedly un-fluffy, rather depressing, serious type of post. If that’s not your thing, then by all means, stop reading. For some of my favorite happy randomness, may I suggest you visit HERE. Okay, you’ve been warned.
I’m not sure that I want to write about this. Or that I should write about this. Part of me feels like this is my business…not yours. I want to curl into myself in a protective ball and only look up to shoot eye-daggers at the world.
But I think that’s precisely why I must write. Writing is how I process my feelings, and there are some big, ugly, sharp-edged feelings that have been rolling around inside me for the past few days, and they’re clouding everything else in my life right now.
And I don’t want to remember these days through a foggy haze. These are good days…..days when I’m fortunate enough to be at the beach with all the people I love and watch this little girl discover a new world.
Days when I get to watch these handsome guys enjoy some relaxation and tease them about checking out the waitress at dinner or wiping out on a monster wave.
Yet, despite these joys, I woke up yesterday morning, and before my head left the pillow, I was in tears. I’m afraid to be honest about this really. Because some of you will judge me. Others will take my weaknesses and use them to make yourselves feel more powerful. And you know…there’s always that pesky rule about everything you put on the Internet being there forever.
But then I think of those bloggers who are honest about their hurts. Honest about the nitty-gritty, frightening, unpleasant parts of their lives, and I remember that I think they’re brave and inspiring and real. And I breathe relief in embracing my own weaknesses. I remember that I’ve written about others, “people get to feel what they feel,” and I wonder why I don’t have the grace to extend that courtesy to myself.
So here is me….feeling what I feel.
Recently, I visited the same fertility specialist from three years ago for an overall checkup. I didn’t mention this to anyone because people ask a lot of generally rude questions when you use the F-word. These questions become even more invasive after you’ve become a parent through adoption.
For the record, I chose this route because I’ve been having some odd cycle-related issues lately, and I had some questions about the thyroid medicine the specialist prescribed years ago as general practitioners don’t use the same regulation standards as the specialists.
Also, I just kind of wanted to know if anything new was happening with the fertility-related parts of my body. Years ago, they never could diagnose a specific disorder. About 20% of couples that seek fertility assistance are labeled as “unexplained.” I think for me, the “unexplained” has been one of the most difficult parts. I’ve thought if the doctor said, “You have this disorder and thus, pregnancy is impossible,” it would be easier to understand. But when he says the parts are there and clear and apparently doing what they’re supposed to do, every month still carries with it the tiniest flicker of “what if?”
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I sit around every month crying when I start my period. I don’t avoid pregnant women or feel sad when I see bump pictures on Facebook. That was me for quite some time, but I did the emotional work to move on. I love being Ellie’s mother, and I realize had one thing in our lives gone differently, she may not be our child. I recognize that, and I suck in my breath, overwhelmed with gratitude to the God who allows me this amazing family. I love the opportunity to advocate for open adoption, and I’m excited about the future children we hope to adopt into our family.
As I’ve written, neither Charlie or I have ever cared about having “our” child, but as a woman, it has been hard letting go of the idea of experiencing pregnancy. Maybe I shouldn’t still want that. I feel selfish admitting it. But there’s still a part of me that aches to know what it would feel like to have a life inside me….to give birth. To watch my body change. My logical self tells me to get over it. And yet….there’s still this wondering.
Bad Day at the Doctor
So I went for a checkup, but the moment I told the doctor that my cycles have recently dropped from 28 days to 26, I could tell something was wrong. Concern wrinkled his brow, and my throat tightened. Two days. Not that big of a deal, right?
Except that it might be.
Since I happened to be on cycle day #3, the doctor asked if he could perform an ultrasound to check my follicles. I agreed. For those of you that haven’t been through the infertility journey, a CD3 ultrasound reveals the number of antral follicles resting on the ovaries. These follicles indicate one’s “ovarian reserve” or how many eggs you still have sitting around. A normal follicle count is between 15 and 30, apparently. However, the follicle number (and thus, the reserve of eggs with the potential to mature for ovulation) decreases as a person ages. The doctor said he was hoping to see around 10.
Problem was….he could only find one, maybe two.
I sat up as he turned on the lights, and the look on his face told me everything. He told me he was concerned. Very concerned.
In the consultation prior to the ultrasound, the doctor mentioned that he was worried that my cycles might be shortening due to high FSH (Follicle-stimulating hormone). I’ll have to wait on the results of a blood test to confirm, but based on the ultrasound, things don’t look good. Basically, it looks like my ovaries may be running out of eggs, and my body is crazy-producing FSH trying to force ovulation.
So, not only does this mean definitely no babies will be growing in me ever and stir up all those lovely feelings again, but at 30, it looks like I might also be looking at premature ovarian failure (POF). If you’ve never heard of POF, just think menopause, and that’s close enough.
Check out symptoms. Sounds fun, huh? I’ve had so many thoughts after googling all this crap that my reaction to POF is going to need its own category tag.
So now, it seems my infertility may have a name, and it’s ugly and kind of frightening. I thought I’d feel better, but right now, I just feel confused and kind of angry.
When the doctor started trying to explain the possibilities, thoughts rushed through my brain so quickly I felt sure I’d vomit. “My grandmother had early menopause. Is this because of that? Not sure yet. Don’t freak out, Camille. Omg, I’m old now? Wish Charlie was here. No pregnancy ever. Dying ovaries. Old?! But I feel young! I’m not ready for this! I don’t want this! No. No…..”
The tears started, and I couldn’t stop, so he left to allow me to get dressed and said he’d explain everything when we come back for blood test results next week.
I cried all the way through the blood tests until the large, grandmotherly woman drawing my blood finally just pulled me against her chest and told me I could cry on her as long as I needed. (Thank you, sweet lady.)
Problem is….I can’t seem to stop. Can I blame the hormones for that? I guess I’ll find out for sure next week along with what else I may be facing.
In the meantime, I’m just trying not to think about it too much and be thankful for so many blessings.
Like hugs from this curly-headed beauty.
And reminders of who is in control and the knowledge that He loves me, and He can make good from all things.
I know few of you will understand this, but just because I decided to write about this doesn’t necessarily mean I’m ready to talk about it with you. Or anyone. No offense. I’ve just got a lot of emotions to process, and I want to know exactly what I’m dealing with first.
If you do know anyone who has experienced this particular health issue, please let me know. I would maybe like to talk to an actual person who has traveled this path if POF becomes my reality.
Yes, I know it could be worse. Much worse. I know that, and I’m trying to avoid the massive pity party. It’s just, I’m going to have to figure it out in my own time and in my own way. I hope you can understand.
Oh, and to the menopausal ladies out there, sorry for thinking those “old” thoughts. No offense intended. I used to think 30 was old, and now I’m there and still sometimes have problems thinking of myself as an adult. Just didn’t plan on joining your ranks for another 20 years or so, ya know?
Thanks for reading, and I pray God sends you strength today for whatever challenges you might be facing.