For me the greatest possible danger along the way of the cross of infertility is not the bitterness or strain in the marriage (both very real dangers) which often happen or anything else, but rather the loss of hope. It is so important to maintain hope...to always have hope. But how do we do this? So many times this journey seems hope-less. It seems like "our turn", "our time", "our baby" will never come. Maybe the treatments don't work as fast as we wish they would. We don't see the progress we want. We don't feel any different or think anything is happening. Bottom line, there is no pregnancy. We begin to lose hope.
To stay steadfast in hope is a constant battle. I am so blessed to have a husband who is there to encourage me when I feel like giving up, and I pray I am able to give him the support he needs when he's feeling down. But as anyone who's been on this journey can tell you, it's just downright hard. And in a special way, us women have a unique challenge as our hormones, timed to kick in right around the time we find out yet again that we aren't pregnant, do NOTHING to help us cling to hope. Rather the drop in progesterone gives further temptation to despair. At times it feels like everything is against you. Can't a girl get a break? Hanging on to hope can be so hard. It's a physical and spiritual battle against so much...sometimes even yourself.
As of yesterday, we are 3 months post-surgery and yet we are not where I had hoped we would be. I know, I know...have patience. But I just kept hoping that once my body recovered we'd be pregnant right away. Maybe my body isn't fully recovered. Maybe things ARE happening and it's just going to take more time. I know this and I'm frustrated with myself for not having more patience. (sigh)
I called a friend today who also had the wedge-resection done. In fact Dr. Hilgers has done the wedge-resection on her and all of her (4?) sisters several years ago. Even though we don't talk often, she has been an incredible support to me both as I prepared for surgery and as I have recovered and moved beyond it. In our discussion today she reminded me, as she often does, that it was two years (to the day!) from her surgery that she gave birth to their first child. It takes time. In their case, it was 15 months from surgery to conception. If we were to follow a similar path (mind you I am fully aware that each person's story is different), that means that we could spend another entire year waiting for conception. But....it could happen. And that's the reality of the journey of infertility. It could happen any given cycle. And so your hopes get up...and then when you find out this was not "the month", your hopes crash. And then as the next cycle progresses, you remind yourself, "but it could happen any given cycle." And so your hopes get up...and then?....time will tell.
I confessed to my friend that I was surprised at how hard of a time I've been having lately and her reassuring response was soothing to my soul. She said she too struggled more after the surgery because her feeling post surgery had been "this was supposed to fix it. This was supposed to be the solution. We were supposed to get pregnant now." She put into words what I have been feeling and yet unable to express. Somehow just hearing her say express what my heart was been feeling, validated the experience and has helped me move on. I know that the surgery wasn't a magic spell, or an instant fix, and that it may take years for my body to heal and regain full health...but I never claimed to possess the virtue of patience (right honey?).
It's just so hard to feel directionless. To feel that the cyclical highs and lows will never end and to not have a focus or direction for the future. That's where we were when we met Dr. Parker last December (2008). I was at the point of despair because I just felt so ungrounded and without direction. I just wanted someone to point me in the direction we should go and confidently say, "okay, Suzy and Dave, here's what we're going to do." Dr. Parker did just that. I remember returning from Ohio after our meeting, practically giddy. What he had outlined would be a massive change in medications, diet, and lifestyle, but I was ready and willing. I had D-I-R-E-C-T-I-O-N. And since then he has been wonderful about leading us step by step through this journey. He has been our primary Simon of Cyrene, helping us to carry this cross! We thank God for him.
Through the Winter, we worked through the plan Dr. Parker laid out for us and in the Spring, when we had not achieved a conception, we prepared for surgery. Still, this was part of the plan and preparing for surgery was the direction. Then came the surgery and the recovery was the direction. Now that it's been three months...what's the direction? Where do we go from here? I think this is part of what has been bothering me so much lately. I have once again felt directionless. Like "okay, we've done the surgery, it hasn't worked yet, now what?"
Enter: Dr. Parker.
(This next two paragraphs might be a little confusing for you non-Creighton Model NFP folks, but I'll include it anyway for those that care or might be interested.)
I contacted Dr. Parker yesterday and emailed him my Creighton charts because I had begun to bleed (Day 28) and yet we hadn't seen anything we'd consider peak-type during this cycle. What was going on? Was it an estrogen excess bleed or a progesterone withdrawal bleed? Why hadn't we seen peak-type? And yet, I was encouraged in some ways because this bleed came on its own without having to be induced and had all the characteristics of having decent levels of progesterone (it's amazing what you learn about color through Creighton!) That seemed good. Add to this that for the first time EVER in my four years of charting Creighton, we had NINE consecutive days of green stamps (Days 8-16). Normally I am the utter Queen of Yellow Stamps. But surgery has definitely changed my mucous patterns and I am thrilled to see even this improvement and new clarity in charting.
Today Dr. Parker called me back and we had a 20 minute conversation that lifted my spirits more than I can express. Why? Because once again, he gave us direction....and this in turn gives me hope. It's an entirely new plan of attack. Out with the Clomid. In with the Femera. Out with the Dexamethosone. In with the Mucinex (yes, you read correctly, regular over the counter Mucinex), high dose Vitamin B6 sustained release, a round of antibiotics and subcutaneous injections of HCG (on Peak +3, +5, +7 and +9.) It's an entirely new plan of attack...but it's direction! To top it all off, after looking at my charts, Dr. Parker thinks that the bleed is Progesterone withdrawal and not Estrogen excess, so that is good news as well! And all of this without using supplementary Progesterone support this cycle. So maybe things are improving and my body is regaining hormonal balance? Maybe good things are happening and I just haven't seen them all and they haven't been brought to completion yet.
I called Dave and shared Dr. Parker's instructions. Dave was practically giddy and moved to tears. I asked him why and his response was, "because it seems like there's hope again." It really is amazing what comfort it brings to couples going through infertility when someone "gets it" and can look at a situation that is seemingly out of control, can assess it, make sense of it (or at least seem to) and then confidently say, "here's where we're going." In just 20 minutes today, Dr. Parker was able to do just that. Praise God for NaPro Technology! Dave and I will be forever grateful to Dr. Parker and all of the wonderful NaPro doctors we've worked with who have done just that for us. They help to give us hope. They remind us to Hang On...Possibilities Exist.
God Himself only knows where this new direction will take us, but I am again filled with hope and am confident that His grace will sustain us...that He will strengthen us with power through His Spirit according to the riches of His glory! That He will continue to dwell in our hearts, when they're overflowing with joy and when they're breaking with sorrow. That in both the mountains of joy and the valley of tears He will use those moments to reveal to us how immense His love is for us; it's infinite breadth and length, height and depth. That He will fill us with Himself even while we are waiting, teaching our hearts to rest in Him and to be content with the present moment. This new direction may bring about the baby of our dreams and it may not. But possibilities DO exist and even if this new direction doesn't bring about the desired conception, our God's power extends beyond medicine and in His love and goodness He could bring us our son or daughter in a manner only He knows or could bring about. God will always and forever be able to accomplish more than we could ever ask for or imagine. His love is truly extravagant.
Peace be with each of you.
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine, by the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.