Infertility and sub-fertility are subjects near and dear to my heart. Though our time trying to conceive was considerably shorter than this dear guest, those long months of uncertainty never leave you. An awareness and a passionate compassion for others going through the same struggle was born out of the experience. As a nod to both infertility awareness week, and Mother’s day, I’ve asked my cousin, Katie, to share her story.
[PCOS affects nearly ten percent of women, and infertility rates are increasing. One of these issues likely affects people you know and love.]
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David and I were married in April of 2012. We both loved kids and knew we wanted to have them right away. We waited a couple months, and then officially started trying in July of that same year. We made no secret of the fact that we wanted to start a family and I had quite a few people ask me if I had “peed on a stick yet” and other such questions. At first, I just laughed it off. After about 8 months of trying, with no success, I went to my family doctor. I knew that getting pregnant might be a bit difficult for me as I had family who’d struggled with it as well. I was then referred to the OB/GYN in the clinic where they ran simple blood tests and everything came back fine.
After about a year, I was feeling really down. The definition of infertility is anyone trying to conceive for at least a year with no success. At this point in time I was technically infertile, but I didn’t believe it as I was in complete denial. I kept telling myself it was only a year, and that there were people out there who were trying for much longer than we had been!
Around this time, my brother and sister-in-law announced they were expecting their first child. This news hit me hard. They had wanted to wait a few years before having kids and we wanted kids right away; now it was happening to them and not us. I was happy for them, but sad for us.
About the time of that announcement, my cousin, Brittany, introduced me to the Creighton Model/NAPRO [Creighton is a medical model of Natural family planning. It allows trained Physicians to read the chart of a woman’s menstrual cycle to help determine medical issues that may be contributing to fertility problems]. There was a clinic about an hour and a half from where we lived that taught this method and they would help me learn to chart my cycle and hopefully help us get pregnant with natural family planning. Finally, after about a year and a half of trying, there was hope again.
Of course, there were lots of blood tests again- and the tests would always come back in the normal range. After about a year charting, and working with them, they suggested performing a Hysterosalpingogram (HSG). This is a test where they inject dye into the uterus and it flows out of the fallopian tubes. This procedure detects any uterine or fallopian tube abnormalities. In this case, it also detected that my left fallopian tube was blocked.
We decided not to do surgery right away – according to charting and tests I still had a perfectly normal right ovary and fallopian tube.
At this point in time it was a little over two years of trying with no success. I still didn’t consider myself infertile – it was only two years. I knew people, or heard stories of people, who had been trying for seven plus years. How could I say I suffered from infertility when it had only been two years?
When I got closer to 3 years I had an acquaintance who told me about a homeopathic physician she had seen. He helped her with some health issues, and she was able to get pregnant.
At this point in time I was desperate to try anything. He determined that my progesterone wasn’t high enough. Funny how a medical doctor said it’s fine, but now a homeopathic physician said it was too low.
I started taking progesterone medication to slightly increase my levels. However, like the medical doctors, the homeopathic physician found nothing else wrong with my health or my fertility.
As a result of starting the progesterone, I also started to hope again. Between charting my cycles and getting my progesterone “on track” surely I would be pregnant soon!
After about six to eight more months, I started to fall into a depression. I didn’t want my husband to look at me, much less touch me. I will say, the biggest way to kill intimacy in a marriage is to have planned intercourse a couple times each week.
In the fall of 2015, with nothing to show for our struggle, we decided to move forward with the surgery to unblock my fallopian tube. After all, this should hypothetically double our chances of making a baby!
We would be able to do the procedure and go home that same day. We went to the hospital that morning to have the procedure and in total it took about four hours. It was much more intense than they originally thought. I would not, in fact, be going home that same day.
They ended up finding severe endometriosis once they started the procedure and that is actually what was blocking my fallopian tube. They were able to get everything cleaned up and there were no complications – except I wasn’t able to leave the hospital until the following day. I have to tell you – my husband was such a trooper! He slept in a super uncomfortable hospital chair and only left my side twice the entire time we were there!
Having surgery, of course, gave me hope again. According to all the doctors and physicians, there was nothing wrong – at least no reason why we shouldn’t be able to get pregnant.
With the endometriosis cleared out and my tube now open, it was back at it again with renewed hope. I was sure that within a year we would be pregnant.
Another year and a half went by with no change. We started talking about adoption, or even fostering.
I had gotten to the point that I just figured it wasn’t in the cards for us. However, I also appreciated and loved being the “fun, cool aunt”. I enjoyed being able to spoil my nieces and nephews, but it was still hard – I still yearned for a child of my own. Deep down I just knew it wouldn’t happen.
In the fall, my husband got a new job a couple towns away and after about 6 months we decided to move closer to where he worked. Together we decided to give it one more effort.
We had heard a lot of good things about a doctor in the area, he dealt with a lot of infertility patients. After a couple of visits, more lab tests, another HSG and an SHG, it was finally determined that I had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS).
It was like a light went off!
After almost six years, we finally had a reason for our infertility. I started taking medications and doing shots.
Three months later, we finally got the news we had been praying for – we were pregnant!
It’s a different feeling, being pregnant after 6 years of infertility. Even now, I don’t always feel that it’s real. I’ve had ultrasounds and have even heard the heartbeat, but sometimes, it still feels like it might just be a dream.
I feel I have a greater appreciation for what I am going through than if it had happened easily. My marriage was a roller coaster ride – but my husband and I stuck together through it all. I believe that we are stronger because of our infertility journey.
I am certain that I will never forget the past 6 years – they will always be a part of me, and have shaped me into who I am today.
As for now, I am going to enjoy my first Mother’s Day.
However, I will still spend the day praying for all those who are suffering with infertility, those who have miscarried, and those who are dealing with the loss of a child.
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Big thank you to Katie and David for letting me share their beautiful story. If you have any additional questions on NAPRO (Natural Procreative Technologies) or the Creighton Model of NFP, I would be more than happy to field them! PCOS and infertility are my secret sub-specialties. I love talking about mucus.
Happy Mother’s day to all the wonderful women out there who are being the best mamas they can, the women who have lost their mothers, and to the women who have lost a child or dream of holding a child in their arms. My heart is with you all.