My husband and I were married October 16, 1999 in Los Angeles, California. I had been told by a couple different doctors that I might have a difficult time trying to conceive because my periods had always been so irregular. So when we were first married, we decided not to wait to start trying for baby number one. To our surprise, we got pregnant on our first try. We were so happy!
In August of 2000, I gave birth to our first son, Alexander. Since we’d become pregnant so easily, we decided to wait a couple years to try for the next one. Before long, though, I noticed that something was not right. It took a long time for my periods to return, and when they did, they were even more irregular than they had been before.
By the time we were ready to try for baby number two, I was having periods every month, though they would last for what seemed like a very long time, and they were starting to become a little bit painful. Sometimes my cycles lasted forty days, and sometimes my period would catch me off guard and start after only twenty days. But I thought, “No problem. I’ve been there before.”
So we started trying again, expecting the same outcome as before. However after only six months of trying, I started to get worried. Was the first time around just a fluke? I talked to my doctor about it, and he told me that there’s only about a 20% chance of conception every month and that it takes many women a whole year to conceive. He couldn’t find anything wrong with me at the time, so he told me not to worry about it. He said that it’s obvious my husband and I made music together as we already had one and not to sweat it.
After two years of trying, though, I was really getting concerned. So my doctor ran some tests on both my husband and me. The results showed that it was possible my husband might have a low count of swimmers, but I was skeptical. That is not a test that many men like to take, and it was very stressful for my husband. Once again, he could find nothing wrong with me, even though my periods were becoming more and more painful every month.
Not being able to conceive really affected my relationships with other people around me. I started avoiding women, even friends and family, that I knew were pregnant, to spare myself the emotional drama of knowing that it might never happen to me. Going into the OB/GYN every year for my annual exam was downright traumatizing. And every time my period started, I just wanted to take the nearest, heaviest object I could find and throw it through a window.
During all this time, my husband and I had decided to try to adopt an infant through our church. This turned out to be just as frustrating. We had two failed placements after being on the waiting list for two years, and it was just too much to bear on top of everything else. So we decided to give that up.
After four years of trying, I knew something was definitely wrong with me. The pain from my periods was starting earlier and earlier. I was having menstrual cramps and bloating for up to ten days before my period even started. And once it started, it was agony.
I lost patience and begged my doctor to look a little harder, so we scheduled a laparoscopy. What it revealed was: 1) a benign cyst IN my fallopian tube (which he drained during the procedure) and 2) marginal evidence of endometriosis (which meant I might have it, or I might not). So there wasn’t anything too serious going on in there that he could see, but he decided to do a round of monthly Lupron injections to put my mind at ease that we were at least trying to ease the pain a bit.
The lack of periods while I was on Lupron was pure bliss. No pain! But emotionally I was a wreck because I had to stop trying to conceive while on them. I hated putting it off even more than it already was. But at least I wasn’t in pain anymore.
When the doctor saw how much better I was feeling with the injections, he decided to stop after three and see what would happen. He told me that once my periods came back, I could start trying to conceive again. My period made it’s reappearance in March of 2007, so we started trying again right away.
When I hadn’t conceived again by June, I pleaded with my husband to consider fertility treatments. I knew we hadn’t been trying long, but I didn’t want to wait years more either. He agreed to it, so we decided to talk to my OB/GYN about it at my annual exam in August. The doctor referred us to an urologist in town that might be able to help us, and we planned to make an appointment with him by the end of the year.
We did not make it that far, though.
A month later, I developed a really bad headache. Now bad headaches are not unusual for me. I have them frequently. But my period was a little bit late, as it was quite frequently. So I decided to take a pregnancy test, just to be sure before reaching for the Extra Strength Excedrin. Over the five years that I’d been trying to conceive, I’d come to expect the usual negative result on the test, so I would hardly even look at it before tossing it in the trash. I nearly did that this time! But this time I had to stop and do a double-take. Was that a plus sign??? It was! It was!
I called my husband at work to tell him the news, and he couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t either! He told me to go get another test just to be certain, so I did. Positive again! Really?! Seriously?! It took me a long while to actually believe it, even with the positive results.
At my first prenatal exam when I had the first ultrasound done, I saw the heartbeat and thought, “Well, it must be true then.” It was easy to believe it when I could see the little heart going. After going home, though, I had a hard time believing it again. I’d had so many disappointments over the five years that we’d been trying to conceive that I’d come to expect it. I thought it must be too good to be true. I was having constant nightmares about losing the baby.
And then there were health scares. Early on in my pregnancy, before I even knew I was pregnant, I’d been hospitalized with acute infectious colitis. That itself is not such a big deal. I was there for three days having the pain managed and getting fluids through an IV to re-hydrate me. Once I found out I was pregnant, though, I began to worry that some of the things I had done there might affect the baby. When I first went into the hospital, I was diagnosed via CT scan. That’s a no-no when you’re pregnant. Then there were all the medicines they had me on. Also, I’d had a scope to get a sample from my colon for biopsy. I was under some kind of anesthesia throughout that procedure. So I wondered how all these things would affect my baby. But once again, my doctor assured me that all was fine. He said the critical development had not yet started when I was in the hospital. Phew! A few months later, though, I had something else to panic over.
I woke up one morning with the burning feeling you would normally get with a urinary tract infection. I called my doctor’s office to see if I should be seen, and they set up an appointment for me that afternoon. By the time I went in, the burning was very painful. They had me go in a cup and told me it might be a few days before they had the results. On my way out, though, they called me back and said that there was blood in my urine. The nurse wanted to check me first to make sure I wasn’t bleeding vaginally, and I wasn’t. That was all fine. But she wanted to give me some antibiotics just to be on the safe side because it looked like an UTI. So I went to the pharmacy to pick up the antibiotics and then went home to get started on them. Less than an hour later, though, I started having intense lower back pain. It became completely unbearable. It felt like I was in labor. I was only 23 weeks along at the time, so I panicked. I asked my husband to take me to the hospital. When I got there they hooked me up to a fetal monitor, and it turned out everything was fine with the baby. My cervix was still closed, he was moving around normally, and there were no contractions. So it was determined that something was happening with one of my kidneys. They started me on intravenous antibiotics and fluids and gave me strong pain meds. During the night, I passed a kidney stone. Problem solved. But what a scary thing to go through!
Since then I’ve been trying hard to convince myself that this is a strong little boy growing within me, and that we’re not going to have any problems getting him here. He’s determined to see it through. Every time he kicks me so hard that I have to run to the bathroom is a real blessing. I smile every time he stretches and I can feel how big he’s getting. I’m due towards the end of May, and I can’t wait to meet this precious little guy that I’ve been waiting for so long to come into my life.
I’ve learned a number of things from this experience. First of all, trust the Lord. After looking back over the last five years and everything else we’ve experienced, I can see why it would not have been good for me to be pregnant through those things. And I see how things have come together for my good while I actually have been pregnant this time around. So the Lord knows what He’s doing. I just needed to have a little faith and trust that He would bless me when it was right for me.
Secondly, I learned to lean on my friends and family that love and support me, even if they were not having the same problems themselves. They may not fully understand what I’m going through, but they can comfort me and find ways to cheer me up. And last, but certainly not least, I learned how deeply I was capable of love, even before I knew I was pregnant. It’s something I’ve thought a lot about. I’ve often wondered how someone can be so desperate to have a child when they have no idea how that child will turn out. But after becoming a mother and realizing that the love is there no matter what, and what that actually felt like, I was hungry to share that love with others. And I wanted to have more children with whom to share it. All the disappointment, discouragement, and heartache was a part my love for my children; the one already here, and the ones yet to come. So as hard as it was to go through, I do not regret, in any way, my prior infertility.