Tuesday, November 27, 2007

That was encouraging...I think...

**Warning: This post contains a little bit of "TMI". If you don't want any details or get grossed out by talk of blood, you might want to skip it! I've had a baby, so just about nothing can gross me out anymore.**

It's funny how the timing of things works out sometimes. When we were in Dr. Dunn's office he was saying that I might experience a little bit of breakthrough bleeding while on the estrogen. I assured him that I hadn't had any bleeding at all since 3 days after surgery. I asked him if I could expect to see any withdrawl bleeding when I discontinue the estrogen. He said maybe, and if I did, he would take that as a good sign. But he also said that I might not, and that was not necessarily a bad sign either. Gee that is helpful! Doesn't he know I need something to obsess over??

Anyway, of course the very next day I started to have bleeding (that is what I get for insisting that I didn't have any). I got all excited - strange, I know. You would be amazed at the things that make me happy these days. But this was bleeding that is comparable to a *normal* period...something that I haven't had since Elise was conceived. Actual healthy, red bleeding instead of just brown spotting here and there. I needed a tampon! It's been YEARS. It lasted for 3 days and went away. So, I am thinking that might be a good sign! There must be substantially more lining now than I had before...right?? It's driving me nuts to have no idea what is going on in there. I can't envision a scenario where bleeding would be a bad thing, though (as long as it's not hemorrhaging, of course), given that a lack of bleeding was the main symptom that led me to get tested in the first place.

In other news, the estrogen is still kicking my butt. But don't feel sorry for me...you should direct all sympathy towards Jamie!

I wanted to try to post some of the pics from surgery here, but I don't have access to a scanner. I might try to take a picture of a picture and see if the quality is good enough to share here. If this post grossed you out, you definitely will want to miss that one!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Post-operative follow-up visit

Well, I am in good spirits today!

Yesterday I hadn't gotten my reminder phone call from the doctor's office, so I called to ask them if they still had me on the schedule. I am glad I called, because they did not have a record of my appointment. It made me briefly question myself, because I was kind of drugged at the time I made the appointment, but I am almost positive that I did! I even had the time written down. Anyway, they were very nice and worked things out to get us in today.

We had to wait over an hour once we arrived. I was (again) so impressed with Dr. Dunn's office staff. They kept coming in giving us status updates. Dr. Dunn got pulled out for a moment to do an IVF transfer and it had thrown his day off a bit. It was no big deal.

I was really happy with our meeting. Dr. Dunn gave us 24 pictures that were taken during my surgery. He had some pictures of my bladder, liver, and appendix! Most of the pictures were taken inside the uterus, though (of course). I could see both fallopian tube openings, which was really neat. You could tell a huge difference between the right and left sides of my uterus. There was actually some healthy lining on the right side, whereas the left side was completely white (scar tissue). So we are just hoping the estrogen is doing its job and helping that healthy portion spread to the rest of the cavity.

I asked him if it was even a remote possibility that we wouldn't have to do another surgery. He said that it is possible, but it's also very possible that we will need to go in once more. But for now at least I have a small bit of hope that this first surgery did the trick.

I was also curious if I would be put on progesterone once I completed the 4 weeks on estrogen. He said that he is not planning on prescribing anything to bring on a cycle. He said that he prefers to wait and let my body realize that it's time to ovulate again on its own. He said that will take around 2-4 weeks once I stop the estrogen. This means that I can expect a period again in approximately 4-6 weeks. Once I do get a period, we are hoping to see some heavier flow. That would be a good sign that the lining is rebuilding and has more to shed. I am supposed to call him on the first day of my next cycle to schedule the SHG. I hadn't realized that we would wait for a period first, so we will not be doing the test in 2 weeks. It will probably be sometime in January before my period will return. So the waiting continues.

Dr. Dunn's parting words to us were very encouraging. He said that when you first go into a situation like this, you try to be very realistic. He does not like to create false hope for couples. But he said that at this point, he is now comfortable saying that he is very optimistic. We may need another surgery - but he thinks the final outcome is going to be not only a good enough uterine cavity to conceive, but a uterine cavity that is very close to being completely normal.

At this point, I think that is the best possible news we can get. The only thing that would make it better is if we don't have to go through another surgery in January.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

I've become the person who...

...people avoid when the subject of pregnancy comes up in conversation.

I really never wanted to be "that person".

I am so sad right now. Jamie and I took Elise to a birthday party at our friends Mark & Erin's house today. We met them through another mutual friend, and they are great people. Their son Ethan *loves* Elise and they are friends. Ethan turned 3 today, so we were really excited to take Elise to the party.

When I walked in, I thought Erin looked pregnant. She is starting to show. But of course, I didn't want to say anything just in case she had just put on some weight. She is not a tiny woman anyway, and a few extra pounds could make her appear pregnant even if she is not. So, we came in and the guys started hanging out and talking sports and such while the ladies played with the kids and chatted. I glanced at her refridgerator and saw an ultrasound photo. Now I felt pretty darn sure that Erin is pregnant...but still no one said anything, so I didn't either.

After we were there for a bit, I started noticing the other women going over to her quietly whispering about the fact that she is expecting. Jamie also overheard some of the guys talking to Mark about it. It began to become obvious that everyone else at the party knew...and still no one said anything to us. I felt so incredibly awkward and on the verge of tears. Was I supposed to just act like I didn't notice? Should I pretend that I can't hear people whispering? Do I tell her congratulations, even though she did not share her happy news with us? I didn't know what to do, so I just went outside with the kids and tried to enjoy the party. What I wanted to do was leave...right away. I was so hurt, and I didn't know what on earth to do. But Elise was having a great time and really wanted to stay to see Ethan open his presents and eat some cake. I couldn't leave without letting her enjoy the party first. Plus, it was Ethan's day, and he really wanted Elise to be there. So I did my very best to suck it up.

I knew that they were shielding me out of concern for my feelings. They are all such kind people, they really are. But what they did to us hurt my feelings so badly I can't even begin to explain it. I know we are going through a lot right now. Trust me, all I have to do is look down at my swollen, scarred belly button to remember. But I am still genuinely happy for Erin. She is a wonderful mother, and I am so glad that she is expecting another baby. It hurts so badly that she didn't think she could share it with me.

I acted as normally as I could, and the second we got out to the car I started crying. This is the most hurt I've felt since all of this began. I think it hurts extra badly because my friends feel uncomfortable talking to me now. It's hard enough struggling to conceive, but now I feel the relationships in my life changing too. Sometimes it even feels like Jamie doesn't know what to say to me or how to act around me. I just want people to treat me the same as always.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Bloated and Emotional!

That pretty much sums up what it's like to take estrogen. I still have some swelling that I am sure is related to the surgery, and I think that is part of the issue and should improve sometime in the near future (I hope). I started crying in my closet last night, because I can't button ANY of my work pants. I have a few pair of really casual pants that I can wear on weekends, but I am really in a bind for work. I don't think this would normally make me cry, so I am going to blame that on the estrogen as well.

I don't know what to do, because I am not sure how long I will be swollen like this. I *really* dont' want to go out and spend money on bigger pants - especially not while we are paying for the surgery, Jamie's tuition for grad school, and trying to do Elise's Christmas shopping. I have 2 skirts that I can wear since they have stretchy waists and one pair of black pants that are normally too big. Otherwise, I am completely out of luck. I found a pair of jeans that are baggy and that is what I am wearing today (luckily we have casual Fridays at work). So I am really hopeful that some of this will go down by Monday. If not, my coworkers are going to get pretty tired of those 2 skirts and black pants. At least I have something that I can wear, though.

My bandages came off yesterday since the doctor said I could remove them after one week. I really, really regret that! If anyone else ever has a laparoscopy...leave the bandages on!!! I was so incredibly grossed out by what I saw when I removed them. The incisions were not stitched, so it was just the steri-strips that were holding them together, and they are not entirely healed yet. I got a little bit lightheaded when I looked down at them. Luckily they have dried out pretty well and are looking a bit better today. But man, I am really bruised and the cuts are not looking very nice right now. I'm thinking they will leave scars, but that is okay. One will be inside my belly button and probably won't be very noticable at all once fully healed.

I'm moving around normally again now, and last night was the first night that I could roll over in bed comfortably. It was great to get a full night's rest without having to wake up to roll over. My instructions said I could resume exercise after one week, but I still don't feel up to doing anything too strenuous. I could not run right now. It's good to know that I can resume exercise once I feel up to it, though.

Jamie and I will go see Dr. Dunn next Wednesday for our follow-up visit. They will not do another SHG yet, but he will show us some pictures of the surgery and discuss in more detail how things went and what he saw inside. I have a few more questions that I've thought of since surgery, so it will be good to have the opportunity to ask next week.

We should be able to schedule the SHG for sometime during the first week in December. It needs to be 4 weeks post-op. I am going to try to get in on the 6th, I think. I am assuming it will work the same way as the last one, and we will get the results and meet with Dr. Dunn immediately following the procedure. That is what I am hoping for, because the wait is already killing me! I am so anxious to know how it's healing in there. I've been really watching what I eat (with the exception of pizza on Tuesday night) and religiously taking my vitamins and estrogen. I figure every little bit might help.

Jamie is now afraid to touch me. Poor guy! He is afraid he's going to hurt me. He's so funny...now when he wants a hug, he just holds out his hands and I have to go to him. I'll be glad when he can relax more and not have to worry about all of that.

I also felt sorry for him last night when I was having my meltdown over my pants not fitting. I actually went upstairs and drug out some maternity pants and put them on. They fit well through my stomach, but were too big in the butt area. I was trying them on, and I said, "Well, at least my ass doesn't look pregnant." He started laughing, which was NOT the right thing to do at that moment. I snapped at him, and for the rest of the evening, I think he was scared to say anything at all. Of course, now I can see the humor in it as well.

Hey, the good news is that I only have 3 more weeks on the estrogen...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Feeling better

I woke up this morning feeling considerably better than I did last night. It's a huge relief. I think the worst is over. It's a good thing too, because I hate not being able to help more around the house. Poor Jamie was out until nearly 11:00pm last night coaching the last football game of the season. We got to bed around midnight, and Elise was up bright and early at 6:30am today. She is still adjusting to the time change and has been waking early all week. Jamie got up so quickly that I didn't even hear her. I woke up around 10:00am. I can tell that he is completely exhausted and I feel so guilty! I am able to be up a lot more today, so I told him that once Elise goes down for her nap later, I will take the baby monitor into the living room and chill on the couch and he can get at least a 2 hour nap.

He has been keeping her entertained all morning. They were coloring pictures when I got up. I don't know how he was able to keep her so quiet all morning! I got up and ate so I could take my estrogen pill, and now I am sitting up in bed with Elise beside me watching a Diego video. I miss her so much! I haven't been able to actively care for her since Wednesday. I'm glad that she's willing to sit with me for a while this morning.

I was just thinking this morning that without such a supportive partner there is no way I could have done this. I am reminded constantly of how wonderful Jamie is, and I am so incredibly thankful for him. Just knowing that he is 100% committed to this journey with me makes such a huge difference. I don't have to do this on my own. Of course, my family and friends have been wonderful support as well.

When we sit down to Thanksgiving dinner in less than 2 weeks, I will have no trouble identifying what I am thankful for this year.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Feeling sore

I am so sore today. I expected today to be the roughest day. I've been trying to limit my activity, but I really needed to get up a little bit today. I need to work this gas out of my system. They inflate your insides with gas during surgery so they can work better, and all of that has to come out. I wanted to encourage that process along, because this bloated feeling is quite uncomfortable.

I think I might have overdone things a bit. My bleeding has gotten a bit heavier, and after going through a massive hemorrhage once before, this is NOT something that I like to see. I'm sure it's not an alarming amount of blood, but ANY increase to me is scary. So, I am back in bed again typing this as I lay almost completely flat on my back. Ugh.

My parents are both here helping with Elise. I'm so thankful to have them, because I really wanted Jamie to go to the football game tonight. It is the last game of the season, and I know he wouldn't have gone if I were going to be here alone. I caught the halftime score on the radio and the game was tied at 14. I'm just trying to take my mind off of things. I'm watching a rerun of Friends, and that is helping. The only problem is that it's making me laugh, which really hurts!

I'm just anxious to be healed and on my feet again. But I know this is all for such a worthy cause, so I am keeping that in mind and counting my blessings.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Finally some wonderful news!

I am still having a lot of soreness/faint feelings, but I am finally able to sit up in bed and give an update (thank goodness for wireless internet connections).

I am just *thrilled* to say that the doctor had a great report for us after taking a look inside. He was able to see the right side of my uterus pretty well and confirm that my right tube is completely open to the cavity. There was 70-75% scarring, mostly on the left side and towards the entrance to the uteran cavity. He was able to remove ALL of it today. Once he cleared my left side, he could see that the tube was open (it had just been blocked by the scar tissue previously). So, at this moment, I have a reconstructed cavity and 2 open tubes!!!!!!! I feel like this is a miracle. Dr. Dunn told my mom and Jamie that I was very lucky.

I will start estrogen supplementation tomorrow and will stay on that for 4 weeks. Our prayers will continue that my lining is able to rebuild (especially on the left side). We are in a waiting pattern now...some reoccurance of scarring is possible, but I am not going to even let that enter my mind. I feel like I need to stay 100% positive at this point, because I truly believe that the mind-body connection can be a powerful thing.

I will follow up with Dr. Dunn in 2 weeks. Once the estrogen supplementation ends in 4 weeks we will repeat the SHG and hopefully see that everything is still open. If this is a success, we could be on our road to trying to conceive around January or February.

I'm very, very sore today, but with such great news I cannot complain one single bit. I feel so incredibly blessed to have such a wonderful physician, husband, family, and friends. I truly believe that all the prayers have made a difference and I cannot thank everyone enough. Please keep them coming for the next 4 weeks.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

I'm starving!!!

I'm on a liquid only diet today since surgery is tomorrow. I am sooo hungry. I am allowed to have jello, so that was my dinner tonight along with some broth. Lovely combination, isn't it?

We took Elise to spend the night at my parents' house tonight, and she made me so sad. As we were leaving, she said that she wanted to go home with us. I feel so bad that she can't stay here tonight, but we have to leave in the morning before the daycare opens, so we didn't have a choice. I feel terrible that all of this has to affect her at all, but hopefully it will all be worthwhile.

I am feeling really nervous tonight. I'm not worried about the surgery itself, but I am really on edge thinking about what the doctor might tell us afterwards. I'm so afraid that he'll tell us that it's worse than he thought and he can't fix it. I didn't used to think this way, but after a few unlucky experiences, I find myself feeling much more vulnerable lately.

I guess we are all ready to go in the morning. I got my prescriptions filled earlier this week so I will have pain and nausea medicine ready at home in case I need it. I will post an update once I am feeling up to it.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Thank You

I wanted to say thank you to everyone for all the support. It's overwhelming! I received so many nice PMs from my Mommy Zone friends as well as a really nice phone message from one of my Pitter Patter girls. It means so much to me! Thank you all!!!!!

I went to watch my old high school team in a volleyball playoff game tonight. We won and it was the perfect diversion.

SHG Results

I wish I were here to report good news, but unfortunately that is not the case. Before doing the actual procedure, Dr. Dunn did a baseline ultrasound to take a look at my lining. For a point of reference a normal, healthy lining should measure around 8-10mm. Mine measures right around 3mm. He told me right away that it was looking pretty thin.

Next he inserted the catheter and attempted to infuse my uterus with saline solution. I say "attempted" because my uterus didn't inflate the way it should. He was only able to use half of the solution, and even most of that didn't inflate my uterus and just ran back out onto the table. He could see a small portion near the cervix fill with water, but otherwise I was completely blocked. That fact, combined with my thin lining caused him to give me a diagnosis of "severe uterine adhesions".

Dr. Dunn has wonderful bedside manner. He explained what he was doing and seeing every step of the way. Jamie and I both were extremely impressed. When he finished the SHG, he had me get dressed and we met him in his office. I would love to say that there is a positive side to things, but right now I can't really find one. As I said, my condition is severe. The next step is surgery and it may require more than one procedure. There is no way to assess the true condition of things until he gets inside to take a better look. There will be an incision at the belly button and another somewhere around the pubic bone where he will insert cameras and other instruments to get a good view from above the uterus. He will also go in through the cervix. He will begin closest to the cervix and work his way back, attempting to break away and remove the scar tissue. Depending on the degree of scarring and the quality of what little lining remains, he may choose to stop at some point and go back in at a later date to continue working on it. In between surgeries I will be on estrogen (the dosage will depend on what he sees when he operates) to foster regrowth of the lining. If he were to remove too much all at once without quality lining in the surrounding areas, there is a high chance that the uterine walls would stick together and rescar. That is the reason that we may have several surgeries ahead of us to get it completely repaired. The doctor said that he's seen one case that required 4 operations - but the woman did end up having a baby.

He wasn't able to assess my tubes today, and he cannot guarantee that he would be able to see them during the first surgery either. There is a chance that the scarring extends into the tubes, and if this is the case, it would be very difficult to repair. That would leave us with no other option besides IVF to conceive if that is the case. I have to at least consider that it is a very real possibility with all my scarring.

I held myself together very well as I received the bad news, and I thought I was going to make it out of the office without tears...until we got up to leave. Dr. Dunn was so sincere and kind when he shook my hand. He told me that he knew this was not what I had hoped to hear, but not to lose hope. So, I started to cry. I *hate* crying in public. When I got out to the desk to check out, I couldn't find my stupid debit card. The staff was so very kind. They told us not to worry about paying. They said they could just bill the insurance and send me a separate billing for the copay. Then we talked about scheduling surgery. The nurse asked me if I wanted her to check his calendar for next week...I didn't even know what to say. I was just tongue-tied. I felt like I couldn't even digest all of this, much less make a rational decision regarding surgery. Jamie stepped in for me and I am so glad he did. They did some checking and said they could do the surgery next Thursday. We took the appointment. So I guess I am having surgery in less than one week. My pre-op appointment is on Monday afternoon.

Jamie and I have full faith in this doctor. We believe that he can help us. At the same time, I cannot help but feel incredibly discouraged. I was really hoping this would be a more minor issue. And I don't know what we are going to do if my tubes are scarred. I don't think we can afford IVF. I don't know what I would be willing to do at this point.

For now at least we know that he will go in at least once and see what can be done.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Tomorrow is the day!

I've been waiting for months (literally) to find out what is going on and get an official diagnosis. I'm anxious, excited, and nervous...all rolled into one! I had to take an antibiotic tonight to prevent infection. Elise and I just ate and I took my pills. Jamie is coaching a JV football game tonight, but he took the day off tomorrow to go along with me to the test. The doctor will sit down with us afterwards and go over everything. I feel like I should prepare some questions again, because if I get surprised by the diagnosis I might freeze up and forget what I want to ask. I have been successful in putting this out of my mind for the last week, so I haven't thought about what I want to ask at all.

If he tells me that he doesn't see any scar tissue at all, then I am going to want an explanation for my symptoms.

If it's worse than I'm anticipating (severe scarring), then I am going to want some specifics on where the scarring is located and what the plan will be during surgery to remove it.

What I am expecting is for him to tell me that he sees some mild/moderate scarring. I'm very interested to hear where it's located. And of course I want to know a prognosis for treatment success.

But I feel like I'm missing something. I need to go do some checking around for additional questions to ask. I will do that once I have Elise tucked in for the night.

I'm getting up at the crack of dawn tomorrow (we are talking 5am) so I can work at my office for a few hours before having to leave for the day. This comes at a somewhat inopportune time for me as far as my work schedule goes. I'm going to juggle things and find a way to make it work, though.