An Infertility Story

Most people don't realize that John and I tried to conceive for eighteen months before we got pregnant. They just assume that we wanted to wait almost four years before getting pregnant. But that wasn't the case. I thought I would post our struggle with infertility just in case anybody actually reads this blog and feels like I'm always just so happy and excited! :o)

John and I got married in July, 2004. After much prayer and discussion, we decided God was leading us to begin trying to conceive in November of 2006. I always thought it would be cool to have our children in August, since both John's and my birthdays are in August. If you get pregnant in November, your baby is due in August, so that was our rationale. As that November got closer and closer, I started to get nervous because the idea of having a baby was just going to be a huge life-changer. But, like most things you plan to do, you tend to start trying earlier than anticipated! Anyway, true to plan (and after praying about it some more) we started our plans to begin our family. Right before Thanksgiving that year, I just knew I was pregnant. We decided to test on Thanksgiving morning. The longest three minutes of my life ensued, and we looked at the pregnancy test and single. line. That meant we weren't pregnant. But ever the optimist, I figured we had tested too early. So we tested a few days later. Still negative. Okay, so November wasn't our month, but I figured we'd get it in December, right? Wrong.

John and I experienced lots of deja vu during the next few months. We probably should have bought stock in pregnancy tests because I'm sure we could have made a return on our investment! Beginning around the start of 2007, my cycles started to act funny. Now I'm usually like clockwork, every 30 days or so. But suddenly, I was having 39 day cycles, and I hadn't changed anything in my routine. I was also starting to gain weight, which really frustrated me. I decided I needed to go to the ob/gyn and see what was going on. I called in March, and they didn't have any openings until June because I was a new patient. June!? When you want to get pregnant, three months is an eternity! So we kept trying until then, but no luck.

John and I arrived for our appointment and nervously waited to meet the doctor. Up to this point, we hadn't told anyone we were trying to get pregnant. Not our parents, not our friends, no one. Admitting that you haven't been able to do something is really hard, at least for me. I showed our doctor my charts (I chart my temperatures, so I know when I'm ovulating and when my period is going to come) and she noticed how they had changed. She mentioned that I may have a condition called PCOS or polycystic ovarian syndrome. It's sort of a misnomer, because you don't necessarily have to have cysts on your ovaries to be diagnosed with PCOS. She took some blood and sent it off to have my hormone levels tested. She told us the results would be back in a few days, and the office would call us with the results.

Back at home, I began searching the web for anything I could find about PCOS. I needed to know what I was up against if I had it. What I found wasn't very encouraging. Basically, PCOS is a hormonal imbalance caused by insulin resistance. If your body isn't using insulin properly, then it produces more of it. All that extra insulin turns in to testosterone. Testosterone suppresses the hormone progesterone, and if you don't have enough progesterone then you can't get pregnant. I also found that gaining weight is a symptom of this, and that if it wasn't treated, most people with PCOS have type II diabetes by the time they're in their forties. This was something I definitely didn't want to have.

Well, the doctor's officed called back a few days later, and they told me I had an elevated testosterone level. Now, it wasn't enough to grow excess facial or body hair (thank God) but it was enough that it could throw off my cycles. Because of this and my irregular cycles, they were diagnosing me with PCOS, and told me to come back in a couple months to consult with the doctor. I decided right then and there that I had to lose weight, so I started eating a reduced carb diet. No more soft drinks, no candy, no more empty carbs.

By August, I had lost about 10 pounds, which was really exciting, but I still wasn't pregnant. My doctor suggested I start taking metformin, a drug used to help people control their type II diabetes. She wrote me a prescription for it and told me to fill it when I was ready. Metformin takes a while for your body to adjust to, so you spend the first several weeks of the drug feeling like you have a constant stomach bug. By the time I got used to it, I had lost 10 more pounds, and the metformin caused me to lose 10 more pounds on top of the 20 I had already lost. I figured for sure I would get pregnant now. Everybody I knew had gotten pregnant right away while taking metformin, so I had some newfound hope.

Only I didn't get pregnant. My cycles were now regular; I had lost the excess weight; and I was taking better care of myself than I had in a long time. While I wouldn't call myself depressed, I was definitely discouraged. About this time, friends of mine started announcing that they were pregnant. That was really hard because I knew I should be excited for them, but all it does is remind you that you aren't pregnant and they are.

August turned into September, September became October, and October gave way to November. One year of trying to conceive, and still no baby. We officially could be diagnosed with infertility. We decided to tell our parents that we weren't having any luck having a baby and ask them for prayer. We headed back to the doctor for another consultation, and she asked if I had had an ultrasound of my ovaries. I hadn't, so she set one up for January.

I halfway hoped we would have the ultrasound and surprise, they would find a baby, but that wasn't meant to happen. Instead, the technician found four areas on my right ovary, too small to be called cysts per se, but areas on my ovary. My left ovary was perfect. They wanted to see me back in two months if I didn't get pregnant before then.

Needless to say, two months later I was back. It was the end of March, 2008 by this time, and I was starting to wonder if maybe I wasn't supposed to have children. Maybe I was just supposed to just teach everybody else's kids! During the ultrasound, the technician found that the areas on my right ovary had grown, but there were three now. She also said that it looked like my right ovary was trying to ovulate this month. All I could think was this was going to be another failed month.

John had to work overtime alot that April because of planned outages at work, so we didn't have alot of time to spend together. When I ovulated, I didn't think anything about it because my "stupid, right ovary" as I affectionately called it, had been the one to release an egg.

Right before my period was due, I went to Charleston with some friends, so when my period was a day late, I figured the no sleep from the weekend had affected my cycle. And when it hadn't started a day later, I figured I was lucky enough not to have to drive to SC to see my sister on my period. And when it didn't come the next day, I thought I was even luckier to be able to drive back home without it, too! It wasn't until the next day, Thursday, April 24, that I even considered taking a pregnancy test. And then I felt silly doing that because I knew it would be negative. But I took it anyway, and when it showed negative I threw it in the trash can and took a shower, feeling very mad at myself for even thinking I could be pregnant.

When I got out of the shower, I decided to look at it know, just to make sure it hadn't changed. I've always done this. Heck, I've taken the things apart hoping that maybe, just maybe, there would be a plus inside the test. So, I pulled it out of the trashcan and looked at it again. And there was a plus staring at me. And not a light one either, a very definite plus. I just stared at it, thinking "What do I do now? Oh my gosh, I'm pregnant." So I called John to tell him. We were both in total shock. Eighteen months of waiting was over, and nine months of incredible changes were about to take place.

I don't know why God wanted us to go through this situation, and I'll probably never know why. But there was a reason for it. He may have us go through it again if we ever decide to have other children. There's just no telling. But I hold tight to His promises that He is in control and He has me in the palm of His hand. Trying to conceive isn't a fun process and I wouldn't wish it on anyone. If you've ever gone through it or are going through it now, know that you're not alone. Know that God is still in control. Know that miracles can--and do--happen. I'm holding one in my arms right now.