In lieu of Website Wednesday this week, I am choosing to participate in a TTC/Infertility Blog Carnival sponsored by this amazing blogger. Its not a part of my theology that God looks down and hand selects who is to suffer with infertility and who is not. I think its just one of those things that happens BUT it is a part of my beliefs that God can work through anything and that we can use whatever situations in our lives we encounter to bring Him glory and to help others. I love 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 that states:
“Blessed be the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation ; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also.”
It is with these verses in mind that I choose to share my story of both infertility and chronic illness to anyone who will listen in hopes that it may give comfort or encouragement to others who may be experiencing similar trials.
My story of infertility started my last semester of college (fall of 2003). I was doing my student teaching and John and I had just gotten engaged and were starting to plan our wedding. I was starting to deal with chronic lower back pain and after brushing it off for awhile, I went to the doctor thinking that maybe I had a kidney infection. After seeing a GP, I was referred to an ob/gyn as she feared it was a “female problem.” I immediately began to panic as I knew that I wanted to be a mom more than anything. I had never seen an ob/gyn so I was completely freaked out, especially since I was hours from home and didn’t have the support of my mom to go with me. Thankfully I had the most wonderful amazing doctor (definitely a gift from God!) and she talked me through everything and immediately began running tests. After the initial tests came back negative for things like infection, she brought up endometriosis. The only thing I knew about endometriosis was infertility. She assured me that while it was an issue, most women with endo go on to carry children (I think the latest stat is 70%). But the only way to truly diagnosis endometriosis is through surgery called a diagnostic laparoscopy.
So we scheduled surgery and I alerted my parents as they planned to travel down and stay with me during my recovery. Little did I know this would be the first of three laparoscopies before ultimately needing a hysterectomy. Through the surgery, endo was confirmed and removed. Recovery was relatively easy. I was back student teaching within a week and had most of my energy back after two. We continued our wedding plans as I began trying different types of treatment to control the pain and spread of endo. We tried several different types of birth control as well as a drug called
evil torture Depot Lupron which basically puts your body into a menopausal state. I did NOT do well on it at all and am truly surprised that John stuck with me (seriously I was that mean crazy evil hormonal on it). So we went back to trying different types of birth control.
Thankfully we made it to wedding day in May of 05 and John still wanted to be my husband 🙂 We knew that fertility could be an issue so we began TTC (trying to conceive) about six months after we were married. It started out exciting and fun but it didn’t take long to realize that there may be some issues. Knowing my history, when we began TTC I charted my cycles (fertilityfriend.com is amazing) and noticed that they were really crazy ranging from 35 – 60 days. Still we kept chugging along. By the following May (06), pain from my endometriosis had really begun to impact my daily life again so after consulting my doctor, we decided to do a second laparoscopy to clear out any endo as well as check to be sure my tubes were clear and there weren’t any other issues. After recovery, we jumped back on the TTC wagon but this time decided to try some low level fertility treatments in efforts to boost our success. We did two Clomid cycles but didn’t have great results so I switched to Femera. Still no dice.
So more testing began. John went through all of the male testing and they continued to monitor my hormone levels. Unfortunately we discovered that not only was my endo an issue but we had some male issues as well. We stopped the meds for awhile and continued to try on our own while we tried to grasp the news that had been handed to us. Pain was becoming even more of an issue so I consulted the doctors of the Center for Endometriosis Care in Atlanta. We scheduled surgery #3 for May 07.
After yet another recovery, we resumed fertility treatments. We decided to try inter-uterine insemination (IUI) with Femera in hopes that it would work. After two failed attempts, we were given the news that because of our fertility issues we would need to do IVF (invetro-fertilization) if we wanted any chance of getting pregnant. This was very tough news for us to hear. IVF is really expensive and honestly can be a gamble. There are a lot of drugs involved and knowing how I reacted to the Lupron as well as the Clomid, I wasn’t sure that John would want to stay married to me if I went on the higher-level fertility drugs that went with IVF. Still I desperately wanted to be able to experience pregnancy. We wrestled for months with what to do next. Before we were married, we had discussed adoption and knew that we wanted to adopt at some point. We just thought that it would be after we had a couple children of our own. So we were faced with two choices: IVF or adoption. Both cost roughly $25000 and we knew that there was risk involved in both. We prayed and prayed and prayed.
My endometriosis continued to majorly impact my daily life. I was coming home from work and going straight to bed. I was struggling to finish my school work. In March of 08 we sat down with my doctor and weighed out the options (what few there were left). It was then that we made our final decision to pursue adoption. My fourth (and hopefully final) surgery was put on the books for May 08 (yes you noticed right if you noticed that I had surgery in May 06, 07 and 08). It would be a total hysterectomy. We dove right into the adoption process and began researching agencies and attending workshops. Time flew from March to May and before I knew it I was in pre-op for my hysterectomy. The absolute hardest thing I think I have ever done was to sign the consent form that stated, “I understand that this surgery will render me permanently incapable of bearing children.” I cried. I almost had to leave the room. It was so hard. But I signed it.
The day of surgery came and I was surrounded by loved ones. That day it was made apparent that our decision to adopt was not our own but was definitely the desire of God as we discovered that had we done IVF, I would never have been able to carry a child to term. Endo was everywhere. My left ovary was swollen to the size of my uterus. Endo was completely wrapped around my right ovary and right ureter. My bowels were adhered to the back of my uterus. It was a mess. My doctor said that had we not scheduled surgery it would have been happening under emergency circumstances within weeks. Recovery was hard. Really hard. Hot flashes began immediately. I was so swollen that I couldn’t wear normal clothes for weeks. And I cried…a lot. I cried about the pain but mostly about losing what I deemed my “womanhood.”
By July, we had chosen an agency and submitted our application. We were approved and started the paper chase (which is basically tons and tons of paperwork). By the end of September we started our homestudy. We were approved the beginning of November and our profile went active. Within two weeks, we received our first call which unfortunately did not work out. We continued getting the house ready and began putting together a nursery. We got our second call in March and were matched on John’s birthday. Our little girl was born two days later but made her appearance five weeks early so we parented from the NICU. Unfortunately four days later, the birth mom revoked the papers. We were devastated. It was like our child had died. We were left with so many questions. Thankfully we had a community of believers surrounding us, supporting us, and praying for us.
We received another call April 30th. We met with our agency and hesitantly accepted the match. It was very hard to even get excited about being matched. We knew that we could be parents to a baby girl but we tried not to think about it or talk about it. We were just so worried about getting hurt again. Little did we know that God was working out His master plan and bringing us and our little girl together. It was exactly 8 weeks after we were matched that we received the call to pick up our daughter. OUR DAUGHTER. John walked into my office with a vase of roses and announced that I was leaving work and we were going to get our daughter. Words cannot even describe all of the emotions that flowed through my veins. Joy. Awe. Shock. Excitement. Fear. You name it, I experienced it all within 60 seconds. So we drove home, changed clothes, packed up the car, and headed to the agency (with a pit stop at Wal-mart of course!). We both cried as we told our parents the news over the phone. At 6pm that afternoon, our daughter was placed into our arms for the first time and at that moment it all made sense. The tears, the struggles, the anger all went away. Not to say that it is completely forgotten or that there is not still grief from past events but in that moment we knew that Abby was meant to be our daughter and we were meant to be her parents.
Adoption is a wonderful and beautiful thing. It is hard and draining at times but so worth it. From the moment Abby was placed it my arms it didn’t matter that we didn’t share DNA or have the same eyes. She was my daughter and I was her mother. In the past four months with Abby, I have learned so much more about God. About His love and patience. About His care and compassion. There are no words to describe everything that comes with being a mother. Our “adoption verse” is Ephesians 1:5 that states, “His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. And this gave him great pleasure.”
If you made it this far in reading this post I commend you! I honestly didn’t think that it would be this long! But thank you! Hopefully someone can be encouraged to see that God does hold fast to His promises. We may not always see it but He is there and He will see you through it!