This week is National Infertility Awareness week. Did you know that 1 in 8 couples struggle with infertility? I’ve posted about my own struggle here before. Infertility is a very real cross. The grief of letting go of that hope you have in your heart month after month after month is excruciating.
Last spring, after almost three years of trying and praying for a baby, I was diagnosed with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). It was the PCOS that seemed to be responsible for the lack of regularity in my cycles as well as hormonal imbalances and cysts on my ovaries. There are ways to work around PCOS. Medications to try, nutrition changes to make, etc. But before we could try any of those things, my body had to get rid of a large complex cyst. After months of monitoring and medication to attempt to shrink it, the cyst had only grown larger and another one had joined it. The next step was to have laparoscopic surgery to remove the cysts. My doctor suspected I may have endometriosis as well. The only way to officially diagnose endo is through surgery.
During the surgery, she removed the cysts and discovered that I had stage 4 endometriosis. It had stuck my insides together making it impossible for anything to function properly. She was able to clear it out but the things about endometriosis, there is no cure. You can remove it via surgery, but it will likely return. And the further along you are stage-wise…the quicker it typically comes back. She advised our best chance at pregnancy would be within 6 months of surgery.
So we hoped and we prayed. We tried medications to help my hormones and had ultrasounds to monitor my ovaries. After 5 months we decided enough was enough. The medications and ultrasounds were expensive and didn’t seem to be helping. So we decided to stop treatment and see how things progressed on their own.
My first cycle after the 6 month mark was incredibly difficult. Not only did I feel like hope was lost since our “window of opportunity” had passed, but I was in a lot of physical pain too. I suspected that the endometriosis was returning or that another large cyst had formed. And so I went back to see my doctor. An ultrasound showed no cysts and so my doctor and I both figured it was the endo returning. My doctor sat down at this point to tell me that despite being 7 months ago, she vividly remembered my surgery because of the severity of the endo. She explained that the surgery was very difficult and that my whole pelvic region was a mess. She said we could of course keep trying, but that we had little to no chance of ever conceiving, either on our own or with treatment.
I was completely devastated. I cried in her office. I cried in the car on my way back to work. I cried in the bathroom at work. I cried when I got home. I didn’t know what to do or where to go. I set up a meeting with our pastoral minister Sr. Rose Anne and spoke with her about it all. She was incredibly helpful and encouraged me to keep praying for God’s will and try to switch my focus for a while.
So we did. We turned our full attention to our search for our first house and found one we loved. They accepted our offer and things began moving quickly with packing up the apartment and figuring out all the logistics of buying a home and moving. We decided to focus on the house. Neither of us felt called to adoption so we agreed to let it be for now and revisit the issue in a year once things got settled.
Later that same month of my disappointing doctor’s visit, at the urging of my husband, I took a pregnancy test. I was convinced it would be negative. Despite trying to remain hopeful, my doctor’s words were embedded deep in my brain and in my heart and I fully expected to take the test, have a good cry over it, and move on with the day.
But to the amazement of myself and my husband, it was positive! I almost didn’t believe it! I cried but for a very different reason than all the other tests! I cried with joy at the miracle that God had given to us.
I am blessed beyond belief to say that today I am just passed the 3 month mark in my pregnancy! I have had several ultrasounds to monitor my progress during early pregnancy and have been able to see little baby’s hands, see him/her moving around, and to hear the precious heartbeat of our little one. I no longer need to see my specialist and will continue with a normal pregnancy with my regular doctor!
Some people hear this and say “see you just needed to relax and think about something else.” Or “see it always happens as soon as you stop trying.” But I don’t believe that. I believe the same thing I have believed in my heart all along but that my head sometimes forgot. That God has a plan. That everything happens in His time, not ours. That life is a miraculous gift and a wondrous blessing given by God, not man.
I thank all of you who have prayed for us over the years and I ask that you continue to pray for all those who are still struggling with infertility as well as for our little baby. And please join me in rejoicing at the goodness of our Lord who has blessed us with this tiny miracle!