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Jessica’s Journey: Part 6 - Surgery

July 28th, 2016

I didn't expect to have an update this soon, but what I need to realize is I need to stop having any expectations. I have no clue which obstacles will continue, how high or low the hills will be, and there is not a single thing I can do about it. The reason I say this is because I didn't think my appointment on Monday to have the ultrasound would be a big deal. My husband, Tim, insisted my mom come with me since he had to work and I asked her even though I saw no point. This wasn't supposed to be a big appointment and I already knew what the situation was. I knew I had a heart-shaped uterus so what else was there to worry about? Wrong again.


As I'm sitting on the table with the nurse examining my lady business, I asked her what she saw. Of course she played it safe and told me my doctor would go over everything with me. She was nice about it, but it still annoyed me. Just tell me already, no you’re not a doctor, but you also know what you are looking at. Luckily, The Fertility Center doesn't keep you waiting which I was pleasantly surprised by as the nurse took me to the meeting room where one of the fertility specialist would go over the findings. He said my uterus has a septum, which is why it appears heart shaped. He said the previous findings were incorrect when they referred to my uterus as arcuate because that implies it isn't altered very much. He also said the HSG cannot see as in-depth as the ultrasound which is why his findings differed. The septum is an upside down triangle that divides the uterus into two cavities. He then told me surgery would need to occur where they will surgically remove my septum. The reason this needs to occur is because the septum can cause recurring miscarriages as the embryo implants on the septum and doesn't get proper blood-flow or nutrients and aborts. Another reason is because the septum divides your uterus so much that it almost appears as two separate, smaller uteri which is not a lot of room for a baby to grow, hence early labor. So needless to say, I walked out of the room with all kinds of emotions and was so glad to see my supportive mother waiting for me in the waiting room. Thanks Tim. You made the right call.


My surgery takes place the day after labor day. It is called a Hysteroscopy with resection of Uterine Septum. I won't bore you with the details or gross you out but it basically goes as follows from what I have read:


1. I can't eat or drink 12 hours prior to surgery.

2. I take medication to make my cervix soften which will make me cramp (fun times).

3. They will stick a camera and surgical tool to remove the septum which is "zapped" and will then open up the uterus for a roomier shape.

4. I will be sleeping the whole time and will wake up with mild discomfort and possible spotting for a few days.



Good times are ahead people, but in all sincerity, it‘s a good thing. I am convinced this is why our little peanut miscarried at 4-5 weeks and would rather not continue to go through that loss over and over again. A friend said it perfectly when she said, "It's like getting your heart ripped out and feeling empty inside." So for me, the less of that the better. The doctor also said he has had many successful pregnancies after. Yes there are risks, but he said in his over 20 year career, he has never seen any of them actually occur. So this really is moving us in the right direction. We will have to wait a few months to allow my uterus to heal and then will try to conceive again, so I am hoping by the first of the year, we will have our formal plan of when to start IUI or whatever it is we do. After my surgery, we meet with my specialist September, 19th to go finalize our plan of action. I will definitely update you on the surgery incase anyone else has to have it because if you are anything like me, you want to know what you are getting yourself into.


I had my minor bout of self pity and got emotional a few nights ago thinking how it isn't fair that some women practically blink and they are pregnant, some get pregnant by mistake, and then there are those like us who have to fight in order to have our little ones. I was talking to one of my best friends about it and ended with this, "I could easily go into how unfair it is that there are so many obstacles for having something that I want so desperately, but it's pointless. I'm blessed to live the life I have and will love our children this much more because I fought like hell to have them."



 


September 7th, 2016


I must forewarn you before reading further that this post will get quite technical so if you have a weak stomach or prefer to avoid anything related to the female reproductive system, please stop reading and go about your day. Today's post is to give a run down of our recent events with discovering I had a septum in my uterus, which likely caused our miscarriage in December, and the surgery that removed it.


Pre-Surgery:

As my previous posts indicated, Dr. Shavell, from the Fertility Center in Grand Rapids, looked at my results from my records from my OBGYN that showed I had a Bicornuate Uterus, which basically means it looks like an upside down heart. The typical uterus looks like a heart without the actual heart shape indenting. This is pretty normal and can lead to successful pregnancies. However, Dr. Shavell wanted to look further into it and found it wasn't a heart at all, but a septum dividing my uterus into two parts. This septum is likely where our fertilized egg implanted causing the miscarriage. Many women whom have multiple miscarriages at 4-5 weeks, later find out it is because they have a Septum. The good news is that there is a surgery that can remove this and therefore make your chances much higher of conceiving and maintaining a pregnancy.


I had to schedule a pre-opt appointment which was very helpful. I did what most do, now that we have the internet, and googled as much as I could so I knew what I was getting myself into. I discovered that in some cases with my surgery, a balloon catheter is inserted into the uterus which is very uncomfortable as part of it is taped to your leg where you must release the fluids it collects each hour. It makes you feel bloated and can be quite painful. So for obvious reasons I was worried about having one. When Dr. Shavell, at my appointment, asked me if I had any concerns, I mentioned that right away and also mentioned I had heard the septum can grow back. Thank goodness for her because she was able to reassure me that septums DO NOT grow back and that she typically does not use the catheter unless she really has to. I felt much better after talking to her that the surgery would go well and soon be behind me.


Surgery Day:

The surgery (Hysteroscopic Transcervical Resection of the Uterine Septum) required me to insert 2 pills the night before which makes the cervix soften in aiding the surgery. I was really worried about that since I had also read online that many woke up in pain the night before from the cramping. I am such a baby with pain and after inserting the pills was just waiting for it to hurt, but I am happy to say I never felt any pain. I could tell it felt different in my lady parts but never once felt pain. I even ran the morning of surgery- no judgement because running is my therapy. My husband and mom drove me the hour to an outpatient surgical center (Spectrum Health out of Grand Rapids) and I was greeted by so a friendly nursing staff. They made sure I was comfortable and even provided heated blankets while I waited. I was also pleased to see my doctor prior to surgery to check on me. I was pretty nervous which is odd since this wasn't my first go around with surgery. Last year we had a cervical cancer scare and I think I was more calm for that. I attribute the current surgery nerves with the purpose of the surgery itself. I want so badly to be a mom and this surgery was another step to get me there which therefore brings all of the emotions with it. Luckily, they gave me something to calm me down and the last thing I remembered was moving to the surgical table before being out cold.


Waking up was interesting as I was a blubbery mess. I cried a lot asking if I had a catheter, if they got the whole septum and if I could see my husband. That poor nurse had to answer each question at least 5 times, but she handled me like a champ and I am forever grateful to her. I even vaguely remember her telling me about her own fertility struggle and smiling at me with a familiar look because she knew what I was going through. After I calmed down a bit, they sent me into the recovery room where my hubby and mom eagerly awaited my return, and I was given the most delicious peanut butter crackers I will ever eat along with a diet coke. Keep in mind, there is no eating or drinking 12 hours prior to surgery and surgery was at 12:30. The doctor updated us and indicated it was a very deep septum bit she removed it all and added that she found two polyps which were removed as well. I barely remember this part since I wasn't exactly with it. We drove home around 3 and I only needed to take one tablet of 800 mg of Ibuprofen and haven't needed any more since. To give you an idea of what it looked like (no not the drudgery itself), I have included the pictures they took below. There are four images; the top left shows the two polyps, the top right shows after they were removed, the bottom left shows the septum (the white thing in the middle) and the bottom right is my finally, normal uterus and hopeful future home of a little one.





Post Surgery:

This brings us to today which is the day following my surgery. I am definitely tired and can't imagine making any important decisions right now. I almost put Splenda in my husband's orange juice this morning so that gives you a little idea of the loopiness going on. My pain is tolerable. I will have minor bouts of a mild throbbing sensation but it subsides within a minute. I've been mostly on the couch and occasionally get up to get a snack or stretch my legs. Me being me, sitting all day at home has been challenging, but I want to make sure my uterus is healthy so we can grow our little angel in it when the time is right. Dr. Shavell called me this morning to check in on me and was able to reassure me some more. I had looked online at polyps and was worried they would grow back and therefore hurt my chances of getting pregnant, but she said sometimes they grow back and sometimes they don't. She said she will constantly monitor to see if they do and remove any if they return. I asked her if she had other patience with polyps that came back who still were able to get pregnant and her exact words were, "Oh certainly yes." She also reassured me that the entire septum is gone and I will not need another surgery as I also read this happens in some cases. I will be back at work tomorrow and feel ready. I think if I had job where I was on my feet all day, I would probably stay home one more day, but I will be good to go.


Reflections:

The biggest thing I got out of this is to stop with the internet searches. I feel like the worst of the worst is portrayed more than anything else and every worry I had didn’t end up being the case. It is too easy to let your emotions get the best of you and create worse case scenarios that are not needed to even be thought of. My doctor, whom I trust, is the expert and not Web MD or Google. I get that we need to be our own advocates and should be aware of our conditions, but all I needed to do was ask her what are different scenarios I needed to be aware of and she would have told me then reassured me how rare they truly are. I am also quite pleased with the current situation. Before I felt like I had two hoops to jump through with having a septum and not ovulating on my own, whereas now I just have the one hoop to go through which can be supported with medication and other procedures. I also told her I felt, since we were able to get pregnant before with me taking Chlomid, we could try it again I since we most likely miscarried from my septum which is no longer part of the equation, and she said yes. I will meet with her in a few weeks once I've healed to go over it in more detail but feel a sense of hope of what is to come. At the end of the day, I can't control any of it and just have to embrace each day and pray that God has a plan. I trust Him and I know it will all work out. So to my fellow mommies in waiting, our moment will come. We just need faith and to continue enjoying living our blessed lives. Until next time.

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