Written by Nicole Brown, guest blogger
Endometriosis is a term that I became familiar with in my teenage years when my mother had a full hysterectomy at the age of 37 due to complications from endometriosis. Throughout high school and college, I was on hormone therapy because of my irregular and very heavy menstrual cycles. But, I experienced none of the other symptoms that my mother suffered with.
In 2012, I married my best friend and we knew eventually after a year or so, we wanted to start a family, so to prepare I stopped taking my birth control pills. After a year of trying, we still were not pregnant but also not very concerned, so we tried for another year. But still, nothing. By year three we decided to track my ovulation via over the counter ovulation prediction kits. To my surprise, I was not ovulating regularly. I talked to my doctor who did not seem concerned at all because “I was young and had plenty of time to have children”.
Seven months later and with a high dose of Clomid, I became pregnant! We were so excited, we told our whole family, took announcement photos, etc. Around 8 weeks pregnant, I began to spot. At my next appointment, I had ultrasound and heard the baby’s heartbeat. My doctor reassured me that everything was fine. But at my 12 week appointment, we received the devastating news that our little baby did not have a heartbeat.
Not long after our miscarriage, I became sick. I was experiencing stomach pains, acid reflux, dizzy spells, sciatica, blood in my stools, and migraines. I spent the next year visiting doctor after doctor, having every possible test done and no one had any answers. I switched OBGYNs in 2016 and it was the best decision I ever made. He performed an exploratory laparoscopy, where he discovered stage 4 endometriosis and two large ovarian cysts. When I woke up, he told me that I was in surgery for 5 hours and it was the worst case of endometriosis that he had ever seen. My ovaries, intestines, stomach, and bowel were glued together by scar tissue. He told me that if we wanted to have children, we needed to strongly consider IVF.
After a year of many late night emotional discussions and breakdowns and one more surgery to remove a large mass and additional scar tissue, my husband and I took the plunge and decided to do IVF. On September 26, 2017, we transferred one frozen embryo and I am happy to say that we are currently 26 weeks pregnant with a baby girl. This pregnancy has not come without complications and I currently have another large cyst on my left ovary but I have a great team of doctors who monitor my progress very carefully.
Infertility is a hard and painful journey. Do not be afraid to get a second or third opinion. Advocate for yourself, trust your gut, and assemble a team of doctors who are knowledgeable about endometriosis. To my endometriosis warriors, DON’T GIVE UP!!!