About Me

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Hi. Welcome to my "taboo" blog. My name is Steph, and when I first started this, I was still in my thirties. In 2017, I switch decades! I am a Christian, so underlying everything I do and say is the Word of God, and the foundational truths I have learnt over the years. This doesn't mean I'm perfect - I am human. It just means I recognise I need God's help to live this life and try to live out His way, as best I can. So that's me in a nutshell. Thanks for taking the time to read through my blog, I hope you draw strength, hope or encouragement from what you read.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Follow-up Sub-Fertility Investigation - Ultrasound Scan

Following the HSG x-ray I had to endure a couple o, the doctor had heeded the advice of the radiologist for me to have an ultrasound scan in order to see in more detail the uterus and blocked tubes. So instead of receiving an appointment letter to see the consultant, I received a follow-up appointment to have an ultrasound.

The morning of the appointment, Hubby was working, so my Sis-in-Law came with me instead. We live close to each other, and she has been walking with me through this Journey For Bubba from the outset. She's such an encourager, and I am grateful the Lord has brought her into our family, through marrying one of my brothers.

My appointment wasn't until the afternoon, so we met for lunch in an attempt to "take my mind" off the impending appointment. Plus I needed to drink lots of fluid ready for the ultrasound. When we arrived, I had to go into the Mother and Children's department. A bit strange as I was neither a mother, nor had any children with me. I went to the Reception, signed in, then my Sis-In-Law and I took our seats among the pregnant women, and mother's with young babies. If I had been a weaker women! I think this is either an oversight on the part of the infertility department and consultants, or just really insensitive planning, because there was me, a woman undergoing investigations into why I was struggling to conceive sitting among lots of pregnant or new mums! Wow!

My name was called quite quickly, for which I was grateful, and my Sis-In-Law and I were led into a small ultrasound room. It was quite dim in the room, with a bed surrounded by a curtain in the main part of the room. At the head of the bed was a computer, monitor and the scanning equipment - including a long implement sitting innocently next to the monitor.

I was invited by the nurse to lay on the bed. She wanted to start with the external examination - this is the one like you see pregnant women in films having, where some (really cold) jelly is squeezed out of a tube onto your tummy, and an ultrasound camera is used to "see" your uterus. Obviously, in my case it is empty! I realised that the HSG x-ray had revealed there were some scarring or something on the uterus, which the nurse had been asked to investigate, as she mentioned this in her explanation of what she was doing. I hadn't been told this before - what causes the scarring??? Hopefully this new investigation would find out that as well as the reason for the blocked tube.

She spent quite bit of time moving the camera over my belly, pressing down on my full bladder, taking pictures of each area she was looking at. It didn't make any sense to me, I was just relieved when she was finished. She then said she would need to do an internal examination using the probe camera, and asked if that would be OK. Inside I was thinking I would rather not have to endure this undignified examination, but needing answers to what was going on, I consented. I was allowed to empty my bladder first though!! Phew!

When I returned to the consulting room, the nurse and my Sis-In-Law were patiently waiting for me. I was asked to remove the bottom half of what I was wearing and lay back down on the bed. Whenever I go to these kind of appointments, I always wear a long top over my jeans, for modesty sake! So Sis-In-Law could just turn around whilst I disrobed. I duly clambered back onto the bed in as dignified a manner as I could... you soon realise how how uncomfortable this is when you are butt-naked! Hahaha!

The nurse picked up the long implement which had been quietly and innocently sitting next to the monitor, waiting for its moment. Now was its moment. A condom is placed over it, in order to protect you from bugs, and then the camera is inserted. It is uncomfortable, but not as bad as the HSG x-ray had been. The nurse spent what felt like half an hour moving the probe camera around and taking pictures of what she could see. She asked me at one point if I had a history of endometriosis, but as I have never been investigated before, this is not something I could answer. Toward the end of her examination, she said that although there was scarring on the uterus, she couldn't see it was too bad to have caused me conception problems. I asked her if this would cause the blocked tubes, but she replied that she couldn't tell. She said that the ultrasound would only pick up if there is fluid inside the Fallopian tube, and there wasn't.

I guess this rules out that as one of the causes of the blocked tube in me. According to the research I had done (see my previous post on "what causes a blocked Fallopian tube"), fluid in the tube is one of the symptoms of PID. So that is ruled out in my case. I said in a previous post, I believe the cause of my problems is endometriosis, based on some of the symptoms I experience. It would seem, from the nurse's question, that this is becoming more and more likely the reason for my problem conceiving.

The examination ended, and I was given some tissues and wet wipes with which to clean myself up, which Sis-In-Law and the nurse vacated the room. Such a relief! The nurse then told me she would send her findings over to my consultant that day and hopefully he would call me for an appointment soon.

A week later, it turns out he hasn't called me in for a consultation to explain the results. He's sending me for another Day 2-5 Blood Test instead! More tests, even less answers. That the hardest thing about this process, waiting to find out what all of this has found and what it means. It's hard to move forward, or to know how to deal with what is happening when there is no concrete information from which to gain understanding from.

The other downside of this, is that since the intrusive investigations began, I've been experiencing a lot more internal cramp-like pain in the middle of the cycle. I'm not sure if this is the same for anyone else, but this my experience.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

What Causes a Blocked Fallopian Tube

After receiving the news a few weeks ago that one of my tubes is blocked, and having not yet received a follow-up consultation where I can find out more about the condition (a follow-up ultra-sound appointment though), I decided to find out more myself.

I'm so not medically minded, and sometimes looking for this kind of information can leave more questions than answers, but nevertheless, I need to know what is happening, and whether it can be "fixed".

One of the first things I discover is that a blocked tube is one of the biggest and most major causes of fertility problems in women. Lucky me! And it seems that there are a variety of types and causes! Again, lucky me! I obviously don't know what "type" of blockage I have, nor of the cause of it. The most likely, coupled with the other symptoms I have experienced (including excruciating pain at inappropriate times), is endometriosis, which is an inflammation of the inner lining of the uterus, where it forms outside of the uterus, eg on the tubes. Endometriosis accounts for around 30% of the infertility problems women suffer. But not every woman who has endometriosis will struggle to conceive (the figures I have found fluctuate between 30% and 50%).

If this is the cause of the blocked tube, then it is a relief to know only one is blocked. But will the second tube become blocked also??? The only way to "fix" the problem seems to be through surgery, or through IVF treatments (which isn't really an option for me, for reasons I will go into another time). Should I just rely on the other tube functioning properly or should I be considering surgery?? Does it really make a difference? Again there are conflicting views where some say the surgery makes a woman more fertile for a while after it, while others say it may not necessarily fix the problem. Mild cases of endometriosis can be treated for a year or so of fertility drug treatment.

Symptoms of endometriosis include: extremely painful period cramps, heavy periods, pain during intercourse,  pelvic pain outside of the monthly cycle, constipation and/or diarrhea, blood in urine, pain when going to the toilet and a family history of it (please excuse me if I don't go into any detail about my own symptoms!!).

The future certainly looks bright, doesn't it! At least, at the moment, I have one tube which is unblocked. Until I have been through the ultra-sound scan, I won't know what the blockage is, how badly it is blocked, or whether it can be fixed. I am just waiting in limbo, with the knowledge that for whatever reason, my body isn't working properly at the moment.

As I researched blocked Fallopian Tubes, I found there are other causes which may help to explain other women's difficulties (I say other women, because many of the symptoms I have been experiencing line up more with the above than what I am about to outline below).

The most common is Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID). This is a bacterial infection of the reproduction system, sometimes, though not always, caused by STD's. Other causes of PID include childbirth, miscarriage, abortion, IUD (an internal contraception) insertion, or even the HSG x-ray, such as the one I described on 25th October. The symptoms of a PID include: irregular periods, unusual discharge from the vagina, problems when going to the toilet, flu-like symptoms such as fatigue, lack of appetite etc...

The most common STDs which can cause blocked tubes, if left untreated are Chlamydia and Gonorrhea - information about these conditions is widely available on the net, but when not "caught and treated" in time, these "silent diseases" can cause infertility. I say silent because, as a recent NHS campaign to highlight these two STD's have been trying to encourage girls and young women to get checked out on a regular basis,symptoms are often non-existent. Saying that, some women have experienced some of the following symptoms of Chlamydia include: a yellowish discharge, painful or frequently going to the toilet, a burning or itchiness around the vagina area and abnormal bleeding. Some of the symptoms of Gonorrhea include: discharge burning sensation when going to the toilet, pelvic pain and bleeding in between periods.

Other causes of a blocked tube include a history of a uterine infection as a result of abortion or miscarriage, a history of a ruptures appendix, previous abdominal surgery, an ectopic pregnancy in the past, or other surgery involving the Fallopian tubes.

Now depending on the cause, will depend on the treatment, including fertility drugs, surgery or the flushing of liquid through the tubes. But the most important thing is, if you suffer anything which is abnormal, painful or unusual, it is so important you get it checked out, as with many of these things, the earlier they are caught, the easier it is to treat them and the less long-term damage they causes.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Being a Step-mum, While Trying To Conceive

A step-parent will never ever replace the place of a parent in a child's life or heart. Many of us don't even want to. But the relationship needs to be nurtured, as it isn't a natural parent-child relationship. Obviously, the younger the step-parent is brought into the life of a child, the easier it is for this happen, though this isn't always possible. This has been my experience with my Gorgeous Step-son, who I have known since he was three.

But I am finding, that as Hubby and I are TTC, there are times when I find it really hard to connect with them both. Hubby understands this, to an extent, and tries to draw me in, including me in what is happening throughout the weekend he is with us.

The natural relationship between a child and parent is a beautiful one. I see it so clearly in the way Hubby and my Gorgeous Step-son interact with each other. It's wonderful to observe. But painful too. Painful as I watch them and wonder if or when I will have the honour of experiencing that with my own child. There have been occasions recently when it is too much to bear, and I've had to take myself away from them, because the pain has been too great for me to enjoy our time together. When this happens, I try to find a way to make it up to my Gorgeous Step-son, as it is not his fault I am in this situation.

If you are a natural parent, and your wife or husband is a step-parent who isTTC, it is so important that you talk with each other and ensure the step-parent is included and supported in the change to your situation. I believe it is especially hard for a woman who is the outsider trying to conceive. The instinct to be a mother is there, but the opportunity really isn't there, because as I said at the outset, a step-parent never ever wants to replace the natural parent.

As we draw closer to Christmas, it is becoming a little more difficult this year. As I consider taking my Gorgeous Step-son out to purchase a present from him to his daddy, I am aware that this will be missing from my own life. The joy of a hand-made card or present, a drawing, or a specifically chosen gift are an expression of the bond between a child and his or her parent.

If you are in a step-parent situation, I would urge the natural parent to consider the feelings of the step-parent, and include the whole family at Christmas, with gifts or cards. Maybe you already do. Hubby hasn't quite grasped this, yet, as he never did that kind of thing with either of his step-parents - it hasn't dawned on him that I have a different kind of relationship with my Gorgeous Step-son than he did with his step-parents. He told me after my birthday, that he had thought about getting something from my Gorgeous Step-son to me, but hadn't "got around to it". If you don't get around to it, please don't tell your wife or husband you had thought about it, especially if she is TTC.

A thought needs more, it requires a corresponding action.

Especially as this may be the only link between your child and your wife or husband at being in a parent-child relationship. This may be the only opportunity your wife or husband has at being a "mum" or a "dad".

Saturday, November 3, 2012

I Believe You're My Healer

A few weeks ago, I was asked to sing the song "Healer" which Kari Jobe did a beautiful version of. It was at a women's conference following the testimony of a friend of mine who'd been healed from cancer after a visit from one of the Lord's servant during the night.

So right in the middle of the tests I've been having I sang, from my heart, with my hand on my belly, as if it was just me and Jesus:

"You hold my every moment
You calm my raging seas
You walk with me through the fire
And heal all my disease

I trust in You
Lord I trust in You

I believe You're my Healer
I believe You are all I need
Oh yes You are, yes You are Lord
I believe You're my portion
I believe You're more than enough for me
Jesus You're all I need"

No matter what we face, we can be assured of Jesus's presence with us.
For hubby and I, knowing Jesus is right there walking us through our difficult journey, means we can say with confidence, "I trust in You Lord, You're all I need".