Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Faces of Infertility: Sarah & Charles

In celebration of "National Infertility Awareness Week", I am featuring stories of infertility this week. These are all guest posts that I hope will put a real face on this devastating disease. Please spread the word and share these stories!

Most little girls grow up dreaming of one day becoming a mother. Even at a young age we find enjoyment playing with baby dolls. I was no exception. All through my childhood and into my young adult life I was looking forward to the idea of one day becoming a mother to lots of little girls. 

In college, life became busy, and marriage and motherhood was not my main focus. It was still, as always, in the back of my mind. In the fall of 2005, I met my future husband through a mutual friend. We began dating on Easter Sunday in 2007 and got engaged over Thanksgiving break 2007. We were married in August of 2008.

 Our early married life was full of hope and promise. We had decided before we were married to wait two to three years before starting our family. Our finances were enough for us to live on, but not enough to raise a family on. I was a stay at home wife for the first few months of our marriage, and then I got a job working at the same school where my husband was teaching. 

Life slowly plodded on. 

Many of my friends were already beginning to start families, but we still were not in a financial position to consider started a family. 

In 2009, we decided it was time for a career change, and in December 2009 my husband joined the Army. We knew at that point that we could financially afford a child so we threw caution to the wind and decided to stop preventing a pregnancy from happening before he left for training in 2010.

We were sent to our first post in 2011. At that time we weren't surprised that we had not gotten pregnant yet; we knew at that time that things were about to change. After 10 months of training we were excited to be back together and optimistic of starting a family of our own. Five months after arriving at our first post, I was standing watching my husband board a bus heading to a 10 month deployment to Afghanistan. 

Deployments are not at all conducive to getting pregnant. So for ten months I dreamed of his return and the beginning of our actively trying to start a family. He returned safely to me in July of 2012. 

We didn't waste any time getting started. We really enjoyed being back together and the excitement of starting a new chapter in our lives and our family. Months passed and we had no success. More friends were getting pregnant and having babies, but not me. I became depressed wondering what was wrong. I was terrified of going to the doctor to get checked out. I didn't want to know if something was wrong, but at the same time I wanted to know so if something was wrong it could be corrected.

It took me five months and gentle prodding from a friend to get up the courage to go to the doctor and get a checkup. So in November 2012, I went to seem my primary care physician. She gave me a physical examination and found nothing wrong. At that point she referred me to another doctor who specialized in infertility. I left the doctor's office with a clean bill of health, a bottle of pre-natal vitamins, and a broken heart. I knew deep in the confines of my heart this was not going to be an easy journey.

The questions and advice had already started coming. We had been married long enough for people to start wondering why we didn't have a passel of kids by now. Our most common question was: Did you know ____ is pregnant, by the way, when are you going to have kids?

We also kept on getting told wonderful advice: Just give yourself time, it will happen; and my personal favorite: don't stress about it. It seemed like everyone had an opinion and felt the need to share.
At the beginning of 2013, I had my first consult with the specialist. I left the consultation with a list of lab work and tests that to be completed before she could give us any answers, and a bottle of pre-natal vitamins. I was overwhelmed to say the least. It took a month for all the blood work to be completed, and another month for the Hysterosalpingogram (HSG). As each month passed I became more frustrated with how slowly things were getting accomplished. It seemed like I was living my life by my cycle days. 

Finally after all the tests were done and read, my husband and I went in for our consultation with the hopes of finding out what was preventing us from conceiving. Nothing. She could tell us nothing. All of my blood tests had come back with normal results, and my HSG revealed clear tubes. Good news? Not in my eyes. Once again we were back to square one and wondering what has going on. I would have begun treatment, but the needs of the Army had us moving ... again.

Once again we were playing the waiting game. Waiting to get moved, waiting to get settled in and waiting to see my new primary care physician. Fortunately, the post we were moving to had better infertility treatment than some other posts.

Changing primary care physicians is no fun. I had to explain all my problems all over again. His response was what I expected. He explained to me that he didn't want to waste my time, all the tests he would have done, I had already had them done. He then referred me to a Reproductive Endocrinologist. Yay!!! I get to meet yet another doctor, have another consultation, and have to explain, again, all my normal and abnormal bodily functions and sex life.

 My husband had put off getting tested. He knew that I would struggle and blame myself if his test came back normal but he could put it off no longer. There was concern that his past two abdominal surgeries might somehow be the cause of our failure to conceive, and we could not proceed with treatment without the results from his semen analysis. This would be our last test for now. I was so happy that we were finally going to get some answers. I told my husband that I could handle any diagnoses except being labeled unexplained. Unexplained infertility, in my eyes it meant that the doctors had given up.

The call from the doctor came in and my world came crashing down. Unexplained Infertility was now our official diagnoses. My husband's sperm came back fine. He had a good amount and good mobility. So what was wrong? Our doctor could not tell us. 

We began treatment with Clomid on Oct of 2013. Our doctor wanted to try 100mg of Clomid with timed intercourse. Once again I was feeling hopeful that maybe just maybe we would have success. Once, twice, three times, no successes. Why, why was this happening to us? December and January we decided we need to take a break. We were starting to feel the stress and pressure of the whole process. We wanted to begin fresh in the new year with a new procedure for us, Intrauterine Insemination or IUI.

Our first IUI was scheduled for Feb 2014. We went in hopeful. We had heard the success stories and we knew the statistics. Unfortunately we didn't have success. 

On to try number two. Try number two was scheduled for March 2014. Once again we went in with hope only to have it dashed once again with a negative. This is where we are at in our lives. Once again we are waiting on another month to come so we can once again begin treatment.

Many times in the past few years I have questioned my faith in God. Why would he allow this to happen to us? Why would he put us through this? I have never claimed to be a strong Christian. I am shaky like everyone else when our faith is put to an extreme test. There is nothing that I can do to change His ultimate will for our lives. Sure we may go through the rest of our lives with just the two of us. Am I okay with that? Not at this time. But I know in the end, whatever happens will be for our good. 

Am I happy that I am going through all of this? the hort answer is no. I have lost friends and alienated family, however, I know through all of this that He is in control. I pray that one day I can look back and be at peace with all that has happened and all that will happen.

(Please note that all parts of this article are the opinion of the guest writer and not necessarily viewpoints that I personally share)

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