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.