Thursday, November 12, 2009

Let's get real, shall we?


Do you want to get real? Because I think I'm ready to. Honesty is the best policy, after all.

Would you like to know what I’ve been beating around the bush about for a while now?

I have found in the past few months that the more I open up with people, the more I find that I am {we are} not alone. The struggles that we face, are, in fact, the same struggles others face. Pain, fear, longings unfulfilled.

So, here goes nothing…{my heart beats a little faster when I type the words…}

We are trying to get pregnant. {shocker for some, old news for others}

We have been trying for a little over a year now {13 months to be exact}.

It started as a scare, a pregnancy scare, which, when it came back negative, bore the truth from my heart.

I wanted a baby. {we wanted a baby}

That was last October.

I will spare you all of the ups and downs from the past year {because they may be the makings of another post altogether, or a whole other blog, or an entire book…maybe one day}, but I will say this: the road has been rough, but the walk has been amazing.

Amazing you ask? You question my way with words, do you? Yes, I said it, amazing.

We have had good months and bad months, and some days have been harder than others, but as the pages on the calendar flip, one truth remains – it is out of our hands, and to be honest, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

We subscribe to the thinking {call it a religion, perhaps} that God is in control. We believe that He’s not only in control, but he cares for us. So, during the months when it would have been easy to give up hope, we were learning a very timely lesson of trust. And a gracious lesson on peace.

We knew early on that even for a “normal” couple with no known or pre-existing conditions, it could quite easily take well over a year to conceive. So, as discouraged as we sometimes got when it was obvious that “this month” wouldn’t be “the month”, we continued to trust in the perfect will of God.

So, last month {October}, when the “trying” phase reached a year, we decided that I should make an appointment with my dear, sweet gynecologist – Dr. Klien. A grey-headed, veteran doctor with a soft-spoken voice and kind, grandfatherly words of wisdom.

He reminded me that this process of creating life couldn’t be rushed and that it would happen in its own time. But, he also said we should move forward with some preliminary testing.

{This is the part that if you aren’t sure you want to know THAT much about us, you should just stop reading! Remember, you’ve been warned…}

He then scheduled for me to have a post-coital exam around my predicted time of ovulation.

As planned, I went in for the exam. As I had predicted, it was a few days too early in my cycle. So, I came back two days later to do the exam all over again. It was a Saturday morning. He took a look, took a couple swabs and ordered my husband to have a some tests done as well, just to cover all our bases {this was something he wasn’t overly ecstatic about, but it was for a good cause, wasn't it?}.

In the meantime, he scheduled me for a biopsy of my uterus for the following Saturday.

A week passed and i found myself back in his office for my biopsy. I won’t lie and tell you it was painless or a breeze, because it wasn’t; but I will say that I had already set it in my mind that no pain would be too great – for the end reward - a child. So, I clenched my teeth, wiggled my toes and coughed when they said to cough to take my mind off of the impending discomfort.

The pain only lasted a minute, and only led to small cramps for a few days, and in the end, all tests {including his} came back normal. That was the hope, right? That they wouldn’t find anything and that they’d just tell us to keep trying and it would happen in its own time.

The doctor then told me to call him on Day #1 of my next cycle {assuming it would come – which of course, it did} and after relaying the good news of all tests being a-okay, he wanted to schedule me for a hysterosalpingogram.

Long word, right? Well, let me explain what it is.

Simply stated, a hysterosalpingogram is a procedure where they inject radioactive dye into your uterus and take xrays as it “spills” through your fallopian tubes. In doing this they will a.) see if there are any blockages and b.) clear away any “debris” stuck in either of the fallopian tubes. But as I learned on Tuesday, there is also a c.) it will show if there are any other “conditions” in regards to the uterus and tubes.

So, Tuesday was my scheduled hysterosalpingogram. I asked my mom to come with me because, after the biopsy, I was nervous about the pain {turns out, that wouldn’t be the issue at all}.

We got there early, and found ourselves waiting. And waiting some more. Two hours later they finally called me back. A sweet, curly-headed apologetic nurse took me back and explained everything. I got undressed and asked her about the pain level. She told me that she’d had one done and it was really nothing. I believed her. Her eyes didn’t lie.

Then i met the doctor. Luckily, he was also kind, and funny, which helped, as he was having me laugh throughout the entire procedure, helping keep me distracted and entertained throughout the uncomfortable process.

Upon meeting him, he also explained to me the procedure, how they would "open me up" with a contraption with a light {it was pretty rad actually} and send a catheter with a small balloon on the end, up into my uterus in order to inject the dye. We would then all watch on the screen as the radioactive liquid flowed down through my tubes. Or, that was the plan at least.

The pain was minor. Slight pinching and cramping. I remember breathing through my mouth to stay still and steady. We watched the screen, like an old black-and-white motion picture, it was strange seeing my own interior, but fascinating all the same. It kept me preoccupied. And then he stopped and started talking. With my mid-section under the xray machine, he explained to me what he was seeing.

Only one fallopian tube “spilled out”. The other was out-of-sight. Upon further examination, he explained, it looked like I had what is called a Unicornuate Uterus (UU), which basically means that I have an abnormally formed uterus {usually due to underdevelopment}.

Smaller than most, a UU usually only has one working fallopian tube.

“But remember, all you need is one,” he reassured me.

“At this very moment, I have two patients, both with a UU who are on their second healthy pregnancy,” he went on.

Although I wasn’t panicking, his honest tone settled my already calm spirit.

As he was taking the catheter out and finishing up, he went on to explain that there were risks, but nothing he and Dr. Klein couldn’t handle. With a UU, there is an added risk of miscarriage, but he was encouraged by the fact that I haven’t had one yet. There is also the risk of pre-term labor and delivery, since the uterus is smaller than normal, a baby just doesn’t have as much room to grow {although he said this isn’t always the case}. They often only find out that a woman has this condition during a c-section of a perfectly healthy and average-sized baby. It is most likely also the reason that it has taken this long to get pregnant.

As I got up and dressed, I chatted with the nurse. She had kind eyes and walked me back to the waiting room to meet my patient, waiting mother. Her last words to me were, “Good luck with the matter,” as she smiled and waited at the door. That made me smile. "The matter," I thought to myself.

I know she was just trying to speak in code in front of all the other waiting patients but her choice of words still made me laugh. The matter. Good luck with the matter.

I left in good spirits, but anxious to do some research of my own. After we left the hospital, we decided to go out to lunch, and have a little retail therapy. We talked. I told her what the doctor told me. I was not anxious, although maybe I should have been. I was at peace. I still am at peace, actually, knowing that all of this is not by chance, or by punishment, but by the hand of an all-knowing and merciful God.

Later that night I finally got a chance to google “unicornuate uterus.” My research pretty much matched up with the doctor’s words. I read blog posts by women who are dealing with the same thing, read forums of pregnant women that have a UU and women trying to get pregnant with a UU and women who already have children although they have a UU. And my peaceful spirit was given even more peace.

I then shared my findings with Curtis who also believes in the sovereignty of God. He was not swayed. We both believe that all things happen for a reason.

So what now you may ask?

We wait. The doctor who performed my hysterosalpingogram on Tuesday, was going to send the slides to my doctor. He also said he was going to give him a call to get him up to speed. He said he would call me.

So now we wait. And do as my doctor reminds me every time I’m in his office, “Keep trying, because one of these days you may just be surprised by the results.”

So, why do I tell you all of this? And why now, after an entire year, would i choose to break my silence?

I have thought long and hard about this, and here are my reasons:

Because far too often, I find that someone I know had been trying for months, even years before they found out that they were pregnant and all I saw was the nine months of pregnancy, and in my ignorance, thought that was the "start" of it all.

Because I used to just assume that if you had a baby, it was always a quick and easy process to get there.

Because I think it’s more normal than even I realize to have to keep “trying," and to endure month after month of built up hope and then negative results.

Because I appreciated finding the openness of others – strangers – online and having the privilege of reading their stories, to help me understand my own.

Because I want to know that I’m not alone, and that maybe along the way, you’ll realize that you’re not alone either.

So, as my {our} journey {because it is not just my journey, but ours as husband and wife} progresses, I will continue to update…and when the road is slow I will continue to muster the courage to share what else is going on – inside and out.

I hope you don’t mind – because remember, I did ask you if you were ready to get real. And when you were warned that you might just find out more about me {about us} than you may want to know, you kept reading.

This afternoon, as I was thinking about this post at my desk, the song No Envy No Fear by Joshua Radin came up on my Pandora. The words are beautiful, and the music is haunting. The combination of the two whispered to my settled soul tonight –

“have no envy, no fear.”

If you’d like to {listen for yourself}, please, go right ahead…

Thank you for listening and have a good night.


mhodgson said...

Hey Jess,

Thanks for sharing this - I was beginning to really worry about what was going on with you. I wish you and Curt the best and I'm sure everything will work out exactly how it is meant to. Besides, having to try to make a baby for a year can't be all THAT bad ;-)

Love you tons,

Kate said...

and it's been amazing to watch you walk through it...even on the harder days. love you!

Jess said...

worry not Matt - we are enjoying every minute ;)

marisa said...

beautiful post + very courageous of you to share your struggle. i'm glad you got the HSG test done; everyone I know who has struggled with fertility issues has told me that that test was the most important step to begin resolving their issues.

also, i hugged my little one tightly after reading your post, because you reminded me that babies are miracles and blessings - no matter how exhausted I am, no matter how many times i've washed the same sippy cup, no matter how many times i've scrubbed mashed banana out of the carpet. thanks for that dose of perspective.

Quiet Oasis said...

You are so brave to share this. I imagine myself shaking as I hit "post", had I written something so candid. So BRAVO to you. I like when people are "real" b/c I do think that in our struggles, there is always someone we can help w/ the same struggles.

I wondered if this was your struggle you were eluding to lately. I will be in much prayer for you, as I can't imagine the wait and all the emotions. My friend over at Two Pretzels (on my blog roll) struggled w/ this for years and now you can see pics of her cute daughter on her site. And another on the blog roll, Happy Hopefuls is going through this right now..... just in case you need to join with some other women.....

Jess said...

while brave i am not, i appreciate the encouragement and the prayers more than you know

Amie said...

Oh Jess, you are soooooo brave! I am incredibly proud of you for opening yourself up like this. I truly believe that it will help you heal and grow. Keeping such huge things bottled up inside will only make even the smallest of situations so much bigger. Your amazing faith and trust in God is an inspiration to me. And things like this will only make your faith stronger and more beautiful. Scott and I were so very lucky getting pregnant with Jackson so quickly. Now we find ourselves struggling with getting pregnant a second time, and then dealing with a loss. We thought it would be just as easy next time around- but it isn't! But what it has done is help me know that God has a plan for me and I will understand it in time. There is a verse that has become my own personal mantra. I have it on my fridge, and I read it on a daily basis. I find myself thinking of it as I read your posts.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
~Jeremiah 29:11

Thank you for opening up your heart to us, sweet friend.


CitricSugar said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I wish you health and happiness and have added you to my prayers.

I was adopted. And like many people who were adopted by parents who struggled with fertility, I have a younger sibling who was NOT adopted. It seems that once people stop worrying about conceiving, their bodies suddenly become open to the idea. It might be incredibly difficult (and I'm sure I wold find it hard) but try to relax and not put any pressure on yourself. Worrying is counter-reproductive. :-)

It might be cliched but - breathe, and everything will happen in its own good time.

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