To a stranger, my family appears perfect: Daddy, Mommy, 3.5yr old Princess, and Newborn Prince. We even have a 13 yr old dog, and a 12 yr old cat. In fact, people have said that to me since I gave birth to our son: "Now your family is perfect".
They mean well. They aren't trying to offend, but every time I hear that, I cringe inside, bite my tongue, smile, and say, "Thank You". All I really want to do is yell, "MY FAMILY WAS PERFECT 5 YEARS AGO!!!!"
Before you nod your head, and whisper, "hormones", let me explain myself. You see, I suffer from infertility (IF). Yes, you read that right: I am INFERTILE!! Yes, we are blessed with 2 beautiful children here on earth that are 100% ours. I carried my babies in my womb, a little piece of me, and a little piece of my husband, combined perfectly, by God, into the unique little people they are. I will, however, be forever haunted by my diagnosis.
I have an official diagnosis of Poly-Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS). This basically means my ovaries mature eggs correctly, but 'forget' to release the eggs (I don't ovulate), and the result is that each egg, trapped in my ovaries, turns into a cyst. This causes my testosterone to rise, my progesterone to fall, and all sorts of lovely hormonal imbalances to occur. I also have insulin resistance caused by the hormone imbalances. Basically, my body produces enough insulin, but it doesn't absorb enough to keep my blood sugar within a "normal" range. because of this, I have type 2 diabetes also.
We began trying to start our family in August 2006, and found out we were pregnant in November 2006. We lost that baby on Thanksgiving Day. It took us trying another year until we were transferred to an OB/GYN specializing in IF. After all of the testing, and blood work, I was given my diagnosis of PCOS. We were assured by the Dr that most women respond to medication and that it was possible for me to have a baby.
I began taking Clomid, a drug that was supposed to help me ovulate. I was given the smallest dose to begin in October 2007, but it did not work. So, in November, the dose was doubled, and it worked: I ovulated. We kept trying, and I kept taking Clomid. Nothing. I began losing hope. I felt broken. I told my husband he needed to leave me, and find someone who could give him a family. You see, Clomid is a nasty little drug that messes with your hormones. I ran the spectrum of anger, depression, optimism, and hopefulness while on it. I am ashamed to admit that I don't remember much of the 8 months I was on Clomid. It is all a hormonal, fuzzy blur to me. My husband will be quick to point out that he still loved me, even though I was acting like a foolish crazy lady...ha-ha!
In June 2008 we decided to take the next step medically. Intrauterine Insemination (IUI). This is a procedure where the Dr takes sperm, washes it, and inserts it directly into the uterus where, hopefully, a mature egg is waiting for it. This procedure failed. We tried again in July... also a failure.
The Dr told us that the next step would be In Vitro Fertilization (IVF). Without this procedure, the odds were not in our favor for us to have biological children. We were devastated. We could barely afford what we had done so far, there was no way we would be able to afford IVF!
It was around this time that we had began going to church. We had both been raised in church, but had not been in church regularly since becoming adults, and hadn't been at all since we had been married. I truly believe that we went through IF to bring us back to God. I believe that, because we found 'our' church in June of 2008, and became members in August 2008. We finished membership classes the week we found out we were pregnant.
I know our daughter was a true miracle, because she was conceived without any external medical assistance. We had chosen not to proceed any further in our IF treatments. We had started discussing adoption. And, I had finally given everything to God. All along I had been praying and saying I had faith. I still wanted to be in charge of my IF though. I wanted that control, I wanted to be the one to decide when it would happen. It was only after I finally, completely, and wholeheartedly gave it to God that HE allowed us to conceive. I say we 'gave up' and people perceive that as we had lost hope, but truly, I mean I gave my IF up TO GOD! I clung to the verse in Psalms: He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother to children. Praise ye the Lord. (Ps 113:9)
We have since been blessed with our son. After trying for 18 months with no medical intervention, we conceived our 3rd baby, but that pregnancy also ended in a loss. After that, I decided that we were done trying. God had other plans, and in December 2011, we found out we were expecting again! Our Little Man was born in August 2012, and he is such a blessing! God provided us with the desires of our heart X 2.
Just because I have my babies, doesn't mean I still don't have the infertile mindset. I still struggle with hearing about someone else being pregnant. Don't get me wrong, I view all babies as blessings, and I rejoice with each announcement, but a little part inside of me still has that feeling of sadness. Sounds silly, especially because I read the last announcement while I was feeding our son. Here I was with the greatest gift, IN MY ARMS, and I still had that twinge of JEALOUSY!! How silly is that? I also have a feeling of guilt. Here I am with 2 babies, and some of my 'infertile sisters' have none!
It is very difficult, even for me, to know what to say, and how to say it. I will say this though: Sometimes what means the most is a hug, and a sincere, "I've been praying for you". Well meaning advice is usually not appreciated. I have heard, "Just relax, and it will happen", and "Maybe God has other plans", and "Just adopt, then you will get pregnant! I know someones cousins neighbor who had that happen to them!" so many times! These things do not help! When you are going through the journey, it isn't helpful to hear those things from people who just don't get it! I hope that I can be an encouragement to others going through the IF journey, and that God will allow what I say, and my actions to be a comfort to those going through this struggle. May God give all who struggle the desires of their hearts: For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of Him (1Sam 1:27)
Written by: Rebecca Miller Long