I’m sure that most of you have seen the movie The Wizard of Oz. It is one of my favorites and subsequently the musical Wicked. That’s a whole other post for later. The last few weeks my head has been filled with the ideas of IVF Shots, Estrogen and Embryos instead of the classic “Lions, Tigers and Bears OH MY”! Or better yet, yet the famous song, “How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria”, from The Sound Music but in my case, it’s, How Do you Solve A Problem Like Casey’s Infertility?
Before I get too far along in my ramblings, I should probably bring everyone up to speed that’s interested in hearing about this crazy journey of my infertility and why I’m considered part of a rare 5% of women in the world. (Wow! How’s that for a hook to keep you reading! )
Some of you may know this already but just in case, I have advanced Stage IV Endometriosis in addition to being high risk for ovarian cancer with a history of abnormal ovarian masses. In 2010, I had a total hysterectomy and both ovaries removed in the hopes that it would “cure” any future problems. In addition to my endometriosis, a biopsy showed that I also had adenomyosis which was why none of the four previous IVF cycles resulted in pregnancies. I had one miscarriage during those four cycles as well. Unfortunately the original hysterectomy and pelvic sweep didn’t work. I’m part of a very rare group of women (about 5%) that can regenerate ovarian tissue and regrow ovaries with even just a few cells on the abdominal wall. In turn, that causes my endometriosis to flare. There is no real cure for this as both conditions battle each other in terms of finding the right treatment. There have been so many other procedures that we’ve tried that are too long to list. We tried an experimental interventional radiology procedure that didn’t work. I’ve been on a number of different meds, but my body just doesn’t want to cooperate. So after my third radical abdominal surgery in May 2013 (it lasted over 8 hours), I was placed on a medication used in breast cancer patients that seemed to get me back to a good place where I could focus on getting my mind and body healthy.
At one of my quarterly scans this past April to check for ovarian cancer, my specialist had the very outside the box idea of taking me off the meds to see if we could stimulate the ovaries I’d regrown. Fast forward to last week, there were two very clear ovaries (it’s still completely weird for me to say that because seriously who regrows ovaries!!!?!?) with egg follicles. So we began the first stage of IVF (In-Vitro) to stimulate egg growth. I was on 8 sets of very very strong hormone shots a day. 4 in the morning… 4 at night. I started last Saturday and they hoped for me to be on them for a total of 10-14 days. My best friend Greta offered to be our surrogate. It was the perfect story. Or maybe the perfect storm. This whole experiment was more than a medical journal entry. This was worthy of a movie according to my specialists. My original doctor said that he was going to play himself in the movie. My IVF doctor said if he was going to be honest that he would pick Matthew McConaughey to play him but in reality it should be Andy Garcia. I always wanted Sandra Bullock to play me in the story of my life. Greta automatically knew that Reece Witherspoon would play her role. I don’t know that we ever picked who the husbands would be… There was time for that. But we called our little experiments…we called them our “freaking miracles” and I started to allow myself to let hope come back into my world of having children “naturally”.
That brings me to today. To this moment… I just got off the phone with my IVF specialist who was calling to let me know that my blood levels didn’t rise like they had hoped. My follicle development didn’t develop like they had hoped. This one more try…this “hail mary pass” didn’t work. You could feel the sadness on the other end of the phone from my doctor. No doctor likes giving bad news and I’ve gotten used to hearing “that voice” on the other end of the phone. He felt bad because it took him so long to call me today. That’s when I told him… I said I understood. He was busy today because he had so many women that were ready for their egg retrievals. He was busy today because he had women ready for their embryo transfers. I told him it was ok that he was busy today and I hoped that all of those women would ultimately get good news on the other end of the phone. That their fertility journeys were successful. I already knew what that pain felt like and I felt a bit of it again today and I didn’t want those women to feel that pain. I told him thank you for being so kind and being honest and that’s when we decided to stop my cycle. I was back where I started.
But my story doesn’t end here. I have the sweetest bubbies (and know that Winnie is still here with me in my heart) that here to be our sweet children until the two legged versions come along and then we will all be a happy pack. I have an amazing man in my life that I love, and I know that Riche and I are absolutely meant to be parents and we both feel this deep down in our hearts. I always knew it wasn’t going to be through the traditional route and now I know our journey to parenthood is going to be a side road…a detour version if you will. I’m finally going to write my book about my wild, crazy journey with infertility. Sandra Bullock will still play me in the story of my life. And even though I’m sad today… I will still be the same me. The one that makes other people feel better even when I feel sad. The same me that hears songs from the Wizard of Oz and The Sound of Music when she reflects on a hard day and sad news. I will be the same me that faces the adversity in her life and not only stares it in the face but knows that no matter the sadness or the tears that I will ultimately pick up my head and laugh a happy laugh and sing a happy song and move onto my next adventure in this crazy thing we call life.