Infertility: A Nine Year Journey

Our nine year journey of infertility actually started almost five years before we were married, when I was 18 years old and a freshman in college. I lived through Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) which resulted from using the supertampons made in the early 80's. I had severe peritonitis and nearly died. Months later after recovering and reenrolling in college, my appendix ruptured. This was misdiagnosed as a TSS relapse. The ruptured appendix stayed in my abdomen for days and wasn't discovered until they scheduled a laparotomy to clean out my bowels, and remove ovaries and uterus. A female surgeon refused to remove my reproductive organs (the head surgeon walked out of surgery at this point), but I was later told that I had little or no chance of having children.

Fast forward to 1986 - I graduated from college with a Biology/Chemistry degree and soon married my wonderful husband, a teacher who I met singing in the church college choir. Within months of our marriage, we started trying to conceive by charting basal body temperature and using ovulation prediction kits.

Fast forward to 1988 - After two years of no success we sought the help of inferility medicine. We had the full barrage of tests. The scarring from the abdominal infections had ruined one fallopain tube and I also found out I had polycystic ovarian disease. We started with months of clomid, then months of clomid with inseminations. During one of our breaks from the treatment, I conceived quite by accident. What a surprise! We estimate that I was probably 3 months along. I began bleeding and within two weeks I miscarried (this was 1989-90). We recovered and continued using clomid for many more cycles until I became severely hyperstimulated and ruptured a huge ovarian cyst. We were told to never try clomid again. We then used pergonal injections and attempted still more inseminations.

Fast forward to 1994- after years of being too scared to attempt GIFT or IVF we took the plunge. We did GIFT (gamete intrafallopian transfer) using lupron, pergonal and metrodin injections, and on our first cycle conceived! I soon started bleeding and lost the baby. My doctor did another PG test just to confirm, and to our surprise my HCG was even higher. Joy turned to despair when we discovered that it was an ectopic pregnancy which resulted in another laparotomy and the destruction of my one remaining fallopian tube.

Fast forward to 1995- After recovering physically and emotionally, IVF (in vitro fertilization) was our only option. We did IVF using lupron and metrodin. We implanted what we considered a conservative number of four. I was put on bedrest until we found out if I was pregnant. Our first pregnancy test showed a level of 1000 (10 was considered positive) and I was ordered back to bed until the exact number of babies was determined.

I soon began bleeding. It was discovered by ultrasound that I had quads but three were dying while the baby at the fundus was growing well. I bled constantly and was repeatedly hospitalized. We moved in with my parents so that I wouldn't have to walk down the stairs on my many trips to the ER, and so that somebody would be near to help take care of me. They rented a hospital bed so that I could be more comfortable.

We did frequent ultrasounds and at times couldn't even see the top baby due to the presence of the blood from the other three. I also ruptured a hemorrhagic cyst and had a 10 cm mass behind the uterus. They wanted to do an emergency laparotomy. I was told that saving the one baby was doubtful. I insisted they hold off until the next morning, and by morning the mass was miraculously gone.

I was on complete bedrest with use of bedside commode or bedpan (my husband is a saint!). I noticed another type of liquid in the bedpan during the times when the bleeding was slow. It proved to be amniotic fluid. They conjecture that the presence of the blood in the uterus weakened the amniotic sac around the top baby, causing it to leak for many weeks. I had ultrasounds done every other day and we discovered that the amniotic fluid index got lower and lower. The sac finally broke and I lost what little amniotic fluid remained.

My body was trying so hard to miscarry. The labor started after the sac finally ruptured. I was started on Magnesium Sulfate and rushed by ambulance to Loma Linda UMC with Steve following in hot pursuit.

Because we had tried so hard to get and maintain this pregancy, the doctors broke medical protocol for us. They gave me Mag Sulfate in hopes to ward off delivery, even though all amniotic fluid was gone. They normally don't do this because the risk of infection for the mother and baby is so high due to the ruptured amniotic sac. I received the steroids also. We were told that the baby would probably not survive if it was born within the next two more weeks. We were only able to hold off delivery for three agonizing days. Samuel Maxwell Warren was born 21 weeks after the IVF (23 weeks post last menstrual period) in October of 1995. We named him Samuel because it means "I have asked God for you" and because Samuel's mother Hannah had also been unable to conceive.

Fast forward to 1999. It is hard to believe that we will be attempting ART (assisted reproductive technology) again in an attempt to have another child. Sammy's current status is stable and we certainly aren't getting any younger! We will be undergoing an embryo transfer this summer. Our daily prayers are for the successful pregnancy and a FULL-TERM baby! I'll keep you updated!

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Copyright Susan Warren 1998. The original story, pictures, art, isolette cover pattern and tiny feet background contained in the web site are not to be copied which is prohibited by law.