Friday, November 4, 2011

Kissing the stress (and the dream) goodbye

So, about 6 weeks ago, I started my first cycle on Clomid.

In case you're unaware, Clomid is a medication that induces ovulation in women who do not ovulate consistently on their own (like me).  It does this by (literally) screwing with your brain chemistry and tricking your body into pumping your hormone production into overdrive.  So...yeah.  It takes a women already struggling with the emotional turmoil of infertility, and ramps up her hormone levels.  Hijinks ensue.

I won't get into a big general lists of Clomid's side effects, because Dr. Google can do a better job of explaining all those to you.  Since this is my blog, however, I will share what issues have befallen me (and hope this will help explain part of why I have been so M.I.A. on the posting front).

The first side effect I noticed was the temperature changes.  I have always been very cold-natured and dreaded winter, but now I can walk around in 60 degree weather in short sleeves without being miserable.  That's about the only good part about having an elevated body temperature.  As part of TTC, I do BBT charting, and I can verify that my basal temperature during my ovulatory phase is way higher than before.  This makes it really difficult to determine where my ovulation temperature spike is.  It's a bummer.  The worst part, however, is the hot flashes.  I get them like a menopausal woman, and they suck so much worse than I had expected.  It's like a panic attack, but with sweating.  I can't explain it.  It's awful.

The next fun bit has been the accelerated hair loss.  The hormones in Clomid dry out some women's hair and, if you're hair is already very fine, like mine, this makes in fall out.  Don't get me wrong; I don't have big chunky bald spots on my head.  But every time I wash or brush my hair, I'm losing strands by the handful.  I can't even brush my hair back from my face without losing a few pieces.  But at least it's thinning in a uniform fashion all over my head, and not giving me a horseshoe look or anything.

The worst side effect of Clomid, however, has easily been the pain.  Clomid, particularly if prescribed to a woman who can ovulate a little bit (however sporadically) naturally, can result in the ovaries (in my case, half an ovary) being overstimulated.  Stick with me here, because we're going to get into a little bit of human reproductive anatomy.  Normal ovulation is follicle matures, follicle ruptures, egg is released, everyone happy.  In an overstimulated ovary lots of follicles mature, then lots of follicles rupture, then lots of eggs are released, and then you and your brood of children get a reality show on TLC.  Of course, ovaries are very small, and they really only have a lot of space for one or two of these rupturing follicles.  So when, in an overstimulated ovary, you get a lot of this maturing and popping going on, it swells up, and sucks, really, really hard.

Yeah, that's why I couldn't write Wednesday.  Because my right side was swollen to the point that my pants button bruised my stomach.  It hurt, and made me feel sick as a dog.  Also, it makes me look fat though, fun fact, due to the nausea and general lack of appetite, I've actually lost weight since this started.

Here's the real doesn't appear that Clomid is working for me.  After my first cycle trying it last month (on my second, currently) they did some bloodwork.  Though I did succeed in ovulating (go me!), my progesterone levels are still not high enough to sustain a pregnancy past the first few weeks.  So, even if I got pregnant, I would have an early miscarriage.

In theory, if I stick with the Clomid, it might raise my progesterone level enough to be useful.  If the Clomid doesn't work, my doctor wants to do an in-office procedure to determine if my fallopian tube is blocked.  If it is, the next option would be corrective surgery.

And, you know, I just don't think I'm willing to do that right now.  My body has been through a lot the past couple of years and, wimpy though it may be, I don't want to subject it to any more trauma, especially if it's not medically necessary.  And even if IVF was an option (which, financially, it's not), morally, it's not really something I feel 100% about.  (Not judging on anyone who has done IVF; I'm just not comfortable with it for me.)

I've talked it over with my husband, and I told him that, as much as I want my son to be a big brother, I'm pretty sure I want to stop trying if the oral medications fail.  I don't want any surgeries, and I don't want to have to inject myself with hormones, and I don't want to spend two days a week at an RE's office.  I'm not giving up hope but, for the moment, I am willing to accept my physical and emotional capabilities.

And my husband, because he's awesome, said he would fully support whatever steps I was willing, or not willing, to take.  Then the next afternoon, he came home from work with a bunch of information about local adoption programs.  That's my guy, the problem-solver.

So that's been my life, lately.  I feel like crap, pretty much constantly, and I don't want to feel this way anymore.  In a way, I'm very disappointed in myself, because I hate to fail at anything, and I really hate giving up.  But I also know that I've got too many other wonderful things in my life right now to let anything block my view of them.  And this doesn't mean we might not try again in the future.  It just means that, if nothing breaks our way in the next six weeks, we're going to take a little break from it.

I'm not even as sad about it as I expected to be.  I have a loving family, amazing friends, and one perfect son I already get to call my own.  Things could always be better, but they could also be a lot worse.

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