Tuesday, October 2, 2012

My Personal FAQ

A few people in real life and in blog world have asked a couple of questions related to my pregnancy.  In general, I'm not opposed to answering questions; however, I will use discretion where I feel it's necessary.

While we were waiting, I sometimes found inspiration in other people's stories.  More often than not, though, I felt like other people's stories weren't necessarily something I could claim for myself.  No matter what side of the fence you are on, I hope you find even the smallest amount of encouragement here.

1.  How long have you been trying to have a baby?

Total, it was 7 1/2 years before this pregnancy.  My PCO went undiagnosed until I was 29, and then we suffered a miscarriage about two years ago.

2.  Did you take medication to get pregnant this time?

Nope.  This was, in the truest sense of the word, a miracle.  The only medication I have taken in the last two years has been metformin--mostly to control or alleviate some of the symptoms of PCO.  But we didn't take any fertility medication to conceive Little Navajo at all.  In fact, it was the shock of my life when the doctor told me, and I even argued with him when he tried to convince me.

(And I thought most of the symptoms before that positive test were the result of PCO and my gall bladder.)

3.  Did you ever consider pursuing IVF?

I didn't.  I'm not opposed to IVF, but it was never going to be a good fit for us for several reasons.  I never felt "at ease" with pursuing that particular treatment, mostly.  (And over 7 1/2 years, I did a lot of praying.  Believe me.)

I'm glad it works for so many people, and I know several people who have personally been given a chance at parenthood because of it.  It just wasn't for us.

4.  How does PCOS affect pregnancy?

There's really no short answer to this question, so I'll be as brief as possible.

PCO makes it really difficult to get pregnant.  Most sufferers do not ovulate with any regularity.  There are medications to fix the lack of ovulation; however, that is no guarantee.

Unfortunately, miscarriage is much higher for someone with PCO.  Some research indicates women with PCO may have poorer egg quality than the general population.  Some research states that the hormonal irregularities cause a higher incidence of miscarriage, but the jury is still out on why miscarriage rates are higher.  I've done a ton of reading, and the arguments on all sides are fairly convincing.  It could also be an "all the above" sort of situation or a "depends on the patient" situation.  Who knows.  It seems medical professionals are a bit puzzled about PCO in general so answering these questions becomes even more difficult.

Because insulin levels (due to insulin resistance) in someone with PCO tend to be higher, many practitioners will recommend that patients continue to take metformin through the first trimester to reduce the chances of a miscarriage.  My doctor was one of those practitioners; however, it's rare they will recommend patients to continue taking the pills throughout pregnancy because it is a medication that crosses the placenta and can be passed through breast milk.

Right now, my biggest concern is passing the gestational diabetes test.  Instead of testing once at 24 or 28 weeks, I start testing at 16 weeks and continue to test every four weeks until 28 weeks.  (Well, I continue to test unless I fail the one hour and the three hour.)  Again, because insulin levels in women with PCO tend to be higher, this is precautionary.  I'm mostly concerned because I know my body doesn't handle sugar well--that's why I limit sugars and refined carbs.  In fact, the only time I really didn't "watch" was during the first trimester when the only thing I could stomach at night was a baked potato.  So chugging any amount of sugary drink sounds counter-intuitive to me.  I've read comments from other women with PCO, and many of them stated they failed the one hour and passed the three hour with flying colors.  Here's hoping.

5.  What factors do you think contributed to this pregnancy?

Honestly?  Prayer.  I don't know how many people were praying for us, but I know they were praying often.  I definitely want people to know that God should be glorified for what we've been given.  I believe everything comes by His hand, but when He does it without any sort of assistance?  It still blows my mind.

Recently, I've wondered if His consistent call to obedience in diet and exercise were contributing factors.  I don't think that gives Him any less glory in our situation.  If anything, it's probably a testament to His persistence with me because I wasn't really a willing participant.  And also, I lost very few lbs prior to discovering our little stowaway.  Most of my weight loss came after we discovered Navajo.  How many women get better weight loss results while pregnant than before?  I'd say not many.

6.  Has this experience changed the way you deal with infertility?

Yes and no.

I remember getting so frustrated with women who would try to commiserate with me when they were pregnant or had children because our situations just weren't the same.  Sure, they may have dealt with infertility, but clearly that was no longer their reality.  Basically, they weren't in the trenches anymore.

That's been my hardest reality because my heart is still there.  I do remember excusing myself from situations because I just couldn't handle them, though.  So I don't take it personally when these women don't talk to me much or avoid me in public places.  I won't be offended if they can't attend a baby shower or even if they don't coo over Little Navajo when s/he's born.  Frankly, those decisions aren't about me.  And that's OK.  I know how possible it is to be happy for someone else and still struggle with the situation.

But...

I've realized how crucial it is to pray for those in the waiting.  It's not that I didn't realize it before, but it's much more urgent to me these days.  I've been praying for three couples and my heart breaks to think any of them would sit in this season for an extended period of time.

For myself...

I pray that pregnancy will put PCO on the back burner.  It isn't a curable disease, but there are several women who have testified to fewer symptoms and fewer problems losing weight after a pregnancy.  Does it level out hormones?  Does it kick start the system into understanding how to process insulin?  Did the chicken come before the egg?  No idea.  All I know is I pray for it to happen.

So there they are...the FAQ of late.  Feel free to email other questions if you have them.  I will answer (within reason).  I'm also eagerly anticipating the arrival of my new camera and hope that will significantly impact the blog in a positive way!


1 comment:

Kristin said...

I totally get what you mean on the whole how to deal with infertility thing. It is definitely different when your dreams start to become a reality, but the fact is, my husband and I are still "infertile." Yes, we've conceived a child with considerable help. Yes, God can work in BIG ways and maybe at some point we will conceive without medical help and only with divine help. But if, God forbid, we were to lose this baby or we want to have more, it isn't always as simple as hopping in the sack and voila! That pain is diminished a little but, but it's like being in a warzone and then you get your repreive, but you know you're probably going to get called back.