As I'm sure you are all aware, today is Mother's Day. An entire day dedicated to the celebration of mothers. All week leading up to today there have been sales, ads, signs, cards, and such reminding us all of how special the moms in our lives are. I am sure there will be a barrage of blog posts on this subject as well.
This will not be one of those posts. Do not get me wrong, I know so many incredible moms who should be celebrated, (perhaps you are one of them!), but that is not what this post is about.
This post is for those who are dreaming, hoping, and desperately longing to become mothers. This post is for those who are dealing with the horrible, ugly beast known as infertility.
Today, above all days, my heart earnestly aches for you. I honestly have tears streaming down my face right now just thinking of you, and the painful emotions that today conjures up. I know, because I have been there.
I know that reading about infertility from someone on the proverbial "other side" can be a touchy subject. Those still dealing with infertility may feel I am no longer qualified to write on the subject after welcoming my precious son a few months ago. But, I'm going to do it anyway.
Infertility changes you. Forever.
It changes the way you think about things. It makes me so incredibly grateful for my son. Beyond words grateful. But it also brings some of the very worst emotions in even the best of us. It befriends you to the dreaded green-eyed monster of children's books. It makes you fear pregnancy announcements. It makes you feel pangs of envy when even the people that you are happiest for are pregnant. It makes you conveniently schedule other events on the day of baby showers because you know you just. can't. deal. with them. It makes you skip church on Mother's day because you know that it is impossible to sit through a sermon on how children are a blessing, while you're wondering why you aren't being blessed.
I am going to share with you part of our infertility journey that I have never really touched on here. Part that even those closest to us in real life most likely don't know about, because I could never bring myself to talk about, because I knew I would not be able to keep my composure. I am not super excited to share this, because I am actually a pretty private person in real life, I kept my struggles with infertility secret for a long time. I am only sharing this part of our story now because it has been on my heart to do so all week long.
I have such a passion for women dealing with infertility. So many of you have emailed me in the past year or so, and I pray and hope that each and every single one of you receive your heart's deepest desire and are blessed with a child/children. Soon. I never in a million years imagined that what began as a form of catharsis for me would actually comfort others going through the same thing. The very thought of that absolutely blows my mind.
This is the story of where we were exactly one year ago today...
To give a little backstory for those unfamiliar with our journey to becoming parents, (you can read all my posts on it here), here's a little rundown...
-I have always had irregular periods.
-We started trying to have a baby more than 4 years ago, in the spring of 2008.
-In September 2010 after two and a half years of nothing I started seeing a Reproductive Endocrinologist, who definitely confirmed what my ob/gyns had suspected for years, (even though my bloodwork wouldn't confirm it), I had PCOS.
-When my first round of Clomid, (50 mg for 5 days), failed RE ordered a Hysterosalpinogram, (HSG). The HSG showed I had a massive, (think ping pong ball), polyp taking up 2/3 of my uterus and so much scar tissue surrounding my reproductive organs that it was completely clamping one of my tubes shut.
-In November of 2010 I had two surgeries in one day, (a hysteroscopy and laproscopy), that remedied both of these issues.
-In January 2011 we started Clomid back up, (100 mg for 5 days), and were once again unsuccessful in inducing ovulation.
-For February 2011 we upped the ante again and increased my dose of Clomid to 150 mg for 7 days, which resulted in the production of a single follicle. Finally! I did my first shot of HCG to force the follicle to release itself on Valentine's Day 2011. Not to be graphic, but following the shot I was instructed to come in the following morning for a post-coital test. I'll let you google that one if you don't know what it is, because I am way too embarrassed to go into the details of it! ;) The PCT swab showed 0 living sperm. We learned that my body had officially and naturally instituted every single kind of birth control available on the market: I didn't ovulate, I had a tube that was blocked, a uterus with no room for an egg to attach, (those two had been fixed by this time, but still!), and my body was killing sperm. I was utterly and completely heartbroken. The nurses at RE's office assured us that the PCT could be wrong, it wasn't a fully reliable test, it just gave them some insight sometimes. Then they gave us the option of doing an IUI that day or trying a couple months on our own still to see what happened. Since we were so unprepared for the results that morning, we chose to continue trying on our own and hoping we would sucessfully get pregnant without the IUI.
-Well, February's cycle was a bust. So we moved on to March where we added 5 mg a day of Femara to my 150mg of Clomid. They were both such high doses that I would get warnings at the pharmacy when I got my prescriptions filled. Once again this concoction resulted in one little follicle. We repeated the same things as February's cycle: HCG shot and timed intercourse.
-March ended up being a bust too. Because I was already on such high doses of both Femara and Clomid to induce ovulation, and it had actually succeeded in producing a follicle for March, RE decided to stick with the same doses for April, and we would do an IUI. When I went in for my ultrasounds in April we discovered that the meds had not worked at all. Not one single follicle to be found. Talk about a blow! I remember driving around that day or the next day and just crying and banging my hands on the steering wheel out of frustration. I had finally come to terms with the idea of doing an IUI, I had started the month so hopeful, and now I felt like we were back to square one. Back to meds not even working, and at such high doses! I was completely and utterly devastated. For the first time ever I started to think that we really and truly might not ever be able to have a child. I was so incredibly mad at my own body. One or two hurdles was bad enough, but to have so many just seemed so unfair!
And that's where we were exactly one year ago today. I was in the middle of a round of Provera to force my body to have a period so that we could start from scratch for the next cycle.
-The Provera ended up working, and we did the same round of Femara and Clomid with 6 shots of Follistim added in, a shot of HCG, and an IUI.
-On Sunday, June the 12th on about the 100th pregnancy test I've taken in my life, (maybe a slight exaggeration, but probably not much of one!), we finally got a positive. Blood work the following week confirmed a viable pregnancy, (not ectopic which is always a concern when you've had surgery on your tubes!), an ultrasound July 5th showed a heartbeat, February 28th of this year we welcomed our 8 pound 10 ounce miracle baby, and the rest, as they say, is history.
It is unbelievable how our lives have changed in just one short year!
I'm not sure why it's been pressing on my heart to go out of my comfort zone and share so much of this with you all this week, but if in some way it comforts just one single person, a little self mortification is totally worth it. I know that sometimes in the depths of despair that infertility frequently brings about, it helps just to read something positive every now and then.
To the not-yet mothers today I would like to take a moment to acknowledge you. You are oft overlooked on this day. It takes enormous amounts of strength and perseverance to daily deal with the constant up and down emotions and heartbreaks of infertility. It is often a private and solitary battle and many times it seems there are very few who can commiserate. Your bravery in the face of something so painful, with so many unknowns is commendable. I earnestly hope and pray that each of you are soon given what your heart so longs for.
So much can change in just a single year, I hope that this time next year you are celebrating Mother's Day in the way you wish!
P.S. If you have made it through all of this and you are not dealing with infertility, but know someone who is, please, take a few minutes today to call, send them a text/email/facebook message and let them know that you're thinking about them today.