How Fibroids Derailed My Pregnancy Plans

posted by Brigitte Adams September 30, 2016
Fibroids and egg freezing
Frozen Egg Plans Derailed

I have know from day one that freezing my eggs was not a panacea – nothing is guaranteed when it comes to fertility. What I did not take into account was using my frozen eggs would be just as complex as the path to freezing them.

I don’t even know where to start.  At the beginning is too far back, so I’ll only go back to the turning point, last June, when I took tangible next steps to use my frozen eggs.  I made this decision once I finally acknowledged to myself that the chances of Mr. Right galloping up on a white horse and whisking me off to coupledom were about as likely as me getting pregnant naturally (about less than 1% at age 44).  

Like any “project” I start, I naturally grabbed my laptop and plotted out each step to single motherhood in the uniform blocks of my iCalendar:

  1. Go to clinic for blood work and hysteroscopy (cycle day 8-12)
  2. Get All Clear from clinic (one week)
  3. Start prenatal vitamins (through first trimester)
  4. Source, purchase and mail sperm to clinic (?????)
  5. Get hormone protocol and buy meds (1 week)
  6. Thaw, fertilize, CCS (Comprehensive Chromosome Screening) embryos (3-4 weeks)
  7. Prep uterine lining with hormone meds (6 weeks – during CCS testing)
  8. Blood tests and final ultrasound (ongoing)
  9. FET (frozen embryo transfer) (1 day)
  10. Pregnancy test (9 days post FET)

Based on my “plans,” I circled the week of August 15th for my transfer.  Progress.  After three years of being on the fence, I finally felt like I was moving forward and, more importantly, was confident and content with this path.  No, it was not the path that I envisioned for my life.  But, it was my path – one that I didn’t have to apologize for (no, I don’t want to adopt), be ashamed of (yes, I am single) or defend (no, I didn’t freeze my eggs to free my career). Then I got the news.

Two Fibroids: A Walnut and A Plum

The conversation with my Doctor went something like this… to the best of my knowledge, anyway.

Doctor: You have three fibroids that I am concerned about.  When you froze your eggs in 2011, they were small – about the size of peas (about 1 cm).  Now, two are the size of walnuts and the other one is about the size of a plum. The larger one is about 5 cm now and is bulging against your uterine cavity. I recommend that you remove them before you try to conceive. Studies show that removing fibroids like yours can increase chances of pregnancy by up to 70%.

Me:  Can you take them out now?  Today, I mean?

Doctor: Brigitte, they need to be surgically removed.  If we are lucky, we can remove them laparoscopically – or a  laparoscopic myomectomy.  We’d insert a tube with a camera, or laparoscope, into your navel, and make two to three other incisions to locate, cut up and remove the fibroids.

Me:  So, what is the recovery time like?  When can I try to get pregnant?

Doctor:  If all goes well, you should be good to go in 3-4 months.

As soon as I left the clinic, I punched “fibroid surgery” into my phone.  On the bright side, my fibroids were on the low side – far from the massive grapefruit and honeydew images Google pulled up.  But, I had plans.  And, fibroids were something I didn’t plan for much less know anything about.  Why didn’t my GYN notice them at my annual appointments?  Why… why…why now?

By that time I had a pelvic MRI, met with a specialist and secured a surgery appointment, another 3 1/2 months had gone by – pushing my 3 month holding cycle to 6 months (if I was lucky).  You’d think that after waiting five years to use my eggs, what was another couple months. No big deal, right?  

I wish I could say that I brushed off this hiccup in my plans and got on with things.  Wrong.  It hit me hard – a big fat rock to the pit of my stomach. I was READY to use my eggs – a decision that caused me years of anxiety, doubt and fear – and I had to WAIT even longer!

I have know from day one that freezing my eggs was not a panacea – nothing is guaranteed when it comes to fertility.  What I did not take into account was using my frozen eggs would be just as complex as the path to freezing them.

Depression & Fertility

I’ve battled with depression since my early twenties.  The kind of depression where on some days brushing your teeth can seem overwhelming. I don’t talk about it. Mostly because not too many people really get it.  Even my family (although they try really really hard) struggles to understand.  Cheer up!  You have so much to be thankful for!  Get out and get some fresh air! Stop feeling sorry for yourself and get on with things!  Yeah, if only it were so easy.  I crashed.

Study after study shows that women with fertility issues are twice as likely to suffer from depression -especially someone, like me, who is already susceptible to depression. I really wanted to write about what I was going through as I was going through it, but I was too raw.  And, I was ashamed.  “I’m really, really depressed” is not something you scream from the rooftops.

So, why write now?  Because I’m on the other side.   It took me awhile to pull myself out of it (thus the long lapse in blog posts). And, now that I am on the other side, I feel obligated to be as open about this next stage of my egg freezing story as I was about my first stage.    

Not A Panacea

Since egg freezing is still so new, there is not enough data to understand the emotional impact egg freezing can have on women both pre and post retrieval. The media never captures this angle instead focusing the egg freezing conversation on what sells (hello, Facebook and Apple health benefits).   And, since there have been so few women who have actually come back to use their eggs, the majority of women’s stories captured in blogs, articles and interviews only talk about egg freezing Part 1.  Women often use the words empowered, confident and relieved to describe the first half of their egg freezing journey.  

Don’t get me wrong – these were the same adjectives I used after I froze my eggs.   And, they did effectively capture how I felt.  At the time.  Now that I am in this weird limbo between freezing and thawing my eggs, the words excited, anxious and impatient come to mind.

I have know from day one that freezing my eggs was not a panacea – nothing is guaranteed when it comes to fertility. What I did not take into account was using my frozen eggs would be just as complex as the path to freezing them.  I thought I’d waltz in, hit defrost and the path to pregnancy would be laid out in nice linear checkboxes  – defrost, fertilize, transfer, baby.  Instead of planning 6 months out, I have now scaled it back to focus on the next step in front of me- nothing more and nothing less.

P.S. My fibroid surgery is in two days 

 

3 Comments

Sarah January 26, 2017 at 2:35 pm

I’m sure I’m not alone in saying that I have everything crossed for you….. sometimes life is cruel but despite your battles with depression you must be an extremely strong women otherwise you wouldn’t have got here. Dig deep we’re all with you! 🙂

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Brigitte Adams February 7, 2017 at 10:08 pm

I struggled with discussing depression – it is a subject that many people just don’t understand. But I finally decided to share the good the bad and the ugly…hopefully it helps someone else.

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Death ... and Taxes » eggsperience March 9, 2017 at 10:17 am

[…] in hopes to enter motherhood. She had a number of setbacks that derailed her plans. She dealt with some health problems that had to be resolved before they could transfer any embryos. She also had to endure the brutal […]

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