Sunday, 15 February 2015
The hardest trial of my life
I'd like to share with the world some of the experiences and feelings I've gone through the last 4 years. My goal is to reach out to any of you who may be struggling with infertility, and help others to know what to say when you have a loved one dealing with it.
My husband and I never thought we would be one of those couples who would struggle starting a family. It seemed as though people around us would look at their spouse and they'd get pregnant. One coworker I had, her husband worked out of town all the time. He'd come home for two days and they'd get pregnant. For us I guess it would just take a little longer.
After a year and a half we went to the doctor. He ran a bunch of tests for both of us that took an eternity to get finished. Mine was way more involved as I had to test specific days of my cycle for hormone levels. I'm very grateful for Alberta Health care and that I could just go get all my tests done without having to pay. Next up were multiple ultrasounds along with redoing hormone tests. My doctor at the time was quite inefficient. He would give me one test, make me come back, give me the results, then make me go for another test. Apparently that's how our system works. After his wild goose chase and we found out nothing, he gave us a referral to the fertility clinic.
After 7 more months of waiting to get into the fertility clinic, we went over all the test results and he told us he wanted us to do every test again. He reassured us that Brett's sperm count was normal but just wanted to double check to make sure. Five months later we returned with everything done and everything was fine with Brett, but with me that was another story.
He told me my FSH level was high for my age. The higher your FSH level, the more likely you are to produce bad eggs and go into menopause earlier in life. Then he went on to say that I would probably never be able to have children of my own, and that invitro was not even a good option for me. If I were to do invitro, I would have a lower chance of getting pregnant than their regular statistics. It would be like a 45 year old woman doing invitro. Not as high of chances and high risk of failing but we could try it. He also told me that my seizure medication I had taken for over 4 years in high school could have been causing complications to my infertility.
Without me even being able to react, he handed me a sheet of paper and said, if you think you want to try invitro then come to a seminar in a month. You don't have very many options.
I was mortified. My whole body became numb, my eyes filled up with tears and it was as though the world had stopped turning. The nurse didn't even give me two seconds to think and asked me which dates I was available to learn about invitro. For the next thirty seconds I hated anyone who would talk to me. She was a terrible nurse. No sorry, no nothing. I stormed out of his office and walked to my car. The next fifteen minutes were the worst moments of my life. As I sat in my car I screamed and cried thinking why me? Brain surgery twice was enough, now this? Brett was in the middle of taking an exam and so I couldn't text him to get him to calm me down. No one would understand if I were to call them right now. News like this was not the kind of news you just bring up at supper time or in a text. I needed time for it to really sink in.
While Brett was still writing his exam, my friend and I were planning on hanging out till Brett finished. Texting her, "Guess what, I can't have children gotta cancel," wouldn't have worked. After an hour and got a grip on myself, figured I could tough it out. Before I got to her house I prayed for strength and walked up to her front door and knocked. We started visiting and I acted like nothing was wrong. She then asked how my day was going and I burst into tears. I cried on her shoulder for hours and she just listened to me. That was all I needed was for her to listen.
We were only a few days from our anniversary and 10 days from Christmas. It was going to be a tough holiday season for us. Family should always be the first ones to know about the doctors appointment but I didn't want to talk about it all of Christmas and chose to wait till after to let everyone know. We were already depressed enough as it is and we didn't want to talk about it during the holidays. Brett didn't really love discussing the matter cause all it did was make one of us or both us cry. Anger doesn't even begin to describe how we felt the next few months.
Furious, bitter, heartbroken, unhappy, we felt all of those emotions. Sometimes all on the same day. The next few months I was extra sensitive to peoples comments. For example:
1) "My husband and I had a really hard time. We wanted a 2 year gap in between all of our kids but our 3rd child is the only one thats a 3 year gap."
Seriously? That's all I'm going to say.
2) "My husband and I have kids of our own but want to adopt cause I hate being pregnant."
I just bit my lip at that comment.
3) "How come you don't have kids yet? You've been married a long time ya know."
You don't think I know we don't have kids.
Then when we thought it would be a good idea to start telling people, everyone acts like they are the expert.
1) "Have you looked into invitro?"
Ok I guarantee you don't even know how invitro works. You just know someone who did it and it worked for them so you think it works for everyone. I get that people try to help but honestly it only makes it worse. Telling people to do invitro is like talking to a person who has just been diagnosed with cancer, and telling them what they should do for treatment.
2) "You're really skinny, you should probably gain weight to get pregnant cause you probably have issues with your cycle."
Just got finished telling you I've been to a specialist. Pretty sure the specialist would know if that was a problem.
3) "Has your husband been tested?"
Again, just told you we've been seeing the specialist.
4) "My husband and I tried for 2 years and we got pregnant on our own. I know what its like."
The truth is is that no one on this earth knows what I'm going through except Brett and Heavenly father. Everyone has their own definition about what a hard trial is. But guess what, if you tried for 2 years to get pregnant and had children of your own thats normal. According to my doctor that no couple can hardly commit to trying on the days they need to for an entire year. So it can take two and it means its normal. Unless you've stepped foot into a fertility clinic (which is the most unsexy and unnatural place on the planet) you can't relate with me. Having a doctor have to help you create life makes you feel incompetent at creating children the way god intended it to happen.
5) "My friend did invitro 3 times before it finally worked but it was worth it cause she got a baby."
So in other words you think I should do that? Again, you don't know anything about invitro, what the process is like, the cost, the stress, the ethical side to it that no one talks about.
On top of being extra sensitive, I had just been called to be the primary pianist a few weeks before my doctors appointment. Many nights I went to be thinking that God was unjust. What he was doing to us was unfair. Being in primary didn't help either, in fact it was torture.
The Sunday after my doctors appointment I was officially set apart and before he could start a part of me wanted to tell him I couldn't do it. Of course saying no to a calling was not my nature. He proceeded to set me apart and I bawled. Somehow he knew to say that I would be blessed for taking the calling and that Heavenly Father would bless me in my future desires of being a mother. He didn't even know me. I had only talked to the first councillor on maybe two other occasions. After we left, Brett said he had participated in a lot of people being set apart, and that was by far the best one he'd even been to.
The coming weeks and months were tough being in primary. Certain songs would make me cry and their ridiculously spiritual answers and talks in sharing time always made the tears flow. Poor Brett would sometimes have to deal with me just crying for hours after church cause I couldn't handle being in primary. He kept telling me that he was sure the bishop would understand if I asked to be released. He was right, but we had a minimal amount of piano players in the ward and they were desperate. Leaving it to other people would not be fair. That was the only thing that kept me in primary and what I had been told in my setting apart.
After a few months, Brett thought it would be a good idea to get a second opinion. We decided to go and see Dr. Richard Taylor down in Kalispell Montana. He was the bishop of the Bigfork ward and we thought knowing a specialist personally might help.
He treated like a queen when I went to his office. I was there for 4 hours and they accomplished more then, then I had in Calgary in a year and a half. They did a pelvic exam and an ultrasound. He asked me where I always experienced pain. The problem was is I was experiencing cramping 3 weeks a month and had no idea why. My GP told me that I was at the higher end of normal for pain. Dr. Taylor said he was extremely concerned with my pain and that was not normal even in the slightest. The fertility specialist told me that my pain was from high FSH levels and there was no way of making it go down. Dr. Taylor showed me on the ultrasound all of the scar tissue that was on the right side of my uterus. He told me he didn't know how the endometriosis has not been diagnosed years ago. Apparently to help relieve the pain they needed to surgically remove the scar tissue. The only problem was that I'd have to get it done in the states and wouldn't be covered. Dr. Taylor said I was textbook for having the symptoms of severe endometriosis. All along I thought I was crazy and being a wimp. I've always had pretty high pain tolerance and can work through pain by keeping busy. I'm like my mother, I never hardly run out of energy.
Leaving there I felt like I had answers, but he did remind me at the appointment that the procedure was not guaranteed to get my pregnant. It would only increase our chances of getting pregnant by a few percent a month.
We visited the fertility specialist, and approached him with a completely different diagnosis, and he said the procedure does very little for fertility. But he agreed to remove the scar tissue for me here in Canada, and it was covered under Alberta health care.
October 16, 2014 the date was set. My family was a huge help to me by bringing me meals and taking care of me. Luckily my recovery went quite well and was back to work 4 days later. Originally we were told I'd need at least 2 weeks off. I cleaned the house and did laundry the next day I felt so good.
The first cycle after the procedure, it felt like the surgery did nothing. The specialist advised me it would take at least 2 to 3 cycles to notice if it had helped with the pain. The second cycle after my surgery I couldn't move for 2 days. Drugs didn't even touch me. I felt like a horse was constantly kicking me in the stomach. My doctor told me that some women experience contractions before their period starts. They've happened many times in the past and when they did I was dripping sweat and hyperventilating from the pain. Brett thought he had to take me to the hospital. Come to find that that is normal.
As much as people wanted to help, these were some of the things I got asked.
1) "So what's plan B if you don't get pregnant?"
Really? I just had surgery, not even thinking about plan B. One thing I've learned dealing with infertility is that its not a dinner conversation starter. Its depressing and people never know what to say. Best advice I can give anyone who has a friend or loved one dealing with it, just listen, don't give input.....ever.
2) "You sure you've looked into invitro?"
Again, I'm recovering.
3) "My friend had endometriosis and she never got pregnant."
Thanks for hoping Debbie downer. haha
Just over two months after my surgery, I got a big fat positive! Considering everything that lead up to it, I would've never thought I was pregnant. I had insane cramping from the day of ovulation right up until my period was supposed to come. It took 4 days past my missed period for it to be positive. I have felt better now being pregnant than I have in years. Having cramping 3 weeks a month for a few years now was getting old. Heavenly Father knew I was at my wits end.
The morning we found out, I was up at 5:30 that morning. We both didn't need to be up for another hour but I took a test and when it came up positive, I started shaking. The bathroom floor felt like quicksand and instantly it felt like a dream. I called Brett's name and said I was pregnant. We both cried and couldn't believe what the test showed. Brett gave me a blessing that morning that was extremely comforting. He told me that Heavenly Father was proud of me for being faithful in times of trial and that I'd be blessed throughout my pregnancy.
Christmas we told our families we were pregnant and it was by far the best Christmas ever! To everyone out there who is dealing with infertility, don't lose faith. You're going to have days where you think Heavenly Father isn't answering your prayers, but he has a plan for us. We have only become closer as a couple because of it. It was well worth the wait.