This post has been rolling around in my head for a long time. Should I write it? Or not? So, I’m putting it out there… here it is…the post on infertility.
Nathan and I decided after about 10 months of marriage to start trying to get pregnant! Our thought was to have our first child in the safety and familiarity of America before moving half way around the world where medical care is not as reliable. I almost couldn’t believe that we could just decide to have a baby! Were we really old enough, responsible enough, financially sound enough to do that? Despite all of the questions, I threw away my birth control and we jumped in with both feet.
The first few months rolled on a like normal. We didn’t think too much about not getting pregnant right away. I had heard that it could take several months for my body to return to normal after being on the pill for so long. My sister-in-law had given me a book about fertility. I think she suspected we were trying, and so with book in hand, I started taking my temperature every morning and tracking when I ovulated. Like clockwork, I ovulated every month. And, like clockwork, every month, no pregnancy. When we reached 9 months of trying, we started wondering if something was wrong. Most doctors don’t want to start testing until it’s been a year, but we were joining MAF, starting deputation and hoped to be starting language school within the year, so if something was wrong, we wanted to know before moving to Indonesia!
Up until this point, we had decided not to tell people that we were trying, but with us approaching the mission field, people started asking. We had our pat, generic answer: “We’d like to have kids, it’s all in God’s timing.” We did tell a few people the whole truth and quickly found out that there are safe people to tell and unsafe people to tell. Most people have no idea what to say to you unless they have experienced infertility themselves, so they’ll say things like: “You need to pray more,” or “You need to relax, have a glass of wine,” or “You need to have more sex.” To me, that translated as: “You’re not spiritual enough to get pregnant, pray more,” or “You’re too uptight, infertility isn’t real,” or “You’re doing it wrong!” I know that they meant well, I really do, but trust me when I say, these are the wrong things to say to someone struggling with infertility.
So, after about 9 months of trying, we starting seeing fertility doctors to be tested. We did the whole enchilada of testing. I was tested, Nathan was tested; and because we were now on deputation (raising support to move overseas), we were moving around and therefore changing doctors every few months. The same tests over and over. The same results over and over: undetermined cause of infertility. One doctor explained to us that there is a mountain of knowledge to learn about how someone becomes pregnant, and modern science knows about a grain of sand worth. In fact, they say that even if conditions and timing are exactly right, there is still only a 20% chance that you’ll get pregnant. So, while the tests said there was nothing wrong, that doesn’t mean that there’s nothing wrong. It’s not very comforting.
In some ways, I think it might be easier if there was something wrong. At least then we’d know. Either it could be fixed or it couldn’t. And we could move on, move forward. But instead, we’re in limbo wondering why we can’t get pregnant. Why the 16-year-old and not me? Why the drug-addict and not me? Why the promiscuous and not me? Why? Why? Why? God and I had a lot of conversations. Surely God would rather grant us, a couple who would raise their children in the ways of God, a child rather than those other “less worthy” people. But God’s ways are bigger than our ways. God’s purposes are bigger than my purposes.
After about a year and a half of trying the old fashioned way, we decided to start trying fertility treatments. We prayed a lot about what was right for us, what was morally ethical. Everyone has their own opinion on this, and weren’t afraid to share it with us, but we sought God and felt comfortable moving forward with fertility drugs and doing an IUI (Intrauterine Insemination). We did three IUIs with two different doctors (because we moved in the middle of it all). IUIs involve shots, and pills and trips to the doctor. We never imagined that getting pregnant would involve so many people! Twelve days after the IUI, we returned to the doctor for a pregnancy test. They would call us a few hours later with the results. I could always tell immediately by the nurse’s tone of voice that they answer was negative. Three times, negative.
At this point, my emotions were shot. Every month was a huge up and down. I would convince myself that that month was different. That my body felt slightly different and so I must be pregnant!! But inevitably, I got my period. On time. Like clockwork. And because of all of the hormones from the shots and pills rolling around in my body, the cramps were worse than normal. What was the point of a horrible period if I was never to have children?? I was spent. After the third IUI, the third disappointment, the third large doctor bill that insurance wouldn’t cover, we called it quits. I quit taking my temperature; I quit taking the fertility drugs and prenatal vitamins; we quit seeing doctors. No more.
It took several more months before I stopped knowing exactly what day I was on in my cycle. And even more months before I stopped crying on the day I got my period. But eventually, it came. Thankfully, at this point we had arrived in language school. With the change in country, culture, language and Nathan’s health, I had other things to worry about.
Three years have passed now since all of the testing and fertility treatments. I have never gone back on birth control, so even though we haven’t been actively trying, we haven’t been preventing. Many of my friends have had children and celebrated their first, then their second and third birthdays. And I want you to know, that I am so happy for them. I am thrilled that they have been blessed with children! And I still desire the same blessing for Nathan and me. I have not given up hope that God could grant us children, after all, it is Him that opens and closes the womb. It has been a journey of questions without answers. But God is faithful and I trust Him, more now than I did 4 ½ years ago.
Two months ago, Nathan and I decided to try another round of fertility drugs. Will you pray for us over the next several months? We are stronger now than we were three years ago, but emotions still run high. We have also slowly begun to explore the option of adoption. There is an overwhelming amount of information out there regarding adoption. Throw in our complication of living overseas, adoption seems overwhelming. God knows! If it is His will for us to have children, I know that He will work it out!