Recurrent Pregnancy Loss Update

It’s hard to believe that it’s nearly a year since my first loss and only 4-1/2 months since my last loss.  But I am starting to put the pieces together.  Here’s the list of causes my Reproductive Endocrinologist outlined for me at my early June visit as well as my status in each of these areas.  I hope this may help others who have experienced multiple losses advocate for the help they need.

INFECTION
Yeah, it really stinks to think that I could have lost babies due to low-grade infection, but it is possible.  The RE recommends that I do a round of antibiotics during early pregnancy.

IMMUNOLOGICAL PROBLEMS
This category refers to things like clotting disorders, immuno-deficiency illnesses, and the like that can and do contribute to primary and secondary infertility.  When clear immunological problems are not identified through extensive blood testing, doctors seem to recommend taking a baby aspirin (81 mg) a day as a possible protective measure.  My bloodwork came back just fine and dandy!

STRUCTURAL PROBLEMS
Structural problems can be congenital or acquired.  An example of a congenital structural problem is a bicornuate uterus.  Some women with this uterine shape have difficulty maintaining pregnancy to term and their babies may not descend optimally (vertex, anterior-ish) into the birth canal.  I had a HSG done in late April, and my OB believed that I had a congenital uterine defect.  However, my follow-up (and second opinion) with the RE has not confirmed this to be the case.  Rather, it appears that a relatively small (1-1/2 inch or so in diameter) fibroid is distorting the left side of my uterus.  Even though it is intramural (in the muscle, not in the uterine cavity), the RE thinks it is enough of a problem to justify a laparoscopic myomectomyI am not convinced and will hold off on this invasive procedure until all other avenues have been exhausted.

HORMONES
This is where we enter a major realm of disagreement in the medical world.  Some doctors believe in progesterone deficiency and luteal phase defect; others don’t.  Some of the doctors who don’t will still agree to supplement since conventional wisdom suggests that supplementing progesterone production isn’t dangerous.  As luck would have it and non-traditional practitioners have told me time and time again, I have a progesterone deficiency.  A fairly marked deficiency, actually.  I had my progesterone levels checked twice during my last cycle – the first level was 20 (good); the second level taken only 48 hours later was 3 (NOT good).

LUCK OF THE DRAW
The fact remains that not all pregnancies are viable.  All children are a blessing, but not all babies – in utero – are meant for this world.  I do take some comfort in knowing that if any of these babies were just not going to be healthy, that they were not put on this earth.  I’ve had friends and family members choose to terminate pregnancies in the 2nd trimester, and I am thankful that I have never been given that choice.  On the other hand, knowing that my body is not producing enough progesterone to sustain pregnancy makes me sad and incredibly angry.

I am sure that the sadness is quite apparent if you’ve read anything on my blog this past year.  The sadness and loss has been overwhelming at times.  I am quite certain that my baby boy has been trying so hard this past year to come home to me, so it’s been particularly trying and emotional.

Why am I angry?  First, it is extremely frustrating to have seen three practitioners who have disparate diagnoses and protocols for dealing with repeat pregnancy loss.  Secondly, being refused services is infuriating.  Thirdly, doctors who contradict themselves and/or make stuff up make me insane.

OB 1 doesn’t (WON’T) test hormone levels during early pregnancy.  I am angry because she refused to order a simple progesterone test, and now that I know I have trouble maintaining adequate progesterone levels during the luteal phase, I resent her even more than I did before.  She has contradicted herself; she has refused services; she told me I would have to schedule a repeat cesarean for future births moments after waking up from sedation following an unwanted (but needed) D&C; she didn’t ever give good justifications for her protocols; she wanted to put me on Clomid; etc.  Mostly I am angry with HER.

OB 2 doesn’t believe in luteal phase defect but is willing to treat with progesterone supplementation.  My beef with this doctor is that he made up a term on my HSG report – partially-didelphic uterus.  It doesn’t exist.  OB 2 is great in that he’s willing to collaborate with specialists and takes the time to explain the evidence underlying various protocols.  I also appreciate that he is cautious when it comes to reproductive surgery.  He told me that I shouldn’t consider a myomectomy at this time – isn’t one uterine scar enough?

RE 1 I appreciate because he has been very thorough.  Perhaps there has been some overkill, but at this point, more information is good.  I am glad that we can (for the most part) rule out acquired or inherited thrombophilia, for instance.  I wish he hadn’t been so quick to suggest surgery for my fibroid.  I wish he hadn’t invalidated my concern for what this myomectomy would mean for my reproductive future.  Sure it may improve my fertility (possibly), but it would certainly necessitate cesarean deliveries from here on out.  I got the feeling that since my uterus is already scarred, that he assumed additional scars were negligible concerns.  He wasn’t listening.  Additionally, my last conversation with the RE’s nurse was confusing – I almost wonder if he has me confused with another patient?  Or perhaps he consulted with other doctors in his group regarding my file and has revised his protocol.  It would be nice to know for certain.

I will likely seek another opinion from a RE since I am in a big city this summer.  Recommendations for surgery really need to be followed up on with additional unrelated practitioners.  You’d get a second opinion if a doctor recommended back surgery, right?

Next up – a sonohysterogram in about a week.

RESOURCES

http://www.rialab.com/miscarriages_prevented.php

http://repro-med.net/info/cat.php

http://www.instituteofalternativemedicine.com/bioidhormone.htm

http://www.ivf.com/recurrent.html

http://www.cushings-help.com/infertility.htm [luteal phase defect section]

http://infertilityblog.blogspot.com/2007/01/so-your-uterus-is-bicornuate-check.html

http://stirrup-queens.blogspot.com/2008/01/two-part-sonohystogram.html

http://www.coe.ucsf.edu/fibroids/bg_diagnosis.html

Getting Weary from the Drawing Board

I’m supposed to have some more blood testing done later this cycle.  On CD3 I had FSH and estradiol levels checked.  Fortunately they came back just dandy – lo and behold my 35-1/2 year old advanced maternal age eggs are doing just fine.  Of course this does bust my hypothesis that my fibroid is caused by imbalanced estrogen levels.  Actually, one of the nurses said that the estrogen-fibroid connection is only relevant in post-menopausal women.  I haven’t done follow-up research to decide if I agree.

Anyway, the RE told me to buy an ovulation prediction kit (OPK) to determine when I would ovulate this cycle.  He didn’t trust me when I said that I *know* when I ovulate.  So, I spent the $24.00 on the cheapest OPKs I could find.  (By the way, Dollar Tree does not uniformly carry OPKs any more.  Drat!)  Let me just say that OPKs are the most stupidly designed hormone tests EVER.  When you test you will likely get 2 lines, but that doesn’t mean that the appropriate hormone (LH, I believe) has been detected.  Oh no.  You need 2 lines of equal strength or your line should be stronger than the test/constant line.  So, is it an equal line?  What if both lines are equally weak?  What if I *think* I’m seeing a strong and equal line but it’s not really accurate.  At the end of the day, I just ended up taking the stupid test so I could say I did it and then rely on my body’s very reliable signs to tell me that yes indeedy I did ovulate when I thought I did.

How am I so sure that I ovulated?  Well, without divulging too many gory details, here are some good ways to know: cervical os open, lots of egg-white-like cervical fluid, ovarian pain, elevated basal body temperature to name a few.  In my case, ovulation is starting to get a bit uncomfortable.  Am I really feeling new pain on the left or am I feeling pain there because I think I should be feeling pain there because I now know that there’s a fibroid there that the doctor has told me needs to be surgically removed?  I feel this discomfort every month.  Isn’t that a bit strange considering that we supposedly ovulate on alternating sides?

Anyway, I called to let the office know that I ovulated.  One of the doctor’s nurses called me back and gave me the good news about my FSH and estradiol levels.  She was far more informative than the other nurse I talked to last week about my test results.  However, she also wanted to talk to me about my x-ray.  Huh?

Evidently my doctor has been carrying around my chart with him.  My new medi friend says that it’s not unusual for a doctor to carry around patient files.  Ok.  Back to the story.  So, he has just recently looked at my HSG picture.  (He wasn’t the doctor that ordered or performed the HSG.  However, why was he looking at the film?  He supposedly had already looked at it and decided that I didn’t have a Mullerian Anomaly.)  What?  And she said that he’s going to want to do a sonohysterogram on CD6 next month.  What?  After the ultrasound he did at my appointment, he very confidently told me that the fibroid is definitely causing me problems; a sono was NOT necessary; get on the books for a myomectomy.

Why has his story changed?  Did he forget that he had already looked at the HSG?  Did he forget that he said a sono was no longer necessary?  Did he forget that he wanted to schedule me for surgery?  Or did he receive some input from one of his partners or the radiologist with regard to the HSG or recent ultrasound?  Is he confusing me with another patient?

Can I just say that I’m very frustrated and that my trust in this medical professional is waning?  Three different doctors; three different diagnoses; at least three different protocols.  It’d be nice for there to be some agreement with regard to a plan of action, particularly between my new OB and this RE.  Or do I need to go back to the drawing board?

Gardens, Boga, and Mental Health

A couple of weeks ago I decided to go see the psychologist again.  I was starting to flip out, mostly because my health insurance company was being stupidly noncompliant regarding my benefits.  My amazing chiropractor was the one to suggest that I talk to the psych again.  It was a good but tough session.  He told me that I need to schedule – as in write it in my calendar – self-care time.  “Why will that work?” I stubbornly asked.  “I can just decide NOT to do it like everything else I blow off on a daily basis.”  The difference, I discovered yesterday, is that instead of asking myself what I would like to do, I need to tell myself what I should do.  Aha!!  So, today I have my list and am already crossing things off.

This morning I attended a “boga” class.  The class combines ballet and yoga and really kicked my flabby ass.  I’m certain to be sore in the core, legs, and lower back.  I DID IT, DR. S!  I scheduled a class and DID IT!  The instructor told us to pick one thing to focus on during the class.  I chose RESTORATION.  In my mind that word combines healing, calm, energy, blood flow, breath.  So, perhaps I “killed” a few birds with that stone.  (Not such a great metaphor for yoga, but too bad.)

I have spent more time with family, more time outdoors, and more time in my garden recently.  I have avoided e-mail.  I haven’t been keeping up on my google alerts.  I haven’t been frequenting the blogs I normally read.  Instead, I am focusing on nature over technology, organic healing over technologically-reproduced grief, relationship over escape.

Next week I start on new paths of inquiry, both professionally and personally.  I’ll blog about it from my summer home, Denver.

where am i

where am i

Some days I know where I am and why.  I know who I am.  I have a purpose.  Some days nothing makes sense.  Today my mind is scattered – responding to different on-line groups, procrastinating some big projects, half-way through editing a friend’s article, drinking coffee and not water, still not ready for my parents’ visit, avoiding calling the insurance company, twiddling my fingers until my appointment with the reproductive endocrinologist on June 5.

Ack.

It’s been a few weeks since I have read an ICAN post.  It’s been a few weeks since I have worked through my usual google updates.  Perhaps the shift from professor to simply mom and wife has thrown off other aspects of my routine.

Then again, it is more than time to begin establishing new habits.