But, then.

You cry. A lot. In Target after spotting the baby aisles. In the waiting room of your naturopathic doctor when a lady walks in pregnant with twins in her mid 40s when she says she has 8 kids in the car.

When Ken and I met, I was 29 and he was 41.

Not the craziest age difference for a couple that I’d known, we actually fell in love quickly and had a lot in common, more than either of us had experienced before. It was too good to be true, so I thought, because I’d never experienced a relationship anywhere near this good. The only thing that we didn’t see going the same in our future was family planning. He’d already had 3 children and didn’t want to start over, his youngest was 6 years old, and he was planning on being single for the rest of his life. I knew that I wouldn’t be as happy as I could be without ever having children of my own. I don’t love all children, but those I’m close to in my family, I adore, and I’d been so close to my oldest niece. I wanted one of my own. It was a deal breaker for him in the beginning. His youngest was 6 years old and he was planning on being single for the rest of his life.

I remember him asking me why I wanted kids so bad. I gave him some answers about wanting a family, loving babies, knowing I’d regret it if I never did have kids, to have that experience in life of feeling that there is a greater purpose than myself. He replied with, “That’s what everyone says. What’s the deeper reason?”

We hadn’t been dating long so I didn’t want to even bring up love, but I cautiously told him that I wanted to know that kind of love. All I’d heard from everyone that has children were things like “I didn’t know it was possible to love somebody as much as I love my kid” and “from the moment I first saw/held my baby, my life changed and I loved him/her more than anything in the world.”

We decided to keep dating despite that big conflict of interest, but within several months, he told me, “I can’t wait to have a baby with you” and similar things when we discussed the future.

Could there be a more romantic love story? ūüėČ

First comes love.

Then marriage! In early 2013!

Then?….

Infertility.

Such a dirty word. You hear it from a young age and even as a child you know that it makes people sad.

You grow up and spend hundreds of dollars trying NOT to get pregnant. You never think infertility ¬†will happen to you. I mean, I’m just now 34, I eat (mostly) healthy, I exercise, I use oils and natural cleaning products and I have since I was in my early 20s. I never liked even OTC meds. I have had a garden 80% of the summers since I moved out when I was 18. ¬†I always had this plan of my life and it looked something like get married, get pregnant, do yoga and run throughout pregnancy, take Lamaze classes, have a ¬†natural birth (home birth with a mid-wife has been my plan since 4th grade after being with my cousin when she had her first baby with a midwife) nurse until baby is around 1 year old, make home-made baby foods, and use cloth diapers….because that’s how it was supposed to be and I hate the medical system and how many people are induced, have c-sections to accommodate doctors’ schedules, etc. Plus, many of those things are what my mom did for me.

For our one year wedding anniversary, we took a large trip to Greece to celebrate because we thought, “Surely, this will be the last chance we have to take a trip like this because we are surely going to get pregnant soon and then our life will be consumed with all things baby.”

But it wasn’t. ¬†And we didn’t.

So what do you do?

If you’re me, you try all the essential oils for fertility. You eat yams by the truckload. You cut out dairy and caffeine. Even cut out-gasp-wine!?

You’re late! You’re late! So you take a test. Then you take 5. Surely this is wrong, right? I mean, I’m late! I’m 2 weeks late!!

But then you start.

Then you find out you’re not ovulating on your own (among other health problems to do with adrenal burnout, hashimoto’s thyroiditis, high positive ANAs, auto-immune liver failure, etc ) so you get a prescription for Clomid and right after Thanksgiving you take a long weekend in the woods in a cabin, all excited, because this is the first cycle with fertility drugs and you are going to get pregnant! Maybe even with TWINS!

But we don’t.

So then you start temping, and charting, and checking CM daily, then get ordered to check it every time you go to the bathroom and record it all. And put your legs in the air with a pillow under your butt after sex! And try this position! And that one too! And have sex every day that month, but the next month you only have it every other day because that’s what another person suggests on their fertility website. And spend hundreds of dollars on ovulation kits because the regular ones aren’t good enough.Take bio-identical progesterone troches because you don’t have any Progesterone. You get your blood drawn 3+ times a month to check hormone levels to see if you ovulate or if you are even making follicles.Do all of this and you should get pregnant.

But, nothing. Still.

So then your husband has to get a semen analysis. But he’s mostly fine. It shouldn’t be an issue. And then you have an HSG which is extremely painful with a cervix that as tight as mine is, according to the woman who performed mine at the hospital as I writhed in pain and then bled for a week.

Then you switch to another fertility drug, Letrozole.

You try acupuncture.

You try not stressing. Um, hello. I didn’t get pregnant BEFORE we were stressed about getting pregnant.

Then one month you just KNOW you’re pregnant. You know almost the time it happened, because you have everything down to an art. You know the signs of implantation. You’re nauseous. You puke constantly while working on opening your new business in Springfield. And you get a very faint positive test, 2, 3 of them. You’re really late. It’s finally happened! You never get your period, but by the time you get to the doctor, there is no heartbeat. Then you don’t get your period for 2 months. A chemical pregnancy.

Then you get checked for PCOS because you have had so many ruptured ovarian cysts, some just as bad as bad menstrual cramps, but some¬†with required trips to the hospital because of torsion that has to be repaired. ¬†Because of pain so severe that you can’t get off the floor of a gas station restroom no matter how dirty it was and how bad you want to get up. Because you’re up all night in pain on the shower floor with hot water running over you while your husband holds your hand and cries while you weep and when you finally go to bed at 5am you’re soaking wet, shivering, exhausted from intense pain of the last 5 hours, wincing in pain, surrounded with pillows and a heating pad covered in essential oils and praying that it really was “just another ruptured ovarian cyst” and ignoring your husband’s pleas to take you back to the hospital this time. But you’re sore for weeks and can barely walk from the pain, while your stomach looks like you’re 4 months pregnant.¬†Because of hemorrhaging.

HSG comes back with results that I had at least one good tube. Doctors say, “you should be getting pregnant now that we got you to ovulate and you have a good tube because endometriosis and ¬†PCOS don’t mean you can’t get pregnant.”

So you buy lube that is supposed to help you get pregnant. You read all about things to help fertility. You read fertility blogs like a stock-broker follows Wall Street. Sometimes you dream so sweetly of your pregnant tummy and holding your baby that it feels so real and then you wake up.

You have a laparoscopy to get rid of endometriosis.

You stop taking any fertility drugs because you’ve been taking them for two years and the only thing they’re doing is helping you gain weight, since Hashimoto’s isn’t enough help.

You cry. A lot. While looking at pictures of your friends’ new babies. At every pregnancy announcement on facebook. At the sight of a 9-month pregnant woman. While spotting the baby aisles while walking through Target. In the waiting room of your naturopathic doctor when a lady walks in pregnant with twins in her mid 40s when she says she has 8 kids in the car.

You start talking about IVF with your OBGYN. You make a plan to start in December, but then you have another ruptured cyst so bad the month before that you have to have surgery.

Then you just kind of give up. You’re exhausted. You eat the food you’ve been avoiding. You drink lots of caffeine. You drink alcohol. You stop temping, charting, reading, caring. You take some time for yourself and have a couple of girls’ weekends. You get depressed and a little angry.

One “friend” told me that I was being “incredibly selfish and irresponsible” and I should “just adopt” because “there are millions of babies that you could just buy” and “I should spend my money on better things than trying to get pregnant because obviously, it’s just not meant to be.” This “friend” had an abortion, so I don’t know who the heck she was to tell me I’m the one who is selfish and irresponsible. She just couldn’t accept that I want a child of my own, or to at least give it every shot we can. She hates kids and never wants to get married or anything, so I asked her if we could just agree to disagree and want different things, but she wouldn’t stop berating my choice. Clearly, pro-choice to her means you can only choose to be child free. We are clearly no longer “friends”.

One friend suggested having a surrogate mother. We considered it seriously and even had a match because of my other health issues. Have I just put too much stress on my body? Could it even handle a pregnancy? ¬†I’ll explain that some below in the section about MTHFR.

So, we had a 3 hour appointment with a reproductive endocrinologist in Kansas City that my OBGYN referred us to for IVF/ICSI. They said that they think I can carry my own baby afterall. It won’t be without risks, and I will have to have a PERFECT diet again to increase our chances of having a healthy baby and to increase my chances of not having pre-eclampsia, but we are feeling optimistic for the first time in a long time.

MTHFR

I like to call it the mother-f*@#er gene, because that’s what it is

One of the things that I’ve struggled with is MTHFR ¬†compound heterozygous gene mutation. That means I have a copy of both the c677t and A1298C mutations. Lots (40% or more) ¬†of the population has ¬†either one copy OR the other, but in most of the population it doesn’t ever present any risks. It lies dormant never causing any issues. However, having a copy of both is the most severe of all combinations, and it has presented to be a risk for me because of all the health issues I’ve had over the last few years.

I’ll try and keep this explanation of MTHFR short.

677 mutation: most commonly associated with heart disease, heart attack, stroke, blood clots, anemia,  peripheral neuropahty, miscarriages, congenital birth defects, and more.

1298 mutation:¬†commonly associated with chronic illnesses such as depression, chronic fatigue syndrome, IBS, memory loss, alzheimer’s, OCD, and other mental conditions.

677 mutation affects methylation. Methylation is , by definition, a “truly a multi-tasking marvel that allows us to be ‚Äúhealthy and human.‚ÄĚ Though this highly intricate process occurs within each cell as well as in the fluid supplying the brain and within the liver, it is responsible for the most vital undertakings throughout body chemistry.” When you have this MTHFR mutation, the pathyway for glutathione production is partially blocked and you have low levels. Glutathione is the key antioxidant and detoxifier in our body, so when its production is hindered, one is more susceptible to stress and less tolerable to toxins. Accumulation of toxins and heavy metals grows, and leads to a multitude of disease, including cancer.¬†Also, 98% of children who are autistic have this mutation.

This mutation also hinders the steps to convert amino acid homocysteine to another amino acid, called methionine. This leads to high homocysteine levels which leads to depression, auto-immunity disorders, and autism.¬† It affects the process of turning folate or folic acid and B vitamins into nutrients our body can use. In my body, it doesn’t process these vitamins correctly, and as a result, turns them in to toxins.

So all those years I was taking prenatal vitamins, protein shakes, etc with folic acid? It was poisoning me instead of helping, therefore causing liver problems even though I’d done many cleanses and diets, used natural products, detox baths, detox drinks, etc. ¬†Folic acid is used in so many fortified ingredients, EVEN in the GLUTEN FREE world. So most things that are even gluten free? I can’t have. I am on a supplement for this, because it is almost impossible to never consume any folic acid. But ¬†on top of avoiding it, I’m on some high quality all natural vitamins that give me FOLATE an not folic acid, which are NOT the same things despite the FDA’s refusal to believe it.

Another issue from that gene is clotting disorders. I’m at high risk for strokes, heart palpitations, high blood pressure (that I’ve been dealing with for the last few years) and during pregnancy, this is high risk for pre-eclampsia. And miscarriages. Because of the clotting part.

So, pregnancy risks, besides pre-eclampsia, are birth defects from, spina bifida, anacephaly, down syndrome, and cleft palates due to my genetic disposition that can’t process folic acid. Both of the genes cause immune system deficiencies.

That is why we considered a surrogate. Because even if I CAN get pregnant through IVF, there is still an increased risk of serious birth defects. This is why my diet has to be completely clean and perfect and I have to avoid all toxins. The only pill that I’m taking that isn’t 100 percent natural or bio-identical is a baby aspirin once a day, to decrease my risk of clots (which I just started because I have been using essential oils for that the last 2 years). Otherwise, I have to eat all organic produce and grass fed meats to consume less toxins. And absolutely NO gluten, or anything with folic acid in it. And continue to take my 15+ daily vitamins.

And that number will go up in June once I start sims. Have you SEEN the amount of needles you have to inject yourself with for IVF? Holy. Crap.

Since that appointment on May 9th, we have been busy. On top of my chiro, endo, OBGYN weekly appointments, and bi-weekly blood draws to test everything from hormones to toxicity levels, I’m starting acupuncture again because my FSH levels were 13.9. What that means is basically my follicles aren’t producing quality eggs so I would likely never get pregnant on my own, especially since everything I’d already tried hasn’t worked.

Apparently, FSH levels of 14 are text book infertile and have extremely low IVF success rates, but my AMH levels came back high normal so at least I’m not going through menopause just yet. ¬†Acupuncture can supposedly bring the FSH levels down to produce healthy follicles before we start the whole process.

And then, next month, we start the whole process itself! I will have to be on birth control, which I’ve only been on for like 6 months of my life a looonnngg time ago, for a month while I start all the sims, injections, etc, and then the egg retrieval will be sometime in July, with a transfer sometime in mid-august.

So, is this an ideal way to get pregnant? Nope. Would I rather have a baby the old fashioned way, complete with a home birth and no pain meds or epidural? Yes. But is that possible? Sadly, no. My FSH levels are too high for a 34 year old and my husband is more than a decade older than me, remember?

Is it “natural”? Nope, not in that way. What it comes down to for me is it is the only way for us to get what we want. A baby. Good parents would do anything and everything they could for their kids. We just have to start doing everything a little sooner.

And there’s nothing unnatural about wanting a child more than anything.

We are going to do a frozen transfer because we want to have the embryos tested for genetic mutations before we transfer the embryo into me. That means, after the egg retrieval in July, they will inseminate a few embryos, send the ones that live to 5 day blastocyst state for PGD tests, and then transer any “normal” ones to me in August.

We decided to do a blog because there are a lot of ups and downs with the IVF/ICSI process. That way, if something goes wrong or bad, I can write about it and I don’t have to answer 5 million questions if there were to be a miscarriage, or if the embryo doesn’t implant, and if we have to start again. .

Even if everything goes perfectly well, there is only about a 50% chance that IVF will work. That’s why I’m going to do everything that I can to only eat the absolute cleanest things (Dear God, I hope if I’m pregnant the one thing ¬†I crave isn’t nacho cheese doritos, which are my favorite junkfood that I’ll never eat again) and have acupuncture to increase my chances.

So this is the beginning of our journey new journey. If this doesn’t work, we will try a surrogate.

Any prayers and positive vibes are greatly appreciated. What we are praying for is a healthy singleton pregnancy that way I can still go through a birthing center or midwife, for me to be low risk, and for the baby to be completely healthy. I don’t care about having a boy or a girl, or twins (like i used to want before we knew everything we know now), or even if I have to have a hospital birth. As long as we can bring a healthy baby into the world together.

5 thoughts on “But, then.”

  1. Wow! Had no idea what all goes into this for you guys. What a process and education you’ve been through. Hoping and praying for all good things.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Though I already knew most of this my heart broke reading it all together. ūüė¶ Just know that I love you with all that is within me and I will do and be there as much as I physically can for you, Ken and this beautiful grandchild to be. Praying and believing for you! ‚̧

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My goodness! Thank you for sharing all of this. I had no idea the extent of it. My heart goes out to you both. Know we are praying! My sister Jenna has the double mutation MTHFR as well (weird you both have it) and I remember being surprised to be told folic acid was actually a toxin to her. It is in everything! Love you and know we are here for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh, Maranda, I can’t imagine going through all of this. Sitting here reading this, I want to give you a hug. Wouldn’t solve anything, but might make me feel better. It all sounds very complicated and potentially painful physically and emotionally. Praying for God’s peace to flood your mind, body and spirit. Keep us updated and if there is anything we can do to help out. Love you both, Mom

    Like

  5. Maranda and Ken. Thank you for sharing this journey. I have spent much time and prayer following you through this with emotional highs and lows, severe concerns and enormous love. No person on earth is more fortunate for the parents they have than little Nora! What a love story this Is! Congratulations to this little family I so dearly love! Your courage and love are simply unmatched. Now the fun begins! I wish you all happy endings throughout your lives forever. With all my love. Your Fairy Godmotherūüėô

    Like

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