Thursday, February 14, 2013

Infertility revisited

Around Christmas time I wrote down our fertility story for a friend.  I think it's probably my most indepth writing of it and I think I want to write it here so I have it for my history.

Brandt and I were married quite young in 2001.  Because we were young and I felt I needed to conquer the world we didn’t immediately want kids.  We worked and saved and played a little in between and decided after a couple years we’d try for a baby.  Month after month nothing happened.  I went to our doctor and she said it’s normal and shouldn’t worry until we’ve tried for pushing a year.  We found one medical issue where I have an enlarged pituitary gland and it caused me to release prolactin.  That is what is released when you have a baby to produce breast milk.  So – my body could have been thinking I was pregnant so I really couldn’t get pregnant.  We found this out within the first year so we got it regulated with medicine right away.  So when that year mark hit we went to a fertility doctor.  We were both tested and tested and there was no reason why we couldn’t get pregnant.  They called it “unknown infertility.”  Nice diagnosis.  So our options were to keep trying, IVF, or IUIs.  I just couldn’t stomach paying $10K or more for IVF with a “maybe we’ll get pregnant” so we opted for $300 a pop IUIs (the turkey baster, if you’re not familiar).  I lost count of how many times we had it done.  I was also on clomid occasionally.  I would take HCG to stimulate ovulation after checking by ultrasound that my egg(s) were ready.  We had it down to a precise science.  And still nothing.

Not all women understand how you feel when you go through this.  Wanting a baby – YOUR baby – so dang bad and not being able to conceive.  I hated all moms.  I couldn’t go to baby showers.  I couldn’t really be happy for family and friends who were pregnant, giving birth, or were just moms.  And church…torture.  We tried everything.  I drank teas to stimulate fertility.  I wore “fertility earrings” that had a stone to increase fertility.  I tried multiple massage modalities (I graduated from massage school so I’m a believer in alternative medicine, too).  Brandt and I would frequently have conversations about what we could be doing better.  Were we being punished for not being good enough to have a child?  We prayed together.  Read scriptures together.  Went to the temple together. 

Finally after about 3 years trying I got pregnant.  It was wonderful.  Such a relief to know that I could actually get pregnant.  But then approximately 10 weeks in, I miscarried.  We waited a month and started up again.  Maybe about another 6 months went by and we got pregnant again.  That one was even shorter lived.  I miscarried about 6 weeks.  I had a really rough time with that miscarriage.  Apparently unless you miscarry 3 times in a row it is not considered an issue but my doctor had me on high risk anyway since we’d been trying so long.  So time kept going and nothing happened so we sort of gave up. 

It’s funny how you sort of go through the same emotions that happen with death.  Denial, anger, etc.  I got to the point where I couldn’t care anymore (or so I told myself).  I sort of figured if I wanted a baby I’d have to look to adoption.  I’d investigated but wasn’t really sure if it was for us or not, but it was in the back of my mind.

In the summer of 2007 Brandt got hired on with the post office.  At the post office you have a 90 day probation and if you as much look at your supervisor the wrong way they can fire you.  Also, you’re hired on as a grunt and they can work you 64 hours/week and they did.  There was no way he could have any work off if he wanted it.  If we were to do any more IUI’s I would have to have my ovulation day fall on a Sunday so that Brandt could get to Sandy to give a sample.  So we just said we’d take a break or just be done with that avenue.  That December a bunch of things happened.  And to this day it is probably my most treasured time in my life.

One day in church I was sitting in the back of Relief Society and the lesson was on prayer.  I distinctly remember Amanda Chamberlain making a comment that when she is asking for confirmation of something she sometimes will tell Heavenly Father her plan and ask him to stop her if it is not the right direction for her to go.  That struck a chord with me.  I’d never thought of it that way.  My parents also left to serve a mission the first week of December and my mom had pulled me aside before she left and told me she was worried about me and would be praying for me on her mission.  I was having some treatment called Body Talk which is a type of bodywork that I swear has something to it.  It’s amazing.  And Brandt finally told me he was ok with adoption if I felt we should do it.  I filled out all the papers and had said my prayer.  I told Heavenly Father I was going to turn in the papers next week and try to get a baby that way.  I was really nervous because you had to turn in a non-refundable $1000 with the application. 

That coming Sunday I had gotten a new calling at church and I was to be set apart.  I went in to have my blessing and Brandt was there as well as the Relief Society presidency (as it was a calling under them).  Every time during the last 5 years I always carefully listened to any blessing I was given hoping to hear a “One day you’ll be a good mom,” “One day your children…” anything hinting to the fact that I would be blessed to be a mom.  This blessing was no different.  One of the bishopric counselors gave the blessing and it was nice and all but no lightening strikes as I had hoped!  I shook everyone’s hand and then the Bishop asked Brandt and I to stick around.

He shut the door and as he sat down he said he felt something during that blessing.  Something about children.  I lost it.  My Heavenly Father knew me.  He heard me pleading during that blessing.  Pleading for some reassurance.  Just a small mention about my babies that were waiting to come to me.  I needed something so badly and he heard.  Even now remembering that time I am brought to tears.  I have never, ever felt the love of my Heavenly Father so strongly.  So Brandt proceeded to tell our story and our issues we’d been having since I was unable to speak through my sobs.  The bishop then told us about one of his counselors he had when he was the bishop of a single adult ward.  This man had the same issue as us and so matter-of-factly stated to us that he thought this all could be fixed by some serious fasting and prayer.  He offered to have the bishopric do a special fast for us.  We agreed and rather than do a random day we just planned to just do it the first week of January.  He told me that to close the fast he’d like to give both Brandt and I special blessings that day as well.  With my parents in Nauvoo, we called them and let them know of the fast and told Brandt’s parents, too.  We figured we could use as much support for this as we could drum up.  Because of this, I took it as an answer to my prayers to not turn in the adoption papers quite yet. 

The next Sunday was December 23rd.  As it so happened that weekend it all lined up and I happened to be ovulating and we were able to go in and try another IUI that Sunday morning before church.  Fast Sunday was January 6th and we had our special fast.  After sacrament meeting we met with the Bishop and he had told us that after we left that first Sunday we had met with him he had asked both his counselors if they felt anything during my blessing and they both said, “yes, something about kids.”  That prompting was so powerful that all 3 of those men heard my plea.  So the Bishop gave us both a blessing.  I don’t remember Brandt’s specifically and to be honest I don’t remember too much of mine, either (guess I should have written more down) but one word was repeated over and over.  Faith.  After we left and Brandt and I talked about it we said, “Well, I guess we need to have faith.”  It was our little thing that when we’d talk or randomly we’d always ask each other “Do you have faith?” so that we’d remind ourselves that we needed that faith. 

Two weeks after an IUI you can take a pregnancy test.  I think I waited a few extra days to be sure.  I did the test and it was positive.  Because of my past 2 miscarriages my doctor told me that we could do some early testing to check numbers to make sure everything was looking right.  I did the tests and the numbers were accelerating so quickly that it was an indication we had more than one baby so we scheduled an ultrasound.  When that was done it was confirmed that we had twins coming.  Oddly enough it was no surprise to us.  Brandt and I have said since day one that we both separately felt we would have twins so when that was confirmed we were just grateful.
I know it was no accident.  We had done EVERYTHING we could think of to have our children.  It was faith.  It was obedience.  It was fasting, prayer, and a little missionary service mixed in.  I have never had a more profound experience and I don't know that I ever will have another one quite like this.  But I really don't need another one because I know my Heavenly Father knows me individually.  There is no way I could deny it.  He knows my heart.  I have heard that in lessons all my life and until that moment when he heard me through that blessing I don't know that I really understood.  I am grateful that I do know that for myself.

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