Another piece to the puzzle

As much as we didn’t think the first miscarriage was a fluke, we had no choice but to try again. I wasn’t told of anything we could do different. I took comfort in the fact that my local ob/gyn had run a clotting panel on me. It was very thorough, and is usually reserved for those who had 3 miscarriages. How awful to make women wait that long for help, I thought! Not my doctor. He even coded it that I had had multiple miscarriages to get it all paid for, but that was when I had just had one. The clotting panel came back fine, so nothing changed between Michael and Gabby. Before we tried again, I knew we had to do something different. Something before we got pregnant, since you can only do so much during pregnancy (typically progesterone) to try and turn things around once they go south.
Before I even had actually lost Gabby (but we knew we would), I had a phone consultation scheduled with my doctor in Omaha. August 22nd-I clung to that date. The date I would get some answers. I put all my trust in this man as an instrument of God (both a faith filled man who has devoted his life to preserving life based on God’s call, also an internationally known researcher). I had the gammet of emotions on that call. DH and I were both present and hovering over the speaker phone.
Dr. Hilgers first said he was very sorry for our losses. And basically said it shouldn’t have been happening given all the up front testing and treatment. We were devastated-we can’t be stumping the man who has all the answers! He went on to say what he suspected the culprit to be. In April 2006, one of my many diagnosis, actually the last I received was that they had found a bacteria-ureaplasma urealycticum.
I remember thinking as we were driving out of Omaha and received the call, can’t you just let us leave this freakin’ town without following us out with one more diagnosis! You have to be kidding me. But it seemed simple enough at the time. Take two weeks of doxycycline and it should be fine. Easy enough. A one time treatment instead of monthly meds or shots. I can handle this. I asked if DH should also have the treatment and the nurse said it wasn’t typical, but she would check. She said the doctor agreed and we would both take the meds. I remember asking if we could retest, and she said not without another trip to Omaha and another endometrial biopsy (others don’t culture it out as long as necessary). Even then she said we might get a false negative. So take the meds and hope for the best. This antibiotic usually was enough. I learned at home doing research that this bacteria was a fancy name for an STD. I had contracted a(nother) STD. I already was treated for HPV in college. Now this…you would think I had slept with half the planet instead of three men, including my husband.
Now Dr. Hilgers was saying he thought the ureaplasma was back. That the antibiotic wasn’t enough. That, or it was another bacteria. Afterall, I had been cultured in april, after DH and I had stopped having sex. Before then we used condoms all but once to my recollection. It wasn’t until after we got married and resumed intercourse that we didn’t use condoms and I was exposed to anything DH may have had. The fact that I had a bacteria was evidenced by the two miscarriages and also by the fact that I continued to have tail end brown bleeding (brown bleeding at the end of my period). Before this was thought to mean low progesterone, but now it may indicate bacteria as well.
Well, at least we were getting somewhere. We had a hypothesis. We had hit the ground running with so much from day one that there wasn’t a lot of road left ahead of us. We were already working with a national leader in the field, so I knew even one option was at least something. The two options Dr. Hilger’s gave us were these 1) we could take more oral antibiotics. A different kind (this time Biaxin) and more of it. First 21 consecutive days, then on cycle day 1-10 (both DH and I) of each cycle until we conceived. Or, we could see Dr. Toth, a national expert in pathogens. His lab tests for every known pathogen and he is the only one who links new ones to infertility. Dr. Hilgers studied under him for 2 weeks and was setting his lab up similar to Dr. Toth, but it was going to take years and years before it was ready. Dr. Hilgers had sent four patients to Dr. Toth. One had just had a baby, and three the jury was still out on.
DH and I said yes to the oral antibiotics on the spot and said we would look into Dr. Toth. We left the call with a prescription and a plan, but I was doubtful $7.44 could answer our problems. I had little hope left. But maybe the antibiotics would buy us some time-we could see how the other girls’ were doing and if it did work, we would save so much money.
Knowledge is power, I believe that, so I went right to work. Dr. Toth had a website and I was able to read numerous research articles on his site, sign up for his patient discussion board, and find both of his full text books free on the site. I set to work reading. I also called the office and got every insurance code for every procedure and called Cigna to see what was covered. Needless to say that that summer I did not write my dissertation proposal as planned. I was busy continuing my other doctorate, the one infertility that would never be officially recognized.
Reading Dr. Toth’s book, the Fertility Solution, was the best thing I did. I saw myself all over the pages. I jotted notes about symptoms and began to fully realize that bacteria was my problem. We were “lucky” in that we had symptoms so we knew it would help-many don’t have symptoms and therefore don’t seek treatment.
I also learned quickly that there are two ways to get bacteria-from your sexual partners (horizontal) or from your parents (vertical transmission). I highly suspected I got it horizontally (from parents due to all the miscarriages in our family) and vertically (not just from DH, but from BF#2).  I tied this back to God, even though Dr. Toth doesn't revolve his practice around his faith like Dr. Hilgers.  I thought, if we all followed God’s plan to not have intercourse before marriage, this would never have happened to any of us. When we take things into our own hands and disobey God, then we tie his hands to help us. He gave us free will, and we choose to use it to go against His will, He doesn’t punish us. But rather, we literally tie his hands to help us. Then bad things befall us and we curse God. But if at any point, even way after the fact, we realize and turn toward God, he can make amazing things happen. God can “write straight with our crooked lines.” He can and He is more than willing if we just give him a little room to work. I felt DH and I did that when we turned even our sex life over to Him before we got married or even engaged. And we were still doing it daily, by practicing NFP, by not giving in to pressure for in vitro and other things against the Church. Most recently I demonstrated this by even giving God my tubes. I had already been convinced the goal was to live as God wants us to, to abide by His will. If He wants a child to come out of it, great. But regardless, He has wonderful things in store for us that we can’t even imagine. He has rewarded us for being faithful by bringing us to this diagnosis early, by leading us to a man determined to treat the cause and not the symptoms, and now by leading us to Dr. Toth.
I learned that even though Dr. Toth isn’t Catholic, he disagrees with in vitro, for the most part, for another reason. If the cause is bacteria, then not being able to get pregnant is preserving the upper reproductive tract to be bacteria free. By artificially inseminating someone, they bypass the bodies’ natural barrier and literally infect everything in the upper reproductive tract. It horrified me and I thanked God for His wisdom and for guiding the Church’s teaching. I knew all who followed it would be spared further pain.
I also learned another way that God was blessing DH and my faithfulness. If we did have a bacteria and got pregnant, the baby could have died much later during the pregnancy. Or the baby could have lived, but been born very premature with lots of health problems. Dr. Toth believes that bacteria is very very common in the reproductive tracts. Just think about all the unprotected sex! I thought in a long term faithful relationship I was safe without condoms! Especially if I was tested and so was my boyfriend. But the labs that test for common STDs do not test for all of the one’s Dr. Toth knows cause infertility. This is because his research is new and cutting edge. Also, Dr. Toth and Hilgers culture out the specimens much longer. As a result, some labs have said people don’t have Chlamydia (a known cause of infertility) and in actuality they do find it with Dr. Toth.
Besides these reasons, another reason Dr. Toth things bacteria is common is because of the number of miscarriage and premature babies. We find this all common place now, but bacteria is a lead cause of these things happening. The body was not meant to miscarry and Dr. Toth believes just one miscarriage should cause someone to seek immediate intervention. Dr. Toth associates in his research a link between bacteria and premature babies, ear infections, behavior problems, obsessive compulsive disorder, autism and many other things including cancer and heart disease. If you think of all of these things in relationship to bacteria, you do realize that it is very very common. For some it shows as miscarriage, others not being able to get pregnant at all, other secondary infertility (one baby fine and then can’t get pregnant again or miscarry). Others have children with problems they don’t realize are related to bacteria, so they don’t treat it and then their children go on to have problems conceiving. This gets worse with every generation, but research proving these generational problems are difficult. Dr. Toth does as much studies as he can with virgins he finds full of bacteria, and is able to trace it back to their mothers.


Kaitlin @ More Like Mary said...

very interesting! thanks for sharing!

WheelbarrowRider said...

I am happy to talk to you about infections any time-they are just not understood well and I think way more common than we know. Not to say that is your issue, but there are tools at their to assess and have some idea if they are or can be ruled out...