Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Fertility Update: Surgery, Results & Moving Forward

If you've been keeping up with our blog & Instagram (@theadventuresofbabyk) posts, you know we've recently started focusing on fertility efforts again. After 4.5 years of infertility & 3 years of taking a break from doctors & treatment, we are now seeing a wonderful doctor trained in Napro technology. I share more about how we got to this point & Napro technology here & here


Getting back into the fertility world makes me even more grateful for our little family! 

Our first appointment with our new doctor was at the beginning of March. Since then we've had lots of testing done to discover the root causes of our infertility. We are ready to move forward past the testing & surgery stage, but we are trying to have patience because we know this part is super important. We are so grateful to finally be getting answers & for a doctor who is thorough. We recently had a fertility appointment to go over test results & make a plan to start addressing all the issues they've found. I wrote this detailed post to update y'all on all the results & let you know what's next! It's super long...but I wanted it to be informative, so hang in there with me. Or don't, that's ok too! ;)

Warning: This post contains words like bleeding, mucus, sperm, etc. Totally TMI, I know. This is the first time I've ever shared the nitty gritty details of our infertility, so don't worry, this feels a bit awkward to me as well! However, over the past 3+ years of sharing about our journey with infertility & adoption we have been shown incredible support. After all the love, prayers & generosity many of you have shown us, we feel like y'all are in this with us! So now that we are getting these long awaited answers, we want to share them with y'all. We appreciate your continued prayers for our family & hope this post will allow you to pray more specifically for wisdom & healing. Also, by continuing to share our story, we are bringing awareness & helping to break the stigma of shame & silence often associated with infertility. 

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2 weeks ago, I had my first exploratory laparoscopic surgery, hysteroscopy & hystersalpingogram to check for endometriosis, as well as check my tubes, uterus & surrounding organs. My doctor found endometriosis at about stage 2.5 - there are 4 stages. This was not surprising based on my years of symptoms - heavy bleeding, horrible chronic/monthly pain, fatigue, bloating, painful cramping, infertility, upset stomach issues, etc - but there's no way to know for sure if you have endometriosis until you have the surgery. 

Thankful for my sweet husband for taking great care of me while I recovered! 
And also for our incredible moms + families who have helped out so much! 

{Endometriosis is an often painful disorder in which tissue that normally lines the inside of your uterus — the endometrium — grows outside your uterus. Endometriosis most commonly involves your ovaries, fallopian tubes and the tissue lining your pelvis. With endometriosis, displaced endometrial tissue continues to act as it normally would — it thickens, breaks down and bleeds with each menstrual cycle. Because this displaced tissue has no way to exit your body, it becomes trapped. Surrounding tissue can become irritated, eventually developing scar tissue and adhesions — abnormal bands of fibrous tissue that can cause pelvic tissues and organs to stick to each other. Endometriosis can cause pain — sometimes severe — especially during your period. Fertility problems also may also develop.}

This Friday, May 12th I'll have another laparoscopic surgery to remove the endometriosis. Hopefully after the endo is removed, I'll should have less monthly pain + symptoms & we will have a better chance of conceiving. Unfortunately, endometriosis is a chronic & often reoccurring condition, even after being removed. We would appreciate your prayers for a success surgery. Please pray that every bit of endometriosis will be removed & for it not to return in the months or years to come. 

The first survey went well & the recovery wasn't as bad as I thought. The anxiety beforehand & not knowing what to expect was the worst part. I'll be writing a blog post about what to expect with a laparoscopic surgery after my next surgery. The recovery for this surgery should be longer because I'll have 5 incisions instead of 2 & they will actually be removing endometriosis & a fibroid, which means I'll have more healing to do. I'm bummed to have to go through the surgery again, especially on Mother's Day weekend, but also more than ready to get this endo out! 

In addition to endometriosis, my surgery, blood results & Creighton Model charting have revealed other issues. Thankfully it seems the issues should all be able to be managed with medicine, supplements & diet. 

My blood test results revealed: 
Thyroid issue- Elevated THS. Treatment: Take medicine (Nature-Throid) to lower it. 

High prolactin- Normal levels for a non-pregnant female should be less than 20. My levels are elevated to 67. We don't know why my prolactin is so elevated but it's been like this for 3.5+ years. I had another MRI last week to rule out tumor on pituitary gland. High prolactin could possibly be connected to high TSH. Symptoms: infertility, lactation, breast tenderness, decreased libido, headaches, acne & more. Treatment: Prolactin can be lowered with prescription medicine. I took Cabergoline a few years ago which worked. I've recently started taking it again. 

Low progesterone resulting in luteal phase defect. 
{The luteal phase is one stage of your menstrual cycle. It occurs after ovulation and before your period starts. During this time, the lining of your uterus normally gets thicker to prepare for a possible pregnancy. If you have a luteal phase defect, that lining doesn't grow properly each month. This can make it difficult to become or remain pregnant. A luteal phase defect can happen to you if your ovaries don't release enough progesterone, or if the lining of your uterus doesn't respond to the hormone.} 
A few health issues luteral phase defect is linked to include: endometriosis, thyroid issues, high prolactin (all of which I have) & more. Treatment: I'll start taking a progesterone prescription on specific days of my cycle. Progesterone should also help ease my PMS symptoms, which are intense & start 7-10 days before I start my period every month.  

MTHFR gene mutation -The MTHFR gene mutation can be tough to understand & explain, so I'll just give you the summary: Basically my body can't process or break down folic acid. MTHFR gene mutations are connected to a plethora of health problems, but thankfully the mutation I have is a mild form. Treatment: Managed by avoiding folic acid, anti-inflammatory diet (Paleo), daily baby aspirin, daily methylfolate. I'm taking Thorne pre-natal vitamins because they don't have folic acid. 

Creighton Model Charting showed us:
Limited fertile mucus -Fertile mucus is crucial to conception. Treatment: I'll be starting Mucinex & N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) to help increase fertile mucus. NAC also helps with symptoms of endometriosis. 
Issues with identifying ovulation -Hopefully increasing fertile mucus will allow actual ovulation day to become more clear 

Surgery: 
In addition to finding endometriosis, my surgery also allowed my doctor to see an infection in my uterus that is causing inflammation -Treatment: Cary & I will both take prescription to clear it up. Other than the infection, my tubes were clear & my uterus looked good.

Other supplements my doctor has me on: magnesium & red raspberry leaf. 
In addition to all the medicines & supplements I'll be taking, we are also going to continue our anti-inflammatory diet (gluten, grain, diary & refined sugar free). I have also cut out alcohol & am about to attempt to go caffeine free. I started the diet less than 2 months ago & I've already lost 9 lbs. My cycles have also been slightly less painful with less bloating since starting Paleo. It's been challenging, but I'm thankful I am already seen positive changes. Anti-inflammatory is recommended to help manage symptoms from endometriosis. 

Now moving on to Cary's results...
When we originally had fertility testing done 3.5 years ago, we discovered Cary has a condition called teratospermia. {Teratospermia, also known as teratozoospermia is a condition characterized by the presence of sperm with abnormal morphology that affects fertility in males.} 
There are three categories of teratospermia, Cary's results over the past couple of years show he falls into the severe category at 2% normal morphology. His most recent SA result showed 3% normal morphology. Our doctor has recommended supplements for him to take (Vitamin C, Pycnogenol, Alpha Lipoic Acid, Maca root & Multi-Vitamin). He is also doing the anti-inflammatory diet. In a few months, we will do another analysis & see if there's any improvement. If not, we will do further digging & testing to see what could be causing it, although causes are sometimes unknown or hard to determine. Years ago, Cary did have a varicocele removed. A varicocele can cause teratospermia. Our doctor told us she has had patients with teratospermia conceive (without the help of IUI or IVF because Napro doctors don't use those treatment methods) which is encouraging.

On one hand it's frustrating to know we are dealing with multiple issues...on the other hand, the more problems we are aware of the more we can address! We are thankful to finally be getting answers after years of wondering & thankful that we finally are on the path to treating these issues. 

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I want to close by asking y'all to keep us in your prayers. We'd appreciate your continued prayers for healing, for wisdom for our doctor, for all the medicines + supplements we are taking to work properly & for limited side effects! Also, I've been having horrible headaches the past 2 weeks. I would really appreciate prayers for my headaches to ease up. Please pray all goes well with my surgery this week. We would love prayers for our hearts & our emotions as we continue to move forward. 

We know the Lord is the giver of life. We know every pregnancy is a miracle. We believe He is a Healer & we continue to pray for healing. Scripture is full of faithful, God loving people who dealt with infertility. It even says in scripture that God closed Hannah's womb for years (1 Samuel 1). Elizabeth was older & barren yet God gave her a son at the appointed time (Luke 1). Sarah was beyond the age of child bearing years yet God fulfilled His promise to give her a child & make her descendants as numerous as the stars (Genesis 17).
We trust that God has a perfect purpose in our wait. We trust He is using our story to put His love & glory on display. Whether or not we ever conceive, we will continue to proclaim God's goodness & find our hope in Him. 

Every day when I look at Izzy & Noah, I see two beautiful examples of God's faithfulness looking back at me! My children are walking miracles & the joy of my life. As painful & hard is infertility is, I am thankful for how the Lord is orchestrating our story. Thanks for following along & loving us so well through it all! 






With love, 
Tyler

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