Welcome to my new blog! I’m a 28 year-old corporate drone by day and a crafter by night! I’m also desperately trying to get pregnant and dealing with new knowledge that I have sky-high risk for developing breast and ovarian cancer. I don’t know what I expect to come of this little blog – mostly just a creative outlet and place to vent and document things, I guess. And I’ll be happy if it can be a source of information or support for others dealing with infertility or high cancer risk. Here’s some background on the things I’ll be chatting about in this space:
Sewing and Knitting Projects
This is a relatively new passion of mine. I started sewing in August of 2011 and just started knitting in January of this year. I’m not terribly prolific at this point as I work full time and there have been lots of other things fighting for my time, but I’m hoping to crank out more and more projects and I’m excited to be able to share them with you here.
My Infertility Journey and IVF
I am 28 years old and Mr. A is 30. When we started trying to conceive a baby in January 2011, we went into it with our eyes open. We knew it could take a few months and we tried to be patient. Patience turned into frustration and lots of tears somewhere around 6 months when we were beginning to realize something was wrong. After another 6 months of doctors appointments, tests, drugs, fertility monitors, temperature charting and timed intercourse and still not one single BFP (Big Fat Positive on a home pregnancy test), we knew it was time to graduate from our OB/Gyn and Urologist to an RE. We still don’t have an official diagnosis. All of my tests have come back perfect so far. Mr. A has a suboptimal sperm count, but in the words of the urologist he “should be using some sort of protection if he were trying not to get someone pregnant.” In short, there’s no reason we shouldn’t be able to conceive, but it’s not happening. We have unexplained infertility, and that’s been pretty hard for me to deal with. I could never put into words the soul-crushing pain/anger/frustration/helplessness/hopelessness of infertility, or the effect it can have on even the most loving marriage, but I’ll do my best to share the rest of my journey with you here, because I think it’s a topic that we as a society are too-often silent about.
After visiting with the RE, we have decided to go straight to IVF w/ ICSI (where they stimulate me to produce lots of eggs, extract them, inject Mr. A’s sperm into them to fertilize them, grow the embryos in a lab for 5 days, then transfer the best ones back to my uterus 5 days later). We are lucky enough to have excellent insurance through my employer that fully covers up to 4 fresh IVF cycles and we weren’t keen on accepting the risk of high-order multiples associated with IUI given the comparatively low chances of success our doctor gave us. So we’ll be doing our first IVF attempt next month and you’ll hear lots about that on here!
My BRCA1 Mutation
My mother got (and thankfully, successfully fought) a very aggressive type of breast cancer at the relatively young age of 49. Years later, her doctors recommended that she do a blood test to check for mutations of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which are associated with Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Disease. Sure enough, she tested positive for a BRCA1 mutation. I had a 50% chance of inheriting the gene. I decided to get tested right away because, if positive, there were certain things I needed to get started with right away to monitor my own health. I did the test in June of 2012 and discovered that I, too, have the BRCA1 mutation (and yes, it’s the same “faulty gene” that you’ve seen discussed in the news so much lately with Angelina Jolie’s recent announcement). This means that I have an 87% chance of getting breast cancer and a 40-60% chance of getting ovarian cancer by age 70. Because I am young, my risk is currently not very much higher than the general population, but around age 35 it shoots way ahead of the pack. At that time, unless there are any breakthroughs in the treatment of cancer, I will undergo a preventive bilateral mastectomy to remove all breast tissue and an oophorectomy to remove my ovaries. My mother has already done both of these procedures – she did them as soon as she found out about the gene. In the meantime, I will try to complete my family and I will stick to a strict screening schedule (annual mammograms and MRIs, transvaginal ultrasounds, clinical breast exams with surgeons, etc.).
You might hear me talk about this occasionally on the blog, but at the moment it’s not something that rules my life (though it does put added pressure on trying to get pregnant). If this blog is still alive and kickin’ 7 years or so from now, then there will be a LOT to talk about as I undergo the preventive surgeries and breast reconstruction.