Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Our Infertility Journey

When Jason and I were married (almost nine years ago!), our initial "perfect world" plan was to wait two years, have 1 kid, then wait two more years and have another kid. Well, two years came and went and...well, there was no kid. We simply decided that we enjoyed our kid-free life - carefree, no worries, come and go as we pleased, travel as we liked....so we put our "plan" on the back burner.

As the years went by, people consistently made comments to me about my biological clock. Yeah yeah...who wants to hear about that? Honestly y'all, if I could have put a stop clock on my 27th year and remained 27 years old forever, I would have. Since life doesn't work that way (darnit), time kept ticking by and before I knew it, I was in my 30's. 

Still, that longing to bring another life into this world just wasn't there for me...and Jason felt the same way. As a child and playing with baby dolls, I always dreamed of being a mom one day - I just knew I would...so what was wrong with me? What happened to my childhood dreams? I finally started telling people that we were on the fence about kids...which was partially true.


Those feelings didn't change in a day.....it was over the course of time. Our "perfect world" was shattered when my grandfather grew ill and passed away and that's when the realization hit me - my life as I knew it then would not always "be". My current life situation as I knew it at that moment in time wouldn't always be the same - that's just how life goes. We had to ask ourselves, did we really want to let this phase of our lives pass us by and not experience parenthood? The answer was a definite NO.  I remember lying in bed one night in tears, crying on Jason's shoulder. I'm not sure he fully understood the emotions I was experiencing, but he comforted and told me everything would be ok.

Jason and I had been trying to conceive for a couple of months around the time of my grandfather's passing. At his funeral, several family members wrote notes and left them in his casket. In mine, I told my grandfather that him and my grandmother couldn't hold on to my baby for too long...because I wanted to meet him or her eventually. It was a comfort for me to picture my grandparents taking care of my child in heaven while its earthly home was being prepared. Sound silly? Well, it wasn't to me. I loved my grandparents dearly - they were like a second set of parents to me. The fact that they aren't here with me as I'm going through this time absolutely crushes my heart...so to think that they had some part in caring for my child makes the fact that they aren't here on earth with me right now a little more bearable.

Fast forward to a year later. Obviously we knew something was wrong. It's recommended for those under the age of 35 to try to conceive for 1 year prior to becoming pregnant. Well, we had done that and were still coming up short. I used an insane amount of ovulation sticks and read my fair share of fertility books over the course of our journey. We finally decided to contact an infertility specialist and see if we could figure out what was wrong. Only problem - the nearest infertility specialist was in a town an hour away.

 Lucky for us, Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend was approaching and our airport travel destination took us right through the town where the infertility specialist was located! So, the day before we flew out to Orlando, we officially met our infertility specialist. I was SO nervous for our appointment with her. As an added kick to my wounded pride, mother nature decided to remind me just why I was in that infertility clinic to begin with....if you catch my drift. I was so sure it was a sign that I would never conceive. (Dramatic, much?)

Our doctor was SO nice and spent a good hour going over everything about infertility with Jason and I. Basically, we came out of her office knowing that the world of infertility is an uncertain world and no answers are promised. We also discovered just how costly the infertility journey can be for a couple...and our insurance wasn't much help, unfortunately.  Feeling utterly defeated, we put the thoughts out of the back of our minds as we looked forward to a fun filled week in our happy place.

After returning home refreshed, both Jason and I went through a series of test, exams, and lab work in December. I also had an HSG exam which resulted just fine. (I was seriously worried I had a tumor or something...yeah yeah...the life of an oncology nurse!)

It was determined that we were experiencing something called "Male Infertility Factor" along with low testosterone. We also learned that 30% of infertility cases are related to Male Infertility Factor. As a matter of fact, our levels were so bad (the count, motility, and morphology were all super below normal...like really really bad) that the first step of infertility treatments (IUI or Intrauterine Insemination) wasn't even an option for us. IUI is the much cheaper first step before IVF (In Vitro Fertilization). Unfortunately, if we decided not to pursue any other options, our infertility specialist told us that the only one she could give us was IVF.  In the midst of the conversation, the idea of a Urologist who specialized in male infertility was discussed. Willing to try anything, we agreed.

Honestly, agreeing to see the urologist was the best decision we ever made. We LOVED him! From the start, he was very encouraging and even shared his personal infertility struggles with us which made us feel incredibly reassured!

Then, it began again - Jason was placed through a series of testing, lab work, and ultrasounds to determine and pinpoint the problem. It was discovered that he had a varicocele which was more than likely the culprit for the poor numbers on his analysis. Add poor numbers to a low testosterone and we were really up a creek without a paddle.  We were given two options from the urologist - a varicocele repair (which required a surgery) and placing Jason on Clomid (yes, you read that correctly).

At the end of April, Jason began taking Clomid and had the varicocele repair on May first. We were given the green light to return to life as normal the following week. We were also told that it takes an entire three months to show any improvement in counts after a change is made. In my head, that translated to August/September. We were also told that if the goal of achieving a pregnancy on our own didn't occur, it was possible that his counts could improve enough that IUI would become an option again. I hoped we wouldn't have to go that route, but I tried to take it one day at a time.


 Much to my utter surprise and amazement, I received a positive pregnancy test when we returned from our Baseball Hall of Fame Weekend at the end of JULY! I honestly couldn't believe my sleep-deprived eyes that morning. It had only been two months since his surgery and I had only been through two cycles - no way a pregnancy was already happening!! The above photo is from my work calendar the day after I found out I was pregnant! I shared the remainder of the story here if you'd like to read about it, and the rest as they say...is history!

Throughout our infertility journey, we experienced a lot of pain and sorrow, but I can promise you that it was all worth it in the end! Some of the hardest parts were around holidays - for our church Christmas musical, I was given the part of Eve and the lines reminded of how unsuccessful I was at bearing children; during the Easter production, I was given the part of Mary and one of the lines stated that I was "most blessed of women...for I held a baby in my arms..."; and this year, at least six pregnancy announcements from friends were made. Although I was incredibly happy for my friends for achieving this seemingly impossible feat, it never seemed to end...everywhere I turned, there were always reminders...

To those out there still experiencing this journey, I know there are no words I can say that will make it better. I wish I could reach through this computer and give you a great big giant hug right now. I've been there...I know how much it hurts. It's a hollow ache that no one or thing this side of earth can fill.


However, I CAN promise you this - "I say this because I know what I am planning for you,” says the Lord. “I have good plans for you, not plans to hurt you. I will give you hope and a good future" - Jeremiah 29:11  This verse was my solid ground...my rock...throughout our infertility struggles. Every time a reminder of my fertility failures arose, I reminded myself that God had EVERYTHING under control. My life, my circumstances, and my future were all in His hands...I just had to keep trusting that everything would work out as it should. Don't lose heart and don't give up hope. Your rainbow is out there, too!!  

Much love to you all! Thanks for all of the support! It means the world to Jason and I! 

34 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing.. Ugly cry and tears all the way through.. I appreciate your story so much!

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  2. Thanks for sharing!!!
    Prayers all goes well.

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    1. Thanks so much, Sarah! I appreciate the prayers!

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  3. SO so excited for yall. You deserve this. Can't wait to meet baby! PS I mailed your box yesterday!

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    1. Thanks, Heather and thanks so much for sharing with me!

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  4. I always enjoy reading an infertility story that has a happy ending. The whole process is so very hard that it's very easy to lose hope.

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    1. Same here - I couldn't agree more! I watched so many YouTube videos and couples journeys throughout our process! It definitely helped!

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  5. What a beautiful story. I have a close friend who went through this too and I remember the heartache she went through , after about 7 years and tens of thousands $ later they finally had their baby too.
    Maybe that little bundle of joy just wanted to meet you granparents first and get to know them before coming:) I truly believe those on the otherside watch and love us and are joyously mingling together taking care of one another!
    Conratsulations I am so happy for you. I have a feeling your going to be an incredible mom!

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    1. Wow...I know we are incredibly lucky as we had the less costly side of the infertility world. Thank you so much!! <3

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  6. Really happy for you. My first husband has the exact same problem. He had the surgery but I never got pregnant. I had 2 friends also with his problem. They had to adopt. So you are very lucky!!!
    Eventually my husband & I divorced and I got re-married to someone who already had 2 kids.

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    1. Yes, we are very lucky and super blessed...I couldn't agree more!

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  7. I'm so happy for you guys! Jeremiah 29:11 was my grandfather's favorite verse and one that's helped me immensely when life gets rough. Big hugs to you for staying strong and relying on your faith to pull you through.

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  8. Aww Karen, huge, huge, HUGE hugs! <3 Infertility sucks, but I always look back on our infertility journey and see it as a blessing in disguise. I feel like it was God teaching me how to be patient. The baby that I got after all that waiting was Wyatt, and my goodness was her worth the wait. I would got through all of that heartache a million times again just to be his mom. Parenthood is super hard, but I go to bed every single night with the biggest smile on my face because of my two little miracles. I know you'll feel the same way and will be such a wonderful mother. I'm so, so happy for you and Jason. <3

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    1. Thanks so much, Jen!! I appreciate it! :)

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  9. So sorry for your struggle in the begining but your entire story is just beautiful! Brought a tear to my eye for sure!

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  10. Thank you for sharing, Karen. So very happy for you and Jason!

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  11. Karen, I am so happy for you and Jason. Hugs.... infertility is so not a fun path. Thanks for sharing this because it can also be a very lonely path. I love the verse about the plans God has for us. When my Dad was still with us, he was very lonely having buried two wives whom he loved very much. He had lost many friends too. He used to say, I don't know why I am still here, I guess God has something planned for me. It would always make me tear up.

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    1. You're right, Julie...it definitely can be a lonely journey. Awww your sweet dad...I love that!

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  12. What a beautiful journey thus far Karen! I know God has major plans for you and your growing family!

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  13. Wow, what a touching and inspiring story! <3 I keep changing my mind about kids right now, but this was so beautiful and heartening to read. Also, glad it wasn't a tumour. :) I would have worried about it and a whole other myriad of things --even though I'm not an oncologist! ♥

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    1. I hear you completely, Cathie! We were on the fence for so long!! I'm so glad it wasn't a tumor! Haha!

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  14. Thank you for sharing your story, Karen. I love the touching note that you left in your grandfather's casket about not holding onto your baby for too long, and clearly, he and your grandmother read your note. So excited for you and Jason!

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    1. Yes, it seems they did! :) Thanks, Kathryn! <3

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    2. I'm sure this post was hard to write but will be a huge comfort to others going through the same process. My husband and I did not have the same problems, but did take "longer than average" to become pregnant (almost a year with both pregnancies). I tracked my temperatures, read every fertility book I could find and was disappointed each month. But you are so right...when it happens it is so worth the wait!! I have three beautiful children and wouldn't change any of my journey for the world! The hardest part for me was the amount of people who announced pregnancies during the time we were trying. I was happy for my friends, but it was a constant reminder of my lack of success. Thanks for sharing this story for everyone in the future!!

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    3. I can relate in so many ways. We tried to get pregnant from 2006-2008 before our diagnosis. Ours was also MFI, however, it was due to Kleinfelters - an extra chromosome leading to no sperm. We were told they could do a biopsy of the testicle, but they likely wouldn't find viable sperm and told to chose between adoption and donor. In 2009 we moved forward with donor. I love my daughter! But our heartache wasn't over. Since 2012, we've tried five more times. These failed attempts have been devastating. Knowing I should be able to get pregnant, yet can't is hard to swallow. At this point, while I long to give my sweet one a sibling, I can't keep doing it. The verse that has gotten me through is "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding." - Proverbs 3:5. I love that you think of your grandparents holding your unborn children. I hope that that maybe, just maybe, my Oma is holding one more for me. Congrats to you and your husband! I will keep following your blog!

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  15. I am so so happy for you!!!! I had my own struggles with miscarraige and struggling then to even get pregnant. I am just so thrilled for you and grateful for sharing your journey!

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