1 in 6 stories

Terry and Tanya

Terry and Tanya

‘Dancing Through the Storm’

My husband and I met in church when I was 14, and by the time I was 19, we were head-over-heels in love and engaged. We married three years later in our home church; but at 22 (my DH was 25), I wasn’t ready to be a mom. Besides we were young - we had plenty of time right? I always knew I wanted to be a mom, and my husband is amazing with kids, they naturally gravitate towards him (maybe it’s because he’s a big kid himself? :D ); but there was so much we wanted to do and enjoy before settling down with a much anticipated family.

Flash forward 4 years, and we decided we were ready to start a family, so we “pulled the goalie” and enjoyed TTC. That enjoyment quickly faded as 1 year passed and we were still empty handed. By this point many of our friends had started families of their own and we were often peppered with the question, “So when are you guys going to have a baby?” often by those in our church family. Church families (well families in general) can be funny, especially when folks have known you most of your life. They think that it’s perfectly normal to ask what are sometimes pretty personal questions. Often times in a church setting, couples get married young and so get a lot of, “You guys are young, wait to start a family,” advice initially. Then, when one couple has a baby, it’s like it’s a license for everyone else to start popping them out and for people to start asking constantly (well it felt constant,) “So you guys next?” or, something equally as clever. Honestly, it got to a point that when we were asked, all I could hear was, “So you guys having SEX?” and I would get irate inside. “It’s none of your FREAKING business!” my mind would be screaming; but on the outside, I would politely say, “God has a plan for us and we’re trusting it,” or, “We’re enjoying being DINKS (Double Income no kids)”. In hindsight, I probably should have been more honest that the questions made me uncomfortable, that we were struggling, but we were young, and I was ashamed and embarrassed that we weren’t pregnant, and sometimes I’m too polite to a fault.

Around this same time, we were planning to go back to our doctor to find out what might be going on and I lost my job. Things ended up falling into place for me to go back to school shortly after, and we took it as a sign that this wasn’t the right time for us. We weren’t going to prevent a pregnancy, but we weren’t going to actively pursue anything further either.

A few more years passed and I graduated from school all while managing a few personal and career lows for my hubby and still hearing that age old nagging question, “When are you guys going to have a baby?” By this point we were spiritually, mentally and emotionally exhausted, and so, we retreated into ourselves, pulling away from God, friends, family and a church family who all loved us. These were our darkest moments. It’s funny how you can feel genuine joy and gratitude; after all we had survived school, personal and professional tragedy, but yet feel so much sadness, because even though we knew the timing would have been terrible, we wanted nothing more than a little person of our own. Fortunately for us, our friends never gave up on us and continued to reach out and pray for us, and by the fall of 2010 we were feeling back to ourselves again and ready to start the next chapter.

We were referred to a clinic and had our first appointment in early 2011. After a battery of tests our doctor at the time came back with a diagnosis of Unexplained Infertility. He basically told me, “You’re fat,” and the only way we’d get pregnant was if I had weight loss surgery, or, if we did IVF. We were crushed!

I tried to bring up the fact that my HSG test hadn’t gone well and the doctor that had conducted it mentioned he had concerns, possibly PCOS (I’d had many of the symptoms for years); but nope - nothing, he wouldn’t even address it (actually he wouldn’t even look at any of my scans). You’re fat, that’s it……we were gutted. IVF was out of the question at that point for us as we were still recovering financially from school and my husband was laid-off while I was in school. The doctor told us I wasn’t 30 yet, so we still had time. Ok, fine. So off we went to explore weight loss surgery options (that wouldn’t break the bank).

Flash Forward another 2 years and I’ve now had weight loss surgery. I am 60lbs lighter, in my 30’s and by this point the ache to have a baby is tearing me up daily. We get re-referred to the clinic, and when they call to schedule our first appointment, I immediately ask for a different doctor. Another couple we knew had had great success with another doctor at the clinic who didn’t put as much emphasis on weight as a factor and was more willing to explore in depth the cause of infertility. So back we went, for another round of tests and to meet with the new doctor. We loved him immediately and felt a renewed hope that we would be in the family way soon! Then came June 2014, we had a follow up appointment after the doctor had ordered an additional internal ultrasound and unfortunately the results weren’t great. I was diagnosed with diminished ovarian reserve and what was worse was that he had reviewed my scans from 3 years prior that showed that the condition existed then! All I could see was red! 3 PRECIOUS YEARS, WASTED! Granted I was in better health and for that I am grateful, but if the first doctor had taken half a second to consider any other option other than I was fat, had he even for a second looked… Our new doctor laid it out for us pretty bluntly: the chances of us getting pregnant on our own given my age (which was only 33) and my diagnosis (which also included PCOS – Awesome!) was slim to none. He wanted to send me for one additional test, but highly recommended we start on the IVF path quickly. I ugly cried! This wasn’t the way this was supposed to go, we were doing everything in our power to trust God’s plan for us, but frankly we were just plain angry! Up until this point, we had kept our infertility journey fairly private. I just didn’t have the energy to explain to anyone who asked about kids that we weren’t able to have them on our own. It was still too raw, and honestly 6 years later I was still feeling so much shame. We finally broke down and told our close friends, who amazingly surrounded us with love, support, encouraging words and prayer. The prayers that I couldn’t bring myself to say because I was just so angry, our friends graciously lifted on our behalf.

The summer came and went with us attending an IVF info session and also beginning to explore adoption. At the end of August, our doctor called us back to discuss the results of the last set of tests he had ordered. My blood work had come back normal, but my ultrasound was different. Normally when they did a follicle count, they would only find 2-3 follicles between both ovaries; However, this time they had found 4 times that amount! Our doctor was astounded. I hadn’t done anything different, but we did have a lot of people praying for us! He was so confident in the results that he felt we could proceed with a super ovulation IUI instead of IVF. We were thrilled! Not only would this be less invasive, but also less expensive and perhaps we could do a couple of rounds! Sign us up! We decided we’d start in January as we had vacation plans made for the remainder of the year and wanted to start the New Year on this new journey. Coincidentally, my husband’s medical benefits came up for renewal and we found out that they would cover the majority of the drug costs (my company’s insurance doesn’t cover drugs for fertility treatment). Even better! It finally seemed like we were on the path that we were intended to be on.

January rolled around and we nervously paid our IUI fee and began the planning and training for our first round. We were supposed to start the first week in February or when my cycle started, but of course, it never came! February rolled into March and still we waited. The clinic decided to put me on a BCP for one cycle hoping that that might regulate me and get a cycle started, nope. 90 days, no cycle, SERIOUSLY!! WTF? I went in for another ultrasound and bloodwork and the Dr. decided that I could just go ahead and start the injections anyway. Well of course the day I’m supposed to start my injections my cycle starts. I was about to lose my mind and I hadn’t even started the crazy drugs yet. A few minor changes to the schedule and we were on our way! The injections SUCKED! The first day I had to do them, I ugly cried, like UGLY CRIED! They got easier. All I can say is God bless my husband during this entire journey. We often forget that even if it’s us girls that are taking the brunt of the treatments, the guys are in it too! They feel every loss, every piece of disappointing news, every needle just as deeply as we do.

They hurt and often can’t display it, because they are being strong, stoic for us. This was my husband. He endured 14 days of unimaginable crazy with graciousness and love. He listened to me freak when the doctors said I wasn’t initially responding well to treatment and they had to increase my meds (and our cost) substantially. He endured me laughing hysterically when 5 days later I was responding too well and they had to dial back the meds (5 leading follicles 2 lagging, they were aiming for 2-3 mature follicles). He shared my anger and indignation when the doctor who was doing my scan towards the end of our IUI round (not our doctor) called me irresponsible because I wouldn’t (couldn’t) convert to an IVF round and wouldn’t agree to selective reduction if we ended up conceiving more than 2 babies (I could RANT about this conversation all day, but I won’t.) He sat waiting patiently through every acupuncture treatment, every blood test, and every ultrasound for 14 days without a complaint. He’s not a Saint, but he’s pretty close.

Day 16 we nervously went into the clinic for our transfer. My husband debated coming into the room with me (he’s not great with medical stuff, makes him a little queasy) but decided he should at least be in the room when our child was being conceived, lol! I was in a lot of pain that day. I was bloated, constipated and my ovaries felt like they were the size of oranges! I couldn’t find a comfortable position to sit in, and all I wanted to do was be able to FART. But it was all going to be worth it, because Lord willing we would successfully make a baby. Through this entire cycle, we kept telling those closest to us that we were cautiously optimistic. We knew there were no guarantees, but things seemed for the most part to be falling into place (save for the fact that our insurance ran out half way through treatment and we ended up having to foot a huge medication bill!) After some initial trouble finding my cervix, the transfer was done and all we could do was wait.

The next 18 days were the longest of our lives; every twinge, craving, and mood swing would bring on a “maybe, do you think?” look between us. We’re grateful for the friends who did their best to distract us, make us laugh and help us pass this time. We talked about the possibility of multiples, we talked about names, and I even browsed some online baby furniture. It became increasingly obvious that we weren’t cautiously optimistic, we were beyond hopeful that this had to work!

I started spotting the night before my scheduled blood test, but Dr. Google said that that was pretty normal, so the hope continued and maybe even grew. I went in for my HCG blood test 18 days after our transfer and also bought a HPT. I wanted, needed to see the 2 pink lines. I have NEVER gotten a positive test before and I have never wanted one so badly. I took the HPT that night and it came back negative. The hope started to fade a little…but wait, the clinic and my acupuncturist told me that HPT can often give a false negative, so maybe? Waiting for the clinic to call the next day was torture. I didn’t sleep well at all the night before and kept the phone glued to me at all times. About noon, the clinic called and the nurse said, “I’m so sorry the treatment wasn’t successful the test was negative.” DEVASTATED ! I had taken the day off work, as this wasn’t something I wanted to deal with in the office either way. My hubby works from home and when I got the courage to tell him the tears in his eyes said it all. We had been so hopeful, trusting that this was God’s plan for us, and felt so deflated, angry, hurt, realizing that it wasn’t.

The next few days were a blur of sadness and sharing the news with those that had been riding along on this journey with us. I’m grateful that those closest to us don’t judge our anger or feed us lines like “It would work if you were more relaxed,” or, “If it’s in God’s plan, it’ll happen,” or , “maybe you should just adopt.” Trust me, we’ve heard every one of those and more, and while I know that it’s never meant maliciously, it never fails to feel like a daggers being shot through our hearts. For those of us facing this turbulent journey of infertility sometimes the greatest words of comfort are nothing at all. Our family and friends shared in our anger and sadness and once again lifted us up in spirit and prayer when we just couldn’t. We wholeheartedly trust that there IS a plan for us, and that it is good and perfect. That doesn’t lessen the sting of disappointment when your deepest heart’s desire remains unanswered.

Because of the delay in starting our treatment, we ended up getting the news a week before we were leaving on a big vacation we had previously planned. I have never been more grateful for God’s timing than I was then. Sure we weren’t leaving on vacation with exciting anticipation of the next 9 months, but we were going to get a much needed 2 week break from everything baby related, and that was a blessing! Our two weeks away gave us the time we needed to reconnect, to just have fun and not have everything revolve around, needles, appointments and tests. It gave us time to consider the next steps and discuss what we would do differently if we were to pursue another round of treatment. It gave us time to heal our hearts from the disappointment and fully embrace this journey. We came home renewed, in hope, spirit and love. It also affirmed one more thing; this journey is not one that we need to face alone! It is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about. If being open about our struggles, our faith, our faltering, our pain can help even one couple see some light in this very dark and sometimes alienating journey, then it’s all been worth it! So here we are, telling the world WE ARE #1in6.

Now more than ever though, I feel a deep desire to fight. To stand up for the #1in6 so that we’re not forced to have to choose between our present and our future. Treatments are expensive and can be financially exhausting, and this is an added stress that those who face infertility don’t need and definitely don’t deserve. I didn’t choose to be infertile, it’s a disease and I shouldn’t have to choose between being able to get the necessary medical treatments to assist in creating my child or offer them a financially stable future. No one should be left childless simply because the cost of treatment is out of reach. This needs to change. If I can help change this so that a family in the future isn’t faced with delaying treatment or not getting it at all, I will do everything in my power to!

Like many of you our journey continues. We don’t know where it will lead, but we trust that one day soon, our open arms will be filled. And even though our hearts are torn we will continue to praise HIM through this storm; because sometimes, you just gotta dance in the rain! We’re scheduled to speak to our clinic next month about IVF, so we’ll see where that leads. We’re also continuing to look into adoption and begin the steps of that path as well.

“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint.” ~Isaiah 40:28-31

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