Before I begin, I want to say two things:
1) I know our video was light-hearted and humorous, but infertility has hardly been something to laugh about. It has without a doubt been the hardest and most painful thing Scott and I have gone through. Just when we thought we couldn't cry more, we did. Just when we thought we couldn't be more heartbroken, our hearts got broken all over again. Just when we didn't think we could get more tired, more frustrated, or more angry, we felt like we couldn't even think straight. Somedays were just plain hard to even get out of bed.
2) I know many have gone through so much more than us, have waited much longer, and have had far worse experiences. I do not want to make our situation seem bigger than it is. I have learned everyone's pain is individual and unique in their own way. I never want to discount someone's hurt or journey.
To set the stage, I have always wanted to be a mom. At the age of 8, I was knocking on a classmate's door asking his mother if I could take her baby on a walk around the neighborhood. She obliged many times -- it was a small city in the 90's, so maybe she was more trusting, but it was also her third boy, so maybe she was just tired.
Once I got certified, I was babysitting all the time. I prided myself on being a sought-after babysitter and would always pack a backpack of cool new toys that I spent my babysitting money on just to set me apart a little more. As soon as I could work in our church nursery I did. I spent my college and post-college years working at camps, being a Big Sister, tutoring kids, being a nanny, working with after-school programs, etc. I loved being around kids and it simply didn't matter what age they were.
I was also the weirdo in college that drooled over cool strollers I saw rather than that hot guy in the English class. It has always been ingrained in my no matter what my future held, I was going to be a mom.
So when I finally met Scott, and I was the third-to-last of my group of *ahem* 20-or-so girls to get married, I was ready to have a baby ASAP. Not that I was old, but being 27 and wanting a big family meant we didn't want to twiddle our thumbs. Plus, when half of your friends that are at your wedding already have kid #2 or #3, you feel like you're way behind in the game.
Well, then seminary started and we had to put our plans on hold. And it broke my heart. Now I know there is NO good or perfect time to have a kid, but a 4-year degree made us step back and realize we may need to wait just a bit.
Finally the time came and we started trying to conceive.
A few months went by with no luck, but that was fine. I turned 29 and wasn't totally freaking out that it was my last year in my 20's, but kinda. Okay, I was freaking out.
Then a few more months went by.
Then a few more.
Then a few more.
And before we knew it, 1 year had passed and 30 was looking me in the eye. Trying to conceive had gone from being exciting to the biggest stresser in our marriage. Then we started running tests. Lots of them. And I was running all over the metroplex getting blood done here, a sonogram there, etc. The confusion of not knowing how to interpret all the numbers on the test results began to set in. Lot's of conversations with mild optimism that, "Maybe the next test will tell us more," became status quo. Finally, my OB/Gyn had nothing more to do for me so she passed me on to a fertility doctor connected with her hospital.
Then it got real frustrating. Our fertility doctor, while an expert in his field, lacked the kind of "bed-side manner" you might expect from someone in his line of work. To make matters worse, his office would order testing and the days we would show up, they would have no record of our appointment, or have the wrong procedure, and, oh yeah, would lose blood work. They sent a message through medical records that basically said, "Our bad, just come back next month so we can run the test again." But if you have experienced infertility, you know that one month waiting on tests means one more month tears, and anger, and of getting another "no."
The hardest part for us was finding out that absolutely every test result came back perfect. Blood and hormones fine. Tubes open. Uterus fine. Ovulating normally. Scott... MORE THAN AWESOME AND FINE. (You're welcome, babe... but for real one doctor even said, "I hope you want a big family based on your numbers." TRUE STORY)
So we fell into that category of infertile couples, the 10% where they don't know why infertility is an issue. I almost started wishing I had something noticeably wrong so at least there we could know why it wasn't working. There would be procedures or pills to take to help...to see progress. But no, just keep trying and maybe it will work.
Then, in October of 2014, we got a positive pregnancy test. And we were beyond ecstatic because we had pretty much given up hope that it would happen without some medical intervention. And then, just two days later, the pregnancy was over. We had what is called a "chemical pregnancy," where the body believes it is pregnant, but it is short lived and unsustainable.
Now I thought each month the grief was hard, but this was beyond anything we had ever experienced. It didn't help that the nurse that called with blood work said, "Well, don't worry, there was no fetal development. Just think of it as a late period." ... excuse me? After 16 months of trying and finally getting a positive test, you just want me to shrug it off? We ended up changing doctors and hospitals, which meant better care, but also going back at square one.
My new OB/GYN shared the same story, we are in that 10%. He also recommended doing an IUI (Intrauterine Insemination). We were interested in taking this next step, but we were also in the most stressful season of our seminary/ordination careers, so we made the difficult decision to wait another 15 weeks before beginning IUI treatments. Meanwhile, the e-mails, the announcements, the FB posting, the Instagram pictures of baby announcements continued to rolled in. One day, I got 3 e-mails on the same day of friends expecting baby #2 or #3. Of course I was happy for my friends, but there was always this guilty side of me that felt so jealous and angry that it was them and not me. Infertility can be a crash-course in Self-Hatred 101.
In the midst of deciding what to do, we were dealing with spiritual confusion, wondering if we weren't trusting God enough or being patient enough for God's timing. We believe that God made medicine and made it good, but we continued to wrestle with whether or not we were pushing for something that just wasn't supposed to happen yet. And if God did want us to be parents, why in the world wasn't it as "easy" as it seems to be for so many? Even the best courses in seminary can fail you when facing a crisis that is at the forefront of your physical, emotional, and spiritual life. We struggled, and even on the other side, we still do, because that pain is a part of who we are now, it's a part of our story, and the questions it has brought up for us are questions we will continue to wrestle with for years to come. They are good questions, ultimately, because they draw us closer to God as we search for an answer that gives us peace.
In February, we finally got to try our first IUI. Which was super painful in case you were wondering.
We tried our second IUI in March, where we heard the infamous words, "I need a stronger catheter!" When the doctor pulled out the first one, it was crooked like a bendy straw. After the procedure was done, the incredibly kind doctor said, "Look, I've been through 8 of these myself. I know how it feels and how frustrating it can be. If you want to have the best shot, you need to go to Dallas Fertility."
We were able to get in immediately due to a cancelation. We still took a month off from any procedure.
So the process with the Fertility people was a little more intense. We had sonograms every few days, I was taking hormone treatments, I had to give myself a shot, and then it was go time. So on May 3rd, which was a Sunday morning (good timing for our line of work, but we got to enjoy brunch in between the steps like everyone else does in Dallas during Sunday morning) we tried a third IUI.
And it worked.
Words can't express how we feel. We have never been more overjoyed, more scared, more anxious, more blessed, or more excited in our entire lives. It was worth every month, every tear, and by goodness, every single penny.
Infertility is hard. It is even harder in the dark, and so our prayer and hope is that shedding some light on this and sharing our story can allow people to talk about it a little more and bring some awareness. I also plan on writing a follow up blog entitled: THINGS NEVER TO SAY TO PEOPLE STRUGGLING TO GET PREGNANT. Actually, it will just be a list of tips not to say to people so you can avoid unintentionally hurting feelings.
Until then, Scott and I would love your prayers for Baby Gilly as she or he grows. We can't wait to meet our long-awaited baby.