31 Months TTC
my 31 month trying to conceive update including laparoscopic surgery + endometriosis diagnosis
31 Months TTC
* TTC = Trying To Conceive, a popular abbreviation in the fertility community
— Began TTC August 2020 to present, 31 cycles total, three biochemical pregnancies
— Attempted natural methods so far: meditation, exercise, yoga, supplements, herbs, sober (minus the odd wedding or celebration), acupuncture, osteotherapy, pelvic floor physiotherapy, massage, gut health, food intolerances, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, caffeine-free
— Medical procedures completed: blood tests, hormone tests, ultrasounds, HSG (tube flush) and X-ray, and most recently laparoscopic surgery
**Please note I appreciate everyone's willingness to help but I am not accepting new methods to try at this time
Now that we have all that out of the way, welcome to 31 months of trying to conceive!
If you are exhausted reading that list above, so am I... although I am happy to share that I am writing this blog post from a much better mental state than my previous How 2021 Changed Me or 18 Month TTC updates. Indeed, a big win for me.
There is much to update you on since my last posts, including a house rebuild, starting a new business with my husband, surgery, and a new diagnosis.
Changes In The Brain —
I found the first year and a half of TTC to be all-consuming, it was very difficult for me not to think about my cycle all day long, all month long. As anyone who is also working on their fertility knows, it gets pretty exhausting.
Thankfully though, I have found a much more peaceful mental state to rest in while we wait for our family to grow. I don't find the monthly roller coaster to be as abrupt. I attest this mental change to therapy, meditation, and an amazing support network.
Somewhere along the line of TTC, you eventually get defeated, but in a good way. Looking back now, I can see that in our case the defeat was actually a blessing. I think that when we want something very badly, we cling to it until we become exhausted. But with that exhaustion, comes the beautiful process of learning to let go and surrender to whatever the Universe has in store for you... which is often a much sweeter gift than you could have imagined.
WHEN NOTHING IS GOING AS PLANNED — STOP PLANNING SO MUCH. INSTEAD, PRACTICE BEING FEARLESS AND PRESENT WITH WHAT IS. BECAUSE LIFE IS UNPREDICTABLE. WE OUTGROW THINGS THAT WE COULDN'T IMAGINE LIVING WITHOUT AND THEN FALL IN LOVE WITH THINGS THAT WE NEVER EXPECTED TO WANT.
2021 Projects —
We needed a break from being consumed with trying to start our family. We decided to spend our energy moving forward in other capacities. One of my husband's long-term goals was to rebuild our home and it finally felt like we had an opportunity to do that.
Since its purchase, the plan had always been to demo and rebuild our 1960s home. It was a lovely home that served us well over the years, but it was not on track to provide for us much longer. There was a particular day when the winter wind blew just right through a crack in the door, creating a small snow drift in our living room. At that point, we knew it was time. Dear old house, we loved you but you had to go.
My wonderful, amazing husband took on the project with the help of friends and family. In just six short months, they removed our old house and built a new one (leaving the original foundation intact).
In the spirit of appreciating things you can do without kids, we decided to temporarily move back in with my mom and turn our home into a business. We currently have our home available for short-term rental and would love to host you here in the mountains!
My Summertime Epiphany —
Somewhere in between house building and work, I had an epiphany.
For some reason, I remembered that I went to the doctor when I was a teenager for help with my painful periods. I didn't like being on birth control and asked if there were any other options (there were none offered at the time). When I explained how bad my period pain was every month though, she casually mentioned that I probably have endometriosis.
As a teenager, I didn't think much of it. Potentially having an inflammatory disease changed nothing for me at that time. I had no idea period pain was not normal, nor that it could be a diagnosable, treatable condition. So I never thought about endometriosis again until the Summer of 2022.
Years later, the thought of that appointment came rushing back to me and a quick internet search confirmed that endometriosis is associated with difficulty getting pregnant. I could not believe what I was reading and felt a deep sense of knowing that this was it.
Getting A Diagnosis —
Anyone who has received a diagnosis for an unexplained ailment knows how validating it is. To bundle up years of pain and confusion into one neat little word feels tremendous.
Luckily for me, we have incredible doctors here, and when I presented my idea she completely agreed with me. My doctor immediately referred me to a more specialized gynecologist, who also completely agreed with me, and before I knew it I was on the waitlist for surgery.
*There are a few ways you can treat endometriosis symptoms, but since my health goals included TTC the only option that made sense for me was laparoscopic surgery.
Laparoscopic Surgery for Endometriosis —
The thing about endometriosis is that it can be sneaky. The symptoms are vague and can also be indicative of many other diagnoses. Endometriosis very rarely shows up on MRIs, ultrasounds, or pelvic exams. Surgery is the only way to get a definitive diagnosis.
Endo symptoms can be managed with pain medication and birth control, but that won't help anyone who is TTC like myself. For this reason, laparoscopic surgery was in my best interest. The surgery begins by exploring for endometriosis and then removing it if it's found.
Of course, there was a chance that they would go in and find nothing. I was admittedly anxious about this but promised myself that even if they did not find endometriosis, doing the surgery was still a good step in our TTC journey if only to rule out a cause.
But, when I woke up from surgery, the surgeon told me they found and removed three endo lesions.
He explained that I had Stage I endometriosis and that it was simple to remove. My lesions were not deep, nor did they cause scar tissue on my reproductive organs.
What was a profound moment that was — relief, validation, hope, and excitement.
TTC Moving Forward —
My surgery was on January 20th, 2023 and it is currently April. Three months later, I noticed significant health improvements and period cycle improvements. I would rate my latest period pain as 5/10, which is a massive improvement from my original eighteen years of monthly 10/10 pain.
I am a photographer, not a doctor, but my understanding is that when you remove endometriosis, you remove lesions that cause inflammation, scar tissue, hormone imbalance, and more.
No wonder having endometriosis decreases your chances of trying to conceive.
(If you are an endo girlie like me and haven't heard me raving about the Heal Endo book yet, do yourself a favour and get a copy.)
Getting laparoscopic surgery for endometriosis has brought back our excitement at the possibility of starting a family. A cultural reset, if you will.
I still feel a bit guarded and can feel myself wanting to protect my heart by not getting too excited. But if I indulge myself in some feelings... I am deeply excited and hopeful that our time will come very soon.
So much love to everyone who has sent messages thinking of us, let us stay with them for doctor appointments, been invested in my bodily functions and self-diagnosis deep dives...
A particularly special thank you to my husband who has shared this experience, driven me to doctor appointments, and anticipated all of the meds, hugs, teas, flower bouquets, and snacks I have ever needed. I love you, dear.
Mega thank you to the Physicians of Golden for getting me the referrals I needed and to the Kelowna GYNO team for taking amazing care of me throughout the surgery.
I hope I get to share a different kind of "positive" update with you soon.
Hey — I'm Jena
I'm a family + newborn (and occasional wedding) photographer based in golden, bc.
I work with families who love the imperfect and the unposed.
meet me in the mountains for your own lifestyle family photography session.
You will see me in this hat very often...