Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Hope Springs

Right around nine months ago (how ironic), I mentioned that finding and maintaining hope in our fertility process was a struggle for me. A lot has happened since then. For starters, my sister gave me a very special necklace for Christmas. It has a pendant inscribed with the word "hope" accompanied by two jewels: a teal one, which is the awareness color for my condition of PCOS, and a pearl, representing motherhood. She wanted to provide me with some tangible hope while I couldn't find my own. It is one of the most thoughtful gifts I have ever received. Since then, it has dangled from the mirror in my car as a constant reminder of what we're moving towards. During the days when I thought all hope was lost, I could simply look up and find it dancing right in front of my eyes.

In 2012, we had exhausted all of the support we could receive from my original OB/GYN. In February of this year, we sought a second opinion from another doctor who came highly recommended by friends. He pretty much confirmed what we knew by agreeing that we would need to have procedures performed that regular doctors are not equipped to do, requiring specialized assistance. It was hard to accept that Brad and I would never naturally conceive a child at home in love. That was a loss of opportunity that we had to grieve. However, this doctor was much gentler and kinder about the news and was able to put the perspective in significantly more positive terms. He assured me that fertility treatments were not a death sentence, but rather a chance to consult the experts in the field who literally do this for a living.
In March, Brad and I sucked up our pride and swallowed all of our fears of owning an "infertile label," and we nervously walked into Nashville Fertility Center. We had mixed emotions of despair because, after years of trying, we could no longer fool ourselves into thinking we were "normal couples with a typical level of difficulty," as well as determination to finally call in the Big Guns. We were more than ready to officially get this show on the road. 
Immediately following our first consultation with Dr. W, I knew we were in an additional pair of good hands. With his expertise combined with God's power, I started to see sparkles of hope in my vision even without the dangling pendant in my eyesight. In the four months since Dr. W. has been part of our story, things have started picking up. I've tripled the dosage of my daily PCOS medication, checked and rechecked various blood levels, consulted (and ruled out) a medical endocrinologist for possible obscure hormonal defects, and undergone surgery to remove harmful tissue from endometriosis and also repair if possible, but mostly likely remove, a damaged fallopian tube.
But, you guys, Brad and I experienced our first "victory" when Dr. W. came out of surgery and said he did not need to remove the tube! All of us were nearly positive it was going to have to happen, and we had all prepared for fertility chances and options with only one fallopian tube present. He not only did not have to remove it, but he said both tubes as well as my uterus are in perfect condition! Either God healed my anatomy over the last year (which is entirely possible!) or the dye test/x-ray had been misleading, probably because of muscle cramping and resistance during the procedure. Hallelujah! God is Good! I never thought I'd consider it such a cause for celebration to simply have all of my reproductive organs in tact!
(Flowers from sweet friends post-surgery)
The next immediate step is an IUI (Intrauterine Insemination), aka artificial insemination. During this procedure, they will take Brad's sperm and inject it directly into my uterus with hopes that it finds and fertilizes an egg in either of my two fallopian tubes. These procedures will be accompanied by rounds of Clomid to help me ovulate, but with a doubled dosage from was prescribed the previous six times I took it. If need be, after a couple failed IUIs with Clomid, we'll modify the drug to Femara, which I've only taken once before (but didn't enjoy the side effects of). If the oral medication and IUI combos don't result in a conception at any point, then we'll switch to injectable drugs. They're much more effective, much more successful, much more invasive, and much more expensive, so I hope it doesn't come to that. If IUIs don't ever work after all of the various drugs are attempted, then our general next step is IVF (In Vitro Fertilization), but we aren't going that far in our minds just yet, so calm back down.
Things seem to finally be getting real, and Brad and I have many emotions right now, however, they aren't necessarily the same as each other. While he (and many of my close friends) are super encouraged that this next step could be the final one, I'm keeping realistic and grounded expectations that it is just the next step in a remaining list of steps in our journey toward parenthood. But Brad and I are both extremely excited to be taking what seem to be bigger steps than we ever have before. We're excited to have a plan and be proactive and aggressive. We're excited to be working with a doctor and a facility that we wholeheartedly trust. I'm so happy to finally feel like we're in a safe place with people who truly want the same thing for us as badly as we do and who will do whatever they can to make it happen.  What a great feeling.
Conversely, we're also both scared. What if it finally happens? What if it's not just a dream anymore but is finally real life? What if we become parents?? Yikes! So much to plan, budget, and do! But we're simultaneously scared of the opposite, too. What if it doesn't happen? What if even this step doesn't work. What if it's just another failed task on a checklist that we have to continue trudging through. How do we (I) stay out of the despair that follows such disappointment and heartbreak? Ugh. As a result of this overwhelming risk, I'm doing what I can to guard my heart. Everybody else can let their hopes soar, but I'm going to keep them right around eye level. And ya know what, eye level is still five feet higher than they were nine months ago, so I very much consider that success in the hope department!
So, y'all, if you would, keep your fingers crossed and your prayers lifted that God will soon bless us with a child, and that our hearts will handle the process, however long, in the meantime. You guys rock!
PS. I've been purposefully vague about the timing of the future procedures. Even though I'm exponentially grateful for all of your love and support, I'm not sure I'm ready to handle all of the emotions, excitement, anticipation, disappointment, etc. of others as well as myself. I'm not trying to be rude in any way, but I ask that you please be considerate by not asking more specific details or asking if we're pregnant yet or when we'll find out. I promise I will share the (good?) news as soon as we decide we're comfortable. If we haven't said anything, it's either because we don't know yet, so we have nothing to tell you; no we're not, and I'm hoping to not have to verbalize that sentence any more than is absolutely necessary; or yes we are, but we haven't told you yet because we're waiting for a specific reason and your asking won't negate that reason, so we're going to lie about it anyway. Does that all make sense? However, those three questions are the only ones that I ask remain off the table. Everything else, bring it on! If you are full of hope, let me know! Maybe I'll catch some of it! If you're feeling guarded about it, help keep me grounded. I've invited you all into this journey, and I'd love to share it with you as much as you are interested. Your outpouring of love and support on my previous fertility-related posts have provided so much encouragement and happiness. Thank you so much!
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