Dan and I married in 2007. I was 21, still in college and delayed fertility was the furthest thing from my mind. I went on birth control a few months before the wedding, because as much as I wanted to be a Mama… we weren’t ready.
In late 2009, I came off the pill because it was causing some awful side affects. We had just moved into our first home and weren’t exactly ready for kids, but we knew I couldn’t stay on the pill. I will be honest, as much as I knew we weren’t ready, I thought we would be pregnant quickly. I mean, I had no clue that getting pregnant could be difficult. I thought just having sex was all we would ever need to do. Things would happen causally. I had no clue that there could be more to it.
In late 2011, at my yearly check-up, my OBGYN thought it was strange that we had been off the pill for two years and not gotten pregnant. I thought it was strange too. I had started “charting” a little but really had no clue what I was doing. My OBGYN ran some tests and diagnosed me with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).
PCOS is a complicated hormonal disorder. Every woman’s story looks different. Basically, if hormones are involved – PCOS can screw it up. One of the biggest problems with PCOS is that it can cause infertility. My OBGYN gave me some pamphlets, told me to lose weight, put me on metformin (a drug given to diabetics to help balance insulin, because PCOS can cause insulin resistance) and recommended I take Clomid (an “entry level” fertility drug) if we wanted ever wanted to get pregnant.
I took her advice, read everything I could get my hands on related to PCOS and started my journey to a healthier lifestyle. Most of my life, I have struggled with a very distorted body image. PCOS has forced me to focus on healthy eating and to learn that skinny isn’t always healthy. I hate PCOS with every ounce of my being, but it’s also been a true blessing in disguise! I know I will be a better Mama, who can teach her children about living healthy one day, because of the journey PCOS has forced me to walk.
Even though I was getting healthier by the day, I still couldn’t wrap my head around the word “infertile.” Sure, we hadn’t been preventing pregnancy for years, but I couldn’t possibly be infertile. We waited until my next annual check up in 2012 to pursue clomid.
I took clomid monthly for 5 or 6 cycles and nothing happened… well nothing except I was incredibly moody and terrible to be around! Ha! There is NOTHING like the irrational rage of a woman on fertility drugs. I threatened more than once to blow something up or get someone fired. Bless my wonderful husband, he had to have a lot of grace to deal with me during those months!
After several cycles on clomid, my OBGYN told us there was nothing more she could do, and she referred us to an Reproductive Endocrinologist (RE). I struggled a lot with the idea of going to a RE. Not only was I worried about the physical toll of what could happen, our insurance didn’t cover fertility drugs and I was concerned about the financial toll.
At the time, we lived in South Dakota and there was only one RE in the entire state. The Doctor there was amazing, but he was only one man. He was extremely busy. It took us a few months to have our consultation. That first appointment was terrifying. The doctor reviewed our history, discussed a million tests that we needed to consider, and then explained (on a high level) the options we would have based on the outcomes of our tests. It was overwhelming to say the very least.
After a month of uncomfortable testing (for both Dan and I), the RE felt it was best that I continue with clomid, but add a “trigger shot” that would force my body to ovulate. The plan included going to the office for an ultrasound, taking clomid, going in for a second ultrasound, taking the trigger shot in my stomach, and then we would have to have sex on very specific days. Honestly, it was so little compared to what many endure, but it was a lot for us. Each “cycle” lasted about 35 days and if we were not pregnant, we started over again. There was something to do each day to ensure that we were “on track”.
I am a detailed person. I like my life to be in pretty lines. Delayed fertility is anything but pretty lines. Sometimes, my body wouldn’t react as expected – which meant we would have to push back the trigger shot, or throw in another ultrasound. It was trying for this girl who loves a plan. With that said, as much as I love a plan… planning when you HAVE to have sex isn’t in the least bit romantic or fun.
In July 2013, after three months of this protocol, we got our first ever positive pregnancy test. I took the test on a Wednesday before work…and didn’t stop smiling all day. I spent most of the day looking for nursery décor and ways to tell our families. Our wait was over! We shared the news with our family on Thursday night, and my mother in law instantly started praying for “Trudy.” She didn’t know why, but it was just the name that kept coming to her mind.
That Friday, I left work feeling off. That night, I had Dan take me to acute care where we were told I had a UTI and was sent home with antibiotics. Unfortunately, the next morning, we found ourselves in the ER being told we were most likely miscarrying. I don’t think I will ever forget the face of the nurse who told me it would be ok. OK? What in the world did she know about being ok? I left the ER feeling like my world may never go back together again.
Monday, we went to the RE for a follow up after my ER visit. During that visit we were told there was a 1% chance we would not miscarry. I will never forget the words Dan said… he simply said “I serve a God who works in 1%.”
The following Wednesday, just one week after learning we were pregnant, I was rushed into emergency surgery because the baby was ectopic (growing in my fallopian tube). At the time the doctors were concerned with the image on the ultrasound so I signed every release – including a full hysterectomy. Due to the concern of the doctors, last thing I remember before going into surgery is “What if I have cancer?”
Thankfully, my RE was a very skilled surgeon, and he was able to save all my reproductive parts. I am told that is very rare when it comes to ectopic pregnancies. Although we lost our baby, I still believe that God worked in the 1%. My life was saved, and my body was still whole after surgery.
After surgery, I spent one very long night in the hospital and then was spent home to recover. Recover is an interesting word. I spiraled out of control. As my body recovered, I went to a dark mental place. In November of 2013, I finally sought the help of a counselor. If there is one thing you to take away from my story… never be afraid to ask for help. The months I spent in counseling were the most healing months of my life. God used my counselor to pull me from the darkness and put me back on track.
In March 2014, we celebrated Trudy’s due date by going away for a weekend. I got my first tattoo to mark Trudy’s special life. A constant reminder of Genesis 50:20, “What you meant to harm me, God has used to change my life and the lives of many.”
In April 2014, we went back to the RE. He told us that we would most likely never get pregnant without the help of fertility drugs. In fact, he would recommend that we skip all other “steps” and move straight into In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) due to our history. We felt moving straight to IVF was extreme and decided to do one more cycle of the protocol we had been on previously. We felt if that protocol did not work, we would then look deeper into other options.
Things didn’t go as planned. I had a terrible reaction to the medication, which forced us to take a break. I spent most of the summer in and out of the hospital due to the side affects of that one month of drugs. During that time, we spent a lot of time asking God what our next steps where when it came to being parents. Both Dan and I felt God was saying “be still”. To us, that meant we were not only going to stop pursing treatment, but we weren’t going to worry about charting or really anything related to trying to have a baby. We were simply going to live our lives in a healthy way, and allow God to do the rest.
The choice to not go back to the RE was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make. I had gotten pregnant with fertility drugs… and I had a hard time accepting that God wouldn’t let me continue. But, I quickly learned, God wasn’t punishing me. He had so many good things in the wait. I would never say waiting is easy, but there is a lot to celebrate in waiting. We have been able to experience so much and grow so much in our wait.
Letting go of the constant need to count and chart and take medication has been so good for me. Medical science is an amazing thing. I am so thankful that God has given doctors the wisdom He has… but at the end of the day, babies are still miracles. No matter if they are conceived naturally or through medical intervention… each life is a miracle. Realizing that there is nothing I can to do (or can’t do) to make a baby has been incredibly freeing. This girl likes to control things, and learning that God is bigger than what I can control has been a hard, but wonderful lesson. His way of doing things is always much better than mine!
In early 2015, we moved to Missouri and some of my PCOS symptoms got out of control. We were new to the area, so I randomly picked an OBGYN who could get me in quickly. The doctor was so kind, and ended up being a huge blessing in our lives. Anyways, he found a growth in my uterus that he believed if removed, it would help my symptoms.
So, I had a quick procedure and for a few months, I was better. However, the symptoms did come back… worse. When I went back to the OBGYN he told me my only options where to go back onto the pill or to start fertility drugs. We didn’t have peace about either so I went on the hunt for answers. I felt like I had been thrown into the ocean without a life jacket. I want to be a Mama, so going on birth control didn’t make any sense. However, we felt so strongly that we were not to purse fertility drugs. Nothing made sense.
After a long search, my family doctor recommended a more natural OBGYN that specializes in hormone health. She has been a life changer. She understood our desire to “be still” when it came to trying to have a baby, but still working towards hormone health. She breathed life into parts of my heart that I didn’t know where dying. After lots of testing (she literally took 14 vials of blood one day) my symptoms became manageable… and then nonexistent.
I am a different woman.
On Wednesday, March 8, 2017 (Wednesdays are good days for pregnancy tests!), I got the surprise of my life… a positive pregnancy test.
We were both so shocked when we got that positive test. We waited on God, and believed He could do anything… but still couldn’t believe when He did! Ha, thankfully God worked even in my unbelief!
Carrying Lil Bit was a roller coaster. There were good days and bad days. (It’s a long story to be shared another day.) Sadly, the Thursday before Easter, we were told we had lost little bit. My body wouldn’t let go, so a few days later, I had a D&C. I carried Lil Bit for 10 weeks.
It was very difficult…. and still is if I am being honest. I have spent many days being angry, confused and completely heartbroken. BUT… God has been so good to us even in the dark. Every part of Lil Bit’s short life was touched by God. We felt His hand in every step. We are still grieving, but we continue to see God move. My heart is broken, but I am constantly reminded of the promise found in Isaiah 61:3… He WILL give me a crown of beauty instead of ashes. Joy instead of mourning. Praise instead of despair. On the days when I feel like I will never be ok… I am reminded of what Dan once said… we serve a God who works best in the 1%.
So we continue to move forward. We continue to live our lives and trust God will give bless us with a baby in His perfect time.
I love Big Daddy Weave’s song, “My Story”, because it completely sums up my heart in starting this blog and telling my story. As you read my words… I hope you hear a story filled with hope. But most of all, when I tell you my story, I pray you see God’s hands all over it. This story isn’t about Dan, Trudy, Lil Bit or me. It’s a story about how God does big things… even in the 1%.