Did you know that this is National Infertility Awareness Week? I’ve mentioned before that we struggled with infertility for several years but thought that this would be a fitting time to share more about our journey. While it’s a deeply personal issue, Jason and I have always tried to be open and honest about it because there are so many couples who share the struggle. 1 in 8 couples experience infertility and unfortunately most bear the cross in a silent and lonely manner. Sadly I keep finding out about more and more friends and acquaintances who are experiencing fertility issues too. So I hope that sharing our story and experiences can help someone out there and give them hope for the future.
Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. Cue Sound of Music tune…
Jason and I were married in October 2008 and learned the Creighton Model of Natural Family Planning during our engagement. There were no red flags – my cycles seemed completely regular and by the book. We were totally open to having children from the get go but were fine if we didn’t get pregnant right away. Oh what cute little newlyweds we were. I honestly had no idea how difficult it can actually be to start a family.
After the first year or so of marriage, we started to wonder if everything was ok since we weren’t trying to avoid pregnancy. We started simply by talking with our NFP practitioner (hi Mandy!) about our concerns and took some basic measures like adding extra Vitamin B6 and taking Fertile CM to help things along. Again, my cycles seemed to still be totally normal so I didn’t have any huge red flags. But still, no luck.
Around that time we moved from Virginia back to north Texas. This was also during the time that I was training for a marathon so the extreme running was affecting my cycle a little, as intense exercise is known to often do. We went to see a local OBGYN who is familiar with NFP but decided to wait till after the big run to pursue more help. We were then referred to a nearby family practitioner who had experience in NFP and fertility issues. We absolutely loved him and it was such a beautiful thing to see that along with his drawers of medical equipment, there was one labeled ‘prayer cards’. He’d always send us home with a prayer card, a miraculous medal, and prayerful support and encouragement. (he’s since moved to California – we miss you Dr. P!) While working with him, I had bloodwork done to get insight into my hormone levels throughout my cycle, which could be a factor. I also had a hysterosalpingogram (aka: HSG test) to look at my uterus and see if there might be blockage in my tubes, but all looked normal there too.
After extensive blood testing, the results showed that my progesterone levels took a big dip at a vital time in my cycle which would explain the difficulty in conceiving. To help remedy this, I started using injections of HCG at certain times of my cycle to boost the hormone levels as needed. We went this route for quite a while and praise God for a non-squeamish husband who took care of the shots! But still, no luck.
At that point, Dr. P was maxed out with the help he could give so referred us to the Vitae Clinic in Austin which uses NaPro Technology to give solutions to infertility among other things. While it was a bit rough making the 4 hour trek for appointments, it was totally worth it and gave us extra time together on those road tripping day dates! We love love love Dr. K and the whole staff at the Vitae Clinic and would absolutely refer them to anyone. We received such amazing care from day one and are extremely grateful for their help. After further reviewing my charts and test results, Dr. K was confident that I had endometriosis. We continued using the HCG in the meantime and then scheduled laparoscopic surgery for June 2013 to remove the endometriosis and see what else might be going on in there. We knew that we were in good hands – this was displayed once again when Dr. K prayed with us before surgery. He cleaned up the endo, found a few small cysts (nothing to worry about with them), and I was incredibly hopeful that this would make a difference.
Then, the first month that we were able to try after recovery…little miss Clare came into being! What a miracle and completely worth the wait. (For the crazy story of how we found out I was pregnant, check out part one and part two)
Through the years that we experienced primary infertility, we never once got a positive pregnancy test. And trust me, I took plenty when I got impatient with the wait. Every month brought the high hopes which were dashed and disappointed again and again. It’s such an emotional experience – so many times I cried and prayed, wondering if we’d ever get pregnant. I’ve heard the pain of infertility likened to mourning a person that you don’t even know. But all the while, we leaned on our faith and kept our hope alive for a little one in the future. We are so thankful for the doctors that helped us along the way and for all the prayers that our family and friends provided over the years.
Now we tread into the area of possible secondary infertility as we see how easy or hard it is for our family to continue to grow. Please pray for us! Luckily the surgery greatly helped our issues but I know that’s not the case for all couples. Many go on for years and years with no clear answers or results. And many sadly suffer the loss of their dear children through miscarriage. If you are experiencing infertility in any way, hold onto hope and know that you are in my prayers. And if you ever want to talk about it, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. You are not alone.
Also, if you live in the DFW area (or even if you don’t!) please join in the current effort to bring a NaPro Technology clinic to our area! For more info and to donate toward the cause, please visit http://www.wholelifeac.com
*Update as of National Infertility Awareness Week 2016 – We are currently 38 weeks pregnant with baby #2!! We were able to get pregnant super easily this time around which was an awesome but bizarre feeling. As always, we will see what God has in store for our family and fertility in the future. Please know that I will continue to keep all of you struggling with infertility in my prayers!
Also, my husband and I just filmed a video about our journey and shared our story to help promote NaPro Technology and WholeLife Authentic Care which is getting closer and closer to opening in the DFW area. Check it out here!