I’ve wanted to write about my infertility experience for a long time.
I’m not completely sure why– after all, it’s fairly personal and somewhat of a painful experience to convey. But then again, all my friends are having babies right now, and in the midst of that there’s this healing salve that covers my wounded heart when another shares of her infertility experiences with me. It’s nice to know I’m not alone, in whatever trial I’m in. And so I want to share with my past and present with you, that you may know you are not certainly not alone, and that God’s mercies are new every morning, whether you can have children or not.
Thinking back, I never thought I wouldn’t be able to have children. My mom and sister never had any problems getting pregnant. If anything, my family joked about being “Fertile Myrtles” (sorry if your name happens to be “Myrtle”). It just never crossed my mind. No, what I wondered about was, “Would the Lord bring me a godly spouse to marry? I thought about that much more often. I always assumed that, should I marry, I’d have no problem getting pregnant.
You just never know what’s around the next corner.
Boy, was I wrong. The Lord brought me a wonderful, godly spouse. But that expectation of being able to get pregnant cast a gloomy cloud over my head when it didn’t happen. And subsequently, there were times when I thought about my future and it seemed very bleak. I trusted the Lord for my future, but there were days I held that trust out to Him with shaky hands and teary eyes. The deeply woven desire for children and the seemingly impossible ability to have them clouded my vision and my ability to see the blessings God had put right in front of me.
In 2010 I was diagnosed with ‘probable’ endometriosis. Endometriosis can be predicted, but it can’t be diagnosed with certainty unless surgery is done (this is because it can’t be seen in exams or by ultrasounds or other imaging devices). My ob/gyn said to me, “Well, do you want to have surgery? If you do, just let me know.” At the time, I was having painful periods but surgery seemed kind of drastic… a little too severe of a treatment plan for my “probable” diagnosis. I opted not to have surgery. After all, what if I went through the surgery, only to have them say, “Sorry, you didn’t have endometriosis, but now you have a huge incision that’s gonna really hurt for a while.” I didn’t want to go through that without more evidence that I actually had endometriosis. So my ob/gyn then said that the best plan was to try to get pregnant, because pregnancy hormones essentially shut down the endometriosis for a while and allows your body to heal from all the damage it causes.
Sounded like a good plan, right? And try to get pregnant we did. It seemed a little premature for us, after all, my husband was still finishing grad school and I was working nights as a nurse. Meanwhile, the pain grew worse. I started having pain all the time, and could find little relief from it. After living on ibuprofen for several weeks, my husband strongly encouraged me to see my ob/gyn again (we had moved, so now I would be seeing a new doctor). I complied with my husband’s wishes and went in for a visit. Again, I heard the same news from my new doctor…I probably had endometriosis and to let her know if I wanted surgery. But then she did an exam and I nearly jumped off the table from sharp, stabbing pain. She ordered an ultrasound, and low and behold they found a 10cm endometrioma (a tumor) on one of my ovaries. They couldn’t even find my other ovary because the tumor was pushing it out of view on the ultrasound monitor. My doctor couldn’t be certain if it was cancer or not (it wasn’t), so I got in for surgery the next week. She ended up removing a 4cm endometrioma from my right ovary and the 10cm endometrioma from my left ovary. In the recovery room, even though I was exhausted and delirious from the anesthesia, I do remember one thing very clearly. My doctor came up to my bedside and told me that she had removed the tumors, saved my ovaries, cleaned out most of the endometriosis, and that she thought that I had a really good chance of getting pregnant. In my delirium, I rejoiced and thanked God! I stayed overnight at the hospital and went home the next day. I was very sore from my large incision in my lower abdomen, but the hope of getting pregnant thrilled me! The surgery was worth it if it increased my chances of conceiving. And my hopes of getting pregnant grew tenfold.
(Part Two coming soon)