Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Our Journey Begins...

Mike and I decided to try to start our family in March of 2010, after we had been married almost 5 years. We have always known we would be parents, but we wanted to enjoy married life before making a huge commitment that we knew would change our lives forever. We finally felt ready to start trying, but I think we were still a little nervous when I threw my birth control pills away!

When I look back on that time, I remember thinking I could plan everything out...man, was I wrong! I remember deciding when to try because I never wanted a "football season baby", because I wanted to have the baby around the beginning of summer so Mike could be home for my maternity leave...I know it sounds naive to think I could have planned it that much, but honestly, it seemed like it had been that way with most of my friends. I had never had any "female problems"other than pretty bad cramps, and before I got on birth control, you could set your watch to my cycle, I was that regular. Also, my mom is super fertile and she had always told me, "You better stay on that pill until you're ready to get pregnant because as soon as you get off, you'll get pregnant!" I really had no reason to think that I might have any problems, which is why Mike and I assumed we could start our family when we were ready.

I remember being surprised the first few months when the pregnancy tests were negative, but I wasn't too concerned or upset the first few times, especially since we weren't really tracking my cycle. Mike and I decided to go on our first cruise that summer in July, and I just knew for sure that I would come back pregnant. I didn't. In August we started using ovulation tests and I began tracking my cycle better, and I realized that my cycles were running closer to 40 days than the normal 28 day cycle, which I knew was not normal for me. When it still hadn't happened in September after 6 months of trying, I was starting to get concerned. I knew most doctors wouldn't start testing for problems until a couple has been trying for a year, but my yearly check-up was scheduled in November so I decided to talk to my OB then.

 I have to take a minute to brag about how wonderful my OB is. I have been seeing Dr. Michael Howell since I was a teenager, and he is one of the most compassionate, caring doctors I have ever seen. He listened to my concerns about my cycle and still not being pregnant, and he said something I will never forget. He said, "Most times I have couples wait a year, but if you were my sister/daughter/wife, I would say let's start testing now to see what we can find." After being so scared that he would laugh at me for being concerned or brush me off, I felt so relieved. He scheduled me for the first step of testing, which was a sonogram.

Now let me explain what a sonogram is when it comes to fertility testing. *Note, this may be more info than you want to know, so please feel free to skip this part!* When I thought of a sonogram, I thought of the kind where they run the wand over your belly, like when you're really pregnant. With no warning, I had to endure my first vaginal sonogram...the wand goes...well, you can figure that out! Nowadays, I almost feel like I'm missing something if I DON'T have a vaginal sonogram every day, but back then, this was pretty scary! However, I survived and the sonogram showed that there were cysts in my ovaries, which is usually consistent with PCOS, or Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome. Since my best friend has PCOS, I was familiar with it and was immediately worried about the diagnosis. I know it's certainly possible to get pregnant with PCOS, but it's also a lot harder. My doctor did say he thought I had a mild case of it, since the cysts were my only symptom, but he wanted to start me on some treatment for it anyway.

We decided to wait until January to start it, since they ran a bunch of blood tests as well and we were waiting to get the results back. In January of 2011, I started my first month of Clomid, which, for those of you who don't know, is a basic fertility drug used to help women ovulate correctly. (For me, that meant getting me back to a regular 28 day cycle and eliminating the cysts.) I started on the lowest dose, 50 mg, and was increased each month by 50 mg for every month that I didn't get pregnant. I also had to go in for a monthly sonogram, just to make sure I didn't have any cysts that would be stimulated by the Clomid.

After my 3rd month on Clomid, which marked a year that we had been trying, I found out I was pregnant! That in itself was a crazy story! I got up on Sunday morning to test, before Mike was up and before we would normally get up to start getting ready for church. I had a home pregnancy test from the Dollar Store, one that had the 2 lines like most normal pregnancy tests. I took the test and got what I thought was a negative test. I (of course) got really upset because I really thought I might be pregnant this month. (I had irrationally gotten upset with Mike that Friday when he told me he was thinking about coaching girls basketball the next year instead of boys...which made absolutely no sense! When he asked why I was so upset, I started crying and said I didn't like when we fought. Later that night I remember saying to him, "I better be pregnant so I have an excuse for that! I don't even know what that was about!" Luckily, I was pregnant so I had an excuse for the craziness!) I crawled back into bed, woke Mike to tell him, and cried with him and vented my frustrations. I then decided I would stay home from church that day, as the "negative test day" each month is always the hardest day on me emotionally. While Mike was at church, something just didn't feel right about that first test, so I asked Mike to stop on his way home from church to pick up a digital pregnancy test. (Much easier to read...it says "pregnant" if you're pregnant and "not pregnant" if you're not!) I know Mike thought I was crazy since I got a negative test already, but I think he also knew not to question a hormonal woman, especially after what had happened Friday! We decided I would wait until the morning to test again, if I still hadn't started my period by then. Well, I just couldn't wait, I wanted confirmation! What I didn't tell Mike that morning was that the test was really faint, most likely because the test was too diluted with excess urine, so I don't think it was an accurate reading, which is why I felt like I needed to take another test. After I took the digital test and saw "Pregnant" I was so shocked. I had always imagined coming up with a cute, creative way of telling Mike that I was pregnant, but all of those ideas went out the window at that moment! I ran into the other bathroom where he was, burst through the door and handed him the test! I think he was as shocked as I was, as he said, "Well, I guess you need to call the doctor." By Monday morning I had taken 2 more tests, all of which read "pregnant", and I called my doctor that day to schedule our first appointment.

We felt like our prayers had finally been answered, that the Lord had delivered us from this struggle after a year of trying, and we were immediately making plans and getting excited. As you can probably guess (seeing as how we still don't have a baby), the Lord had different plans in mind for us. In my next post, I will share about our first heartbreak, the loss of our first child.

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