On Wednesday, my husband and 2 youngest sons and I trekked to our hospital to have presumably our final ultrasound for this pregnancy. My thoughts were only of excitement this time as I knew that being over 32 weeks along we would get a better view at his little features. Little guy did not disappoint. He was full of fun facial expressions. Pouted lips, puckered lips, yawns, smiles, frowning face, and sticking his tongue out. Even the technician who sees many many ultrasounds a day was getting a kick out of the show he was putting on. We could even tell that he has hair. Right now he is weighing in at approximately 3 pounds 13 ounces. A little on the small side for his gestation, however this doesn't surprise me...my children have all been 7 pounds 4 ounces, 7 pounds 3 ounces, and 6 pounds 9 ounces.
What makes today different than any other day? Well this morning I read about another friend who just lost her baby. Reading of their struggles to have children, they do have 1 daughter, but have struggled for years and have endured loss...and many tests with only 1 line on them. I didn't offer her words of wisdom...I have none...and frankly who wants to hear them from someone who is carrying her 4th child.
You see....we too went through infertility struggles. We thought that surely we would be pregnant by the end of our honeymoon. I mean...I come from such a fertile family...and I already had a 5 year old. You would think...no problem! We started our marriage with statements like...let's have 10 children! Thank goodness someone came out with the movie "Cheaper by the Dozen". After that my husband quickly changed his tune to...I think 4 or 5 would be ok. So we were married on June 5th of 2004...and month after month for the next 4-1/2 years came that dreaded moment where you go to the restroom only to find that your efforts had failed. We started seeking infertility answers a year into our marriage. Here are the things we tried:
- 2005: We started with a procedure where they shoot the dye up into your uterus to watch it flow through your Fallopian tubes to determine if your ovaries had a clear path to release eggs into your uterus. This is called a hysterosalpingogram. The right ovary...no problem...the left.....cleared minimal dye. I was on that cold metal table for what felt like forever as they tried and tried to test that left ovary.
- 2005: We started clomid. Tried for several months to no avail.
- 2005: Tried Femara. This is actually not a fertility medicine. If I remember correctly it is used to treat PCOS...which I have a little of but not excessive. We tried for a few more months...nothing.
- 2006: We took a chill pill for awhile on all treatments...but continued to track and time and take temperatures and all that fun stuff.
- 2007: We were referred to an infertility specialist.
- 2007: One thing to note. I am not regular. I go from 28 day cycles to 45 day cycles. I never miss a cycle entirely...but those handy charts used to track...pretty much are of no use to me because I never know just how long my cycle will be.
- 2007: James was tested....everything is fine with him.
- 2007: I was sent to have exploratory surgery to get a better look at all of my reproductive organs. They make 2 incisions...one through your belly button and one through your bikini line...blow you up with air...and go in with a camera and dig around. Results...everything looks great! Didn't see a thing wrong. Which is a good feeling...but yet baffling.
- 2007: In starts the thoughts of...this is punishment isn't it? Even though I am married and doing everything the "right way"...God is punishing me for the poor choices I made in my youth isn't he...In sets the bitterness. No, I don't want to hold your baby. No, I don't want to be invited to your baby shower. All of the sudden every woman you see appears to be with child in womb. You start settling...and try to convince yourself that you will be just fine if you never have a baby. At least if you have made the decision that you don't want any more children...you will feel like you are in control over the situation. It was all a mask though...to mask the pains in my heart.
- I went to a womens conference. This was led by a woman who has become very dear to me now, but at the time she did not know anything of my life or circumstances. She is also gifted with prophecy...which most of the time comes out through rhymes. In the middle of preaching her sermon she stopped. Walked over to me...and started speaking.. "Woman...you are not barren. Oh no...you are not. You will one day be like old mother hubbard who lived in a shoe...had so many kids she did not know what to do. Your house will be full" She went on for several moments but this is the only part I remember. Honestly...after she spoke that first part I was a blubbering mess. All of those bitter emotions I was holding in were finally released and I bawled. Oddly after that my anxieties were gone. They would try to creep in, but God would remind me of those words spoken over me and they would soon disintegrate.
- 2007: In December I change jobs at the company I had been with for almost 6 years. I go from full-time to part-time and a whole heck of a lot less stress.
- 2008: I mention to James about the possibility of IVF....he says no...I don't feel like we are suppose to go that route yet.
- 2008: February...we go on a family vacation to Florida.
- 2008: March, I leave my job entirely to work for our business that has grown.
- 2008: March...3 days after my last day at job...Easter morning...I take a positive pregnancy test. All the ideas of how I would tell James went out the window as I went running to our bedroom and woke him up frantically waving the stick I had just peed on in his face. I quickly drank like a gallon of water...ran to Hy-Vee, bought more tests...came back home...3 for 3...positive! To this day whenever I see the cashier at Hy-Vee who sold me the tests...I want to hug her.
- October 22nd 2008....River Harrison Miller was born at 35 weeks 6 days.
- We enjoy every little thing he does for the next couple of years. However....we never stop preventing the ability to have more children.
- 2010: May, I have a procedure done to remove a portion of my cervix that was 1 stage away from having full blown cervical cancer. I am told to not get pregnant for 2 years. That it wouldn't be safe and that I may not carry to term. We are careful for a month or two...but decide that it has been 2 years anyways so maybe River was our miracle baby and that was it. Decide that it probably won't happen anyways so throw caution to the wind.
- 2010: September...Oops...we are pregnant! I spend the first trimester very sick and believing that I was high risk because of my surgical procedure.
- We learn that baby #3 is a boy...so we go against doctors recommendation and choose not to have my tubes tied.
- 2011: On May 11th James Harrison Miller III was born...aka our "bonus baby".
- for the next 2-1/2 years we know we would be ok with one more....but would also be ok without anymore...we even contemplate making that permanent. Meanwhile because of those years of infertility my mind can not separate itself from continually tracking, timing, and taking ovulation tests. It is now just a part of my life.
- 2014: January 6th...we test and discover that baby #4 is on the way! I am only 3.5 weeks along. We contemplate not telling anyone for a long while. Due September 16th
- 2014: January 7th...the next day...we tell all the world. :)
- 2014: April, It's a boy!
There are 2 big emotions I feel when I discover that I am pregnant...Excitement...and...guilt.
Excitement that we will have another baby. Guilt that you know there will be a woman somewhere who will cry in secret because she can't bare to read one more status update with an "announcement".
Survivor's guilt. A feeling that there will be some that think you are just showing off your baby making abilities by having your 4th child!
There is a prayer that I have said many many times since our 2nd pregnancy "Lord, we want to have another baby, but please don't let me get pregnant before so and so does". Several times...this has been a successful prayer and for a moment you feel safe to breathe and celebrate...and then inevitably you discover another friend who is in the midst of her own struggles...and again I pray the prayer. If I know you...and if I know you are wanting a child...you can guarantee I have prayed for you.
I am struggling with how to end this post...what is my reason in sharing all of this? I believe that it is important to hear the other end of infertility...what happens after you are no longer deemed "infertile". Do your emotions just go away? Do all of those emotions just disappear in a simple little puff cloud as soon as you hold your newborn child? As you can read from my experience, for me, they do not. The sensitivity towards other women who long to bare children is still very strong. I have struggled with telling my story because I have felt unworthy of sharing it due to being able to have children. However my infertility experience ate away at a good chunk of my 10 years of marriage. It was the cause of a lot of counseling early on and a bitterness that controlled much of the first half of my marriage. It is very real...and it did happen. True, I am on the other end of that story now. I am not pining for sympathy by anyone by any means. Now that I am on the other end of things...I am able to thank God for my experiences because I believe God has given me a strong desire to pray for women going through similar trials...and just be someone who listens to them.
I imagine similar emotions are experienced by other people for different reasons. How about cancer...you spend weeks months going through treatments. You get to know the other patients who are on similar chemo and radiation schedules as you. You get to know their stories....you build bonds through your similarities and roller coaster of emotions that only people with cancer can truly understand...but what happens when you get the clean bill of health proclamation from your doctor....you leave your appointment only to return every 6 months for a check up...but in the meantime you hear of another...and another...and another who lost their battle. Is your story no longer relevant? Of course not. It is a part of your life...and I bet nobody prays for those other patients as strongly and as hard as other cancer survivors.
This is my story...what is yours? How can I pray for you?