What we went through
John and I decided to do Natural Family Planning in January of 2013 after reading a blog post from a classmate of mine. This changed our life and made our marriage stronger. However, I think a lot of what made our marriage stronger was the past 3 years that we went through. February 2014 we decided after a year of trying (taking some time off for holidays) we would go see a doctor who specialized in the Creighton Model of Natural Family Planning.
- Blood draws-Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for not one but two menstrual cycles.
- The first series of blood draws proved to be inconclusive. My estrogen and progesterone did not show the normal pattern and my doctor wanted to do another series of blood draws.
- During one of the blood draws we took a trip to Las Vegas. We left Thursday night and on Friday I had to have a blood draw. We took a cab 45 minutes from the strip to get my blood drawn, then go to a UPS store to have it shipped back to Jackson, TN (where my doctor was), and then called our cab driver, who thankfully lived by the blood draw place to come pick us up.
- John was so supportive of this and caring. Oftentimes I felt like the infertility was one sided because I was the only one having to go through all these tests. I felt like I was the problem and I would never be able to give John a child.
- Semen analysis, twice
- This was in conjunction with the blood draws. Dr. Gray wanted us to see if John had any issues with his fertility. His first test showed that he had low sperm morphology, meaning that the way that a certain percentage of the sperm were shaped where not conducive to fertilizing an egg of mine. Easy fix. Dr. Gray told John there is a correlation between taking Vitamin C and sperm morphology.
- Test two, was supposed to be completed 3-6 months later, but I think we did it more like a year later due to fatigue of trying, emotional stress from trying, etc. Result: Normal sperm in all 3 aspect that medical professionals look at!
- Cue me feeling like I am again the problem. John and I had the opportunity to be able to work on our communication about issues such as this and learn how the other is communicating. At times it felt like the end of the world and that we were frequently yelling at each other about things that had nothing to do with fertility. However, it was just the stress of trying to conceive a child that we so desperately wanted and prayed for. It felt like God was not answering our prayers.
- Where we stood:
- So John was taking vitamin C daily.
- Dr. Gray speculated that I had endometriosis just by looking at my charting.
- I never had painful cycles, so I didn't believe him
- Speculated that I had polycystic ovarian syndrome by my chart, my acne and blood tests
- Cue another blood draw to determine my testosterone level. Normal, no problem.
- My previous blood draws, the ones where I did Monday, Wednesday, Friday clued Dr. Gray in on the fact that I was having normal cycles, but some cycles I was not releasing an egg.
- Most of the time women present like the "bearded lady", however I manage my weight well, suffer from acne, but don't have male patterned hair growth
- Speculated that I might have a fallopian tube blocked.
- Knew from my chart and the blood tests that I had low post peak progesterone. This just meant that my levels after releasing an egg were not high enough to sustain a pregnancy.
- Medication Intervention:
- August 2014, I started on Ampicillin. This was to increase my cervical fluid which is necessary to lead the sperm to the egg.
- I did this for two cycles because I started having a lot of GI issues. I was also cranky because I was having GI issues and supposed to have sex. I didn't feel pretty and like a machine.
- August 2014, I also started progresterone. This was to increase the post peak progesterone levels in order to sustain a pregnancy if we did have fertilization of the egg.
- I used progesterone for almost 2 years until we achieved pregnancy and throughout the first 12 weeks of my pregnancy.
- This pill was not taken orally. That is all I am going to say about that. It also caused some yeast infections, or at least the feeling of yeast infections.
- October 2014, I did a trial of clomid. I didn't have any weird out of body experiences, but just continued to be spent emotionally, physically and spiritually. Clomid is supposed to stimulate your ovaries to produce eggs. Which from the charting, Dr. Gray believed that mine were not doing that because of the possibly PCOS.
- November 2014, Dr. Gray decided that he would change the Clomid to Letrozole, which is a breast cancer drug. He just said that this worked a little better for his clients and the side effects were not as great as Clomid.
- At the end of 2014, Dr. Gray started talking about surgery to be able to diagnose the PCOS and endometrosis as well as check for the blockage of my fallopian tubes. We were close to meeting our deductible, but I just didn't want to do the surgery. Again I was fatigued emotionally, physically and spiritually.
- After the first of 2015, John and I decided to stop medication all together. It was too much of a strain on our relationship. We both felt like sex was a chore at times and that it was too robotic. I also started a new job and had a "missed period", which you guessed it we were both hoping that I was pregnant.
- March 2015, I added back in progesterone just in case we were to get pregnant because I didn't want to suffer a miscarriage. This progesterone would help sustain a pregnancy if we did in fact get pregnant naturally. By this time I had done some research that showed women who exercise and do endurance sports (running) had low progesterone. I just felt like this was something I could get on board with and knew that I more than likely had low progesterone regardless of what the blood results showed.
- Eight months after Dr. Gray suggested surgery we were finally on board.
- With the change in my job, my insurance improved immensely. I found out that I would be able to have surgery for $350. I had to pay the hospital, and my doctor. That was it. This insurance will be the thing that makes it so hard to leave my current job.
- July 1, 2015 I had surgery at Jackson General Hospital. It was such an emotional day for both John and I. I will have to write about that in another post, which will probably never come. John was so brave and took such good care of me after surgery. God has truly sent me such a wonderful partner to go through life.
- Dr. Gray confirmed that I had mild endometriosis, which he is almost positive that he cleaned all of it up. Confirmed that my ovaries looked like PCOS ovaries and my tubes were not blocked! He said that research shows that cases like my mild case of endometriosis will not come back after surgical intervention. I asked him if I would have to have surgery every time I wanted to have another child.
- Changes in medication as a result of the surgery:
- Continued to use Letrozole to stimulate my ovaries to produce an egg every time (or so that is what my brain thinks, I don't know I'm not a medical doctor).
- Added in predisone in the middle of my cycle to increase my cervical fluid production. Luckily the side effect was only increasing my appetite and no GI issues.
- Continuing progesterone post peak to help sustain a pregnancy.
- Changes in diet (rather anticipated changes)
- July 2015 eliminated butter and milk from my diet for my acne.
- Dr. Gray told us about research that showed eliminating gluten and dairy from the diet has been linked to positive pregnancy test.
- 3 months later...POSITIVE PREGNANCY TESTS!
- Beginning of October 2015 John and I conceived our first child. We were scared to death. Every breath and step I took I was concerned it was the wrong step and would harm our child. We had prayed and begged and pleaded with God for this child and we finally got it. I held on tightly. This was our child and I was going to do everything possible to sustain this pregnancy if my life and happiness depended on it.
- Before we knew we were pregnant I went on an elimination diet to determine what foods I was sensitive to. I felt better, slept better, was happier, and my skin cleared up. During the re-introduction phase of the diet was when I found out I was pregnant. I ended up not fully doing the re-introduction phase, but just made sure I was getting enough protein through nuts, vegan protein powder, and chicken and turkey. Regardless, I think I am sensitive to gluten, dairy (which I knew), alcohol, and sugar. Everything fun.
- The first pregnancy test was October 18, 2015, Grandpa Davis' birthday.
- Second pregnancy test was October 20, 2015.
- Third pregnancy test was October 21, 2015.
- Forth pregnancy test was October 21, 2015, which was a blood draw because I didn't believe that I was actually pregnant.
- I came home after rushing the blood results and told John in the parking lot of our apartment complex. He broke down crying and was so happy. We went to church that night to praise God for answering our prayers. It was a Wednesday. Emelda, the blind Asian lady and her loving husband were there as well and I prayed for them.
- I was still so scared, I didn't want to do anything wrong. I drove myself crazy. Read everything and nothing on the internet.
- October 31, 2015, we went to Laura and Dan Reynold's house for game night and passing out candy to trick or treaters. We told them our good news. They couldn't have been more excited.
- I woke up around 1:30am on November 1, 2015 and had some spotting. I had read that this could just be implantation of the fertilized egg. I was a nervous wreck. I woke John up. We held each other and I prayed to God to not take this baby we had hoped and dreamed for.
- I woke up again around 3:00. Much more blood. Lots of clotting and those cells that already had a beating heart in the bottom of the toilet. The stark white toilet bowl with blood stained water.
- I woke John up. I didn't flush the toilet. I couldn't do it. I made John go into the bathroom and look and see what I saw. I didn't believe it, didn't want to believe that our baby, our gift was taken from us.
- John knelt down and prayed for our baby and cried. I watched this through a reflection and lost it myself.
- We prayed the rosary together. At the end of the rosary, I had the most beautiful image of my Grandma Davis holding our little baby. John said, well Grandma Davis only had boys, so I bet our baby was a boy.
- We named him Gerard, Gerry for short. After St. Gerard, patron saint of infertility and mothers.
- All Soul's Day
- The Catholic church celebrates all souls that have passed the previous year and they have a mass to pray for the souls to get to heaven.
- We invited our Nashville friends. Uyen, Laura, Mary, Bridget, Tim and Kathleen all came to show us their support. Erin and Brad were also at the mass because Erin was a reader.
- This was our little funeral, our tribute to Gerry. It was also celebrating Grandma and Grandpa Davis as well because we lost Grandma December 23, 2014, and Grandpa the beginning of March 2015.
- My parents and sister even went to St. Elizabeth Seton to help us celebrate Gerry.
- We decided that night that we would celebrate this night every year. Gerry was such a big part of our life. We decided we wanted our future children to know about miscarriages and heaven.
We were coming up to the holidays and John and I decided to still take medication and avoid trying to achieve pregnancy. I just wanted some time to process the miscarriage and grieve. It was a difficult time after the miscarriage. We were both very emotional and did what we could to survive.
Soon after Christmas we heard of an outbreak of the Ziki virus in Brazil. This virus was known to be carried by mosquitos and caused microcephaly in babies. The CDC was recommending women who were pregnant or trying to get pregnant to not travel to these areas where Ziki was present. Two of our dear friends were getting married in Nicaragua in March and we wanted to attend and celebrate with them. We decided to stop trying so I would not be pregnant while in Nicaragua. It was a tough decision because we wanted so badly to start our family.
While in Nicaragua, Heather told me the story of Noel's mom and sisters praying for her to have another baby. Noel's mom already had two girls and she wanted another baby. Noel's mom and sisters prayed to St. Jude Thaddeaus. St. Jude is the patron saint of hopeless causes. She consequently got pregnant and had St. Jude to thank for interceding on her behalf. Noel then gained the nickname Tadeo and his sisters still to this day call him Tadeo (Tadeo is the Spanish name for Thaddeaus). After hearing this, I sent a prayer up to St. Jude to intercede for me like he did for Ms. Somarriba when she was trying to conceive Noel.
God answered our prayers! We found our we were pregnant on April 10, 2016. John was away in South Bend, IN for a lacrosse tournament. I took the pregnancy test that morning and had to wait all day to tell John that we had conceived a child. When John got home, I had the pregnancy test in the pouch of my hooded sweatshirt. I kissed him and hugged him to welcome him home. When we pulled away, I pulled out the pregnancy test that said "yes" on it. John fell to his knees and started crying. We were pregnant. Our conversation that followed included few words, many tears and lots of hugs. We were pregnant again!
Then the fear set in. What if this pregnancy would end up like the last one? What if we were only supposed to have babies in heaven? Again started the calling to Dr. Gray about what we should do. Again more blood work to see if my HcG levels were going up as they were supposed to. We reached out to John's brother and sister-in-law for advice on how to trust that this pregnancy was going to be different than the last night. Rich and Steph were extremely helpful and supportive during the beginning of the pregnancy.
We had our first doctor's appointment with an ultrasound and I saw the heart beating of the miracle we had been given. A weight was lifted!
Our doctor recommended I come in for an ultrasound every 2 weeks just to make me feel more at ease. She said it wouldn't prevent a miscarriage, but it would make us feel better. A weight was lifted!
We hit 12 weeks and I could stop taking progesterone supplements. A weight was lifted!
We hit 20 weeks and we had the anatomy screening ultrasound. We saw the heart beating, we saw the lungs, the spinal cord, the heart and its chambers, the eyes, the fingers, the arms, the legs. We saw God's handiwork. I was so overcome by God's beautiful plan for our lives and his ability to take something difficult and turn it into something so beautiful. A weight was lifted! (PS Baby Cooper is a boy!)
We hit 30 weeks and we knew the baby was more and more viable outside the womb. A weight was lifted!
We just hit 35 weeks and that means I am 2 weeks away from being full term. A full term baby! I did not believe this was going to be possible. I didn't let myself think about the long term. I wanted so badly to stay in the present with this pregnancy. I wanted to experience everything this pregnancy had to offer, just in case God wanted this baby as much as he wanted Gerry. I wanted to accept the lack of sleep, the kicks the the ribs, the inability to run, the feeling of having my stomach muscles ripped apart, the heart burn, and everything else. Now that I am closer to the end of the pregnancy, I am just trying to be grateful for all those pregnancy joys because I don't know if we will be able to have another baby. If we don't (or we do) that is the hand we have been dealt. This has been such a joyful time and a time of extreme gratitude.
We could not be more excited to welcome Baby Cooper into this world. I am anxious about delivery. John is hopeful, supportive and loving during this time.