So, I'm starting this journal because I need somewhere to vent…and if I'm lucky, maybe I can help others along the way. Two years ago my husband and I decided we were ready to start a family. Because of my Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA) I thought it might be a good idea to visit my specialists and see if they had any advice or concerns that I may need to know about. My Rheumatologist, Orthopedic Surgeon and Gynecologist all gave me the okay and their only concern was that I should stop taking the NSAID (Relafen) that had controlled my JRA for the past 30 years and take Prednisone instead. Ideally it would continue to control my pain and my doctors believe that Prednisone is less invasive on a woman's uterus and safer for a baby once you finally get pregnant.
After a year of taking Prednisone, I decided I'd had enough. I was tired of my "moon face," increasing stiffness and felt like there was something holding us back from getting pregnant. I didn't expect to get pregnant the first month, but I never thought it would take more than a year. So, after a lot of convincing, my husband gave in and we sought the advice of a fertility specialist. I also got back on my Relafen…I needed a little bit of normality so that I could relax and just feel like myself again. Our specialist, Dr. Lee, ran every test possible, including an Hysterosalpingogram (HSG) on me to make sure my fallopian tubes weren't blocked. My husband's results were great, very active and high sperm count and all of my tests results were great as well, including the HSG. The only possible problem we could see was that my hormone levels were fairly low, but my uterus, ovaries and everything else are very healthy. So Dr. Lee suggested we try Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). After 3 rounds of insemination with increasingly higher doses of hormone therapy, we're still not pregnant and I'm starting to feel a little defeated.
I never expected to be off of my Relafen and birth control for so long. I figured 6 months, maybe a year, but never almost two and half years. After three failed attempts at insemination, Dr. Lee suggested we take a break. The whole process starts taking a mental toll on you and I agreed, we needed a break. Dr. Lee also suggested that maybe my doctors were right and maybe I needed to give Prednisone another try. A few times along the way, he'd mentioned that my Relafen may be hardening my eggs. Long term use of Aspirin has been known to harden a woman's eggs…so maybe being on NSAID's for the last 30 years had hardened my eggs. Considering I'd gone through a few rounds of hormone therapy and everything seemed pretty level, I figured it was worth try. We agreed to take a six month break from all of the fertility treatment, I'd get back on Prednisone and we would continue to try on our own again.
So now it's been a little over three months and I've had enough…again. The Prednisone just wears me out, mentally and physically. I just don't feel like myself anymore. I'm always tired, my hormones are a wreak again and I'm ready to move on. We visited Dr. Lee again last Friday and he filled us in on the process of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). He felt like insemination just wasn't working and maybe IVF was the next step. But first he wanted us to try a new diet. It's helped other patients with their lack of energy and gave them better success with insemination…maybe it was what I needed. He suggested that both my husband and I try the new diet so that we would be able to support each other along the way…I'd gain energy and my husband would lose a little weight. Sounded great! Four days later, I lost 5 pounds and could barely get out of bed because I felt so weak and my husband actually gained a pound. Dr. Lee instantly recommended I stop the diet, start eating whatever I wanted, but that my husband could continue on if he wanted.
So we're back to waiting. We'll follow up with Dr. Lee again in two weeks and then go from there. Whether it's another round of insemination or IVF, I'm not sure, but I'll be ready either way.