We'll start with the good stuff. We are seven months from the happiest day of Landon and I's lives. Our wedding day. We are so excited to be united as husband and wife and to live out our call to marriage. We are so looking forward to bringing Christ glory in the life and family we are going to build together.
Wedding planning is in full swing. Bridesmaids dresses, venues, reception decorations, my dress, reception entertainment, caterer, reception menu, photographer, videographer, and invitations are all decided and ready to go. My mama and aunt (along with my Maid and Matron of Honor) will be shopping with me for flowers over the next few weeks. We will be doing the ordering flower girl and ring bearer outfits in May.
Landon received a promotion in the fall and it has been such a blessing during this season of planning our married life. He works very hard, my Landon, and I am proud of him for furthering his career and providing for our soon to be family. We are enjoying time together and with our families and friends. Most of our evenings are spent at my apartment, reading, watching The Paradise on Netflix and laughing over the antics of Lucy, the cat. Landon and I are enjoying life, to say the least.
Christmas was busy, joyful, and blessed. We saw a lot of family, had way too much wonderful food and relished in several days of uninterrupted time together.
Landon leaves on Tuesday (ice storm permitting, of course), for Denver and a work training for his promotion. He will be gone a month. Thank goodness for Skype, email, and texting! We could both use your prayers as this separation is going to be very difficult on both of us.
Teaching is going well for me. Very busy and always something new to handle but, I love it. I work with some wonderful students and a terrific team of teachers. January and February are long months in the lives of teachers. I would appreciate your prayers!
Now to the more difficult things. Lord, give me the words.
In July, I switched OBGYN's. I wanted a doctor that was Catholic and would understand and accept Landon and I's stance on life and family planning. Through the Facebook posts of a friend (Hi Julie!), and conversations with another dear friend (Hi Michel!) I decided to go to The Pope Paul VI Institute in Omaha. I made an appointment with Dr. Catherine Keefe, MD. I have to say, she is the best. Absolutely wonderful. The entire staff, doctors, and nurses alike are fantastic.
Anyway, Dr. Keefe had me sign Landon and I up for a Creighton Model FertilityCare Charting class. We started charting my cycles in August. Our FertilityCare Practioner is amazing and we have really benefitted from her support and knowledge. Before I go any further I need to say, NaPro Technology is seriously the best medical advance for infertility. If you don't know what it is, you need to do yourself a favor and go to: http://www.naprotechnology.com/
Okay, shameless plug ended.
In the end of September, our FCP let us know that she suspected I might have a hormone deficiency (the length of my cycles tipped her off to this). She suspected that I had low Progesterone and advised that I call and set up an appointment with Dr. Keefe. I made the appointment the next day and tried not to worry. Landon immediately proved to be my comfort and strength. He reminded me over and over that he was right beside me, for life, no matter what. Yes, he is incredible, I know. If you don't know, Progesterone is commonly referred to as "the pregnancy hormone," if one's progesterone levels are too low, then one has a higher rate of miscarriage and a harder time conceiving. Scary. There were lots of tears the next few days. I never even considered that we could have fertility issues. It was hard not to feel sad and scared.
At the appointment, Dr. Keefe confirmed that I most likely did have low Progesterone and decided to run a PMS panel just to check my other hormone levels. This basically entailed multiple blood draws done in a little over a week. This tested Progesterone, Estrogen, and my thyroid hormone levels. Lots of needle pokes. My arms looked pretty beat up. Thankfully the good Lord blessed us with cooler weather so I was able to wear long sleeves. I should mention, the nurses at PPVI were wonderful about my blood draws. They were very attentive, quick and really tried not to poke me too many times when accessing veins.
A three-week wait followed the blood draws. Nervous is an understatement. We prayed all the time. Landon truly is a prayer warrior, y'all. He really is. Finally, my results came in. We met with Dr. Keefe and she confirmed that I do indeed have a Progesterone issue. My body naturally makes very little Progesterone; while this isn't always "curable" it is treatable. She recommended bio-identical Progesterone injections on days 3,5,7, and 9 following my Peak ovulation day. In my head, my reaction was, "Okay. Not fabulous news, it will be tough to have a baby and take longer, but okay. There is a plan." I just kept squeezing Landon's hand.
Dr. Keefe handed me the prescription for the injections and made an appointment for me to meet with the nurse for injection instruction and then she reached for another packet of papers. She started talking about my other hormone levels. She handed me the packet. My head spun. Thyroid levels were too low, medicine could be used to treat it, do this protocol and send it in, bloodwork will take another two weeks, etc. All of this ran together. She shook our hands and walked us out, told me to call if I had questions or needed help with the injections.
We got in the elevator. Landon asked if I was okay. I said, "I was prepared for the low progesterone. I had made peace with that. I feel blindsided by the thyroid issue." He pulled me into a hug and kissed my forehead. We went home and I started supper. I kept busy, wiping down the counters, filling the dishwasher. Landon talked to me. Assured me that God had a plan, good would come of this. And then I burned supper and the floodgates opened.
I cried for the next couple of hours. It was rough. The crying was interspersed with these thoughts: I can't even make supper. Seriously it is not hard to make spaghetti sauce and spaghetti squash. I burned it. So simple and I ruined it. Sure, the injections would help our chances of conceiving and being able to carry a baby to term but, it is likely to still be a long road to conceiving. I'll be 29 when we marry. What if can't have more than one baby? What if treatment doesn't work? That's not fair to Landon. He deserves to be a father and have a full life. What about the issues my CP has been causing (S.I. issues affecting both legs making standing and moving around very difficult and requiring 4 weeks of chiropractor treatment), what about when that comes back? And the thyroid levels. I had just bought my wedding dress the weekend before. What if I gained back the weight I had lost and looked terrible in my dress on our wedding day?
Basically, I was overloaded emotionally. Anxiety took over and I fell apart.
As soon as the wedding dress comment came out of my mouth, my Prince Charming, who had been quietly listening and hugging me said: "Princess, It is going to be okay. I promise. God will bring us our family. Whether biological or adoption, we will have a family. You are handling the CP/S.I. issues very well and I don't mind helping you. It is kind of fun to lift you up when you are having trouble standing up. I promise you, I am walking life with you no matter what happens. I have never thought you needed to lose weight. I am proud of your hard work and that you are healthy but, as long as you are healthy I will you no matter what a number on a scale says. And as far as our wedding day goes, you are going to be absolutely beautiful. Stunning. If your dress doesn't fit okay fine, we'll buy another. But it will fit. You will look beautiful. You are beautiful and you are going to be a great wife and mother. I love you. I'm going to order Chinese food." He kissed me and passed me some tissues.
The rest of that night and the next weeks were emotional. Landon held my hand and gave me tons of hugs. Eventually, I got my head wrapped around all of it. I'm now a pro at giving myself shots, getting through hot flashes without passing out, handling constant nausea and taking medications, pulses and temperatures like clockwork. Landon is fantastic at recording my observations, questions, side effects, etc on my cycle chart each day. We make a good team.
While treatment of my hormone deficiencies gives us hope of conceiving a child shortly after our wedding in Septemeber, it doesn't guarantee it. Realistically, it gives us a fairly good chance of conceiving with the first 9 months to a year after marriage. To answer the question, "Why don't you just go on birth control that has hormones and could fix it, right?" My answer is simply this: "We are against it." Plain and simple. Not open for discussion and no, we don't need to hear any arguments for it. It's a no. No debates please, respect our stance even if you disagree. We'll do the same for you.
I never planned on fertility issues. The reality that we have them has changed how I think about being a wife and mother. I cannot wait to cherish a child. It has confirmed my desire to be an at home mama. I am determined to treasure any and all children God blesses Landon and me with.
The beautiful thing in all of this is Landon and I's relationship. Our fertility journey is bringing us closer together. We have a very long road ahead of us. It is riddled with countless blood draws, needles, medications, and doctor's appointments. We'll handle all of it together. There are still tough days. Days when I worry we will never have a biological child. Moments when I question whether all of the shots, medicines, and side effects are going to be worth it. But, in spite of the worries, I know that the moment we hold our child, all of it will be worth it. I also know that there is no other man in the world that I would want to walk this road with. Landon truly is my rock, my best friend and the love of my life.
The unexpected happens. I am thankful that for now our fertility issues are being treated. It is always possible that more issues could be discovered as we start trying to conceive. I try to rest in the fact that, I have the best doctors in the world (No, really. People come from all over the world to see the doctors at PPVI.) NaPro technology is incredible. Dr. Keefe, Dr. Hilgers and all of the staff at Pope Paul VI are amazing and truly the best there is when it comes to fertility treatment.
We're praying a lot these days. About our marriage, our family. We are hopeful for the future. We spend copious amounts of time talking finances, investments, houses, and baby names. We are happy. We realize that things will get tough and we will be tested. We stand together, ready to handle the challenges while thanking God for the blessings.
If you think of it, pray for us, please. I have several appointments over the next few months to evaluate effects of the fertility injections and the thyroid medication. More immediate than those appointments Landon will be in Denver until February 10th. We are dreading the separation. Here's to hoping it is a time of spiritual growth for both of us and that absence indeed does make the heart grow fonder.
I sincerely hope that this post helps someone. Encourages someone. Infertility and fertility challenges are experienced by so many but, also not widely and openly talked about. While it was really stressful for me to write this and put it out in the world, I have with the prayer that it will help someone. If you have questions about Pope Paul VI Institute and NaPro Technology or about my specific fertility issues and treatments, feel free to contact me.