Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Shifting My Focus

So I haven't done a lot of blogging on here about my personal experience with secondary infertility.  Mostly because I haven't been sure if I want to share that very personal & private experience with the internet world.  But due to some recent Divine inspiration, I think it's time I start putting myself out there.  I'm not sure why yet, or if it will do any good.  All I know is that I haven't been able to find a good in-person support group on this topic.  Sure, there are infertility support groups.  But infertility is much different than secondary infertility.  And secondary infertility is much different than Catholic secondary infertility.  It's pretty specific.  And there is already a blogosphere of wonderful, devoutly Catholic women out there with the same struggle.  So maybe I'll join them, if they'll have me!   :)

A little background: I was married in May of 2005.  We had just moved halfway across the country, my husband took the bar exam that summer, and we were content just being a young married couple for at least a few months.  Well, more than three at least!  But God had other plans and I was pregnant by August.  It was a total shock, as we weren't prepared at all.  But looking back it all makes sense now and obviously it was a total blessing.  We had our son, Jack, on April 29th, just a month before our 1st anniversary (in fact, he was baptized on the date of our first anniversary, May 28th, 2006!). 

Because I hadn't been prepared to have a child (let me be clear - I was always "prepared" in the sense that we were never on artificial BC, I just wasn't mentally prepared), we wanted to wait about a year before we started trying for #2.  I was so new to this mommy thing! 

***Sidenote:  A lot of people (who don't understand) say things like, "Just enjoy the child you have," or "Can't you just focus on Jack?"  As much as those comments hurt, let me be very clear: Jack is a gift from God that I don't believe I'm even worthy of.  He's the most wonderful child any parent could ever ask for and I truly don't know what I did to deserve him.  It's not that Jack isn't "enough" for me.  It's that I love him SO much and he's growing up SO fast, that I want more of it!!!  (I also never wanted to raise an only child.)

When Jack was about a year and a half, we started thinking we were ready to stop "not trying."  So we just took it easy and didn't pay attention to charting.  Because we conceived Jack so quickly and without even trying, I started to get concerned after just about 4 months (sounds crazy, I know...I just wanted to talk to my doctor to see if I should be worried).  Well she basically told me, "Yes, you are crazy.  We don't consider infertility until it's been a year with no success." 

But that wasn't good enough for me.  So I pestered her, she gave me some advice, and finally, after a year, she conceded that yes, we do need to consider infertility at this point.  So I had some bloodwork done, with nothing conclusive.  The next step was to get a semen sample.  That was the red flag for me.  I knew that the traditional way of gathering semen was incompatible with my Catholic views, so I did some research and found Creighton/NaPro

The closest practitioners were about an hour away, near Philadelphia.  I didn't mind the drive.  But, long story short, I was extremely frustrated with the process.  My frustration was exacerbated by the fact that it seemed like everyone else who did CrMS/NaPro had wonderful experiences and success with it! 

First of all, my cycle, though regular in number of days, is very inconsistent within that 28-30 day timeframe.  It took MONTHS to find my peak day.  To this day, I'm still not even convinced we found it properly.  And the NaPro doctor wouldn't see me or start any meds or procedures until we found that stupid day!!!  Furthermore, I was really frustrated that she wouldn't just do some sort of ultrasound or procedure to just see what was going on inside of me.  I felt like if she just would have looked, maybe she could have seen something like endometriosis, poly-cystic, or something wrong with my tubes, and we could get it resolved and move forward.  Instead it was blood test after blood test, Clomid, progesterone, injections, etc etc.  I understand that there's a process, but it just seemed like a lot of it could have been avoided.

Anyway, it all came to a halt, ironically, when it DID come time to do the procedures.  I hadn't realized that my doctor wouldn't do them herself.  She referred me to a doctor in NJ, three hours away from me, to do the daily ultrasounds.  And to Gianna Health Center in Manhattan for the laparoscopy.  I've spoken with Dr. Mielnik in the past and she's wonderful!  But here's the kicker: none of this was covered by my insurance.  I even tried to get someone in my area to do the ultrasounds and have them read by the doctors in Camp Hill, PA.  But no dice.  And since my husband took a pay-cut earlier in the year, and we have a rental property, paying out of pocket just was not an option.  So I just let it go for awhile.  I decided to pray on it and see if I could discern anything from it.

I don't know. I know a lot of people LOVE the method and have had tremendous success with it.  I truly wish it would have been successful for me, as I do believe it is a wonderful alternative to secular infertility treatments.  I just wish there were currently more practicing doctors and pray that more will enter this vocation. 

So that brings me to today.  Because of my frustration with CrMS/NaPro, I finally scheduled an appointment with my old GYN.  I felt more comfortable now that I knew a little more about what is/isn't acceptable within the Catholic faith.  We got the semen analysis part taken care of thanks to Creighton!  So I felt I was comfortable enough to move forward with my old doctor, at least until anything controversial came up.

I had my appointment this morning and left feeling hopeful.  We're going to get the semen analysis (which she says most likely isn't the problem, but might as well cover all the bases - agreed!!!), and then when my next period starts, she's going to schedule me for an HSG, or hysterosalpingogram.  Yeah...try to pronounce that one.  On or around day 7-10 of my next cycle, I will go in for this procedure.  They'll basically shoot dye up into my tubes and just make sure they're open.  This is exactly what I've been wanting done for THREE YEARS!!!  It sounds odd, but I do hope they find a problem on that day and that it's just a matter of opening up my tubes.  So I'm saying my prayers.

It's unfortunate that NaPro didn't work out for me, but this is the FIRST TIME in three years that I have left a doctor's office feeling *hopeful*.  Mainly it's because I've been too afraid to be hopeful.  But I'm just praying this is the answer.  If not, at least I feel like we're finally moving forward.


  1. Hello! I'm so glad to have found your blog through Leila at the Catholic Bubble!

    I'm a secondary IFer too! You are so right that it is a SMALL circle. Let's stick together!

    I think it's wonderful that you're having an HSG done! I've heard that can be the answer in itself. Praying for you and can't wait to follow your story!

    God bless!

  2. Hi! Thanks for sharing your story. Like you, I went the secular doc route and I'm sooooo glad I did! I was able to have two surgeries for stage 4 endo in 2006 and after 4 years of IF, we just had our third child in 3 1/2 years.
    God bless you as you start this journey.

    My blog is relatively hidden but its if you're Interested. I'm also a friend of Leila's.

  3. 'Glad you're sharing your story! We had secondary IF too...and then "thirdary"???? Not sure what you call having three bios 7 and 6 years apart! God's plan I guess. We chose to adopt 4 children in between and loved it - still love it. I have a HUGE heart for adoption - so even though I'm currently pregnant (another miracle), my blog tends to be more adoption related since I do believe God must be calling some of us to it. Blessings on your secondary IF journey - I can't wait to see how it unfolds!

  4. Welcome! I suffered recurrent miscarriage and just before the window of fertility closed due to age I went crazy and worked with over 25 doctors. Three of which were NAPRO but I just could NOT do the NAPRO route as I found it too stressful for me! I ended creating a unique team of doctors who helped me to maintain a pregnancy, my first and only, to full term. Each of us has to find our own path.

    As long as we stick to the Church's teachings...we are fine.

    I mostly follow the treatment protocol of the late Dr. Alan Beer, author of: IS YOUR BODY BABY FRIENDLY.

    And, here is insight for you. Dr. Beer found that SECONDARY IF is much more difficult to treat than primary. It is due to your immune system being triggered.

    Currently, a couple of doctors follow in his footsteps. Dr. Kwak-Kim in Chicago is the President of the Reproductive Immunological Society and his protege. She is very ethical, takes insurance and would be able to get to the heart of your issue.

    But, I understand that the cost for treatment (without insurance) can make it overwhelming and seem impossible.

    If you don't mind me chirping in, I suggest you first buy the book on amazon, I think it is $15.00 pray on it and see if it speaks to you.


    Please keep blogging and posting. There are lots of us out there who have secondary IF or just one child and yearn to have more. So, there is lots of compassion and support for us to give one another.

  5. I am sooooo glad you are here and blogging. You will find an amazing community of support from these wonderful ladies!

  6. Thanks, everyone, for commenting and such warm welcomes! I'm so happy to be part of the "group!" I'm so relieved to hear that I'm not the only Catholic who didn't have success or total faith in NaPro.

    Danya - I'd love to hear more about your adoption story (I guess I'll read your blog!! :) We have discussed adoption and I'm totally open to it, but again it's the financial issue that is a problem.

    JoAnn - thanks so much for the book advice! I'll definitely check out Dr. Beer (if nothing else, I like his last name!). I also grew up near and used to live in Chicago, so that is something I'll look into as well.

    I'm already very glad I decided to share my story. Thanks again ladies! See you soon! :)

  7. Thanks for sharing your story. There are several blogs with women who have dealt with secondary infertility and I really hope the support of all the bloggers will help. I'm excited you are involved in the prolife movement! We adopted our sweet little guy and I'm so thankful for all who help women to choose life! God bless!

  8. I look forward to reading more about your journey! Welcome to this amazing group of wonderful women!

  9. Hi and welcome to the blog world!

  10. Thank you for the comment on my blog! I look forward to following your story and to praying for you! We also suffered through secondary IF... I totally agree that Catholic secondary IF is a very specific category! I felt soooo blessed and like I was "at home" when I found all these Catholic women struggling with the same thing! It has truly helped keep me sane through some rough times!

  11. I hope dr. secular helps, so gald that you have found hope....

    I did a little bit of secular and napro....I think napro is definitely a tool in the bag of infertile tricks but for most it isn't the only trick. :)

    After just recently having Hannah I can not even imagine secondary infertility and it scares me.

  12. Oh and I'm glad you decided to open up...It was because of me opening up that my blog literally cured my infertility. :) Well all the great women helped point me in the right direction of curing it. :)

  13. Hi Nicole! Thank you for the comment on my blog. I had the HSG with the weird name! :) Back in October 2010 and although I was bummed that I have one tube that was blocked, it was a good procedure to have done. If you want more specifics about the actual procedure - just shoot me an e-mail and I can tell you more. I didn't think it was too bad. I did start crying, but mostly from the emotions of seeing that tube on the screen and the dye was not draining out it was just filling up at the top and not going anywhere! Ugh!

    Oh, I love it that you are a football fan - I love football. We are watching the Colts / Jets game tonight. Can you believe the upset that the Seahawks pulled off? But for me, I am a PACKER BACKER to the core. Yes, you can call me JBTC - the Cheesehead! Just kidding, but close! God Bless you and your beautiful family!

  14. Hi Joy! Thanks for stopping by! Bummer about the game last night. :( My husband and I went to a Packers game back when we lived in Chicago. It was a late game and the high that day was 4. It was chilly! :)

    Thanks for the info on the HSG. You'll probably be hearing from me soon!

  15. Glad you're opening up about secondary IF. Thanks for commenting on my blog. I really hope blogging brings you some peace and healing. And I pray that you have another little one in your arms soon!

  16. It's scary, isn't it, to be able to get pregnant so easily once and then find that it's not always so easy later. We got pregnant after 9 months of marriage, in 2007, while using NFP to avoid while I was in grad school-- I had a polyp removed from my uterus and didn't adjust my charting. Our gorgeous daughter showed up 8 months later!

    We started really "trying" at 10 months, with no success. My PCOS was back with a vengeance, so the Dr. put me on Metformin to help and we luckily got pregnant again when my daughter was 15 months old. Again, 8 months later we had a new baby.

    My son is now 14 months and we're ready to start trying. I have some serious pregnancy complications, so I am always so scared about miscarrying and losing all chances for a 3rd, and struggle with feeling "greedy" for wanting more when so many people can't have any, AND feeling selfish when we use NFP to avoid so that I can lose some baby weight that is still hanging on, when others would give anything to be blessed with fertility thus far.

    Sorry for the L-O-N-G story. :)

  17. Welcome! Leila is so good to introduce us so we can support each other. I am one of those obnoxious Creighton success stories, extremely direct route BUT...we also live near Omaha and had insurance coverage there so that made all the difference for us. I know so many pay out of pocket and that would be so hard to imagine being able to do! I hope the hsg gets you answers. I know what it is like to hope they find stuff wrong so it can be FIXED! Btw, take some extra strength tylenol ahead of time. I heard it really helps.

  18. Hi Lisa & WBR - thanks for stopping by!

    WBR, I heard that too, about the Tylenol. I'll be sure and take a couple...thanks!!!

  19. So glad to have found your blog. Please keep blogging about secondary infertility. I went from super fertile (4 pregnancies in 3 years) to a secondary infertility period of 3 years after turning 32. I just had my youngest baby in August 2011 at age 36.

    I found a real lack of emotional support for secondary infertility. It's an extra cross to have children that you love SOOOO much and feel frustrated that suddenly your body just "stopped" working on you without a clear reason or explanation.

  20. Hi Abigail! Glad you found me and thanks for stopping by! I hope you keep reading. I'm still in the midst of going through treatments and procedures. I agree - it's so frustrating that your body once worked and now it doesn't - without any explanation!! God bless you!

  21. Hi! I'm so glad to have found your blog. Although I am sad that it appears so many Catholic women are struggling with infertility, I am relieved I am not alone. I am also suffering with secondary infertility. I have a 4 year old son, too! Praying for you and your family.

  22. I have the opposite thing going on...secular docs for years and years and just turning to NaPRo now. I'm also in a unique situation where I'm dealing with secondary infertility after having what most would consider a full family. AFter dealing with my regular docs telling me that it is happening because of my age (42 now, 39 at the time of my first loss) I went searching for a Catholic doc. Since all of my homeschooling mommy friends are having their 7th, 8th, and 9th babies at even older ages than 42, I figured the age thing wasn't a good enough answer. Turns out, I was right. So, I'm not sure where I fit in, but I'm here.
    I have a big chip on my shoulder and lots to sort out, but the blog thing at the end of the day, helps immensely!
    (Abigail, I'm definitely looking you up!)
    And, who is Leila? Her name pops up a lot! ;)

  23. Hi Lisa! I checked out your blog for your email and it wasn't listed. Email me at nmlehe (@) gmail (dot) com!

  24. By the way, Leila is here:

    She's awesome! Total fertile - 8 kids. But she's like our Catholic IF blogosphere "mom!"