Monday, April 25, 2016

National Infertility Awareness Week: our story in a timeline

If you had asked me ten years ago what I thought my life would look like now, I would tell you that I would be married and that I would be a stay at home mom. I would tell you that by 38 years old, I would have my four kids. I would be certain of it.

If you had told me five years ago when we started trying to conceive, when it was all exciting and new and full of great plans and ideas and dreams, if you had told me then that we would still not be pregnant in five years... well, I don't know what I would have done. I don't think I would have been able to handle that kind of news. Actually, I wouldn't have believed you and I would have become indignant and horrified that you would say such a thing. But you would have been right.

I have been dreaming of being a mom since childhood. I always knew I would want to spend a little time just me and the husband for a couple of years, but after that we would start a family, just like everyone else. It never occurred to me that it would be difficult. I had never had irregular cycles. I had never had any issues. None of the women in our family had trouble conceiving. I remember knowing about women who had to do IVF, and it was such a foreign concept to me, it seemed so incredibly rare, I was never worried that it would be an issue, because of course it wouldn't be. I would get pregnant without any problems, just like everyone else I knew. I was naive. I was ignorant.

When I realized getting pregnant would be difficult, when I had reached two years of trying, I would hear of people who had been trying for three years and think NO WAY could I bear infertility for that long. NO WAY would God still not answer my prayers after three years. Five wasn't even a worry. OF COURSE God wouldn't make me wait five years. Again, I was clueless.

This week is National Infertility Awareness Week. 1 in 8 couples in the United States today are faced with infertility. Infertility is the diagnosis given when a couple has tried to conceive for a year without success (or 6 months if over the age of 35).

I have shared our story on this blog before, so I'm just going to share it in timeline style today. If you'd rather all the gory details, you can read all of that here.

November 2010 - not a care in the world!
2010 (November): We reached our 2 year anniversary, when we had previously said we would discuss kids. Brad agreed we could start trying in April of 2011. I had been reading Taking Charge of Your Fertility and decided to go ahead and get off the pill, so that my cycles would be regulated by the time April rolled around. I knew it could take 6 months for your cycles to regulate after coming off the pill, and I wanted my body to be in working order by the time it got to April. That way, you know, we would be pregnant in just a few months.

2011 (January-March): This may seem unrelated, but it isn't. In January I decided it was time to make some changes. I faithfully took a bootcamp class three days a week, zumba two days a week, and counted every single calorie that went into my body, careful not to go over what was recommended to me at the time. At the end of 15 weeks of that, I had gained one pound. I went to my regular doctor who ran tests but said everything was fine with me, and to keep doing what I was doing.

2011 (April): We couldn't get started trying because my cycles still had not regulated. May would make 6 months off the pill so I decided I would see my obgyn then. I was still hoping my cycles would get it together!

2011 (May): Called my obgyn because my cycles still had not regulated. The nurse said they wanted to have me in to run some tests. I informed her that my GP had just run tests and told me everything was normal. She asked if he did a 2 hour glucose test. Um... no! She said she thought it sounded like I was insulin resistant, and I needed to come in for a glucose test. I did. I was diagnosed with insulin resistance. I was put on metformin and told it would help me lose weight, regulate my cycles, and increase my fertility. I thought that sounded like the pill for me! Haha. It did regulate my cycles. I even started ovulating. But we continued trying for over a year after that, and nothing.

2012: We did go back to my obgyn a couple of times this year, but I don't really remember what was said. I remember she wanted me to keep trying to lose weight. I feel that I should have asked for more tests, but I didn't know what to ask. I trusted her and even agreed with her. I didn't know there were other issues involved, though.

2013: In March I turned 35. This is the age where your fertility begins to decrease. I decided it was time to go back to my doctor and demand more tests, more answers. I knew my weight was a problem, and I was working on that, but I also knew in my heart that it wasn't the sole reason we had not conceived. I didn't think it was fair that losing weight was the only thing she could tell us, especially now at age 35. So I went in prepared to fight, but I didn't have to. She agreed that it was time to order more tests. She ordered an ultrasound for me and a sperm analysis for my husband.

2013 (October): I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS), which is the leading cause of infertility in women. We also found out that Brad has low sperm motility, or movement. Because of this, instead of just prescribing clomid (the original plan, pending test results), we would be doing an IUI (intrauterine insemination).

2013 (October): IUI #1 - unsuccessful. She referred us to Dr. Webster, reproductive endocrinologist.

2013 (November): Consult with Dr. Webster. HSG test with good results (no blocked tubes). Lots of bloodwork.

2013 (December): IUI #2 - unsuccessful.

2014 (January): IUI #3 - SUCCESS! Pregnant! Happy tears. Thank you, GOD! I would be having a baby in October 2014.

2014 (March): The worst ultrasound I have ever had (and by now I have had many of them!). It indicated a possible ectopic pregnancy or miscarriage. The only thing to do was wait and see. I think I can safely say this was the worst week of my life. After a terrifying ultrasound appointment on a Friday, after panic and tears and worry and prayers, I finally came to the conclusion that it was just too early to see anything, and that the next ultrasound would be better. But I woke up early Monday morning with the worst cramping, way worse than my usual time of month, and I knew it was over.

The rest of 2014 and half of 2015 is a blur. I did a lot of grieving in 2014, a lot of weeping, a lot of questioning God, and I did not dare step foot back in that fertility clinic. I also gained a lot of weight back. By the start of 2015, I was MUCH better emotionally, but financially we needed a few more months.

2015 (March): We went back for another consult. Doctor agreed we could do three more IUIs. We said we would be back in a few months (money is always a roadblock when it comes to fertility treatments). I had very high hopes that what worked before could work again. I believed!

2015 (June): IUI #4 - unsuccessful.

2015 (July): IUI #5 - unsuccessful.

2015 (August): IUI #6 - unsuccessful.

At this point, our next step would be a lot more expensive, so we had to take yet another break from treatment. Still trying on our own though! My doctor retired in December, so I knew I would need to begin seeing a new doctor. In April of 2016, we had a consult with our new doctor, and we absolutely love him. We have a plan, and I will share it when I am ready. Nothing is happening quite yet anyway.

That is our story. But our story isn't over. God isn't finished. He is working, He is moving, He has been present throughout our story, even when I couldn't see it. I have been doing really well lately, but if I have learned anything on this journey it is that I can be doing just fine and then out of the blue get hit with the devastation of it all. There are good days and bad days. There are days when I doubt, and days when I grieve. There are days when I worry about my future and I just don't know what we are going to do. But I know that God knows what to do. I take great comfort in knowing that God is not alarmed by any of this. He isn't freaking out about it. And He has the answer. A lot of people have given us advice, or have told us what they are sure will work. Many have suggested pills, drinks, relaxation techniques and even adoption as things that are sure to help me to conceive. But God hasn't told us any of these things. The only thing God has told me to do is to believe Him. And that is what I am going to do. He has always been faithful to me.

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1 in 8 couples in the United States are facing infertility. This means it is very likely that you know people going through it, even if you think you don't. Infertility is not about impatience or being too stressed or needing to go on vacation. Infertility is a disease. It can also be very isolating if you do not reach out. Please feel free to share my blog so that those going through it will know they are not alone. I will be blogging more throughout the week.


8 comments:

  1. I'm a little speechless reading your post but wanted to say I'm sending you lots of love. It sounds like you have a plan for the next year and am so hopefully and truly believe this will be the answer to your prayers! Sending you guys the best!!!

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  2. I've always been impressed with your strength and transparency, Melissa. Thank you for sharing your story. Know that you're always in my prayers!

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  3. hugs and lots of love friend. i'm believing with/for you guys!!!

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  4. Hugs girl. Won't stop believing with you and cheering you on until you are holding your baby!!! I hate the loss you have had to go through, but can't wait to see how God redeems. So glad you are so willing to share your story because it definitely encouraging to see that you haven't given up.

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  5. I happened to stumble across this post this morning and I am in tears as I read this. Your faith is so courageous! I know too, how the struggle with infertility feels, and the loss of a pregnancy. I will pray for you and am hopeful that your new plan will be successful!

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  6. Melissa, I'm a fellow sufferer of infertility (3 years and counting) and found you through another blog. I REALLY admire your strength and resolve and I know you'll hold your blessing one day! I'm not a believer so I personally can't understand how faith sustains a person in times like these. My thought process is that nature is cruel (or at least indifferent to our feelings), and hopefully science can beat our illness. In a way, this reassures me more than thinking that a loving God is letting this happen for a reason.
    I hope this doesn't come out as offensive! I'm genuinely amazed at how other women deal with this constant pain. Rooting for you, Melissa!

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  7. Dear Melissa, I am speechless of how much we have in common!
    I would love to talk to you if possible.

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Comments are my favorite.