Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Dreaded Topic.... Infertility

Quick update: As of January 28 we are OFFICIALLY A WAITING FAMILY! We were approved and our books are now in circulation and our profile is online through Bethany for birthmothers to see. YAY!!!! Praise the Lord for that!

So, I've thought for a while that I should write about infertility. People often go the route of adoption because they have been diagnosed with INFERTILITY. If you've been following my blog for a while, you know that infertility is part of our adoption story, but definitely not the main reason for us choosing adoption.
I'm going to focus on my infertility issues because, everyone with infertility is different and has different experiences, I can only talk about mine. Infertility is such a personal issue, and the way that someone and his or her family decide to tackle it is also personal, so again, I'm just talking about my experiences and perspectives. When I was 25 I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is the leading cause of infertility in women of child-bearing age and they think that 1 in 10 women have it. I have had "female issues" for years, and no one was ever really able to tell me what was going on. My cycles were irregular, I was gaining weight at an inexplicable rate, I felt tired and crappy all the time, I had anxiety for seemingly no reason, I had acne that didn't disappear when I was done with puberty, and lots of other symptoms that were not fun to deal with. FINALLY, I got to a referral to see an endocrinologist, a hormone doctor. The first time I met with him he ran blood tests and basically diagnosed me on the spot with PCOS. I was relieved to have a label and a reason for why I was feeling so bad all the time, but was nervous to find out what that meant. PCOS is an endocrine and hormonal disorder. So, my blood sugar spikes and drops like crazy without medicine and my hormones are super wacky without medicine - too much testosterone, not enough progesterone. And that, causes cysts to develop on my ovaries. This explained the weight gain, the exhaustion, and the hormone issue all at the same time.
When Adam and I started talking about having a baby we knew that my PCOS would be an issue. I was told that without proper treatment and precautions my risk of miscarriage would be around 90% and that was IF I was able to conceive. We went to the doctor and started a series of tests and scans and medicine, just to see if I would ovulate and create healthy eggs. This process took about 3 months and cost us over $1,000. About that time, we started to realize that it may be better to look into adoption, so we never went down the IVF, IUI route, and every day I am so thankful we never had to deal with that. (Again, this is our personal decision, if that is the route someone decides to go, that's totally awesome for them, it just definitely was not the right decision for us.) So, once we decided to adopt I could start treatment to treat my symptoms of PCOS.
I started taking a medicine called Metformin - it is the same medicine diabetics take- which helps keep my blood sugar levels even. Unfortunately, Metformin has some pretty nasty side effects - which still come back every so often, so I was (and still am sometimes) pretty sick for a while when I started taking it. But, I lost a lot of weight, my exercise and good eating were paying off, and I started feeling better. I started taking a diuretic, which helped lower my testosterone levels, still some not so fun side effects, as you can imagine. And I started back on birth-control which balanced and evened out my cycles.
So, here I am almost a year later. I've lost probably 20 pounds, and most days I feel better. I still have quite a few days where I feel like crap, that I'm tired, and that my disease gets the better of me, but over all I feel a lot better. The hardest thing about infertility is that, even though I am so thankful we are adopting, the feeling of insufficiency still sneaks up on me from time to time. Knowing that I will never be pregnant and knowing that I can't do what women were designed to do is sometimes overwhelming. (Now, with treatment I probably could get pregnant, but since we never tried, I don't know). It is hardest when I get comments from coworkers or acquaintances or even family, saying things like; "I hope you have 'your own one day too,'" or "God can still give you a baby," or any variation of that phrasing. We chose adoption over pregnancy and I am thankful for that everyday, and I will never regret going this route, the more we get into our adoption process, the more I know that it is what we are supposed to do. It will always be hard to hear someone basically tell us that we need to have our own biological children, I don't think that will ever go away.But I think it is always hard doing something that is not "the norm" and when people don't understand why you are doing something different. And that is one thing I like about adoption, I like being able to educate people and I like being able to do something different.
SO... long story short, infertility and everything that comes with it sucks, but I am glad that my infertility has brought me to where we are in life, and for that I will always be thankful.