Thursday, November 21, 2013

"When Are You Going To Have Kids?"

I've said a million times on this blog that I am "an open book". And that is true 95% of the time. But sometimes, things are too hard for me to talk about. For the past two years, I've privately (with the support of a handful of my nearest and dearest) dealt with some hard truths. Now that I have celebrated my 30th birthday AND Ryan & I have celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary, the frequency in which people ask when we are starting a family has doubled, at least. That is a really baited, heavy question for us...and I finally feel ready to give everyone the real, true answer.

Since before we even got married, people were asking when Ryan & I would start a family. We decided we would wait two years to just enjoy being married. So, after we celebrated our 2nd anniversary, all bets were off! Over the next year, I was certain I was pregnant a few times, and even got a false positive once. But alas, no babies. In 2011, I went to see my OBGYN because I was starting to worry. My doctor held my hand as she said the words "PCOS - Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome". I immediately thought back to 2009 when I landed in the ER with bursting cysts on my left ovary. I picked up only the key phrases as she spoke. "Imbalance of hormones, irregular menstrual cycle, cysts on the ovaries, trouble getting pregnant, weight gain/trouble losing weight." Check, check, check, check, check.


I closed my eyes to clear the tears, trying not to freak out. Nothing in my life had felt as constant and real as my desire to be a Mother. It wouldn't be IMPOSSIBLE for me to get pregnant...just unlikely. We talked briefly about options, medications we could use to try to get pregnant on our own, things I could do to try and "boost" my natural ability, in-vitro, etc., but I needed time to digest it all. In a way, I'm still digesting it.

I would be lying if I said there haven't been moments when I feel hopeless. The first several months after my diagnosis were the hardest. I almost couldn't be around babies. A co-worker and his wife brought their new baby into work, and I had to run to my office and close the door so they wouldn't see me crying.

Then we add Ryan into the mix.

Once all of that started happening, I knew that trying to have a baby immediately - if we even COULD - was not the right choice. I needed to take care of my husband, and myself, first. All I can tell you right now is that we absolutely do want a family. And I do realize I am not getting ANY younger, but right now there are so many factors at play, that the best thing for us to do is focus on one thing at a time. Right now, my top priority is Ryan and getting his hormones in check so he is back to feeling like himself, naturally, all the time.

I still have moments of over-whelming sadness. Sometimes I have to fight to keep myself from wondering if I'll ever mother my own children. But mostly, I've accepted that these are the cards we were dealt. Ryan and I have endured so many hardships together, and I know this one will be no exception. But until we get it all figured out, the answer to the pressing question "When are you going to have kids?" will remain the same.

I don't know. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Ryan's Battle Continues

As promised, I wanted to give a more detailed update into Ryan's battle with his hormones. If you need a refresher, you can read Parts One, Two and Three first if you'd like.

It's been about 9 months since my last update. And what an 9 months it has been. After seeing the pellet treatments working well for Ryan, we were no longer able to afford or get financial assistance to afford those treatments, so I began doing lots of research to find him a new doctor. Eventually, we picked a group of practitioners who work SOLELY with hormone deficiencies. I called to set up Ryan's first appointment, and one of the partner's spent almost 40 minutes on the phone with me, discussing every little detail of the past year.

Our biggest problem with his previous treatment was that the Doctor at that practice never pushed very hard to find the CAUSE of Ryan's imbalances. And that felt very important to us. So, when we went to Ryan's first appointment with the new practitioner, we stressed our concern about that. Immediately, we were told that Ryan would need an MRI to confirm or rule out a possible growth on his pituitary gland, which is the main hub for all things hormone related. (The MRI came back all clear. No growth or mass.) He also told us that the pellet treatments that Ryan had been receiving was actually doing as much harm as good. By giving Ryan just concentrated doses of testosterone, Ryan's body had essentially stopped trying to produce any on its own. Which means, Ryan would be dependent on artificial testosterone for the rest of his life. The pellets were also causing Ryan's testosterone levels to yo-yo constantly, causing him to "crash" when the pellets began to wear off.  And on a (very) personal note, it also caused Ryan's body to stop producing sperm - which is pretty important when you haven't had children yet. All of these things combined made it pretty clear that a new course of treatment was needed.

Our new team (there are 3 partners at this practice) started Ryan on a different hormone that will help re-start Ryan's natural testosterone production. We also found out that because his body had completely stopped making its own testosterone, that caused his body to INCREASE the production of Estradiol (essentially the "male version" of estrogen). While ALL hormones are important for both men and women, the most important thing here is the proper balance. And Ryan's is way off.

So, he has now started a treatment plan that includes injections 3 times a week (given by yours truly) to BOOST testosterone production, and a supplement twice a week that slows his estradiol production. The down side? It takes a while to work. So for the time being, our keyword is WAITING. Waiting for the old testosterone treatment to completely wear off to get an accurate count of what his body is actually doing. Waiting on the new treatment to kick in. Waiting on his body to respond (or not). And while this whole process is tough on me (it's SO hard to watch the man I love struggle), it is 10 times harder for Ryan. He is just so sick of it all. He wants to feel good, normal, like himself.  Many people seem to think that once you start new meds, the problem should fixed overnight, but sadly that is not the case. So, my focus lately has been on keeping him as positive as possible. I KNOW that, eventually, we will figure all of this out and he will be back to 100%. In meantime, your good vibes, thoughts, prayers, love (whatever suits your fancy) are much appreciated. :)

Friday, November 8, 2013

5 Years

In the past 5 years, I've learned a lot.  Not just about marriage, but about love. What it really means.

When Ryan and I got engaged, I was over-the-moon in love with him. I smiled every time his face crossed my mind (which was a lot) or his name crossed my lips (which was also a lot). I got butterflies when he was near me. I knew with every fiber of my being that he was The One.  And if you'd asked me back then if I thought I could ever love him more than I did then, I probably would have said "not possible".  My heart was already busting at the seams.

But that was 5 years ago.  And a lot of life can happen in 5 years. 

These 5 years of marriage have changed the way I look at love. See, back when we got engaged, we were very much in love, but we were still in the very beginning stages of figuring ourselves, and each other, out.  We hadn't yet mastered the true partnership of marriage (and I am not saying we are masters now, but we are a whole heck of a lot better at it). We have encountered some exuberant highs and some substantial, devastating lows. We've gone through crappy moments that were my fault. And crappy moments that were his. We've yelled at each other, fought with each other (and FOR each other), balanced each other. We've celebrated together, cried together, laughed together, SURVIVED TOGETHER. And through every moment, every step of the way, we've held tightly to each other. No matter what the obstacle, even when we stumble (both separately and together) we never let go of each other. Not for a moment. Because as wonderful and earth-moving as our love was 5 years ago, it can't hold a candle to the love we have now. And as cliche as it is, if you asked me today if I thought I could ever love him more than I do right now, I would look you straight in the eyes and answer a resounding "YES". Now I know that with each passing day, week, month, year, my love for him will continue to grow. Because WE will continue to grow.

Wednesday night, I decided to dig out the disc that holds all 2000-or-something wedding pictures from our photographer. I hadn't looked through all of them since we received them, 5 years ago. And because our love has grown and changed, I found myself drawn to pictures that I hadn't been before. Then, I was focused on what was the most pretty, the most "Facebook worthy" (as terrible as it is to admit that). Now, I allowed the emotion behind the pictures be what spoke to me first.

Like the look on Ryan's face when the doors opened and I started my walk down the aisle to him...
The look on the right may not seem like much, but its the face he makes when he is trying to hide his excitement. I didn't recognize that look 5 years ago. Now, it's one of my favorites.

And how I couldn't keep my eyes off of him...

Or the first moment we shared after the ceremony, before anyone else was in the room. He starting crying as soon as we were out the door, and he was embarrassed for anyone else to see. So we stole a moment away...

And how he kept pulling me in closer and tighter as we shared our last dance...

Happy anniversary to the man whom I am still over-the-moon in love with. Who still makes me smile when I think of him, or talk about him. Who still gives me butterflies when he is near. Thank you for teaching me about real, true love these last 5 years.