Disclaimer: This is a long post. There's backstory that I'm going to cover first, but then I promise to get to the point.
For the 10 years before I had Marco, I had been on birth control, and before that, my cycle was always normal. When Bruno and I decided to start trying for a baby, I came off birth control, and got pregnant with Marco on the 2nd of 2 long cycles.
After having Marco, eight years ago now, I have essentially not been able to get a period on my own other than a handful of times, literally.
It was problematic to not have a period after Marco, in large part because it made it impossible to try to have another baby since I wasn't ovulating. To get pregnant with Lucia, I tried a Clomid-like drug, Tamoxifen, without success. However, it did something to regulate me, as after I took it, I had a cycle on my own about 3 times, and ended up pregnant with Lucia on that 3rd cycle.
Between Lucia and Annabelle, my body was back to no period at all. Breastfeeding wasn't a factor because my body also failed to produce breast milk. It wasn't even "low supply", it was less than a low supply.
To get pregnant with Annabelle, I did a total of 6 rounds of Clomid. Thankfully the 6th time was a charm.
Again after her, no breast milk. Thankyouverymuch, body :( Annabelle is now 2 years old, and yet, no period.
My hormones, including thyroid, basically always check out as normal, making it so there's no obvious answer as to why I don't get a period. Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome has been tossed around as a possibility, but it's never been a definitive diagnosis.
Bruno and I are both ambivalent about having another baby. There are a lot of reasons against having another, but it's like that biological urge to have babies keeps nagging at me to not close the door completely. So, to keep that door ajar on a future pregnancy, and just to get to the bottom of why I have no period (there HAS to be a reason why), I am seeking evaluation by a reproductive endocrinologist.
We are in the information gathering/work-up stage right now, which has included:
1. Lab work (mostly normal except for low prolactin, no surprise there as evidenced by the above mention of NO breastmilk, can you tell I'm still a little bitter about this??)
2. Sonogram (mostly normal, though my ovaries seem to have borderline PCOS features - nothing is ever certain, like, "oh, you have PCOS!"...no, it's more like "your ovaries have some PCOS characteristics?" insert eye roll here...not at the doctor, but at my ovaries)
3. A hormone challenge - 2 weeks on estrogen followed by 2 weeks on estrogen/progesterone to tell my brain what the hell to do: "hey uterus, make a lining, and then shed it when there is no embryo that embeds itself in you...come on, is that so hard to do?" Of course I failed the hormone challenge, and of course it's not black and white. I failed because I didn't get a period within 2 weeks of finishing the hormones. You know why it's not black and white? Because I came down with a nasty case of strep throat the week after I finished the hormones, and needed 4 days of prednisone because of the amount of swelling in my throat. Guess what could have potentially interfered with me getting a bleed after the taking the hormones? The prednisone. I mean REALLY. I have only ever had to take prednisone twice in my almost 37 years of life....it figures that one of those circumstances would be right at the end of this hormone challenge. Insert exaggerated eye roll here!
Now, onto the main reason for this blog post: Medical records
I figured it would be helpful for the reproductive endocrinologist to have all my medical records to review so that she could get the full picture of my reproductive history. I requested all records from my OB, and decided I'd go through them myself to pull out the pertinent information for the RE.
Last week, I finally went through the daunting task of looking through the records. All 200+ pages of them. Insert lump in throat here.
Ugh. Talk about heavy.
I went through it all page by page. All the pregnancy tests. Ovulation tests. Visits for "no period". Consult reports. Procedure reports. C-section reports. The low of Marco's autopsy report, and the high of both Lucia and Annabelle's "live baby girl" birth reports. As I read through it all, it's almost as though I could taste the salt of all the tears I had cried over the last 8 years. All the hope and fear that lived in the body of which these records described seeped back into me as I took it all in. I could see the encouragement and empathy on paper that my OB had always so graciously expressed to me along this journey. On the progesterone report to assess for ovulation during one of my Clomid cycles when trying to conceive Annabelle, there was an "Ovulation!!" remark scribbled by her.
And of course, the records that I knew were there, that I was most ambivalent about reading, Marco's. I have read all of my records pertaining to Marco before, but it's been quite some time.
As I read through them this time around, there was one part that got me the most. His apgar scores.
1 and 4.
I couldn't bring myself to look at the categories for which he scored...but to see that at one minute of life, his apgar was only a 1, was really hard. And then to see that it went up to a 4 was equally hard. Still such a low number, but yet quite a bit higher than the 1. He improved! But he was still so sick and obviously struggling. My sweet baby.
I'll never forget the silence in the OR that day he was born. The look on Bruno's face. Looking over and seeing Marco's little legs as they worked to keep him alive. Bruno by my side, wanting to see Marco, but afraid, and also wanting to stay with me. The neonatologist saying something to us in Charlie Brown's teacher (womp womp womp womp womp) fashion. She was speaking clearly to us, but all I could hear were muffled sounds.
Despite the difficulty of looking over these medical records again, I'm glad I did. It's a reminder of Marco's life. A reminder that he lived. That he was real. That he fought. The cards were stacked way against him, and perhaps that's one of the things that made it all so hard to read, because I knew the ending.
Marco, the fear and sadness were so thick during your short time here, it almost suffocated me. Alas, your daddy and I pulled through because of the love. It was the love that saved us. Your being is so much greater than what is documented on those papers. Your being is a symbol of love, strength and hope for our family, and that is always how you'll be remembered.
That definitely made me cry a little. I was just thinking awhile ago when moving things around that Josie's life was a tiny box; footprints, hats, hospital bracelets, a few blankets. A tiny box contains all the things that touched her tiny body and short life. It is good to remember that these babies were so much more than the tiny boxes and medical records. Thank you for saying this.
Love and Hugs
Your love for Marco is so beautiful, so evident in every word you write. Your love shows in how you parent his sisters and how you work so hard to remember that was more than numbers, more than a statistic, more than a diagnosis. He was here, he was real, he is your son.
So much love,
March of Dimes fights for the health of all moms and babies. We're advocating for policies to protect them. We're working to radically improve the health care they receive. We're pioneering research to find solutions. We're empowering families with the knowledge and tools to have healthier pregnancies. By uniting communities, we're building a brighter future for us all.
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