March 18th has special meaning for me. Very special. 7 years ago on this date I found out I was pregnant. It's a day I personally celebrate with almost as much joy as my girls' actual birthday. (Not quite, but almost).I still have the tests, framed and on display, and I still remember that moment of reading that first positive test. Perhaps that seems odd, but the truth is, it's a miracle that it even happened.
I didn't plan on motherhood, really. My childhood play involved creating construction- paper text books (always MATH, my worst subject, of all things), and dressing Barbie up in her most work friendly fashion garb. Even my pretend kitchen dished out bagged lunches for all my invisible working-woman customers. It's not that I didn't like kids, it was more that I thought I'd be a great career woman instead. (NOT that one can't be both).
Flash forward a dozen years and something changed. At some point my husband and I went from thinking, "Whew!" every month to "Why aren't we preggers yet?" After 2 uneventful years of "Trying", we sucked it up and went to a doctor to figure it out.
Walking into a fertility specialist appointment for the first time can be a jarring event. I felt completely broken inside, so much a failure. It seemed like every female around me was at some stage of gestation; many of whom were muttering things like, "Gosh! We weren't even TRYING! Can you believe it?" or "Not again. Ugh. I hate this." And then there was us: in some odd procreational limbo; unable to move forward or to understand why we were stuck.
Several appointments and too many "mildly uncomfortable-to-downright painful" tests later, we had our answer. Poly cystic Ovarian Syndrome. Ahhh, yes. There it is folks. My ovaries were filled with cysts and I was shooting out testerone at a downright manly rate. Try googling PCOS or PCOD and you'll find a nifty list of side effects that includes excess facial hair. I was in despair at the thought that I was going to morph into a bearded lady.
While it was nice to have a name to put to the problem, it didn't bring much comfort. PCOS is notoriously tricky to treat; working well on certain meds and not even trying to abate on others. Given my own levels, my doctor put my odds of conceiving "without intervention" at about 5%. Minds geared for the battle ahead, we were ready to fight.
We were so hopeful as we began the regimen; it felt encouraging to be finally doing something. I took hormone pills that made me see fire and want to smack every person I saw in the face; I went to weekly ultrasounds to determine just how much (or how little) my stubborn ovaries were responding; and we "celebrated" the viable follicles with a nasty shot in my derriere to force ovulation. Sounds fun, right?
After 6 unsuccessful and draining months on that treatment, we were told we would have to move on to the next tier of treatment: the injectibles. I was game for it, but as anyone who's walked that path can tell you, it takes serious dedication and commitment. More appointments, precise schedules, and tons of follow ups that are worked at the clinic's schedule, not the patent's. We decided we would do it, but would hold off till the summer when I would be off work and have the ability to commit. We went along for the next few months in a holding pattern; however, both of us were silently relieved to have a break from the appointments, the pills (oh-thank-you-Lord-no-more-pills!), and phone calls from the doctor informing me that my levels were acceptable to "engage in physical relations with hopes of conception" (although that was always super romantic").
So you can see why I was amazed as I stared at the test indicating that somehow, beyond all reason, without any help, it had happened. I called my doctor that very morning and he was wary to believe it, reminding me of the low odds and telling me not to get to excited. Not get excited? No way in HELL that was happening. I was elated. They did a blood test and confirmed it. I was pregnant. I thought that my doctor would be too; he had put so much time into orchestrating the event for so long, even if the attempts hadn't worked. Instead he said, "I don't know how this happened. You shouldn't be pregnant."
Thanks, doc. God had other plans.
I was in bliss.
2 weeks later we found out that our single miracle had split into 2 miracles, further dumbfounding my still unbelieving doctor.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
I know so many people who are struggling with infertility now or who have in the past. My heart hurts for them each as they walk this journey. Compared to many of them, we've had it easy. We conceived. Against all odds. Somehow. (By God's amazing grace).
I'm not ashamed to say that we were infertile. That I have PCOS. It doesn't define me, but it's played a part in who I am. Since pregnancy, many of my symptoms have been well managed. And (thankfully), I still haven't become a bearded wonder and am hoping in earnest I never do.
Every moment with these two "inconceivables" is filled with joy for me. True heartfelt joy. Because I know the hurt of want, the pain of empty arms, and the true promise of hope.
And I am grateful.