Endometriosis Surgery Leads to Baby Boy
Oct 13, 2020 Agata Smieciuszewski
It can take up to a decade for women with endometriosis to get the proper diagnosis. For Cristy Allen, she thought she was one of the unlucky women who would experience painful periods her whole life. When she turned 28 and started trying to conceive with her husband, she ran into problems.
"Two years passed," she remembers. "I really started to think, 'OK, something's up.'"
At this point, Cristy had gone back to graduate school and was dealing with an on-the-job injury that led to spine and arm issues. She began taking a birth control pill, which exacerbated her symptoms—she started having severe bleeding and realized there was something seriously wrong.
Cristy was dealing with a lot of pain, adult acne, weight gain, nausea and a distended belly. She made some drastic changes to her diet and lifestyle—including cutting out gluten—and switched her household and beauty products to be nontoxic.
"I could tell that I felt better, but nothing was really addressing the issue," she remembers.
Cristy had researched her symptoms and come up with a likely culprit—endometriosis. She saw a specialist who confirmed her suspicion and told her she'd need in vitro fertilization (IVF).
Cristy decided she couldn't afford to pursue that route—she was in graduate school with a limited income, and she wanted to finish school first.
"I got scared and I backed out," she says. "I also felt like there was no support or answers for the endometriosis. It felt like they were basically telling me, 'Go on birth control and mask the symptoms, and if you want children, you can't do that.'"
After graduating, Cristy took a break to decompress and focus on her spirituality and home life. She saw another specialist who told her one of her tubes was blocked and she would need IVF to proceed.
She tried a variety of holistic healing methods, and finally decided that surgery might be her only option to get a real solution to her problem.
Through a Facebook group with resources for women dealing with endometriosis, Cristy found a list of surgeons who do excision surgeries. She chose Dr. Matthew Siedhoff at the Cedars-Sinai Endometriosis Program.
For the first time in her journey, Cristy immediately felt comfortable and heard.
"It really hit me like a ton of bricks because it was so easy to talk to him," she says. "I felt so seen. I felt like I wasn't trying to prove that there was a problem. And I could cry saying that, because I'd felt for a long time like I was getting missed."
Cristy scheduled her excision surgery with Dr. Siedhoff for December 2018. Waiting in the lobby on that day, she watched as families for new deliveries waited in excitement around her as she got nervous for the surgery.
"There was a volunteer who came over and empathized with me and said that she had also had surgery for her cancer," Cristy said. "She told me how she remembered what that felt like, as she walked me over to my surgical team. The compassion was really comforting."
The surgery, expected to be about two hours, went on for four. The extent of the endometriosis inside her was much greater than anticipated. Additionally, Dr. Siedhoff diagnosed her with adenomyosis, which is a condition where the walls of the uterus are penetrated by endometriosis.
"You're always prepared for a little bit more advanced disease, but you never know how much you're going to get until you get into surgery," Dr. Siedhoff says. "She had stage 4 endometriosis that caused her colon to fuse with the back of her uterus, and she had a significant cyst in the ovary."
Even with all the bad news, Cristy was hopeful that at least her overall wellbeing, energy level and quality of life would improve after the surgery. She struggled with her first two cycles, and then something changed.
"The day after my third period ended, I woke up with so much energy, so much joy and I was really excited with a new lease on life," she says.
Not long after, she found out she was pregnant. Cristy had a healthy pregnancy and delivered a baby boy named Bodhi in November 2019.
"We hoped to take him to meet his grandfather in England this summer, but COVID-19 happened," Cristy said. "We've had to make do with a lot of FaceTime, and his grandfather passed away this past August."
"It's been a really tender time, but also incredibly precious. We just all felt Bodhi come in like this wave of joy and hope for everyone."