Hey friends! Just wanted to update those of you who have been wondering where we are on our fertility journey and share some knowledge to those of you who may be walking this difficult road too. It's been a long and hard almost 2.5 years but we have not lost hope! It's the hope that the God of this Universe is in control and has our best interest in mind when it comes to our future family whatever that may look like. He knows exactly what he is doing and when. He is working all things together for our good!
That being said, I would be lying if I told you this was always my minute by minute mantra. We are works in progress that's for sure. So before I begin with the update, if you didn't see my other post I wrote last year about our first year of our fertility journey, you can read that here.
Another birthday and another Christmas has passed and I am still not pregnant. It's been a year + month since we started getting fertility testings done and almost 2.5 years of trying. In some ways I feel like we are back to where we started now but I do believe change is coming whatever that may be.
The last time I had updated, it was before we had to do the third HSG test since the first two had failed. This time I was getting it done at a fertility clinic in hopes that it would be successful and way less of a traumatic and excruciatingly painful experience like it had been. Thankfully both were true- sort of. The lack of pain at this test during and after was remarkably better! Thank God! For any woman who has to get an HSG, my heart goes out to you. Note, get it done at a fertility clinic if possible and take the highest dose of ibuprofen you possibly can an hour before the procedure. It will make a world of difference. I wish my local OB told me that prior!
For those who don’t know, an HSG flushes out your Fallopian tubes and takes X-ray photos of them while the dye/liquid is going through them. This is to figure out if there is a blockage within the tubes that could be causing the infertility by not allowing the egg to drop down into the uterus. So the findings from my 3rd HSG were good-ish. They found that my left tube was completely clear and open but were not sure about my right tube. My fertility doctor told me that the dye could have just been going through the path of least resistance since it already made a way through my left tube and that my right could be clear as well, we just don’t know for sure. But it could also have a blockage. However all you need is one clear tube to conceive so instead of my doctor torturing me with this uncomfortable procedure, he said that he thought that was good enough.
So now we come to the next step. I knew I was ovulating properly from tracking it for over a year with ovulation test sticks at home, plus according to my local doctor’s reports from the two previous internal and external ultrasounds I had done, there were no weird signs of things looking odd with my ovaries or uterus (or so I was told). In addition I have super regular periods with little pain/cramps and Ryan was tested and everything looked good with him. So now that the HSG results came back clear at least on the left side; they had no clue why I wasn’t getting pregnant. Some women experience getting pregnant after an HSG because all they needed was to be "flushed out". I hoped and prayed that was going to be me but it didn’t happen. So they cleared me to start getting IUI treatments.
IUI is a couple steps below IVF and basically what it does is that I take medicine and get a trigger shot that helps my ovaries release more eggs than one at a time. During this I go to the doctor every other day for sometimes up to a couple of weeks to get ultrasounds to monitor when exactly I ovulate. Once I ovulate then the fertility doctor takes Ryan’s sperm and inseminates it into me right when I’m ovulating. So it’s just like getting a little bit of help with timing and all.
Thankfully my health insurance covers up to 6 cycles of this which means we get 6 tries over 6 months. This was the reason we decided to go this route. So the plan we formulated with my doctor was that we would do 2-3 cycles of this starting this past September 2018. And then if I still wasn’t pregnant after those tries, we would go ahead and start talking about a new plan and possibly doing a laparoscopy which is a surgery for them to go in and look internally to see if they can find out what's wrong.
So I went ahead and did all the paperwork and got all the different meds and trigger shot overnighted to my house so we could start the first IUI treatment. The first step is to get baseline bloodwork and ultrasounds done so I did that and the next day which was the day before I was supposed to go to the fertility clinic to start everything, the clinic called with some bad news. They said my local ultrasound tech noted that there were 2 large cysts that have nodules inside of them that look suspicious and the kicker was that these have been there since my very first ultrasound in January of 2018! What!? I couldn't believe what I was hearing. I specifically asked my local OB back in January 2018 if she saw any weird cysts since I know endometriosis and PCOS are prevalent problems among women trying to conceive and she said everything looked normal! I was so mad... How did everyone miss these notes from the radioligitst when they referenced them in the past 2 other ulstrasounds I had done?! Now the fertility clinic wasn't going to allow me to start my IUI treatments until we made sure these cysts were not cancerous. Thankfully even though I was annoyed knowing I had these since January and could have been doing something about them back then, it also brought me some comfort because 1. they hadn't changed in size since January and 2. maybe now we actually know what's causing my infertility.
Ovarian Cancer Concerns
So the fertility clinic told me I needed to get an MRI done. Thankfully I was able to get an MRI scheduled within the next couple of days because I was pretty worried. Unfortunately the results came back suspicious still and inconclusive. So the next step was to get bloodwork done and specifically test for cancer. I went immediately and sadly they had to send the bloodwork out to the Mayo clinic so it was going to take up to a week until we knew the results. A few days later I got a call from the Women's Cancer Center in Albany telling me I needed to make an appointment. This FREAKED me out! The soonest appointment was 2 weeks out and I was panicking... I called my OB to find out if she knew what the bloodwork results were, obviously thinking that I have cancer which is why I have to go to Albany. She didn't call me back until the next day and when she did, she asked why I was calling and I was like "UMMMMM, do I have cancer!?" And she nonchalantly was like, "Oh yeah you don't have cancer- bloodwork is fine but fertility clinic won't allow you to get treatments until you get cleared by a doctor specializing in Ovarian cancer." My heart was so relieved but also slightly annoyed with my doctor..Let me pause here for a moment... so many people have the opposite experience and have found out they have cancer. I remember when my sister was told she had breast cancer and then told me. It's so very heart breaking and it just doesn't make sense. I did not and still do not take for granted that I have been blessed to not have cancer. Spiritually speaking, because of my own sin, I deserve all the sickness in the world and eternity in hell away from God because of my defiance against Him, but by the grace of God, Jesus has spared me of that and with that I have an extra blessing of good health for the most part that I do not deserve. It is not based on the fact that I am a better person or I prayed really hard to not have cancer or my faith is stronger than those who get the bad news. We don't know why some people have more earthly hardships than others but I do know that God is in control and for those that are in Christ Jesus, He is working everything for good. When we finally went to the women's cancer center to talk to the doctor about my cysts, it was a very sad experience. Not sad for us but sad because I looked around at all the other people sitting in the waiting room knowing that they probably were there for much worse circumstances- that most of them were probably there to talk about treatment plans or get bad news. I want you to know, if you're dealing with yourself or a family member with cancer, my heart aches for you. If you are a follower of Christ, be reminded that the God of the Universe holds you and your loved ones in the palm of His hand and that through the trials and tribulations of this world, He will never leave you or forsake you!
So while we were there the cancer doctor reassured us that I don't have cancer but that the cysts I do have are unusual and referred to them as border line tumors that could turn into something worse someday. She did recommend me getting surgery and removing them, however surgery.... ughhh. Not only is it an intense surgery that would be 3-5 incisions in my belly, I would also have to go under which I have never done before plus I run the risk of losing my left ovary in the process. Apparently the nodules within the cysts could potentially be filled with blood and if they are and they burst while being removed that would mean my whole ovary would then need to be removed too. And if you remember my left tube is clear but they are unsure of my right tube. So if I lose my left ovary but my left tube is the only working tube- then I'm screwed conceiving naturally besides trying IVF. So we told the cancer doctor we were reluctant in removing the cysts and wanted to wait and she was okay with that. She told us she thought it would be fine to try a couple of IUI treatments.
Ketogenic Diet Hopes
After this I started doing tons of research of cysts and how diets can affect them. One of my close friends, Kayla has PCOS and when she went on a sugar free, dairy free, gluten free diet, she ended up conceiving in 3 months. I heard of other stories like this but then I also heard of some women who tried this and still couldn't get pregnant. So I kept going back and forth about being serious. I cut out dairy for the most part besides cheese and most gluten and tried not eating sugar- man, how chocolate gets me! I think it was and still sometimes is hard not knowing if depriving myself of all the things I love will actually help but I also feel like it doesn't hurt to try and I never know until I do! So this past January 2019 I knew I needed to be serious. So I went full on paleo + no dairy about a month ago. And then after a couple weeks of being paleo, I watched a video of Dr. Kiltz who is in charge of the fertility clinic I go to- CNY Fertility, talking to this woman named Maria Emmerich, a registered dietician. They were talking about how Keto is the best diet for infertility. I'm not sure how I didn't hear about this before! I mean my local OB doctor had told me that a low carb diet was good months prior and for some reason I thought I was doing low carb since I wasn't eating any gluten really anymore. But what I didn't realize is that certain veggies and most fruits all have carbs plus GF things like rice, oatmeal and beans and so many other things that I had been eating also have tons of carbs! So it clicked. I needed to go low carb for real too. I immediately bought two of Maria's cookbooks- one being this 30 day Keto cleanse and started doing tons of research on Keto. My good friend, Kayla jumped in with me and now my dad and sister are doing it too! It definitely is nice to have other people suffering a long with you, haha.
If you want to know more about why the Ketogenic diet is linked to being good for fertility and want to know more about it, shoot me an email or comment below! I’d love to chat with you!
Our Plan Moving Forward
Fast forward to two weeks ago, I finally spoke to my fertility doctor again to formulate a new plan now that we knew I didn't have cancer. I also told him my new findings on Keto. To be perfectly honest he wasn't as keen on saying that once I go Keto, all my infertility problems will be fixed and I would conceive but he also said it certainly won't hurt anything. See, at this point, doctor's still don't know what my cysts are caused from. He doesn't think I have PCOS but he can't rule out endometriosis. Strangely though one of the biggest symptoms of endo typically is painful periods which I don't get. So again he said that the only way to know for sure is to do surgery. I told him my concerns about surgery and he agreed we don't have to go that route just yet. So the plan we came up with is to do a couple rounds of IUI (this time for real hopefully) while I am eating Keto + dairy free and see if this works. If I am not pregnant by late spring, I will probably get the surgery to have the cysts removed. I am praying it doesn't come to that but if it does, God will be with me through it!
Reflection of 2018
2018 was the hardest year of Ryan's and my life. And I don't say that lightly or in a typical reflecting of a year and saying how it was tough. Life legit this past year was thee toughest year ever and I am SO GLAD it's over. Most of the turmoil was because we had a lot of heartache through having to leave Anchor and my church family I had been a part of since I was born! This caused serious strain on my family which was one of the hardest things for me to go through since we have always been so close knit. We also lost friendships through it all and felt very alone in our infertility struggles. My business was out of control and I felt like I couldn't come up for air ever painting doormats till 1am most nights while working my other job. Ryan started seminary on top of a new full time job since he had to step down from his pastoral job. On top of that, we being the crazy people we are, chose to do a house renovation thinking it would bring great joy that turned into one of the most long and stressful projects ever mainly because we didn't have a working kitchen for 3 months during the busiest time of the year!
How I am Feeling Now
BUT now let me tell you, friends... THIS YEAR IS NOTHING LIKE LAST YEAR! Praise the Lord!! This year so far has been one of true and deep meaningful rest, joy, renewal, and restoration. Our house is done- well I mean it's not done but it's liveable again and so nice! In addition, Ryan and I are doing a devotion together now and making effort to pray with each other more. We keep the sabbath day holy now! What!? Yes, that's right! We go to church, come home and hannnnng... with friends, family or just ourselves and some good books and Netflix and Jesus! Speaking of church, after months of searching, we became new members of Community Bible Chapel in Cooperstown which we are so pumped about to really invest in and grow. We recently joined a life group through our church as well which we know is very much needed. I also took a MAJOR step back in my business. Even though I am the one responsible for paying for all the home renovation stuff (yikes!) I am trying to not let my business control me, but to control it. Slowly but surely I will get back to creating more and putting more hours into Drift but right I am just floating by and THAT IS OKAY! We are taking action steps into investing into our friendships. I think sometimes as church leaders you feel obligated to be friends with EVERYONE. This was us. You are most certainly called to love everyone but you don't have to be everyone's best friend. So this year is a year of having quality over quantity with our friendships. I am horrible when it comes to quality time (lowest on my love language!) but I realize to actually cultivate deep relationships you need that time together! Lastly, I have been making my health a priority. In a couple of days, it will be a month of no dairy, no gluten, no sugar and a couple weeks of being low carb too! I honestly can't believe I have stuck it out this long. I have a horrible track record when it comes to self control and self discipline but I think my WHY is a bit bigger now. I am not doing this to just look great although I would LOVE to lose another 30-40 lbs! I am doing this to turn my body into a healthy home for our future baby and even though God is the miracle worker, I am going to be obedient in taking care of my temple. I also have been working out at least 5x a week. I do yoga more and just spend more time meditating on God's goodness too which is really needed for this busy bee Enneagram 3! As many people know that stress is also related to infertility so now that my life isn’t stressful at all, I am praying that this will help too!
I may not understand why God put us through such a terrible year last year and why we are still suffering with infertility BUT I do know to count it all joy because God does have His reasons and He has saved those who He has called and chosen before the foundations of the world! My real joy comes from my salvation which can NEVER be taken away no matter how much dairy or carbs I eat! ;)
So anyways, that's where we are and if you're still reading this- major props to you! Thank you for being alongside us in our journey. We are grateful for our friends and family who keep encouraging us and keep checking in on us! Maybe soon we will have a very fun announcement but if not, He is Still God!
Love to all,