Bilateral Tubal Blockage with Hydrosalpinx: the words that would bring my journey to motherhood to a screeching halt.

After a year of believing that our hopes were within reach—believing that there must just be a minor issue of why we weren’t getting pregnant—we received our official diagnosis.

It stopped everything.

It robbed us of the art of surprise. I would never get to surprise my husband with a positive pregnancy test.

It stole our hope from us. We would never get to hope that a miracle would “just happen.”

Despite lots of unsolicited advice from well-meaning people, no amount of relaxing or not worrying about it would help us get pregnant.

Bilateral Tubal Blockage with Hydrosalpinx gave us a zero percent chance of conceiving naturally.

We were told that there was little to do other than have my fallopian tubes completely surgically removed and pursue IVF. This diagnosis came as a complete shock to us. For the year prior we had done check-ups, bloodwork, eight rounds of Clomid, a semen analysis…everything. There was never any indication that something was wrong, aside from a low sperm count (which wasn’t even critically low). We truly believed the HSG (Hysterosalpingography) would show no issues and that we would be pregnant in no time.

Following our diagnosis, I went through a deep period of hating myself. My body had betrayed me; it had failed me. Somehow it had gone into self- destruct mode, and I didn’t even know it was happening. I couldn’t see past my own sadness. It was like I was blinded by all of the pain I felt.

Infertility can be kind of like watching your life play out on film. You can have the dream husband, dream house, dream job, and the next piece of the puzzle was supposed to be a healthy baby. My husband and I had planned our entire relationship around this timeline—it was perfectly planned. But the film became damaged. It’s like when you’re playing this perfect movie, and then it starts to skip. Yes, you know that the movie can be fixed, but it won’t ever play the same way again.

For the first time, I started to doubt that our story would have a happy ending.

My husband and I finally built ourselves up enough to speak with a Reproductive Endocrinologist. We pulled ourselves out of the dark hole we were in and decided we weren’t defeated yet. We waited for months to be seen and prepared all of our questions and concerns for the appointment.

We went into it with such hope, but we were quickly knocked down again. We were told that Hydrosalpinx can carry many complications and there are no options other than complete removal. And even then, combined with my husband’s less than favorable sperm count, we had a 30% chance of success with IVF.

I don’t know what pill was harder to swallow, the diagnosis, or the bleak future outlined for us. We had endured the initial diagnosis and were finally beginning to see light again only to be told that the process ahead was long, and the odds weren’t in our favor. Combine all of this with the intimidating price tag of treatments and the frequency of doctor’s visits (our RE was a 4-hour round trip drive), and we were broken again. The depression crept back in, and I was ready to give up. I convinced myself I deserved this, and there was no way out.

It shocks me to think about how many men and women feel this way every day. Infertility brings hopelessness that consumes every part of you. We become so limited by money, resources, and knowledge, which inevitably dictates our futures far more than our own capacity.

In the months to follow, we decided that changes needed to be made. We moved 600 miles away to my husband’s hometown, which had always been the plan but we expected it to be years down the road. We sold our dream home and downsized. My husband started a better job. We knew that our situation had to change in order for us to truly devote ourselves to this journey through infertility.

Two years later, we are so much further than we expected to be, physically and emotionally.

We have learned how to deal with grief and disappointment. We have learned to regularly replace it with hope.

I now have an amazing RE who listens to me, who took the time to thoroughly review my history and make a plan tailored to us. His plan was realistic but still positive. It was a much-needed change from what we had experienced before. It allowed us to process the good and the bad and make a reasonable decision on how to move forward.

My new RE believed there was a chance for full or partial tubal repair. We set a plan for surgery with two options laid out for us. Either one or both tubes would be repaired, or the tubes would be blocked at my uterus. If a repair could happen it would open a window for natural intercourse cycles or IUIs. Full tubal blockage would lead the way to IVF.

I had my laparoscopic surgery in November 2019. I am thankful they were able to repair one fallopian tube and drain the toxic fluid from the Hydrosalpinx area. The other tube was badly damaged and couldn’t be saved. I had never suspected Endometriosis, but I also received a diagnosis of Stage 2 Endometriosis. The damaged fallopian tube was completely fused to my colon, most likely a direct result of the Endo.

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This surgery opened up so many options for us. Since surgery, we have completed one medicated intercourse cycle and two IUI’s. Unfortunately, all of these treatments failed but we took so much more away from all of that than we could have imagined.

We became our own advocates, we buckled down as a couple, and we bent instead of breaking. We learned that my body responded very well to the Gonal and Menopur injections, and my husband’s sperm count is officially in the normal range! We have both been able to regain confidence in our bodies.

Seeing each of us have a positive response, even though our treatments haven’t been successful, was crucial. We have continued to focus on the small victories and have become more at ease with all of the steps that have gotten us to this point.

That’s what this journey can do for you. Yes it’s awful, and every day I struggle with my emotions, but my mindset has completely changed since I originally received my diagnosis. My body has changed, and the scars are a constant reminder, but this process has shown me how strong I truly am. I am proud to say that I’ve taken all the steps, regardless of the roadblocks along the way.

We have learned to be gentle with ourselves, ask all the questions, know our diagnosis, and push through the doubt. I am slowly learning to love my twisted tubes and repair my broken ego.

In light of the global pandemic, our treatments were put on hold, which was another blow and a prime example of having to adapt to every aspect of this journey, whether we want to or not. Time isn’t on our side with my tubal repair. It could very well mean that the Hydrosalpinx will return and another surgery is inevitable, but infertility requires you to dig deep and find that drive to push through.

For now, we will continue to stay positive and focus on the future even though we aren’t quite sure what it will hold for us. We will continue forward with love, positivity, and most importantly hope on our path to meeting Baby C.

Amanda Chenausky and her husband Josh have been trying to conceive since January 2018. Amanda is a former deputy court clerk but has taken the last 9 months to focus on their relocation and fertility treatments. She has connected with many other women going through infertility struggles and hopes to advocate for anyone that feels trapped by their diagnosis. Sharing her experiences has helped her move forward through her treatments.