Thursday, August 24, 2006

Our Journey

There were two main reasons to start this blog. The first being we wanted to document every milestone in this pregnancy as a keepsake for our future children so that they would know how much they were loved and desperately wanted by us and the second was we were so estatic to finally be pregnant we wanted to shout it from the rooftops. I had kept a private blog during the almost 2 years of hell we endured trying to become pregnant so it seemed a natural progression to leave the pain and bitterness aside and replace it with a shall we say more optimistic outlook on the journey we have been on. I promised myself this blog would be a happy blog and that by creating it I could heal from the pain of our past. But on the eve of our "big" ultrasound I have realized that the pain still exsists and doesn't just disapear in light of all the recent wonderful events. It has engrained itself forever and has changed who we are as people and as a couple.

I have spent the better part of that two years desperately trying to keep our struggle with infertility private which I am finding out I failed at misearably. I suppose it is only natural when you confide in a VERY small inner circle of people that eventually that circle widens because it is human nature to assume one is doing no harm to another if they only tell just this one person. And then of course that one person tells another person which results in people,whom I never intended to share our struggles with, congratulating us and then letting us know they know how hard it was for us to get pregnant. I must admit it is hurtful that those whom we trusted shared our business with others but I must also admit that I am confident that I have violated others trust in the past as well. So with that being said this post isn't meant to crucify anyone but rather an opportunity for Kevin and I to tell our own story on our own terms.

Kevin and I always knew we wanted children. We've been discussing how many, what they'll look like, what their names will be since we met as teenagers. It was always important to us that we prepare for our children by making sure we were financially ready to take care of them in the way we wanted to. Almost two years ago we decided we had achieved the goals we had set financially and were ready to start our family. After some time we began to realize that there was a problem. When I was 19 I was diagnosed with mild endometriosis and I started to suspect that possibly that was why we weren't getting pregnant. Endometriosis is hereditary in my family and my mother suffered from it as well. It took her 4 years to become pregnant with me and she had to have a hysterectomy in her 20's because of it. I had all the classic symptoms so when I made a dr.'s appointment to discuss it with my dr. I was surprised yet relieved that he convinced me nothing was wrong. But he was wrong and unfortunately we didn't find that out till several months later.

After a year of trying I went to see a specialist who within about 30 seconds of my exam told me I had a huge mass on my right side and he was 99% sure that endometriosis was why we couldn't get pregnant. An ultrsound revealed a baseball size cyst and 5-7 smaller ones on both of my ovaries. I had emergency surgery a few days later and woke up from the anthestic to hear the worst possible news. I had advanced Stage 4 endometriosis and getting pregnant would be virtually impossible.

One who has never experienced infertility cannot even begin to imagine what that feels like. Suddenly your body becomes a stranger to you and lose all trust in its ability. Your relationship with God changes, I suppose for some it grows stronger but for myself it was weakened. After all I had done all that God and the church had asked of me. I didn't believe in sex before marriage, I never took birth control, went to church religously and this was the big payoff? What a farce, I felt so foolish. All of things I thought were so important and mattered so much didn't mean a damn at this point. Not only was my dream of being a mother being taken away but now I was responsible for crushing Kevin's dreams as well. Not to mention his parent's dreams of becoming grandparents. The strain of carrying around that burden crushed my spirit. I became a different person, suddenly a life filled with endless opportunities turned dark. I could see no future if there were no children. I think this feeling is best expressed from another infertility blog that I came across, she speaks of the feelings of isolation that ran so deeply in my heart.

"When I'm at home, I can manage fairly well. I can keep the television turned off, and I can lose myself in a game of Rummy with my husband, or in the fabrics I'm considering for the window treatments in our master bath. I can make the executive decision to turn the space that was to be our nursery into a guest room.
But outside -- beyond the stronghold of the quiet walls I am working to construct -- the earth is loud with a joy I cannot have. In this, the "normal" world, no one is sick. Women have the children they want, when they want, and under the circumstances they want. Mostly, when I'm out in this world, I don't feel like a part of it. Instead, it orbits around me, placing me at its axis in a way I never wanted."

In the months following my surgery I underwent aggressive treatment with horomone drugs to try and combat the endometriosis that had attacked my entire pelvis. Every part of my lower extremity was affected, bladder, ovaries, tubes, uterus, bowels, ect. After a second surgery we found out the treatment had all been in vain. 3 months later the endo and cysts had returned and were spreading like wildfire. That surgery required the removal of my right ovary and tube. We went to more dr.'s to find out more bad news. I wrote about it in my former blog:

"So it isn't bad enough that I have stage 4 endometriosis and was stripped of an ovary and tube. Now on top of that I was told today by Dr. A that I tested postive for some autoimmune disorders. But not to worry too much...they only MIGHT cause miscarriage and implantation failure. And on the bright side the ones I tested postitive for are the least serious of the autoimmune disorders. Lucky me. I suppose I should be grateful, well fuck that. I'm not grateful. I don't care if it could be worse. To me this whole situation couldn't get any worse."

One phrase I've come to despise over the past 2 years is "everything happens for a reason". I've pondered over what the reason could be that I've had to suffer physically and emotionally over the past 2 years while irresponsible teens get pregnant everyday. Perhaps their situation "happened for a reason". After the surgeries and an additional diagnosis that complicated matters even more, Kevin and I were able to concieve with the help of our doctors. I don't care to relive or chronicle that part of the journey as I wouldn't wish it upon my worst enemy. It is a part of my life I'd soon rather forget.

Despite my cynical views I do always try to remember that there are others who have been dealt far worse hands than the two of us have. In talking with others that silently suffer through infertilty I know that we were not alone. We are some of the lucky few that were able to escape its hold. We are extremeley grateful that we had diligent dr.'s that didn't give up on our situation and gave us hope when we thought there wasn't any. So for now this story has a happy ending but I still struggle with the fear that at any moment the rug could be pulled out from underneath us. There is nothing about this pregnancy that we take for granted. And for all those in our lives that are experiencing the same struggle we did please know you are not alone.


Margo Croke said...

wow tammy, after reading this i can't express how happy i am for the both of you. After what you two have been through you deserve all the happiness and joy these babies will bring you. I can't wait to find out what your having!

Shell said...

I came to check your blog to check on your sono...just wanted to say that I am so happy that we have become "friends" although it is just over the internet. I wish the very best for you and Kevin during this pregnancy...and I cannot wait to hear all about your big u/s!!

Auntie Sara said...

Even though we aren't super super "let's go out and shop for new bras" type close, feel free to call me anytime to help out with anything or even just to talk. You have to remember that I am related to Kevin (haha), and displays of affection are not an everyday thing. But even though I don't tell you how great or beautiful or perfect for my brother you are or how wonderful of a mother I know you will be to my precious nephews, know that I truly do believe that. Tammy, you are awesome and I can't imagine our family without you in it.

Now don't bring this up next time I see you cause I'll feel all awkward. ;)

Love you guys (all four of you),

Auntie Sara

Tammy and Kevin said...

Sara~Can't tell you how much that means to us...especially me! Your candid comments, even the ones that make us gasp :), always warm our hearts and put big smiles on our faces. Wishing you the best in this next phase of your life at U of M. We are very proud of you and your accomplishments!

All four of us!