After being told I might have endometriosis the doctor placed me on continuous birth control pills. The thought was that using the birth control that way would prevent the endometriosis from taking over. Since a laparoscopy is the only definitive way to diagnose endometriosis, and I had not had one, I was not convinced that was my problem anyway. Either way my first pregnancy came right after coming off of continuous birth control pills… and it came quickly. The first month after being off the pill.
My daughter Melina was born naturally on July 24, 2002. Two weeks later I was having a D&C to remove fetal tissue left behind from her birth. In hindsight I wonder whether the endometriosis made the fetal tissue “stick” or if the D&C contributed to the endometriosis having more places to stick later. Who knows. I was focused on my baby. She was a doll and the love of my life. Such a joy. She struggled with acid reflux issues (which you can read about on Heath Central’s Acid Reflux site) but outgrew those and thrived.
We knew right away that we wanted more children. I didn’t even bother to go back on birth control after having Melina. I went back to exercising and began working out about 1-2 hours per day. It helped to deal with the stress of a sick baby and became an outlet to have “adult conversations”. It also seemed to keep my weight low and the painful periods at bay. A lot of women with endometriosis find relief for a period of time after childbirth. Unfortunately, though we were trying, I couldn’t get pregnant again.
Infertility is a journey I do not wish on anyone. I could write a book on how hard it is in every area of your life. Every month we did not get pregnant was another month of feeling a sense of loss for the “plan” we had for our family. Though there is not a lot of research on endometriosis and infertility it is clear that it takes women with endometriosis longer to get pregnant. As many as 54% are unable to get pregnant with in the first year and up to 30% will not have children (1).
It was determined that some medical intervention would be needed in order for me to get pregnant. So I began the [personality altering] medications. The medicines were supposed to help correct some of the abnormal hormone levels I had been dealing with including low progesterone and FSH.
Our TWINS, Ella and Ava were born in May of 2005. We were thrilled. They went to 38 weeks gestation and were both over 5 pounds each. It was a huge gift and blessing. Ella ended up with a few health problems (acid reflux, apnea episodes, asthma and hypotonia) that really took over our family for a time.
I ignored my own health while dealing with Ella’s medications, doctors appointments and physical therapy. I had severe pain, especially in my left side, but didn’t have time to “stop” and get it checked out. There were a couple of occasions that I mentioned it to my family practice doctor and he would do a basic physical exam, push around on my stomach and sore left side, run some labs and find no cause for the pain. I often left feeling like I just needed to convince myself not to hurt.
It would take a second doctor and a laparoscopy to determine the real cause.
Jennifer Rackley is a nutritionist and mother of three girls. Two of her children have dealt with acid reflux disease, food allergies, migraines, and asthma. She has a Bachelor of Science in dietetics from Harding University and has done graduate work in public health and nutrition through Eastern Kentucky University. In addition to writing for HealthCentral, she does patient consults and serves on the Board of Directors for the Pediatric Adolescent Gastroesophageal Reflux Association.