April 25, 2013

My Story: National Infertility Awareness Week- Join the Movement!


Every year during NIAW (National Infertility Awareness Week), I retell my story. In many ways it is therapeutic, but it is also a chance for me to bring awareness to a world that largely doesn't understand what it is like to live with infertility. It serves as a chance to let those who suffer from it know that they are most definitely not alone.

My Story:
I always wanted to have a family. Always. When I married my husband in 2005, we wanted to waste no time in starting our family. We got pregnant just 5 months after we started trying; however, it ended quickly in an early miscarriage at just 6.5 weeks. I was crushed. We were given no answers other than, "Miscarriage is common. So sorry." We kept trying. And trying... and trying. After 2 years of testing and fertility drugs still nothing. My doctor had chalked it up to Unexplained Infertility as they could find nothing specific that could be the cause. IVF was just too expensive not to mention I hated the fertility drugs, so it just didn't feel like an option. We left things up to fate. We chose to move on with our lives.

I would love to say that we stopped "trying". Of course, I didn't. In a weird way, following my cycles, taking ovulation tests on top of numerous supplements pretty much became a part of life after two years. I was on my 3rd month of FertilAid when to my shock, a second line started showing up on my cheapo tests. I was sort of in disbelief. I had seen phantom lines many times before so I didn't say anything to my husband. I kept testing (see this post), and when that digital test said "pregnant" on it, I knew that it wasn't a fluke. We were skeptical. Not wanting to get exited. Not wanting to be disappointed. How were we supposed to feel? My doctor was fantastic. After my long history of infertility, she allowed us to be considered high risk. We were able to get an early ultrasound as part of our pregnancy confirmation appointment and we tested my beta numbers every other day for a week. We continued to be nervous until about the 12th week and then became a little more confident that this might actually happen for us. We finally were able to say: we are going to be parents!
My Jackson Robert

On September 11, 2008 our miracle, the love my life, Jackson Robert was born. I would never know a love more amazing and more powerful than the love I have for my son. Nobody could be more wanted. I hope I can tell him someday how much we went through to bring him into the world.

I would love to say that we kept popping out babies, but that is not the case. Secondary infertility became a reality. I developed fibroids about a year after having Jackson. In 2010 I had surgery to have them removed. Still no luck. No magic. No miracles. Over the next year, my monthly "pain" worsened. But it wasn't typical. It felt different. In April 2011, I had a burst of pain and I became very ill. My doctor discovered that I had an ovarian cyst rupture. We attempted to treat the cyst with hormones, but ultimately scheduled a surgery to have it removed via laproscopic procedure. I woke up in recovery, groggy and in pain, my doctor delivered the news that she had to remove my ovary and my tube. The cyst had wrapped around my ovary and was sticking to various organs. This was more crushing news to my chances of having a sibling for my son. We also discovered at this time that I had stage 4 endometriosis. The lesions had been removed, but there was no guarantee that it wouldn't come back.

Last fall, my husband and I decided that we would consider IVF to try and have baby #2. I wasn't thrilled about the drugs, the appointments or the procedure, but I really wanted to complete our family. I wanted this for Jackson. For us. I didn't even make it past the baseline testing. I currently have multiple cysts on my remaining ovary. While they have remain unchanged since last November and we don't have an immediate need to remove them, they have all but destroyed any chances of having another baby.

We discussed adoption and to my amazement, my husband is actually on board with this. Since our first round of infertility, we didn't really think this was a route we would want to take, so I was surprised when he was open to it. However... I am overwhelmed by the whole process and it scares me. I don't want to be let down. There is also my age consideration. I turn 37 next week. If the process takes longer than expected, do I really want a new baby at my age? Would it really enhance my son's life to have a sibling 5-6 years younger than him? So many questions in my head and in my heart.

We have chosen to accept our little family as is. We love our son and everything we do is for him. He is enough. We are enough.
My beautiful little family

We are okay.



Join The Movement!
So, you have heard my story. Whether or not you have had to endure infertility yourself, you can help. Maybe you know someone who is going through it. You can help. You can be a part of the movement. You can help by just learning and understanding.

You can become educated. Did you know?
  • Infertility affects 1 in 8 couples of reproductive age
  • There are many ways to build a family
  • The disease of infertility impacts the physical, emotional and financial health of those facing it
  • Those trying to conceive should know when to seek advice from a specialist. 
It has always bothered me that infertility is viewed as almost "cosmetic" or rather an elective medical condition. In my case, infertility is just one of the MANY issues that I face with endometriosis. I don't find it elective at all. I find my treatment necessary. 

With that said, this is also why Resolve is hosting Advocacy Day: 

Advocacy Day/Legislative Issues:

On May 8, RESOLVE is hosting it's Advocacy Day in Washington, DC. As a part of the infertility community, we need your help to make more people understand the issues facing all of us. One of the main issues facing the infertility community is access to affordable family building options. So many people diagnosed with the disease of infertility also face “financial infertility”—the inability to afford medically necessary treatments. It’s time for our government  to understand that infertility is a public health issue. People with infertility deserve access to all family building options and together we need to educate our elected officials about the issues important to our community.

Become a part of it and help those of us struggling with infertility gain the support we need from our elected officials to make our family building dreams a success.

This subject is a raw and emotional subject for me. It has affected my life, my marriage and my family. Now, if I have convinced even just one person to Join The Movement, then that gives me and all others that suffer through infertility just a little piece of hope.

To learn more about Infertility and NIAW: 
Basic Understanding of the Disease of Infertility 
About National Infertility Awareness Week (NIAW)




2 comments:

  1. Hi Joanne! Thank you so much for courageously sharing your story. I am so sorry for your loss and for all of the years and work it took to get your son, but it sure looks like he was worth it. (-: I love that your doc allowed you to be considered high risk based on your infertility. I wish that more doctors did that! We infertile parents sometimes need more assurance, more checking, more support. I'm thrilled that you received that. Do you mind if I ask who your doctor was? I live in MN as well and am casually looking for a new OB in case we get pregnant again (here's hoping!).

    Okay, now I've continued reading, and my heart is breaking over your secondary infertility, the failed IVF, and the loss of your ovary/tube. How crushing. I can't imagine what a process this has been for you to grieve and move forward. But I love how you say "We are enough. We are okay."

    My hope for you is that you feel that stronger and stronger and stronger every day.

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    1. Hi Em! Thank you so, so much for your comment. I love my OB- her name is Dr. Donna Block and her practice is Clinic Sofia in Edina. I'm not sure she is still accepting new patients but the entire staff and all of the doctors there are excellent and I would recommend anyone there. Dr. Block has always taken the time to listen to me and carefully consider next steps no matter what the situation.

      I'm constantly searching for strength and hope but I NEVER stop believing in miracles. They can happen when you least expect it!

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