Friday, September 27, 2013

My Family and Fertility (Part 2)

Through the responses I have received from my initial post "Families and Infertility", I have decided that this should become a series of posts covering the topic of infertility from my point of view. I cannot write from the point of view of people who have adopted or are currently seeking to adopt. I also cannot write from the perspective of those who have been able to have advanced fertility treatment. However, below is my story.

My name is Amanda, and my husband and I have been married nearly 3 years. We have never used contraception or chosen to use Natural Family Planning as a means to abstain from having children.

My story actually begins when I was a sophomore in college. Our local Catholic student organization had brought in our local Natural Family Planning coordinator to give us the basic information on Natural Family Planning. I knew her outside of NFP because her eldest daughter was 3 years younger and we had attended Diocesan youth functions together. She gave us facts about the process of NFP, the rates of effectiveness, and why the Creighton model worked scientifically. It was funny to watch the guys squirm but it made a lot of sense. It also clarified questions I had about my own body that had never been answered by my mom.

I was in a serious relationship with a guy that I was discerning marriage about so I decided to sign up for the next one on one starter class. That class was great but also made me think about why I was choosing NFP. At that time, it was for my health and I wanted to get off hormonal birth control for my periods for good.

I had been on HBC for a year to "control" my cycles. I was seeing many of the symptoms of a normal cycle before HBC but not during. Something stirred inside my thoughts saying, "that isn't right." So with guidance from my doctor, I stopped taking HBC and tried Creighton. Using Creighton was amazing and I learned so much. I also learned that once you have information, you can't let go of it. Many of the NFP habits I developed then I still maintain now.

However, I kept loosing my stickers my charts, having issues with what I should be marking things as and waiting on others. My charts were a mess, I was a mess, and I was having trouble at school. Since I wasn't engaged yet, I thought it would be prudent to wait to start again until I was engaged.

My reproductive health became a bit scattered again and when I went for my check up the doctor asked for my family history. It wasn't the greatest but I also mentioned everything from my grandmother, paternal aunt and mom. The doctor looked at me like I was broken. He prescribed me HBC again with the warning that if I ever wanted to think about having kids I needed to know two things, one I needed to take HBC until I was ready to get pregnant to save my fertility and I needed to get pregnant by the time I was 28 if I was ever going to have kids. I gave the prescription to my mom and started taking it as recommended.

Going into my Senior year I became very sick. My cycles would shut down, I'd start to get weak and I even passed out in the chapel for no apparent reason. The only thing I could put my finger on was the HBC. This time I didn't even consult a doctor about my medication, I threw out the HBC. I started charting again and meeting with my Creighton mentor. I made another appointment and told a new doctor what had happened and she agreed I shouldn't take HBC but agreed, 28 was the magic deadline for kids.

Fast forward to two years out of college. I had grown lax in my charting but I always knew where I was in my cycle what was going on and things were relatively healthy. I had dumped my long time boyfriend and started dating my now husband. We are both Catholic and wanted to start charting together. This didn't work out, my previous mentor was a mom from the homeschool group he belonged to and the only other teaching couple in the area was one of his professors. Thankfully there are many new smartphone apps and charting programs online to learn and implement. That's what we use still today.

We were married and decided not to abstain but not actively try to conceive either. We had moved for work to an area where there weren't many teaching couples and even fewer NFP friendly doctors. I had been in recently for a large anovulatory cycle and the doctor brushed me off because I wasn't pregnant and I was fat. That's the only reason my body was acting out. No tests, no checking, just get used to it. Somehow the same magic statement of "If you want kids, you better be pregnant by 28" was still there.

Since our marriage we've had two miscarriages. The first we were shocked and excited at the "pregnant" sign on the view window but as I kept testing lines got lighter and lighter. When I called into my doctor, she didn't want to see me but because I was early, I'd be fine passing "it" at home. I was told to treat it like a heavy period. So I did. I was only about 6-8 weeks along but I knew when I had passed her. I was in shock and didn't know what to do. In a blind panic I ended up flushing my little girl down the toilet. It wasn't until a few days later it had sunk in what I had done. I still pray for forgiveness for that every day. Our second is still fresh and I'm not comfortable sharing that story.

Currently I have a wonderful doctor who is willing to work with me and order needed tests for my husband and I. However, right now with our current insurance, we are not able to get the tests we want done. Although this doctor doesn't buy into the magic 'pregnant by 28" it is still a fear that looms on the horizon and that horizon is getting closer. We wait patiently and continue charting. We've placed our children and any others God may give us into his hands because as parents, it's the least we can do.