This Week 2 Years Ago…

21 Oct

Hey, folks!  OK, so it’s taken me a short minute to get around to writing the back story that I promised back in August…You know, the one about how some people just know from Day 1 that they were made to be parents and then there are others, like us, who needed to give it tons of thought beforehand…And in our case, more than just ‘thought,’ but actual diligence!  By the way, it was funny for me this morning to go back and look at where we left off with this story at the end of the summer- we were in Hawaii and she was still a HE! It’s amazing how things change!

So…within the last few weeks, we’ve found out that five of our friends are now expecting…And that’s in addition to the handful we already knew were already going through this same journey with us!  What can we say, there must be something in the water! 😉  But as we’re all posting different comments on everybody’s FB page- naturally, planning for all the baby boys to be future Citadel cadets and the baby girls to be a CofC, cheering for the Bulldogs!- one of the comments toward the end of the day jumped out at me.  ‘My goodness, looks like we’re the only ones not having a baby’, from a friend who married one of John’s best friends just two years ago.  I was immediately taken aback to a time about five years ago when I wrote the exact same thing on someone else’s page…When it seemed like EVERYONE we knew was having a baby and how quickly we felt like we were becoming ‘that only couple’ without kids.  Yet even then, with all the ‘odd man out’ feelings, babies just weren’t on our horizon. Sure, we’d always said the standard ‘we want kids someday,’ but goodness gracious if we didn’t have too much fun just the two of us!  We loved our life together, all that we had and all that we were working for…Why fix something that’s not broken, right? 🙂

John and I had known from Day 1 that we both wanted to be married for a good long time before adding to our family.  No, we didn’t have a timeline, but neither of us saw the rush to have a baby right after getting married.  In our eyes, marriage was a huge step- one that took ample time to settle into.  Afterall, when we first got together, I’d just finished grad school and had been living on my own for years.  John was still at the Citadel and had lived in tight quarters with all of his best friends since he left home.  As a ‘cadet with rank’ at school, he was accustomed to certain things that just didn’t ring true in the real world…Poor guy ;).  And on top of that, we’d combined a loud, passionate only child with a headstrong, feisty oldest sibling…Needless to say, it took us time to get used to things! Oh, what fun we had!

Anyway, back to the story…it’s not that we never talked about babies along the way, because we did.  There would be times when we’d hang out with friends and their kids where we’d think, ‘We could do this.’  And during Christmastime, John always joked that’s when we’d get ‘baby fever’ because we’d see all the cute tiny stuff going up in all the stores…But come January, it would pass and we’d go back to planning our next adult adventure.  Until January 2009…when it didn’t pass.   No, we never got that ‘Oh my God, now’s the time we MUST have one!,’ but we just found ourselves mentioning the idea a little more frequently.  We think it had something to do with Betsy’s passing away that winter- the pain that it left in our hearts and the missing piece it left in our family. By John’s birthday of that year- more than two years ago- we made the decision to start trying.  🙂

Fast forward to the following summer…and still nothing.  So I made the appointment to visit my doctor to see what, if anything, was going on.  *Warning: the rest of this post is going to be a bit ‘medical-ly’ simply because (a) I come from a family/friend circle of medical folks who are totally fine talking about ‘stuff’ using proper terminology and (b) I think it’s important for women, and couples, to realize that it doesn’t always happen like it does in the movies- or how it seems to be happening for every one of their friends.  So if you’re not comfortable with the nitty gritty, please consider this post complete since you obviously already know the end result!*

Well, since I’d stopped taking birth control the previous fall, my cycles had been irregular to say the least.  It turned out that I wasn’t ovulating regularly, a very common problem for many, many women.  So the doc gave me some pills to take that induce ovulation in 80%+ of women.  I ended up being in the other 20% :(.  So we tried another month of different pills…Same result.  *Sigh*  By this time, we’d signed up for our three month European adventure and decided to give it a rest for a while.  So many people told us, ‘Oh, once you quit thinking about it, it’ll just happen!’  So that’s what we did.  We headed overseas with the idea of ‘If it happens, it happens.’  In Germany, we relaxed, we had fun, we traveled with our pups, we grew closer as a couple than ever before…and we didn’t get pregnant.

When we got back to the States just in time for the holidays, it was the first time that we actually felt a twinge of ‘we really want this to happen now.’  So we made an appointment with the fertility specialists, if nothing else, simply to see if there was any further testing to be done that could possibly give us some answers as to why it wasn’t happening for us on our own.  Yep, there were tests, and everything came up roses…except my ovulation issue.  That damn ovulation…*Sigh*  And since we’d already done the oral meds route, we got to go straight to the stuff you think of when you think of infertility…Injections.

Now, there are LOTS of different routes to take when it come to fertility treatments and NOT all injections are created equally.  The goal with our injections was the same as it’d been with the pills…to help my body ovulate so we could then do the job ourselves. Down the road, injections can be given to help the woman’s body OVERproduce eggs, which can then be fertilized, harvested, etc. in the form of invitro fertilization (where the docs do the job externally and put it back in the uterus).  We weren’t to that point.  Nope, we only wanted a ‘gentle nudge’ for my uncooperative ovaries.  With the fertility folks, not only do you get the advanced meds to help, but you get the extra monitoring to help with ‘timing.’  In other words, they can use ultrasound technology to see how well the meds are working (increasing or decreasing them as needed), then tell you within hours of when ovulation will occur.  Very cool, right?!

Fast forward to the end of February this year…several months of nightly injections, every other day ultrasounds and yes, thousands of dollars…and nothing.  No pregnancy, and even worse, no explanation as to why not.  The docs actually told us, ‘We just don’t know why it’s not working!’  Really?  Are docs allowed to say that?  Ha!  But seriously, that’s how we felt- after all this time, all this money, and waiting only to be disappointed month after month, you can’t tell us anything more?!

So we sat down and had our most serious of talks since this whole baby process began 16 months before.  We looked at all that we’d been through, from trying on our own to trying with these ‘leading fertility folks on the east coast’…(And just let me say that we have so much respect for all the women, and couples, going through fertility issues- nothing can prepare you for that emotional rollercoaster and we were only on it for 5 months!)  And then we revisited our reasons for starting the process in the first place.  We questioned whether or not we TRULY wanted a baby as much as we ‘should’ (so many of the women we’d met along the way had such desperation and inherent NEED for a baby and while yes, we wanted a child, we never felt those all-consuming, overwhelming emotions…), whether it was TRULY our life’s plan to have a baby, whether this was God’s way of telling us that it wasn’t our plan- at least not right now…And finally, yes, we had to look at the cost.  I won’t sugar coat it, folks…Fertility stuff is downright expensive and it’s very rarely covered by insurance (since it’s not a ‘necessity’), so for us ‘normal people,’ it has to boil down to how much you can afford. Ultimately, we made the decision, that night sitting in our bath tub (where so many of our best talks seem to happen 🙂 ), that we’d give it one more shot- one more month of the best meds they’ve got with the best monitoring and predicting they’ve got. Then, whether it worked or it didn’t, we’d know that we gave it our absolute best effort and that things would move forward as they were supposed to.

Now, if this was a Lifetime movie, I’d say that y’all could all guess how that next month turned out…but you’d be wrong!  We did everything to a T: the shots at the exact right time every day, the ultrasounds every other morning, eating the right foods, taking the right horse size vitamins, limiting exercise, getting enough sleep…And finally, the waiting and seeing.  We gave it everything we had.  And we got nothing :(.  That’s right, at the end of the month, we still weren’t pregnant.  Sure, we were sad- and even a little angry- but eventually we accepted it…gracefully.  We moved on with our life- planning our next adventures, gearing up for summer, enjoying ourselves.  It may sound crazy, but in many ways, it was as though a weight had been lifted and we were free to start building our own Plan B. 🙂

Fast forward a couple months to this June- we’re happily settled back into life sans kids- and I end up at my doc’s office for a routine check up. You know the schtick: get weighed, check blood pressure and temp, pee in a cup, and wait in the room for the doc.  Well, in comes the doc and before I can even respond to her ‘So how are things?,’ she whips around the little test strip from behind her back and hollers, ‘You’re PREGNANT!’ My response? ‘Are you kidding?,’ followed quickly by ‘Oh my God, we did it ourselves?!’ *Disclaimer: She’s been my doc for over a decade, I’ve pet sat for her for over half that time and I just love her, so we’re closer than your average doc/patient duo ;)*

The motto of this story is actually fourfold…1. Not everyone is born knowing that they are meant to be parents, but it doesn’t mean that they’re not.  2. Everyone marches to their own drum and just because the time is right for some (or all!), it doesn’t mean a hill of squat for your own timeline.  3. Just because it seems like everyone simply decides ‘Today’s the day we’re going to get pregnant’ doesn’t mean that’s how it’s actually happening.  Fertility still has a bit of a stigma for some reason (yes, that’s sad), but if more women, and couples, were willing to say ‘No, it didn’t happen immediately for us the way it does in the movies,’ then there might be more options- or at least support!- for those of us who have to work for it (afterall, don’t they say that the best things in life are the ones you’ve worked the hardest for?)  And 4. (And this is usually the toughest for me to swallow in just about all areas of life…say it with me:) You can’t control everything.  All you can do is give it your best shot and then let things happen the way they’re MEANT to happen.  And yes, now that I’m over 6 months pregnant, I still wrestle with this one every day, just with a new can of (happy) worms! 🙂

So all that being said…and to bring it back full circle to what I said back over the summer…If you get the end result you want, sometimes- just sometimes- the journey isn’t quite as important.  For us, as trying and as convoluted and as crazy as our nearly 2 year fertility journey was- John and I are going to be parents in just a few months.  And we still haven’t gotten tired of telling ourselves that 🙂

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