In honor of National Infertility Awareness Week, I am sharing my story to bust a common myth about infertility and hopefully encourage those that are currently fighting for family. It is also my heart’s desire to open the eyes of those that did not endure such a fight so they can be better equipped to support and encourage women that are struggling to become mothers. Infertility is often taken too lightly by those that do not understand its pain. Whether a woman is believing for baby #1, #2 or #4, the realization that your body will not do what it was created to do and your dream of a child (or another child) may never come true is devastating. But there is hope. . .
It was the same month my husband had finally agreed to start trying. I received a call from my OB/GYN with the news. . .I had a hormone imbalance (as she simply put it) and it would be hard to conceive. “Don’t worry,” she said. “We have drugs for that.” Not knowing nearly as much as I know now, I didn’t want to hear about drugs. I didn’t want to have to take drugs to make a baby. How unnatural! I hung up the phone and cried. What do I do now?
The battle began.
A few weeks later I discovered that a new member of my church small group was an OB/GYN. I boldly asked her if she would look at my test results. She said it looked like PCOS (polycystic ovary syndrome) and told me she’d be happy to see me if I wanted to look further into it. This was more information and support than I had received from my current physician so I was anxious to make the switch. Thus began my incredibly encouraging and fruitful relationship with Dr. Rupe.
Within 4 months of first seeing Dr. Rupe, I had conceived with no fertility drugs (just the use of Metformin, which has been known to help regulate the hormones that become imbalanced with PCOS patients). We were thrilled. At 7 weeks however, even after seeing a heartbeat, I miscarried our first baby. And then we were devastated.
The battle continued.
After much thought and prayer, my husband and I decided we would try fertility drugs (specifically Clomid) as they were pretty successful in helping women with PCOS conceive. The cost was low and the side effects were minimal. As I wrestled with the idea of not conceiving naturally, a good friend said to me, “When you believe it’s time to start a family, you do everything you can to fight for that family.” I knew this was part of our fight. Within 5 cycles, I had conceived again. And we were thrilled. . .again. This time, I made it through 8 weeks with a good ultrasound and strong heartbeat. But when we went in for our 12 week ultrasound there was no heartbeat. The baby had died around 8 1/2 weeks and we never knew it. This time I had a D&C which enabled us to test the baby and discover she had Turner Syndrome (one of the most common abnormalities that cause miscarriage).
And the battle raged on. Should I continue to fight?
At this point my doctor advised that I see a fertility specialist since I had experienced multiple miscarriages. We made an appointment immediately and after our first cycle with Clomid, close follicular monitoring and an HCG shot, we conceived again. Nine months later our daughter Hope was born.
I went back on the pill after having Hope because the pill helps regulate PCOS symptoms. We decided we’d wait a few years and go off the pill a few months before trying for baby #2. I believed what everyone said. . .
I suppose that was true for us to some extent. We started Clomid in December and conceived in February. Almost immediately after seeing the positive pregnancy test, I began to bleed and knew I was miscarrying again. This time I didn’t have time to become attached to the idea but it was still hard. How could this happen to me again?
We grieved and the battle continued. Was this a new battle or were we still fighting the same one?
I waited for my cycle to start so I could begin another round of Clomid. Four weeks later I began to have very serious pain in my abdomen. I thought perhaps it was just indigestion but it seemed too severe for that. After passing out twice, my husband took me to the ER. They performed a thorough ultrasound and discovered an Ectopic pregnancy. I had conceived twins. One miscarried around 4 weeks and the other continued to grow in my right fallopian tube. The tube had ruptured and I was bleeding internally. I had emergency surgery in which they had to remove the tube. As if conceiving wasn’t hard enough before, now it had to happen with even more obstacles.
The battle grows. Were we supposed to have another child?
Four months later when I was released to try again, I returned to the fertility clinic and continued on Clomid. We knew I needed to produce eggs in my left ovary as that was the side with a tube. Each month for 4 cycles I produced 1 or 2 eggs on the left side. We were so happy my body was cooperating. We decided to do IUI for these cycles to increase our chances of conceiving. But each time we were met with disappointing news. It didn’t work, despite all of our ducks being in a row. I went in for my follicular ultrasound on the 5th cycle and to my surprise, I hadn’t produced any eggs on either side. This had never happened to me. Was it over? Was I out of eggs? The doctor explained we could try more aggressive measures such as injectables and IVF. It’s not that I was opposed to any of those measures. At this point I believed in any and all measures that could be taken to conceive and that the good Lord above, that I so intimately trust, had provided these measures for miracles to come to us. But we couldn’t afford it and I was weary, very weary. I left the office fighting back tears as I checked out at the front desk. Then, the sweet girl there let me know some of my insurance that I thought had gone through actually had not and I owed $800. $800 for treatments I knew hadn’t worked. Why not just flush the money down the toilet?!
Fighting, fighting, fighting.
Right before I walked out the doctor suggested a step-up Clomid protocol that they had been trying recently. He would give me Clomid again, immediately to see if I responded mid-cycle. I was not hopeful but took the prescription and headed to the pharmacy. Two weeks later I returned for monitoring and they discovered I had two big, fat eggs. . .on my right side. The doctor told me to go home and tell him when I got my period. I would not be getting pregnant this month. That evening I had dinner with two dear friends, one of which was my OB, Dr. Rupe. I explained what happened and Dr. Rupe said, “I believe this is the month for you. It can happen. Those tubes can flop around in there.” I knew it wasn’t likely but because my friend (and ironically my physician) said it was possible, I was filled with more hope than I’d had in months.
And the battled continued. . .with hope.
A few weeks later I reluctantly took a pregnancy test, expecting a negative result. To our surprise, we saw double pink lines. I was pregnant from eggs that somehow made it to where they needed to go.
A miracle. A battle won.
I am now 29 weeks along with this miracle boy. Looking back I never could have imagined he would come to us in such an amazing way. It’s not true what they say. . .that once you’ve had a baby, you won’t have trouble conceiving again. But you should have hope.
The truth is we never know what story is being written for our family.