Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Beginning....Infertility, my cross to bear....

I realize that I don't talk about my personal experience with infertility that often on my blog. I'm great at encouraging and supporting others on THEIR blogs but, on my own, well...that's just a whole 'nother story. I'm not sure why I don't write about the details, other than to say, even now 6 years later, sometimes it's still somewhat painful to recall that time in my life. Once you're on the other side of the fence, you know, sometimes it's hard to look back at the other side and see where you've come from. Yet, at the same time, I wouldn't change a single thing of what I had to go through....I figure everyone has their cross to bear in life. Infertility was mine.

This is my story....from the beginning.....

"I N F E R T I L I T Y". There it was in black and white right before my eyes. The word alone made my heart pound in my chest. It made my eyes sting with tears. It was like my worst fear had just been confirmed.

There I was, standing in the hallway at my ob/gyn’s office, with a lab slip in my hand, practically having a meltdown. It was the first time since my husband and I had started trying to conceive that the word ‘infertile’ might have actually applied to me in the medical world. Since Tim, and I had begun the “adventure” of trying to conceive, I just had a feeling it would not be an easy time. But there was a huge difference between THINKING I might be infertile to actually KNOWING I was infertile. Seeing the word “infertility” written as a diagnosis next to my name on a lab slip was enough to make me wonder if Tim had actually been right when he accused me of self-fulfilling prophecy.

I had gone in that day to a long-awaited appointment with my ob/gyn, armed with all my ovulation charts to show her as proof that I had been really trying, whole-heartedly, to get pregnant. “Really trying” included taking my temperature every morning diligently (and yelling at Tim because he had turned up the heat that night which might have made my temperature higher than normal…how was I supposed to tell if I had really ovulated or not??!!), checking my cervical mucus on a daily basis (and actually spending hours surfing the web for pictures of other women's cervical mucus to compare it to), shoving a finger deep inside myself to feel for my cervical opening (and then leaving a voicemail for my ob/gyn asking "now, how low and open EXACTLY does my cervical opening need to be for me to know I'm ovulating?), living solely on a diet of baby carrots and salty pretzels to ensure lots of cervical mucus (so what if it might have been an old wives tale – I would do anything short of eating pig poop to get pregnant…and I might have even considered that if I could find a study proving that eating pig poop would get me pregnant), downing Robitussin as if it was going out of style to make any cervical mucus I did have nice and thin, and peeing on an ovulation stick to pop into my trusty fertility monitor every damn morning to help me determine how close to ovulation I was becoming and, last but not least, informing Tim that he needed to have sex with me RIGHT NOW..…and THAT was only my PRE-OVULATION ritual.

My post-ovulation ritual included saying a little prayer every time I popped the thermometer in my mouth first thing in the morning that my temperature would still be high above the cover line, examining my insides with a mirror to see if it was changing color (perhaps another old wives tale but a friend of mine told me that her sister’s best friend’s cousin’s hoo-haw turned blue each time she was pregnant), man-handling my boobs to see if they were sore yet and standing in front of the mirror for hours to see if my nipples were becoming darker which supposedly was a sign of pregnancy, asking Tim…okay, telling Tim, to examine my boobs to see if he noticed more blue veins than normal, which didn't exactly thrill him as he would say, “um, I thought my part in all this was to have sex with you when you told me to…not examine your boobs for imaginary blue veins”, obsessing over every little twinge or pinch I felt in my body, checking my underwear and the toilet paper I wiped with every single time I went to the bathroom to make sure that my period hadn’t arrived (or to convince myself that any blood I did see might have been implantation bleeding) and, finally, breaking down in tears when my temperature would take a nose-dive, which always indicated that my period would be arriving the next day. Like clockwork, my period would then arrive and I'd spend a majority of that morning sobbing on the bathroom floor, completely devastated and heartbroken. To say I was obsessed and desperate was an understatement, if I ever heard one.

Once my ob/gyn heard all this, she smiled at me and said, "Well, it does sound like you've been as aggressive as you can be....how old did you say you were?" I replied, "I'm 34....and I know, I'm no spring chicken in the reproductive world. So that's why I was hoping you'd give me a lab order for some bloodwork..." Her mouth said, "And what exactly did you have in mind?" but the look in her eyes said, "Oh good God, she's one of THOSE patients who thinks she knows more than the doctor".

I smiled as sweetly as I could and said, "well, for starters....I'm at the beginning of a new cycle so it would be perfect timing for my cycle day 3 bloodwork....you know, my FSH, estrogen and....". She held up her hand and cut me off with, "Okay, okay, I know what's involved with the cycle day 3 bloodwork. And your age is somewhat concerning but 34 isn't really THAT old in my book...you really don't want to give it some more time?"

I took a deep breath and explained,"No, I don't want to continue to try the old-fashioned way unless I know for sure there is absolutely nothing wrong with me. I could be trying for another 2 years while my eggs rot....if the results come back normal, then you have my word that I will continue to try naturally and stay patient. But if the results show something isn't right, then at least I'll know that I may need to move onto more aggressive means to become pregnant....that's not too much to ask, is it?"

She didn't say anything for what seemed like an eternity and then she said, "I'll tell you what....I'll order some bloodwork and I'll also request an HSG (hysterosalpingogram). In the meantime, I'll give you a scrip for Clomid and let's just start there, okay?" I was thinking to myself, "Wow, it really does pay off to be assertive".

As I was walking out the door and starting down the hallway to the lab, I looked down at the paper and that’s when I saw the word “infertility” written as my diagnosis. I don’t know why it took my breath away, I don’t know why it caught me off guard, even though I had suspected this might be the case. Since we had begun trying to conceive, every night in my prayers, I would ask God, "Could you at least, like, send me an e-mail or something letting me know what your exact plans are for me in terms of motherhood....just let me know....is it ever gonna happen for me or not?" I supposed this was the closest form of an e-mail that I would get. Not very logical thinking on my part but then again I’m not a very logical person sometimes.

It was almost like opening Pandora's box, where I definitely wanted to know if there was something preventing me from becoming pregnant....yet, at the same time, not really wanting to know for sure because then that would mean I'd have to face the truth and be thrust into a whole 'nother world I wasn't sure I was ready to enter. I wanted to be a mother, that much I knew, but at what cost? How much was I willing to endure....how much could my heart take, emotionally....what would it do to our marriage....and, most of all, why did something that should come so naturally to me (the ability to conceive a child) have to be so difficult?

Little did I know then that this would NOT be the first time I would see the words “infertility” or “infertile” next to my name on medical papers but, somehow, the first time seeing it stays with me. Maybe because I just had that gut feeling about it....or perhaps, it was because I knew it was the beginning of a long and difficult journey I was about to experience to fulfill my dreams of becoming a mother.

To be continued.....

30 comments:

eight helping hands said...

Oh my goodness honey! That brought me to tears. I am happy for the decision you made to do fertility this way. For look what you have now! Thank you for sharing and I hope this turns into the book you were talking about. Hugs to you! Michelle

Christa @ Quintooples said...

Ugh. That just brought back so many horrible memories. :( ((())) We infertiles are sisters in so many ways. Even after we achieve pregnancy the scars remain forever.

Tami said...

Your story makes you catch your breath. Your struggle, your painful struggle. And how blessed you are now

Your amazing!

AudreyO said...

Wow, I just read your post from top to bottom. I took had a tear in my eye as I read. I am beyond certain that the time you're taking to write this out will fall upon the eyes of someone who will be helped and encouraged by your story.

The High Family said...

You are an amazing writer, Helene!

You have me craving more...I am so curious how you overcame your infertility and were blessed with not only one set of twins but two!

Patiently waiting at the edge of my seat...

Semi-Slacker Mom said...

I hate you had to go thru all that. I rarely had a period, just lots of negative pg tests.

My diagnois was amenorrhoea (absence of menstrual cycle)), so the insurance would pay. My ob/gyn was just trying to "get me to ovaluate". So I never saw infertile on my papers.

Did your fertility doc ever refer to sex as "relations"? We still call it that.

Nessa said...

Oh my goodness! Reading this made me teary eyed! I am so eager to hear how you overcame this and eneded up with such a beautiful family.

I am sure that by sharing your story you will bless someone who needs to hear it during this time in their life. Good for you!

Karen said...

Helene, thank you for sharing your story. I've seen a couple of friends struggle through infertility. Some have had good results and some didn't. Even though I haven't personally been through this, it brings back some memories of trying to be there for my friends and not having the slightest idea what to say.

Kristina P. said...

I am such a new reader, and I am so interested to hear how you came to have those beautiful children!

Thanks for sharing this. I know it must have been hard.

Musings of the Mrs. said...

Thank you for posting this. I am trying so hard to get pregnant and yet I know in my heart something is wrong. But I'm too afraid to go and find out. Mostly because if something is wrong it will be very expensive to fix and also because my husband will not go the IVF route because of Jon and Kate plus 8 and Octomom. So if we hear something is wrong, thats it.

Erin said...

It took me 13 months of temperature reading/crying when period started and Clomid to finally get pregnant with my first one, and I was only 26. I remember how hard it was.

Thank you for sharing your story!

Leslie, The Cleaning Coach said...

Stopping by from Sits. I love your attitude. And don't worry- I'm the president of the Bad Mom's Club!
Happy Cleaning!

Jessica said...

What a sad story in the beginning, but look at the beautiful kiddos you have now!

PS - Tag your it!

LaVonne said...

thanks for being so honest and real. it is nice to read about the real you pre-children. I am going to send your post to my friend. I think though it is sad, there is always hope.

Blessings!

newlyweds said...

I am so happy you are doing this series. I love your writing and what you have been through is amazing.

Veronica Lee said...

That was an amazing post. Thanks for sharing!

Jen said...

I SO know this, all too well. I remember crying on the floor and having to bare yet another negative test. Oh the memories.

I can't wait to see where this goes.

Sharlene said...

Wow. That hurt to read. Back when I was trying to conceive I didn't know anyone like me. All I knew was all my friends were popping out kids like candy and I wasnt. It was a horrible ad heartbreaking time and thank you for sharing your story so others can understand what we go through.

Quiskaeya said...

I'm on the edge of my seat anxious to hear the rest. I applaud your candid, raw delivery of this story. It brings a real face to this story that so many women have lived through.

Sarah said...

Thank you for sharing a giving me hope! We have been TTC for 21 months. I can't wait to read more about your journey to motherhood.

Morgan said...

Helene- I look forward to reading the rest of your story! Amazing how you could go from being infertile to having 4 kiddos in such a short ammount of time! Definantly fits the title of your blog ; )

I can relate on checking all the fertility signs- I remember how it felt only to have my period arrive the next day and the tears I shed in the bathroom. Like you, God had a sense of humor with me too.

BTW- your writing is very fluid- so easy to read. Great job!

The Daily Dean Chronicals said...

Amazing! I felt the same way when I saw it black and white next to my name like some plague! All I ever wanted was to be a mother! I feel your pain in your stuggle! Thanks for sharing....cant wait to read more!

Morgan said...

I like your new link widget you added! I enjoyed reading some of your other stories that I hadn't seen before! I added the linkwithin to my blog too.

blueviolet@A Nut in a Nutshell said...

I can't even imagine seeing the word printed out like that. I can't imagine the pain.

3 Bay B Chicks said...

Oh, my darling friend, I have often wondered about the beginning of your tale with kids, but would never dare ask. Thank you for sharing your journey. I look forward to reading more.

-Francesca

DysFUNctional Mom said...

Thank you for sharing your story...I can't wait to read the rest!

Creative Junkie said...

It took me six months to get pregnant with each of my girls and that was stressful enough. I can't imagine going through what you went through ... thank you for sharing your story.

Amy W said...

I've been studying the stories of Sarai (Sarah) and Hagar from the Bible recently. One of the discussion questions asked if women still find their identity in their ability to have children. Obviously, the answer to that question is YES. I'm so sorry for the pain you've been through. Thank you for sharing your story.

The Swann's said...

I think it is cruel how you ended this post!!!! :-) I want to know the rest of the story... What worked? How long?? As I sit in my first Injectible/IUI Two week wait, I need hope to hold onto! I can't wait to read the rest of the story... Have a great day!

~Meghan

Elizabeth Channel said...

I finally read this and I'm so glad I did because I am so glad I am not the only person who checked her "hoo-ha" in the mirror for color change and downed Robitussin, inspected breast veins, etc. And I would have eaten the carrot/pretzel diet if I knew about it!

I figure that if the children are alive when my husband gets home at the end of the day, I've done my job.

----Roseanne Barr



 
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