My, my, where do I begin? I realllllly wanted to title this post “Pregnancy Tests and Tampons: What’s in Your Trash?” Maybe a better place to start is from the beginning.
June of 2014 was when we began the thrilling journey of trying to become parents. We were so excited. I had been tracking my cycles for the previous 2 months and I felt like I really understood my body and ovulation, and for the first time I had a clear picture of how conception actually occurs—yes, as women we don’t fully understand this. I was absolutely convinced we conceived on our first cycle. In my excitement and the newness and the still-ignorance, I texted Joey 7-10 days after ovulation “I feel like I can literally feel getting pregnant!” I was in a dreamland. I’d dream about being a mom and think, ok that’s it, I’m pregnant. I didn’t quite understand temperatures at that point and was temping at different times of the morning (looking for the highest reading-this is not how you do it) and at 7 days after ovulation, I couldn’t wait any longer and I drove to my doctor’s office for a blood test (also 7 days after ovulation is a week too early for that sort of thing). I just knew I was pregnant. I won’t go into details of that event, just to say they sent me home and said “call us when you miss your period”, to which I confidently asserted “Ok, will do!”
Like clockwork, cycle day 1 rolled around and I was a bit sad, and obviously very confused. I thought I had all the symptoms! What I would find out over the next few months and years is that the mind is a very powerful organ, capable of seeing, feeling, and believing things that are not objective facts. I would search the internet for every article of the first signs of pregnancy and all the message boards (twoweekwait.com; kindara) for other women’s symptoms they recorded; I was SURE I had them all. And I would get every symptom. For the first time in my life I had raging heart burn during our 3rd cycle trying. What disappointment. I had a sensitivity to smells, I was nauseous, sneezing, twinges, vivid dreams, a clingy nephew, weird salt and other cravings (tomatoes, citrus), temperamental, increased libido, decreased libido, any and all signs, I had surely been pregnant, right?
After those first 4 months of charting my cycles I knew something was amiss. Honestly, looking back I don’t know what I saw in my charts (tracking on a chart is what helps a lot of people conceive, but apparently not us), this was a literal hand of God moment in my life. I went to my doctor because I felt like there was something wrong with my left ovary. This physician, who we have so much history with, he trusted me and decided to take a look. It was confirmed with repeat ultrasound that they couldn’t find my left ovary. Endometriosis was suspected (however, this was not the diagnosis after surgery) so I went in for surgery 2 months later. This was such an interesting time in life. We were 6 months into trying to conceive and still so hopeful we would conceive quickly since we hadn’t shared with anyone we were trying. When surgery came up, we shared with my family we had been trying to conceive (through a direct question from my mom) and that we were not successful so surgery was our next option. I don’t think I ever grieved this but this is certainly a step along the way of infertility that is hard, realizing we will probably not be able to surprise our family with a pregnancy announcement.
Fast forward, after surgery when we were not able to conceive, my ob/gyn sent us to a specialist. I will be using acronyms as this will speak to those who are walking through infertility and it’s too much to explain to those who are not.
May 2015: first appointment with RE, we had an ultrasound and then did timed intercourse, BFN. The following month we did our 1st medicated (Femara/Ovidrel) natural cycle, BFN.
July 2015: first appointment with new RE, sperm analysis (Joey is good to go!), we did a natural cycle with timed intercourse and progesterone, BFN. We did an SIS and found a blocked left tube.
January 2016: 1st natural IUI cycle, BFN. We left the RE’s office in February with a binder of information on IVF. GOT A DOG!
April/May 2016: Went to Italy! My ob/gyn told me in April at my annual appointment that IVF was likely our next option. God was teaching me that I can trust him.
July 2016: first appointment with Dr. Kwak-Kim in Chicago, reproductive immunologist. There wasn’t anything major discovered, low folic acid levels, decreased blood flow, possible poly cystic ovaries (not PCOS as I don’t have any of the symptoms, rather PCO), and elevated natural killer cells (linked to recurrent miscarriages).
October/November 2016: While using Dr. Kwak-Kim’s protocol, 2nd medicated (Femara/Ovidrel) natural cycle BFN, 2nd medicated IUI, BFN. God was teaching me that I can trust him and walk through this with great joy.
January 2017: Ultimately, after 4 months of attempting a low carb diet, with a very large dose of steroids (bad combo), and nightly injections, we decided to put further testing and treatment with Dr. Kwak-Kim on permanent hold. God was lovingly teaching me to submit, or agree with Him that His plans are good.
April 2017: initial call with Creighton practitioner, plan is to beginning charting using the Creighton method and an appointment with a NaPro technology physician is scheduled for July
April 2017: attempted a medicated (Femara) IUI, canceled due to no follicles on my right ovary
September 2017: 2nd laparoscopic surgery for endometriosis with a NaPro surgeon; he was hopeful we’d conceive within the next year.
Dec 2017/Jan 2018: Our original plan was to begin IVF. We met with a IVF doctor, talked with friends, researched more and ultimately decided we could not go through with IVF with a clear conscience. I will include some resources at the bottom that helped us decide.
This leads me to present day—unexplained infertility, not a single BFP, not a single real symptom of real pregnancy, not even a slight chance I may have been. For the last 4 years, every CD 1 has rolled along after 22-30 days, ensuring it was not late for its starring role. Fifty-five cycles in the last 4 years, 55 heart crushing starts to a new cycle, 55 direct “Not yet” answers from God, 55 cycles of praying, hoping, waiting, trusting, with all the same disappointing outcomes.
In February of 2018, God graciously started to lessen my pain and lift the fog that infertility caused. We started the domestic infant adoption process and are hopeful to become parents within the next year. We are, as our social worker says “expectant by adoption”!
If you’re still reading this it’s probably because you care about infertility. If you’ve watched someone be almost crushed by this pressing weight, would you pray for their heart’s desires right now? Would you also pray that God would reveal how you can best love, serve, and lean-in to them?
If you’re walking through infertility right now, I am so sorry. I’m currently feeling cramps and hoping they’re implantation even though I’m only 3 DPO (one always hopes, right?). But in all seriousness, I hope you find community if you don’t have it already—a community of moms who will walk through this with you lovingly and a community of fellow women walking through infertility (not just online). My prayer for you right now is that you wouldn’t let even a hint of bitterness move in to your heart, that you would fight the lies with truth from God’s word, that you would not lose hope in the God of the Universe who is with you, weeps with you, and hears every prayer you pray, and finally my prayer is that God would grant you healthy life. Infertility is still God’s goodness to me. I’m believing this until the day he ends it.
Helpful, life-giving resources:
- Every Bitter Thing is Sweet by Sarah Hagerty
- Seasons of Waiting by Betsy Childs Howard
- When God Weeps by Joni Tada
- 1 Samuel 1
- Scarlet and Gold by Megan Smalley #GiveGrace
- This blog post series: Different Stages of Life in Regards to Mother’s Day
Guiding resources for us regarding IVF: