My Journey…

Even as a young child, I knew that someday I wanted to be a mommy. As a girl I’d imagine having kids of my own someday and would think of possible names. I started doing mother’s helper work and babysitting as a preteen. Being a mommy was a desire God planted deeply in my soul as far back as I could remember.

 

Sadly, I was pretty much still a “child” myself when I learned that it might be difficult for me to have my own children in the future. For most women their infertility journeys begin when they are trying unsuccessfully to have children for a while, but for me it began long before that at age 15.

 

I fell into the prison of a restrictive eating disorder and after a few months of not nourishing my body properly, my period that had been previously slightly irregular disappeared altogether. I wasn’t too upset at first, but this began a cascade of visiting very puzzled gynecologists and endocrinologists. I was diagnosed with both “Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome” and “Hypothalamic Amenorrhea”. I had a very odd presentation where my testosterone was very high for a girl/woman (normal for a woman is around 30, and mine went up to 140 at highest), and my estrogen so low that it was close to menopausal range. Because I not only had the low estrogen, which typically goes along with amenorrhea associated with eating disorders, but also had another endocrine issues that was likely unrelated- high testosterone- most doctors felt that gaining weight would not help to restore my fertility. I felt like a freak and was told that I had to either take birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy. When I asked about my chances of being able to have children in the future, I was told that I would not be able to ovulate on my own, so I can do ovulation induction treatments when I’m ready and hopefully they would work. I remember breaking down crying at a doctors office at around age 16, being told they were unsure if I could have children. From then on, infertility was a huge fear that I had in the back of my mind.

 

In my early 20s, things were somewhat better with my eating disorder than they were in my teens. However, I still struggled somewhat with food rigidity and the bondage of defining myself by a number on the scale, and was very addicted to exercise (I could not take a day off or I felt miserable), but I was happy enough maintaining a number I defined as “ok” and healthy for me; A number on the low end of the healthy BMI range. Even though I had gained lots of weight from my lowest weight, and was a technically healthy BMI, I still had not had much of a natural period in 8 years. At that time I had no idea that my lack of a monthly cycle was related to my disordered eating, and because I was at a technically “healthy” BMI no doctors at that point told me it was related. During this time, some of my friends were beginning to have children, and even though I was not trying to conceive or even married at the time, it was a reminder of the heartbreaking fact that my body was unable to have a baby. I remember one day after a friend’s baby shower I went to my room afterwards and cried because I was so sad that my own womb was barren and I would likely never be able to experience the joy of growing and nurturing a life inside my body. I hadn’t really had a cycle in 8 years. My body was broken. What would change in the next few years? But I prayed with mustard-seed faith, and somehow the Lord reassured my heart that I would be a mother one day. I assumed the answer would be adoption, but it calmed my saddened heart. Around that time it was also difficult because I started to become more serious with my then-boyfriend, now-husband. We both knew we wanted a family more than anything, and when he’d talk about this, I hoped it would happen, and had to tell him I didn’t know if I could have children, because I hadn’t even had a period in years.

 

At 23 years old, I started to research and pray hard about the possibility of getting my cycle back naturally. I stumbled upon some online resources and support groups about healing hypothalamic amenorrhea naturally, and just knew in my heart that this was for me and what I needed to do. Apparently, according to some research (by Nico, Author of “No Period, Now What”), some women who have extra sensitive bodies or have had restrictive eating disorders have to completely let go of food/weight restrictions and gain up to at least a BMI of 22-23 to regain their cycles and reset their hypothalamus to regain a cycle. Hence began a very difficult, yet rewarding chapter of my life; a chapter of surrendering my body to the Lord in way I never had before; learning to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. On the hard days of crying in dressing rooms, I pictured myself actually handing my body to Him, my Creator, to do what He wanted with it; I got nowhere in any way by holding on so tightly for so long. I gained about 20 lbs. from that low weight, but I also got my period back naturally after all those years and amazingly never missed one since!! For a while, every month my period was like a miracle. I began charting my temperatures and symptoms every month at that point to really see what was going on inside my body.

 

Sadly, that was not the end of my infertility story. Through my charts, I noticed over time I had symptoms of low progesterone, and asked a doctor to test it. I ended up getting the wrong blood test, which led to a diagnosis of “non classical congenital adrenal hyperplasia” (so the PCOS one was a mistake, this was why I had elevated testosterone). I got my final diagnosis of Non classical congenital adrenal hyperplasia through genetic testing just 2 days before our wedding- my years of high testosterone and related symptoms made sense. This added a new fear about infertility, as this condition can also cause women to struggle with these issues. I felt like I solved one problem, but still had another. I joined online discussion boards of women with this condition, and saw how many of them were struggling, some for 10 years, to have a baby.

 

We waited about a year after our marriage to stop preventing pregnancy around ovulation (this was around April 2016). We knew we may have issues (due to my condition and also my mom and her mom had issues, and I just felt “infertile” from everything that had happened over the years), and wanted lots of opportunities for this to happen. Not surprisingly, nothing happened. Because of my whole journey, I was very sad about the possibility of not being able to conceive even before we started trying, but once we were trying and a few months of nothing went by, I started to feel extremely down and broken. I was right. I went through all of that and listened to what I felt God was leading me to do to regain my cycle, and I was still barren. It seemed everyone around me were announcing pregnancies during this time. The months went on and each month, I’d get my period like clockwork, which was no longer the blessing and miracle it was a few years before.

 

That winter (2017) we began seeing specialists. It seemed like a confusing mess of invasive and embarrassing tests that led to no real answers; just more confusing and hopelessness. Every month felt further away from seeing those two beautiful pink lines and holding my precious baby. I tried a steroid medication, which made my hormone levels worse, and not better, so I decided to go off of the medication. We got a few medical opinions and every opinion we got was strangely very different. They ranged from slightly male factor, to female factor (my condition), to one doctor who said we had unexplained infertility because regardless of my condition, I ovulated pretty regularly and my husband has slightly low morphology, but that should not be causing a problem. One doctor gave us just a 2% chance of conceiving naturally each month. I spent so much time on infertility groups and researching medical and natural solutions that had even a small bit of hope of giving us our miracle baby. I felt mad at God for letting me be in this place, which I felt I didn’t deserve to be in. Finally around May or June after slightly a year of trying to conceive, I felt that the Lord laid it on my heart to surrender to Him. During that chapter of my journey the anthem song of my heart was “Thy Will” by Hillary Scott.

 

We had been given the option of starting with oral medications to “strengthen” my ovulation combined with IUI, but I decided not to do this yet, my heart said to see one more NCAH specialist who knew about my specific rare condition. I began tapering off the steroid medication I was on. Somehow, that must have had some effect, and I later learned that going on and then off a steroid can cause a temporary increase in fertility in some women with my condition. I asked the doctor who diagnosed me with unexplained infertility to test my NCAH levels and they dropped to almost normal that May. During the time that I was not on medications, I spent a few months putting on progesterone cream during my luteal phase because my levels were borderline.

 

One day in early June, I felt led to go to a healing room at an International House of Prayer. I hadn’t been there in years but it was on my heart to go. I was able to pray for the first time in a long time. I went to pray for healing for my heart as well as my body. When I got into the healing room, I had two women pray over me and my womb. They laid hands on my womb and prayed for healing and for life to be inside of it. They also told me I had to forgive God, which I did. They prophesied that in a year from then I would have a child, which I thought was absolutely crazy, but sounded nice. At the end of one lady’s prayer, she said a very strange thing, “Thank you for the life that is in her womb”… she gave me a hug and told me I am a “fertile mamma”. I thought this was a bit strange, but felt peace in my heart for the first time in a long time.

 

Two days later, June 17th? I took a pregnancy test at 9 days past ovulation and it was very faintly positive. I was in disbelief and thought nothing of it because I had gotten faint positives, that turned out to be early chemical pregnancies or evaporation lines in the past. The next day, Father’s Day, it was dark enough that I knew something MIGHT be up, but I was still in too much disbelief to tell my husband anything more than, “There is a small chance I’m pregnant”. To my sheer surprise, over the next few days it got darker and I got a blood positive, and a beta that doubled two days later. This happened to be my 50th cycle that I charted since getting my cycle back around 3.5 years before. Pregnancy has definitely been an emotional journey for me. I’ve had a few miscarriage scares early on and after all I’ve been through and feeling for so long like my reproductive system is broken, I struggle to trust me body. I have so much anxiety that I will lose the pregnancy or something will go wrong.

 

I am now slightly over 22 weeks pregnant and we’ve had a few tests revealing that we are having what looks like a healthy baby GIRL! I am feeling very amazed and blessed, and to be honest, I am ashamed to admit that I’m also struggling a lot with anxiety after this whole journey. It feels too good to be real sometimes since it happened so fast after all of this, but I’m praying so hard for this precious baby to be strong and healthy, and truly thankful for at every single day that I am pregnant.

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A little update :)

little girl

it's a girl

I’m 22 weeks and 2 days pregnant with my little miracle. Our top two names are Zoe Grace and Hope Eliana 🙂 I love them both! They are both very meaningful. Zoe means abundant life and it is just adorable sounding. After my fertility difficulties and then anxiety about miscarrying, that name is very significant. And this baby is Hoped for. Prayed for, for years! And Eliana means “God answered”.  I love them both, and pray that as her arrival gets closer, that it will become clearer what I am to call her!

Pregnancy has been a journey. It feels like an eternity since I took this test, that I had no idea would change my life (8-9 days past ovulation… I test early and got this faint, faint line I thought nothing of, really, but I did go get an HCG test to make sure).

faint positive

Even longer since the prayer meeting that I was told God would give me a baby.

I worry so much. Worry that somehow I won’t eat enough and she won’t thrive. Worry that something bad will happen. At the same time I want to relish even more in every beautiful moment of this experience.

Since the 20 week scan something shifted in my mind. Before that, I really didn’t believe I was having a baby. I am so used to tests coming back as abnormal (in my crazy endocrine history), and feeling like my reproductive system was broken, that I thought something majorly would be wrong. Early on, because of my NCAH and increased miscarriage rate, I was so sure that would happen to me, especially after a few scares… After they saw all of our little girl’s organs at the anatomy scan, I started to believe that there is a good chance we are having this baby! Every day, I am anxious that something will go wrong. But I’m also thankful for every day of this pregnancy, and every day we get closer that if she did come early, or if there were complications, doctors would make a great effort to save her. I pray though, that her delivery is full-term.

22weeks

This is a miracle that I thought I’d never get to experience, so I want to appreciate every day.

Every day, since I found out she might be there, I have prayed for special angels to surround her. And I continue to pray for that. ❤

Quick update…

I don’t definitely remember the first time I felt infertile, but I was pretty young. Maybe 16? The first time I remember it was when I was at another doctors appointment about why I never had my period (my endocrine issues got me way too many OBGYN appts. for a teenage virgin). And I remember feeling like a freak when the nurse doing the intake asked me about the first day of my last period. And I said, “uhhh like maybe a year and a half ago, that’s why i’m here?”; and the nurse looked shocked like she had never heard anything like this before. I remember talking to the doctor and asking if I’d be able to have children, and she wasn’t sure. And I remember sobbing, and feeling that it was weird that I’d feel emotional about having a likely future fertility issues at such a young age. Moments like that hurt my heart.

There were many times at young ages that I felt different and infertile because of my slew of endocrine issues and being told I’d need massive fertility treatments by several doctors who were completely puzzled by my case. And it wounds my heart to think about. I try to move past it. Enjoy the fact that when we were ready, somehow, regardless by the Grace of God, we conceived naturally in only a year and a few months and I’m almost 16 and a half weeks pregnant with my miracle baby. I try to take happy weekly bump pictures and focus on my joy and excitement, share part of my experience with others hoping I’ll catch on and it will outweigh my anxiety and negativity somehow. and I AM SO EXCITED because rationally, chances are I will be a mommy in around 5 months from now!!!!! Being a mommy is my dream. But there is a part of me that feels broken and terrified that my broken body will screw up and hurt my baby. I can’t fully connect with it for that reason.

It feels too good to happen to me that I could naturally conceive and have a healthy child after this journey that was one of the most painful things I have ever been through. I am thrilled. I am also terrified that it will end. At every test I half expect terrible news. Scenes of horrible, tragic scenarios of awful things happening to this baby run through my mind. I cannot stop myself from googling potential things that could happen. Could my baby have tripolody (an extra set of chromosomes) or some other terrible condition that would make it incompatible with life? Maybe another chromosome issue. Maybe my body will reject the pregnancy even if the baby is healthy and lose it in the 2nd trimester. Maybe I’ll have placental failure. For years I feared I’d never get pregnant long before we tried. I had this recurrent nightmare for years that I was pregnant and I knew something was terribly wrong, but I didn’t quite know what. I never thought good things would happen to me in this area.

Well, now I am pregnant. There is a baby in my belly, that God has placed there. Pregnancy is scary because I can’t control anything about it. I can’t knit my baby together or protect it. All I can do it lay hands on my belly and pray God’s hand of protection and that His blood will cover my little one. Because that’s all I really can do.

I just had to see my baby again before the 20 week scan, so yesterday at 16+1 or 2 my husband and I took an impromptu date to one of those private scan places. We saw our little one moving around, which was beautiful to see. It grew a lot since 12 weeks (or 11+5 when I had my nuchal test). And we asked to know the gender. To our shock, it looks like…

babygirlie16weeks

When she told us that I started crying. Honestly, I always hoped to have at least 1 girl, but from the moment I suspected I was pregnant I totally 90% thought it was a boy (and I was so used to that idea I really thought it was and would also love a little boy). I still don’t believe it because I was so sure and had been saying “he” (yet I also didn’t believe I was pregnant for weeks either because I was so sure it would never happen). It feels too good to be real. Could I really have a healthy baby, AND a girl??? Maybe? I’ll believe it’s a girl if another sonographer tells us that at 20 weeks. I just hope baby is healthy and pray that every day many times a day. We aren’t sharing gender with anyone for a long time (esp. because I don’t quite believe it yet!)… our parents didn’t even know we did this extra little scan.

Terrified as I have part 2 of my sequential screening this coming week. Praying so hard for perfect results. If that and the upcoming anatomy scan goes well, I think I’ll relax a bit! My mom had me and my sister quite early, so I’ll probably get anxious again a few weeks after that. I was a 32 week premie!!!

 

Blessings…

Blessed is she who believes

blessed-is-she-who-has-believed-that-traci-beeson

I always pictured that pregnancy would be one of the happiest times in my life. I have always dreamed of being a mother.

Sadly, it’s actually been emotionally one of the hardest times. Sometimes i just lay crying on my bed at night. Anxious. Trying to get up to make some food. Because I have to eat. Because I’m pregnant and need to gain weight. For the baby. But I can’t. Then I end up eating a peanut butter sandwich, with a high calories smoothie (my go to). Then I feel guilty because of my horrific food choices (pre-pregnancy I was a paleo healthy cooking guru). And then crying about feeling guilty for not enjoying this time. I always pictured I’d be so into healthy eating when pregnant, because I usually am. But instead I’m scared to eat. I wonder if it’s just being anxious or depressed, of if it’s my anorexic tendencies creeping in without my consent. I don’t think so. I worked through that. I am not scared to gain adequate weight. When i lost lots of weight early on I was scared because I hadn’t been so thin in years. I’ve had a few people make comments to me that (I guess other than my belly), I look thinner than before I got pregnant. That hurts my heart. With what I’ve been through over the years fighting to be healthy in this area, it hurts. I just want to be healthy. Those comments make me feel like I’m starving my baby. I love when people tell me I’m getting a belly. This makes my heart smile, that despite my mistakes, maybe my baby is happy and growing. I obsess about eating healthy. About eating enough. And I feel like a failure when I feel like I didn’t make it. Enough that some nights I’m too anxious to eat because those thoughts make me feel so anxious. So… I just hate food. My go to is 2, 700ish calorie smoothies a day (packed with vitamins, coconut oil, almond butter), and then  hope i get in 1000 other calories. Food is a chore.

I worry all the time that something bad will happen to the baby. I still worry. I’m almost 16 weeks and worry that we’ll find out at some test that the baby is sick and not going to live. i’ve spent years being told it would be difficult to have children and it’s very hard to switch from that to believing my body can grow and healthy baby. ever since I was 15 I considered myself infertile. We were seeking out fertility specialists when we got pregnant. It’s very hard to believe this will be ok. I pray it will be. I worry when I feel sick. I worry when I feel ok. I’m worried about my next blood results. And my anatomy scan. What if they find something??? I’m horrified that in my anxiety I’ve become OCD with using a doppler. I used to think I’d never do that (for goodness sake. forget dopplers, I used to think I’d avoid microwaves and hairdryers when pregnant… such high hopes). But I do. Every. Single. Day. Or I believe my baby has died. I don’t even let myself believe that it’s a baby. I love the idea of my baby, but it feels intangible that there is a baby inside of me. A little miracle boy or girl. The doppler helps me feel slightly connected.

Sometimes life feels hard. I just pray I can be a good mommy if this does work out. The mommy my miracle baby deserves. I feel like I’m already failing. Oh by God’s grace I pray everything will be ok. God, please help everything to be ok and keep the baby safe. That’s what I’ve prayed the whole time and still pray…

 

 

 

To my baby…

So, I went off progesterone and my levels went from 25 to 12.7. I’ll be 10 weeks tomorrow (or today based on the scan). That scared me, but the doctor said it was fine… what!? So now I’m scared out of my mind in bed.  Now I’m back on the meds and praying it’s ok. I thought I’d write a letter to my baby.

__________________________________________________________________

My Dear Baby,

I cannot believe you are inside of me. I last saw you and heard your beautiful heartbeat exactly a week ago. Every time I’ve seen you and heard you, I’ve been in disbelief, love and have cried my eyes out. It is so surreal that God has placed you inside of me after I have wanted you and prayed for you for so long. Last week you had little arms and probably legs even though I couldn’t see your legs on the scan.

You are what I’ve prayed for, for so long. Ever since I was a teenager and I was told having children would likely be difficult, and I cried. I sobbed and prayed. For you, dear. That some day God would make me a mommy. And then when I thought it would never happen, God gave me you. You are truly everything my heart wants. Holding you in 7 months is all my heart longs for every day, that thought though, seems so far away. It seems unreal to think of that happening. But I know when and if it does, I will shower you with kisses and tears of joy. I will hold you close to my heart and tell you how much I love you and God loves you and how you are mommy and daddy’s miracle.

Everyone who knows about you (mostly immediate family at this point) are already so happy about the possibility of you coming!!! Mommy is scared to be too happy yet and to plan too much, but hopefully I will soon. Grandma is already excited and planning! You will be the most loved baby. There is so much I want to do with you. I can’t wait to sing to you. To watch you explore God’s creation and discover the beauties of life. I can’t wait to watch you grow. To watch you run around and play with (and probably annoy your future cats)… To Imagine. I can’t wait to nurture you, teach you. I want to find out who you are!!

I love you. I honestly, more love the idea of you at this point. It still feels unreal that you are real. Esp. after some scares. I’m scared to get attached to you, love, because I’m so scared of losing you. So scared it hurts. I hope that you feel safe and warm inside of me and that you don’t feel my anxiety. I want to always protect you and give you all the best things. Even now, I feel like a failure sometimes because I forget a prenatal vitamin from time to time, or don’t eat perfectly for you… I know you need lots of love, you deserve I’m scared to fully love you. But I pray that someday I can.

Even so, I pray for you every day, sweetheart. I have since the day I found out you might be there (Father’s Day weekend 🙂 ). I didn’t believe it could be. I almost didn’t want to tell daddy because I didn’t believe it was real. But then during church that day it hit me. And I went to the bathroom and prayed for you and it hit me that this might be it (I had never gotten such a dark line on a pregnancy test before and I had a feeling deep down maybe something was different, but I couldn’t believe it just yet). Even in my lack of faith, I have prayed for angels of protection to surround my womb, to protect you, love. And I pray they are still there. Keeping you safe, till Daddy and I can hold you and keep you safe. You are so special, and loved.

Stay safe, little baby. I love you more than words can say. And all I want is to hold you and whisper that in your little ear.

… my miracle…

pregnancyteststicksbfp

I’m scared to post this and jinx it or something, because I’m still in complete disbelief… It feels weird saying it, but I think I’m pregnant (4 weeks today, 14dpo)… This past cycle was very strange. I was sick the week of ovulation with a low grade fever, and I didn’t have as much EWCM as usual. I thought being sick had delayed ovulation and very quite upset. When I got better I started to have signs of ovulation and did get 2 days of EWCM, not my usual 4, and to my surprise, on the first day of EWCM, I thought “maybe I should run an OPK” which I did at work and didn’t expect it to be +- I was caught off guard (I don’t usually get a + until the 3rd day of EWCM)… I texted my hubby that we had to do it like ASAP so I got home and we had a quickie and then next day… … Then my temp jumped bit, but not as much as usual. It stayed borderline post O for a few days. I thought this cycle was a complete flop; that my body tried to ovulate and didn’t quite make it.

This is my 50th cycle charted since I got my cycle back and I couldn’t believe it was shutting down and I couldn’t think of what I did wrong or so drastic that this was happening. I figured that next cycle I’ll go on some herbs to try to regulate things… Finally my temp jumped to my normal post O range. I was just happy this cycle could end at a definite time, so that a “prettier” cycle could begin. I didn’t think anything of it, but it’s a habit to take a pregnancy test around 9dpo… there was a faint line. I’ve had those before and seem to every few cycles, so it’s not too shocking or hopeful, but I have wanted to figure out if these faint, disappearing lines I have sometimes are early chemical pregnancies or maybe I have faulty cheapie tests, so I ran ASAP to a walk in lab in another state about 30 minutes from my home (because walk-ins are not legal in mine).

Usually the faint lines go away, but I doubled up on my progesterone cream dosage (started that last cycle) and started taking baby asprin (a few ladies told me that it could help to prevent early loss), and they got a bit darker the next day, which has never happened before. I expected the line to go away by the next day, but figured if it somehow didn’t, I’d go to my RE and get another beta on Monday… (we deferred treatment with him, but I emailed him and said he was willing to test me)… Monday was a whirlwind of emotions for me… I finally got my long awaited beta back from Saturday. It was… 5. I called the lady from the walk-in-lab for my results and I got disconnected from her mid-call as she was saying my levels were right between the not pregnant and pregnant range and she doesn’t know what it means… 😦 😦 😦 I went to the bathroom at work and sobbed for about a half an hour. Why is my body so broken that all it can have is chemicals???… I was right I had been having chemicals.

Then a few hours later the RE office called and told me my beta was 39.7, progesterone 17.something. It was during a staff meeting, which I missed and never was able to come because I was so emotional from the call. I still remember the words that the nurse said… “Hi, Elizabeth, your beta came back positive”. What!???!?! I seriously couldn’t breathe in that moment… does that mean I’m… pregnant!? No. I couldn’t believe it, but texted my husband and a dear friend on this journey and my friend called me right away and was like, “OMG, you are having a baby!”. It was one of those moments in which I felt like I was in a dream.

I got a repeat beta yesterday (Wednesday)… and it came back at 144. This doesn’t feel real yet. I have had bad experience after bad experience, and just last cycle when I got my last period, the week of our anniversary, I was sooo convinced my body was incapable to ever getting pregnant and having a healthy pregnancy. This darkness about my infertility consumed me. I’ve had so much bad news in my life about this over the years (starting as a teen when i was told I probably couldn’t have kids easily) It’s really hard to switch suddenly to a positive mindset that this really could be all good… that maybe in 9 months this is the miracle baby we’ll deliver. It hasn’t sunk in yet. I’m praying for special angels to surround this baby. My story is that I recovered my cycles after years of no period in November of 2013, have been pretty regular since then, but we’ve been trying unsuccessfully to conceive since April 2016 no success because of other issues.

We didn’t quite know what was going on (I have an adrenal condition which maybe contributed, but it’s so mild we aren’t sure… my husband has sperm on the low end of normal, but still nothing that bad). A month or so ago we were told it was unexplained and we had a disgustingly low chance. Oh and I didn’t do that much different this cycle, except have an odd cycle (I’m usually VERY regular and predictable and the exact same CM patterns every time), it’s my 2nd cycle on progesterone cream and now I have switched to suppository supplements, which I requested bc I was using the progesterone cream (which I’m slightly scared will harm something somehow being natural minded, but feel safer taking it than not), we had LESS sex that usual around ovulation (maybe that helped with DH’s borderline numbers)… I have been resting/ no high intensity exercise for the last 6 months which didn’t hurt… and I was on dexamethasone and went off and my adrenal levels dropped to normal a month before we conceived, which I hear can happen in women with NCAH… oh and I had some women pray over my womb last week. For healing. Was at a low place w/ this… and I felt joy and hope for the first time in a long time. One of them looked at me after praying for me and told me, “in a year from now… you will have a child”… I thought she was crazy… but maybe God healed me. Lessons to be learned: Anything is possible… There is Beauty and Perfection in Imperfections (look at this cycle i thought was my body shutting down)… and God heals and sometimes it’s quickly (and I pray sooo hard that He keeps His hand on this pregnancy and this is our baby)…

 

Another opinion- just an overview

Hey there… so update on one of my second opinions. Saw one today from Cornell and will see another on Thursday recommended by an NCAH friend. I thought it went ok. Interesting how the opinions vary a lot. I thought he was more comprehensive. He took like 10+ tubes of blood including some more genetic testing 😳…Looked at past records. Thought DH’s morphology was slightly low and wants a repeat semen analysis. He then did an ultrasound (kinda awkward on my period)… So he actually said my ovaries don’t look enlarged (which I was told from the other doc), just lots of little follicles. Lining fine for during period (4.5). He actually said he still saw a corpus luteum from my right ovary (interesting cause i’m bleeding but he said it wouldn’t necessarily be gone- i’m hoping it’s not a big cyst or something since that sounds kinda odd for it to be here at this point).

So for this point in my cycle (cycle day 3 coincidentally) it’s normal. He wants to do a monitored cycle and see me again next week for another ultrasound. He talked about perhaps clomid and an IUI so that I can improve chances (but if i already release 1 egg a month from what i know- unless i somehow am anovulatory; at this point nothing would shock me; but would another necessarily improve the chances? i’m not personally convinced this will up our odds). He wanted a retest w/ NCAH levels before changing anything w/ my level of dexamethasone so staying put on that for now. I have 1 more appt. on Thursday and I will wait weigh out my 3 opinions before having DH do his test and if i like this doc better i’ll cancel the monitoring for next week…

For His Glory??

This morning I woke up to obviously premenstrual symptoms. It’s 12 dpo and I have the usual signs that my period isn’t far away. My temperature started to drop, I had no line on the cheapie pregnancy test I ran, spotting a tiny bit, and just an overall yucky feeling. Will very likely get my period tomorrow. I hate having to feel my infertility. To live in a broken body. Usually around this time of the month I just want to hibernate in bed and cry, especially if I’m lucky enough that it falls at a time when I don’t have to be at work. If I have to go to work I pull it together and float through the day holding back tears. Today, though, the day wasn’t about me. Today was my cousin,who is also my dear friend’s bridal shower. I tried to put myself aside and pull it together to bless her.

We set up everything for the shower and then she finally arrived and was completely surprised and delighted. I was delighted too, yet at the same time, this darkness and sadness is always at least in the background (and often times in the forefront). I am so poor at handling this sadness I live with in a graceful manner of surrender when it’s what my heart longs for more than anything. It’s so prevalent in my mind that it’s hard to fully push it away, especially when i’m PMSing.

I was sitting at a table with my cousin’s future sister in law and a few other girls. We somehow got on the topic of age and how we couldn’t believe we were in our late 20s and felt much younger than that. The sister in law said that she was 22 but often felt 70 because of some condition she had (she didn’t go into details about this). She said it was a miracle that she walked down the aisle last year. I told her, “oh my, I’m so so sorry to hear that”. She looked at me and said, “That’s ok… God gave it to me and I will use it for His glory”.

This beautiful attitude spoke to my heart that she can handle whatever situation she is in with such grace. I wish I could be like that about infertility. I wish I could accept this as the thorn in my flesh that I can use for His glory. But sometimes the overwhelming sadness feels like too much. But how do I do that? I actually don’t believe that God chose to give this to me- I can’t believe a good God would do that or it makes me not like Him to be honest… i believe that infertility is an illness like anything else and God didn’t give it to me, but He holds me as I cry through it… But I do believe that He wants me to use it for His glory. Usually. There are times lately I doubt His goodness and presence because I feel He hasn’t heard my prayers. He has been silent about this for a long time. I feel sometimes like my faith is waning, especially because my husband is not in the best place spiritually so when I question things He tells me how faith is silly anyway… and my views of God are too.  I have so much pain deep down in my heart with this situation. It’s so hard to just accept something that feels so unfair and hurts my heart so very deeply.

Sort of looking forward to getting a second and third opinion from fertility specialists this week after the bad experience with the first reproductive endo. Also tired of it all and not looking forward to more appointments, more tests, all of that.

My two biggest journeys and how they are related

There was a time in my life when every day was a struggle for me. I felt like I had to hide the biggest part of my life- this huge prison I was in, yet keep a smile on for the world. I had to show them I had it together. If only people knew the Liz I really was. Yet I was in constant inward turmoil. My whole life centered around finding food and binging out of control- sometimes stealing food from others, out of body completely out of control eating experiences, or eating out of garbage cans; feeling disgusting and like a fat worthless pig; and compensating; calculating; starving myself during phases I was “more in control”; exercising for hours at all costs to feel ok. or ok enough. I frequented the college gym and when it was closed I had a private stairwell in a part of the school no one used. I’d run up and down between classes to burn calories. Some nights i’d wait for my family to go to bed and stay up and binge. Looking forward to it in a sense, yet feeling out of control and despising the situation.

A few times my mom found me and was so upset. I’d plan trips to the grocery store to buy “forbidden foods”… These behaviors made my body feel terrible and function poorly. There were so many really low moments in this shameful prison and often every day was a struggle against an the entity called “ED”. Sometimes my whole life felt like a low and I couldn’t see a way out of the struggle. I wanted God to free me. I called out to Him and wished He would touch me like He did people in the Gospels and tell me “Daughter you are healed. Your faith has healed you”. Well, that wasn’t my story. God has been healing me more than I ever could have imagined but it’s been a slow journey over several years, not a one time event.

Just tonight, I realized my infertility journey, my other biggest life struggle, has many parallels (and in fact they used to be related). It’s lonely and isolating. It feels out of control and unfair to have to be going through this, esp when others don’t and it is so easy for them. Many days I feel like I’m pulling it together, having to hide from the world a big part of myself. Sometimes I really don’t see a way out. I truly believe that it will always be like this. I sometimes want to be able to just walk up to Jesus and touch His cloak and have Him heal me. Now. to hear “your womb and adrenals are healed. Be fruitful and multiply in my Name”… But maybe that’s not the plan. Maybe the answer is not today, but maybe in the future; maybe even several years from now I will look back and see how God worked in His way and time. Just like my other journey.

Because He makes all broken things beautiful in His time… so even though it’s hard and I struggle to have faith, I have to wait and trust that He will put the puzzle together in His way.

A Bad Surprise. Starting over.

Yesterday afternoon I finally got a call from my reproductive endocrinologist regarding my blood results post dexamethasone. I was at work so I threw on my coat to go outside so that I could talk without having my coworkers here me mention the words “ovulation” “cycles” and “periods”. Finally I get on the phone with the doctor (who by the way has no bedside manner and is completely rude). He tells me that my levels are not suppressed and got higher. What!? So I try to ask questions to see what is going on. He then scolds me, “I cannot talk to you because you keep cutting me off”. After giving me all my levels that are higher than ever, I asked him about some of the herbs that I am taking. He goes “WHAT!? you didn’t tell me you were taking herbs?! (i know i briefly mentioned at least one of them and did my own research to ensure there were no dangerous interactions) You need to get off those immediately! Either follow my protocol or find a new doctor. I will be happy to refer you to one”. After that exchange I felt attacked and like I couldn’t ask anymore questions (I tend to feel rushed because of this I can’t even think of the right questions to ask when on the phone with him). He told me to increase my steroid medication if I am going to continue working with him and then repeat blood work in two weeks, so I thanked him and said goodbye.
So my free testosterone is 8.8, my 17OH progesterone is now 3500, my regular testosterone is 90 (in recently years it’s most typically been between 60 and 70). My follicular progesterone, which can act as a mild birth control effect (should be below .6 for optimal fertility mine is usually between 1.5 and 2). Honestly with this kind of response, I am worried that this is not the correct medication for me, and also worried since this sounds pretty atypical for NCAH (levels should be suppressed) that something more complicated isn’t going on. I have two other opinions set up during April break and I am praying that they say similar things. I am very nervous about increasing medications, especially when this one seems to have either had no effect on my body, or a negative one.
I have been very consumed with trying to conceive lately. And it feels like my efforts keep failing even though I’ve tried so hard. Because my levels are worse, we are not even trying this cycle. We aren’t using birth control, but I’m not charting, I’m not OPKing, I’m not timing sex- we can be sexy when we want to be sexy (or not if that is what we feel like). We are not trying hard again until my levels are going in the correct direction. I want to try to let go for now. This journey has been consuming me, and want to find myself again. I feel like everywhere I turn, I hit a dead end with this.
Another thing, is several people (both the doc but people in online groups) have told me recently that perhaps it would be best to get off of the herbs I’m taking. This fertility journey has been a several year project for me. I had amenorrhea for most of 8 years, and even before TTC, I wanted to prepare my body to have a baby, so I started making changes in my life to try to make this happen. At 23, I came to a point that my biggest goal was to get my period back. I went after it with dietary changes, exercise changes, and herbs/vitamins (and other things like seed cycling). I started throwing so many fertility enhancing remedies at my body hoping it would somehow turn on my dormant endocrine system- and it did! My cycles which were extremely scant (at most I’d get one or two light periods a year, many years sometimes a few in a row during that time I’d have no bleeding at all), suddenly started coming every single month. I watched my luteal phase increase from a meager 5-6 days to 11-12! I rejoiced to watch my cycles regulate like this (i’ve charted 46 beautiful and not so beautiful cycles since I got my period back; in fact this cycle is the first one I’m not charting), almost like a miracle. Oh how I hoped that when the time came we would be able to conceive, and for the first time in 8 years I had hope that maybe we would!  My cycles, which used to never come started to look like they could be model cycles in the “Taking Charge of Your Fertility” textbook. I thought I healed myself. I actually liked my cycle including my period.
When we started trying to conceive (casually last spring, most seriously last summer), I continued to research and throw all these remedies and more at my body- surely I wanted to make it the most fertile it could be. But month after month I’d watch my temperature drop, and my period come. By the late summer or fall, I started to become upset and realize that maybe this was actually going to still be the challenge I worried it would be and hoped it wouldn’t. So I started trying harder. and Harder. and adding new natural remedies as the months with no baby kept passing by. In addition to my herbs and vitamins, I re-added seed cycling (which is taking different seeds at different times of your cycles to try to balance and harmonize hormones). My diet became more and more organic. I developed a ritual of getting a pineapple each month after I ovulated (to aide implantation). I started drinking fertility smoothies with more vitamins, maca, wheat grass, and Royal Jelly all aimed to increase fertility. Using special cleaning and hand products (no endocrine disrupters in this home!!). Special lube to increase fertility. I cut high intensity exercise. Added new supplements. OPKs… Added healthy carbs (because I read low carb can actually be bad). Spent all my free time researching fertility and how to increase it. But still month after month of all of this there was no baby in my tummy.
(Just some of my supplement craziness)…
I am starting to see maybe this is ridiculous. And just maybe there’s a small chance it’s actually hurting things. I’m scared to give it all up, because if I’m not fertile with all of this extra stuff I’m never going to be fertile without it. I’m scared that my cycles will become irregular if I stop all of this. At this point, though there really isn’t anything to lose. Clearly it’s not working. Clearly it’s just consuming my life, making me depressed as it fails, and there is a chance all of these things are making things worse. If nothing else, I just want a break from it all. At this point, I feel broken and honestly can’t picture it ever happening. So I’m trying to step away for a while. No temperatures, only vitamins, no special lube, no timed sex, no seed cycling. Sigh.
So that’s where I am at. I hope someday this happens. I want this with all my heart. I need to be a mom. But for now we are just trying to figure out where to go from here.