I am beginning this from the waiting room for lab testing to begin my reproductive journey. What did I just write? I don’t get it.
Let’s bring this back to the beginning.
If you know me, you know I was made to be a mother. This is my nature. I am a Martha Stewart + preschool teacher + craft guru with a heart for a family. I have always had this idea in my head, a plan for my life. I knew what I wanted my family to look like, how many kids we’d have, what our traditions would be, and when it would happen. I should have known, like many things, we don’t always get what we planned.
My entire life I have had extremely painful periods. Like bad. I remember in junior high school getting sent home due to the pain. Using birth control and Naproxen to ease my symptoms, I was left to lots of baths and uncontrolled pain.
When I was 18 I was interning at a salon while going to cosmetology school. One evening I was overtaken by pain in my abdomen. My first thought was “my appendix burst.” I head to the emergency room. After a few tests the doctor asks me if he could do a pelvic exam. In my eighteen year old mind I’m thinking, ‘sure push on my pelvis i don’t care.’ Oh no friend. This was a real getting into a gown, pulling out the speculum, gynecologist visit thing. At this point my pain was elevating – bad. The conclusion of the night was I had an ovarian cyst that had burst. This was pretty terrifying to me by myself in this emergency room. I was instructed to take naproxen and follow up with my gynecologist.
My doctor requested an ultrasound by one of her sonographers before I met with her. During the procedure I heard a lot of “Ohhh, hmm… that’s different.” My anxiety was in full flame, what was she talking about?! When I asked she said “I am not a doctor, so I can’t tell you but there is something strange about your uterus.” Strange? What?! I go home and immediately begin Googling ‘strange uterus.’ If you can imagine all of the results that came up. I couldn’t wait until the following week to meet with my doc. I called the office inquiring about what was so ‘strange.’ I was told that it appeared that I had two uterus’. Uteri?
Continue the Google search.
The next week I went in for a follow up with my doctor. To my surprise I was greeted with surgery consent forms. I know I was freshly 18, but was I allowed to do this? I had never had surgery in my life. She discussed that I would be getting a laparoscopy to remove cysts and a diagnostic hysteroscopy to access my possible bicornuate (two uterus fused together) situation.
Any uterine anomalies are created when you are still a fetus. The women’s reproductive organs start off as two ducts, muellerian ducts. During pregnancy, the ducts are supposed to fuse together creating a uterine cavity. Occasionally, it does not complete the process. To me I think like, webbed feet.
My surgery was pretty routine, nothing strange except for my results. I was told I had a “septate uterus.” This is a ‘wall’ that splits the uterus in half leaving very little room for a baby. I was told all the risks of child birth… second trimester miscarriage, breech, premature babies. It all was super overwhelming. I was then sent to a high risk doctor for further analysis. Her recommendation, since I was already high risk before I even hit twenty, was to start trying to conceive as soon as possible.
This was startling news. I was in the process of going to school. Hadn’t started my career. Dating a guy for less than a year. This was not the plan! The doctors discussed that I have a high chance of miscarriage, and would need to have several to qualify for a resection surgery. The resection surgery consists of removing the wall (tissue) to create a full open cavity within the uterus. This was unsettling for multiple reasons. Number one, the idea of ‘several miscarriages’ potentially hanging in my future. This haunted me for YEARS. Also, the potential of being ‘high risk,’ a title that’s usually saved for somebody who’s not me! Or so I wished.
Ten years have passed and pregnancy was not on my mind. Lots of exploration, growth, travel, and fun filled my life. In the back of my mind always sat this fear of what the future could hold.
In March of 2018 I got married. We had just moved to a new state, wanted to enjoy being newlyweds and weren’t ready to ‘settle down’ just yet. After a year and a half of following our dreams, living downtown, working hard, and exploring all Milwaukee had to offer, we craved something a little more.
In August of 2019 we got our house in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. I love my neighborhood, my house has just the right amount of character, and a beautiful kitchen. There was just one more thing we needed to complete our home: a little one.
Our plan was to start trying in the late fall giving ourselves ample time to plan and adjust to our suburban life. After many walks and talks we decided, based on my medical history, to start trying sooner than later.
I anticipated months of trying or possible miscarriage. To my surprise we had our first positive pregnancy test one month later. Could it be? One month? So many emotions flooded my mind. Later that evening, that same day, my period arrived. I was upset, bummed. The doctors said it could have been a false positive, a chemical pregnancy, or a super early miscarriage. Regardless it didn’t feel good. This was only month one, I was still super hopeful.
A few months pass with no success. One evening, around 6:00p I get a call from my OBGYN. Like, her personally. The doctor calling my phone. I was completely taken off guard. She explained to me, after receiving my operative report from ten years back, she believes my septum is too large to support a healthy pregnancy. She sent me for a consultation with a reproductive endocrinologist (fertility specialist) to determine options for moving forward. She also suggested we immediately stop trying to prevent an unwanted miscarriage. This became one of those nights where a wine bottle for 1 was required.
I knew I was going to run into hiccups, I was told this for the past decade.. I just didn’t think I would I truly happen to me.
We had our first appointment with our Reproductive Endocrinologist on a Thursday. This entire experience has felt like a dream. Not in the positive sense, but more of a foggy blur. Those dreams you have but in the morning you barely can remember. That how it feels.
Upon arrival to the office we are greeted by the receptionist. She was super kind, taking our information giving us a folder full of resources with a beautiful blue eyed chubby baby on the front. Behind her, is a door covered with Christmas cards with babies. I am assuming these are from happy families that had successful outcomes with this clinic. This left me hopeful.
We get called back into an office to wait for the doctor. This office is not your typical doctors room. It’s an actual office. Like what you see in movies, doctors that sit at desks. She came in to review our file. Pretty much any question in the book was asked. All of our family history on both sides, medical history, current health status – everything. She recommended we did an HSG test to confirm this uterine anomaly I have. She also requested so many blood tests. Some were required to be taken on certain days of my cycle. I also had to take a urine test for STI. They wanted to make sure I was in the clear before any tests that penetrated the uterus. She also requested Brandon to be tested for his sperm count/ quality/ motility. Cue any dumb joke I had.
After the doctor left the room, a nurse came in to talk us through all of these upcoming tests as well as get them scheduled. The time sensitivity of these tests and procedures was stressful and overwhelming. Trying to map them out with my work schedule was hard as well. I don’t ever want to seem that my career isn’t my priority, though in comparison to future child I guess it isn’t.
Last we had a visit from the financial councilor. This feels like A Christmas Carol where I have been visited by the ghosts of Christmas past. The financial councilor comes in with the real stuff. She lays out our insurance, what it covers, and how much fertility treatment actually costs. Let me tell you. It is not cheap.
I left feeling sad, defeated, broken. All of this, these appointments were because of me. This isn’t how making a baby is supposed to be. I guess I just have to embrace my story for what it is. And this is why I am sharing it now.
I keep telling myself this quote i recently found “one day you will tell your story of how you’ve overcome what you’re going through now, and it will become part of someone else’s survival guide.” I can only wish, that one day, my journey will help other women be strong, resilient, and hopeful.