Seriously, They’re the Size of Grapefruit!

So when Dean and I got married we did that “so do you wanna have kids?” talk that most couples do. The answer for us was yes, just later. Well, suddenly later became now. I actually remember the moment–we were in Virginia visiting Dean’s family and talking about that “someday” we had mentioned 3 years earlier, and it hit us that we had planned for us to start trying when I turned 27. Can you guess what my next birthday was? So I buy literally 25 baby magazines and spend the rest of the vacation devouring what turn out to be the most inane articles ever written. Seriously, don’t buy those magazines. It’s like the editors think mothers-to-be will believe anything provided they put a cute baby picture next to it and publish it in a magazine titled “Expecting” or “Big ‘Ol Belly with Stretch Marks.” But I digress.

We started trying for a baby. I did all the things I was supposed to do–meeting with my doctor (and I quote “you’re very healthy Adrienne. There’s no reason you shouldn’t get pregnant right away.” Big fat liars.) I was in great shape, I had been changing my diet to something much more condusive to procreating, and I had a clean bill of health. It should have been easy. A year later (and 2 possible miscarriages) later, still no baby. So I visit the doctors again. This time I get subjected to all manner of probing and prodding, lots of blood tests and some very, very personal questions. All this leads to “well, we think you have PCOS. Here’s some pills–don’t worry, they should make you lose weight.” Yeah. They SHOULD.

For those of you who don’t know what PCOS is, here you go. PCOS stands for Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome. It’s a syndrome where a woman doesn’t make eggs effectively–they turn into blood-filled cysts instead. No eggs=no babies. This is a very common disorder, and yeilds such symptoms as irregular periods, abnormal weight gain, excess facial/body hair, and inability to get pregnant. Despite it’s frequency, however, doctors have only started investgating the problem, and really don’t have a reason for the syndrome. Ok, now you’re all caught up. Please continue.

Alright, so apparently the doctors looks at my 5’6” 135 lb nearly hairless frame and thought “this is totally PCOS!” So they gave me some pills. They seemed to know of a connection between insulin resistance and PCOS. Women who are the road to type 2 diabeties tend to have this pain-in-the-ovaries syndrome. So they gave me some pills called glucophage. The reasoning was if PCOS is caused by insulin resistance, if they knock down my insulin then symptoms will go away. Glucophage works 3 ways: it keeps my liver from producing glucose, keeps my gut from absorbing glucose, and makes my insulin receptors more active thereby absorbing more insulin. The less glucose I have in my blood stream, the less insulin I produce to break it down. The less insulin produced, the less my ovaries are exposed to it, and, in theory at least, my overies are then able to make eggs. Sound reasoning, if I was insulin resistant. Which I’m not. Ah, the plot thickens.

I had 1 of the 3 major symptoms for insulin resistance. In fact, my fasting blood sugar was so low that I was a candidate for hypoglycemia, not insulin resistance. Can you guess where this is going? I start taking these pills that they prescribed, and I get sick. Really, really sick. My blood sugar is so low that I throw up all the time, I can hardly walk, I have a constant headache and I’m craving sweets. All the time. If I try and work out at all (including doing something as shocking as walking around the mall) I come close to fainting. I spend a lot of time puking. You know what sucks? That. It sucks big smelly donkeys. The only thing I can do to counter-act the excess nausea is eat all the time. Literally, all the time. The only time I actually felt good was when I was eating 8 full meals a day in New Orleans. Good food there, by the way. Try the bread pudding.

Anyhow, eating. I was eating some insane amount of calories to fix the nausea, and it was working. However, I was also gaining weight. 25 pounds in 3 months. Healthy, no? And most of that weight was due to sugary foods. You haven’t lived until you find yourself fighting off low blood sugar at 3 in the morning by downing 6 brownies and a 2 liter of caffeine-free coke. You know what’s gross? Throwing up 6 brownies and a 2 liter of coke because you didn’t get the sugar in your system fast enough. Fuckin’ glucophage.
So it wasn’t working. Now here comes a great rant about doctors. Have you noticed they don’t seem to listen to what you’re saying? It’s like they assume you’re blowing your symptoms way out of proportion. I go in and say “the pills are making me sick and I’m gaining weight” and they say “just keep taking them.” I call them from an airport in Denver where I’m crying and dry heaving in a bathroom stall, and they say “just keep taking the pills.” I tell them the only reason I haven’t gained more weight is because I’m a forced bulimic, and they say “just keep taking the pills.” I’ve also been telling them that I have really, really bad cramps. We’re talking curling-up-in-a-ball, wretching-from-the-pain, crying-into-the-carpet cramps. They say “try taking 2 advil every four hours.” Over the counter medication?!? I would have never thought of that! Next time you go to the doctor, make sure you go with your symptoms in full force. Nothing convinces an MD you’re in pain like going in for your monthly ultra sound white as a sheet, throwing up in the nearest trash can, and unable to stand up straight. And I quote “This shouldn’t be happening! Your cramps shouldn’t be this bad! We think you’re miscarrying again…here’s some vicodin.” Well crap. Possible miscarriage ..3. I thought I wasn’t making eggs? Now I’m signed up for an operation because the doctor thinks I have endomitriosis.
I have the operation. An out patient proceedure that allowed me to lay on the couch for a full week watching tv and playing video games…well, I could play video games once I was off the heavy duty pain killers that made my vision all wonky. Then I embarked on 6 months of Lupron shots–a drug that forces a woman into menopause and destroys endomitirosis on a cellular level. Apparently I had a really bad case of this nasty stuff, hence the bad cramps. Ah, those 6 months were awsome. I had 1 period, and my cramps were cured by Midol. Midol! Regular strength! It was a miracle. I was also off the glucophage, I didn’t throw up once, and there was no more elevating after sex. Yay! We could do it on a whim again! Our anniversary was awsome.

Fast forward 6 months, and I get my first post-operation period. Ok, I’m thinking we’re just gonna go back to trying the old fashioned way. Yay! That was the fun way! But no…apparently I still have the PCOS, and the doctors are worried about me making healthy eggs. Of course, this is after telling me I’ve had 3, possibly 4 miscarriages. Um, what? Yeah, I know. Doesn’t make much sense to me either, but it’s been over 2 years since Dean and I started trying, and I’m tired. So I do what the doctor says. I go into the doctor’s during the first day of my period for an ultra sound. Have I told you what these ultrasounds involve yet? No? Well, let me enlighten you. You go into the office and get your weight and blood pressure taken (“hmmm…you’ve gained weight…you should watch what you eat…”) then you take off your pants and sit on the diaper-type pad they put down on the table for you because, remember, you’re bleeding badly. That’s fun to sit in, let me tell you. Then the doctor has an emergency, or a lunch, or a really good web site to read, so you sit on this table for 45 minutes with a thin paper sheet over your crotch to give you “privacy.” The the doctor, or his assistant, or a nurse, or a gaggle of med students, or just some guy off the street, comes in and tells you to put your feet in the stirrups and scoot your butt to the end of the table. Then he picks up this -huge- dildo-shaped device–I’m telling you, this thing must be a foot and a half long–and covers it with a gel-filled condom. Can you guess where this probe is going next? You’d be right. This probe takes an ultra sound picture of your uterus and ovaries. Of course, for this to work it has to be inserted into you and pressed against the organs that are being looked at. Hard. They press really, really hard. Damn! So they take a picture of your ovaries and whatnot, then just poke around for shits and giggles for a while, then prescribe you a variety of hormones to take. “One pill in the morning, and one in the evening. After 5 days come back and we’ll start injections.”

Hmmm….injections. The incidence of multiple births goes up exponentially as soon as injections start. With my luck, I’m gonna have a litter. But I digress. Again. I start taking the pills, which give me a massive, massive migraine. And hormones make me moody. Really, really moody. Oh, I’m also on glucophage again. So picture this: it’s 4 am, I have a low blood sugar attack, I’ve main-lined peanutbutter to fix it, so now I’m puking up said peanutty goodness while clutching my head in pain with every heave and alternatly yelling at Dean and crying for his forgiveness. Worst PMS Ever. Then, the day before injections start, Dean’s grandmother dies. It was horrible. We fly back east at a moment’s notice and we give up trying for this month. Ah, a reprieve. Worst reason ever, by the way, and thank you for your sympathy. Dean’s pretty upset. Now, to make matters worse, we find out his cousin is pregnant. She tells me at the wake. Oh, and I did I mention she’s a lesbian? She started trying a year or so after Dean and I did, and she doesn’t have ready access to sperm. Awesome.

Well, after 4 hours of crying and one fight with a step-mother-in-law later, my migraine is still raging and I get to look forward to a whole day of listening to the family get all happy and giddy about the new baby…the first great grandchild…the unbroken granddaughter. This is why I drink.

Twenty nine days later, I’m back in the doctor’s office. I’ve decided that I’ve had enough of this glucophage crap. If they really want my insulin down, I’ll do it by diet and exercise. Screw them. I’ve also decided to stop buying pregnancy tests and stop telling the doctor about late periods and super heavy bleeding. I don’t think I can take another white coated ponce saying I may have miscarried again. I’ll have to arrest my uterus for mass murder soon. I get another ultra sound…my 50th, I think, and I’m told things look pretty good. I start the 5 days of hormone pills. My migraine comes back within 12 hours. The next Monday I begin a week of hell. 9 am I have a blood test to check my hormone levels. They’re too low. At 2:00 I have another ultra sound. Ow. Then they give me a pouch with a syringe, 5 needles and a tube of concentrated hormone. Dean gets to inject me once a day, in the stomach, with 75 ui of hormone. He does. I bruise. Forty-eight hours later I go in for another blood test at 9 and an ultrasound at 2. My hormone levels are too low. I have to up the hormones to 125 ui. Now I have track marks in both arms and my belly’s all bruised up. I’d make the worst drug addict ever. Dean injects me. I bruise. My migraine gets worse. Forty eight hours later I go in for a blood test/ultra sound combo. You know what’s annoying? When you call the doctor’s office and they recognize your voice. That just shouldn’t happen! I’m pretty sure they have me on speed dial now.

Anyhow…things look good. I have one good sized egg in my left ovary. Yay! Then we get to my right, where there are….11 good sized eggs. Eleven! That’s 12 total. I don’t want 12 babies! I’m pretty sure I’m not built for that. Anyone want a baby for christmas? We may have PLENTY. Well, the doctor and his gaggle of med students all quietly panic in the corner. Like I can’t see them. The room’s only 10×20…there’s no room for whispered conferences. They cut my hormones to 50. I go in 48 hours later. For those of you keeping score, this is the Sunday of a three day weekend. One blood test/ultra sound combo, please! I also go in Monday. I should just camp in the damn parking lot. The last ultra sound is good news…I only have 4 good sized eggs left and they’re ripe for release. Yay yay yay! So they shoot my ass up with some new cocktail of drugs and tell me to come back at my usual time. (I have a usual time! This is retarded). On the way home my ass heats up beyond anything I’ve ever experienced, and I’ve experienced a lot of crap. One hot ass cheek is weird. Then it goes numb. What the hell did they shoot me up with?!? Oh, and I’m on day 16 of my migraine.

Dean and I return the next day for some artificial insemination. Dean gets to get all happy into a cup, then they’re gonna inject me with it. It kinda takes all the fun out of this whole making-a-baby process. Once again, I undress waist down and scoot to the end of the table. Two minutes before the procedure (which they call IUI, by the way…they kind of frown on comparing it to animal husbandry) the doctor asks if I have cramps. Uh, yeah, did you read my chart? They’re not as bad, but they still happen. Apparently people with cramps tend to cramp during the procedure. They don’t know why. Wait a minute…this is gonna hurt?!? You never said this was gonna hurt!! Wait….and ow. Yep. Hurts a bunch. Stupid IUI. Now I’m crying and lying with my feet in stirrups seriously reconsidering my desire to have a baby. I heard adoption is a viable option now a days. Maybe a Chinese girl.

Then the doctor informs me that a side affect of all this medication they have me on is that my ovaries will probably swell to the size of grapefruit. That’s a rather large citrus fruit to have in my abdomen. My boobs aren’t even grapefruit sized. Damnit! My ovaries are gonna be bigger than my boobs! This just gets better and better. Sure enough, they swell. They swell so badly, that I can’t move because of the pain and pressure. They start pressing against other organs, and any quick movement causes so much pain that I bend over and wretch. Great. More nausea. I can’t eat a full meal because my ovaries are so large and painful that they’re pressing against my stomach and any extra filling causes gagging. Gah!

So here I am…sitting on the couch watching an Alias marathon, leaking the vaginal suppository that’s supposed to facilitate implantation, nursing the most painful ovaries (masquerading as citrus fruit) ever, unable to move because I’ll 1. lose all the progesterone I just shoved up my cooch, and 2. I can’t walk up the stairs without bursting into tears and crying for my mommy. So I’m sitting here, and I decided to tell you all what’s going on. Because someone needs to pet my head and tell me it’ll all be better. And then give me a baby.

It’s been a great (read:crappy) day. They couldn’t give me an idea of my chances this month, but I really really don’t want to go through this again. Dean doesn’t want me to, either, but I probably will. Maybe. Dean and I decided that if I couldn’t get pregnant we’d buy motorcycles and tour Europe. I don’t like beer, but I think Belgium is a great place to learn. Anyone wanna help us plan our trip?

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