Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Time to Heal

(I am loving these guest post! I just love hearing other peoples stories, everyone is so different. Thanks for this one, Ashley!)

6 – The number of years John and I have been married

2 – The number of years we have been trying to have a child

1 – The number of years since I was diagnosed with Premature Ovarian Failure (POF)

10 – The number of months since I was diagnosed with Mosaic Turner’s Syndrome

6 – The number of months since we tried donor egg IVF

3 – The number of months since I had my miscarriage

I come from a very fertile family. The running joke in my family was that my mother and sister could get pregnant just by seeing their significant other walk across the room in their underwear. I had always assumed that I would follow this family tradition and get pregnant the first time I tried. After two months, I felt something was wrong. After four months, I was certain that there was a problem. After six months, I went to see a reproductive endocrinologist. One week later, I was diagnosed with premature ovarian failure and was told the chances of getting pregnant were less than 2%. I wasn’t even really ‘baby crazy’ at that point. I wanted a family, but was not desperate for one. At 27 I felt like I had plenty of time to start my family. One day I had my whole future in front of me; the next day I had nothing. It is shocking how much can change in a single day. Looking back at it now, one year later, it is incredible to think of what we have been through in the last year.

The great thing about being diagnosed with POF is that it leaves little hope. Seems funny that I think of that as a great thing, but watching friends go through years of trying unsuccessfully, it makes non-POF infertility seem a much more painful path. Once I was diagnosed, it was clear right off the bat that it would be pretty much impossible to conceive. I was given two routes, donor egg IVF and/or adoption. There was no further testing needed; no miracle drugs; no need to track my temperature or calculate my cycle. It was a black and white situation from the very beginning, and this I am thankful for.

Not to say I didn’t doubt; I went and sought out other opinions, 4 others to be exact, and everyone was in agreement. I also tried ‘alternative’ treatments, but I quickly gave these up when they didn’t yield positive results. And that is when I think I made the biggest mistake of the last year; I decided to blindly believe what the doctors were telling me. I decided to stop fighting my diagnosis and believe that these doctors knew what they were talking about. Having a 32-year-old sister, we rushed into donor egg IVF as we were told that she was almost hitting the age-limit to donate. It didn’t feel right; it felt as if we were going through all the motions too quickly. I didn’t take time out to heal; I just accepted and moved down the road to having a child through IVF.

Before I knew it, IVF had worked, on the first try! I remember thinking, ‘this seems too easy, too good to be true.’

And it was.

During my 7th week, I was rushed into surgery for an emergency, ‘suspected’ ectopic. It turns out that of the two embryos transferred during IVF, 1 implanted in my uterus and had a heartbeat, while the other, they think, ended up in my fallopian tube, not damaging the tube but causing severe cramping and bleeding. While in surgery for the ectopic, I lost the other embryo. When you go into IVF, you don’t think about it not working; you just hope and pray that it will, and leave the doubt behind. So when all was said and done, I was not prepared for the aftermath.

I spent two weeks doing absolutely nothing but watching TV in bed. I didn’t even really cry all that much; by the time I made it out of the hospital, I was pretty much all cried out. I remember thinking over and over again, ‘It didn’t work. It didn’t work… what?’ My doctors were urging me to do it all over again. We have two embryos frozen, waiting to be transferred, but I knew, stronger than any other feeling in my body, I was not ready. My sister volunteered to donate again; my mom was urging me to find a new clinic and try it again; everyone was waiting to find out what we would do, and all I could think of was that I was not ready. I had never been ready. I felt like I had given away every ounce of my control, all for nothing. And finally, through the pain, I found clarity, and it went something like this: I needed to be OK, I needed to heal, I needed to be whole and never again would I let myself be pushed into one direction. I would listen and I would know what to do.

Since that time I have been focusing on my own health: emotional, physical, and spiritual. I have moved away from fertility clinics and have started doing my own research on ‘alternative’ treatments. Reading countless books, I would often hear conflicting advice and so I started working with professionals more open to natural medicine, to bounce ideas off of and assist me in staying on track. I started working with a naturopath and began a vegan diet aided by supplements. I started working with a traditional Chinese doctor who urged me to give up sugar and yeast. I started working with an acupuncturist to aid me in trying to naturally regulate my hormones. I found a wonderful nutritionist to help me down the path of being a healthy vegan, eating a whole foods diet and still finding enjoyment in food. And I began working with a ‘healer’, who after working as a physician’s assistant for 20 years spent two years walking the world to learn the ancient ways of healing with energy. My motto is to try anything, as long as it feels right to me, as what has worked for others might just work for me. It has been two months, rather long months considering I have only had sugar twice in that time; and I can tell you, the odds are high that I might do all of this and in the end, never conceive. But I have never in my life felt healthier or happier than I do right now.

It has been a year of hell, of pain, of growth, and finally a year of healing. I feel certain I will have a family one day and I know now that I needed to go through what I have gone through to become stronger, healthier, happier and more the woman I had always hoped to be. Infertility is my biggest weakness, but it is also by biggest strength. I still have days where the thought of never having a family weighs heavily on my heart, where I want to scream, kick and throw things out my sliding glass door; but in those moments, I always hear a voice in the back of my head telling me to be at peace and know that all good things will happen when the time is right. And I truly believe it will.

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1 comment:

Triumph said...

Beautiful story, in the end it is your happiness and state of mind that truly matters.

All the best, thanks for sharing.