Children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb, a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children born in one's youth. Blessed are they whose quivers are full. They will never be shamed contending with foes at the gate. ~Psalm 127:3-5

Sunday, August 18, 2013

GUEST POST: My Infertility Journey: A Shout Out to NaPro Technology

The following post is written by my sister, Kate Lynch.  It is an inspiring story- full of heart ache, hope and faith.  I hope you will take the time to read it.

If I have learned anything on my journey through infertility, it’s that when you say that you are going to trust God with any area of your life, fully and completely, you will be tested. 

When I married my husband in 2004, we made a commitment regarding family planning to each other and to God.   We committed that we would let God decide how many children we would have and when we would have them.   We both wanted children and we were open to whatever God wanted for us.   We agreed that we would not “try” to conceive and we would not do anything to prevent conception.  We made this commitment because we both knew, before we were married, that there was a possibility that together we would not be able to conceive a child.   In our teen years, we both had to have surgeries that directly affected our reproductive parts.   But, neither of us knew to what extent.    We both agreed, because of our personal beliefs, that we would not consider a lot of the modern methods for achieving pregnancy.  We were not open to IVF at all, and although we differed on our opinion of using medications to get pregnant, we agreed that we would not use them either.    We were open to using techniques that were natural and taught me to pay attention to the fertility signs that God gave me, but we did not want to get caught up in that being the focus of our relationship as husband and wife.  If all else failed, we would just adopt.    We thought we had it all figured out. 

After we got married we were really strong in our convictions, for a little while.  But after a year of “trusting God” our conviction on the subject didn’t feel as strong.  Disappointment, heart ache and even anger set it.   We wrestled with the belief that trusting God would grant us favor with Him and in turn, the blessing of children.   Oh, how mixed up our faith was.   In that year long period my husband asked his doctor about getting a sperm count test, but the doctor brushed him off, saying he had nothing to worry about.   We believed him, and continued to “trust God”.  

In the fall of 2005, a little over year after we were married, I found out I was pregnant.  FINALLY, proof to us, that our bodies did work, and that God was rewarding our trust in Him.    Sadly, I miscarried at 11 weeks and ultimately had to have my left ovary removed due to complications with the miscarriage.   The loss of the baby and of my left ovary was enough to plunge me into a big black sea of doubt.   My conviction about trusting God was shattered into a million pieces.   I no longer wanted to trust; I didn’t care about trust.  

But God is faithful, despite our doubt and anger and lack of faith.  In May of 2006 I was shocked to discover that I was pregnant again.   I didn’t want to believe it was true; it took us so long the first time.   I convinced myself that something bad was going to happen.   I went through the motions of a “happy pregnant woman”, but inside I held my breath waiting for the other shoe to drop.   I remember the moment in my 6th month of pregnancy that I broke down crying, finally allowing my heart to admit that I was going to have a baby.  Up to that point, I would not allow myself to get attached to the gift I was carrying inside me.   

January 20th, 2007 our son was born.  It was and is one of the best days of my life.   God has truly blessed us with Adam.   I cannot imagine my life without him.    The test, however, was just beginning.  

After Adam was born, JT and I decided that we would continue to “trust God” to plan our family.  Trusting was a little easier now, but that didn’t last very long.   We went back to not “trying” and not preventing.   

The next part of our journey has lasted almost 6 years.  During that time a lot has happened.  Shortly after Adam was born, JT decided to become self-employed and we had no insurance.   In some ways, we considered it a blessing that I did not get pregnant again.   We knew that all the “practical” reasons for not having kids were true in our situation.  We didn’t have insurance; we didn’t have any extra money; or even enough money sometimes.    But our hearts yearned for more children. We watched as our friends and family around us had one child after another.   We tried to be happy for them while our hearts felt like they were being ripped apart.    People who knew part of our struggles frequently asked why I had not gone to the doctor to find out why I was not getting pregnant.   It was easy to explain to them the part about not having insurance- that they could understand, but it was harder for them to understand when we would simply say that we are trusting God to plan our family.   Most people associate that with couples who have 10 kids and counting.   We were not the textbook “trusting God” family.   I admit, it was hard for me to comprehend also.   I didn’t expect that my commitment to “trust God” would mean 1 child.    

A couple of years later in 2010 JT stopped working for himself and got a job with a regular paycheck and health insurance benefits.    Three years had passed since our son was born and our desire to have more kids was as strong as ever.   Friends and family encouraged me to go to the doctor and finally find out what was wrong with me.    It didn’t feel right to me though.  I felt like doing that would somehow prove that I didn’t really “trust God”.   But in late 2010, I started having a lot of pain and very heavy bleeding each month.   These symptoms started suddenly and since I hadn’t really been to the doctor in almost 3 years, I was worried that something was very wrong.   I saw one doctor who dismissed my symptoms and wanted to focus instead on my infertility issues.   I left that doctors office and never went back.   I found another doctor that tentatively diagnosed me with endometriosis and recommended surgery for a definitive diagnosis and treatment.  It was a relief to have a diagnosis that explained both my current symptoms and possibly the reason for my infertility.   I thought that this was God’s way of providing me with an answer without me breaking the “trust”.   In early 2011 I had the surgery which confirmed the endometriosis, but there was no other obvious reason for my inability to get pregnant.    At my 6 week follow-up visit my doctor advised that she didn’t have a lot of options for me.   Most women took birth control pills to control the endometriosis.   Something I wasn’t willing to do, not just because I wanted to get pregnant, but also because I didn’t want all those fake hormones in my body.    I left her office with nothing more than a prescription for extra strength pain killers and a heavy heart. 

I was so hopeful that the surgery would provide me with a definitive answer for my infertility issues, but it just left me with a lot of maybes.    I was thankful that the surgery took away the pain and heavy bleeding, but I was angry that I still wasn’t getting pregnant.   I figured that God was still asking me to trust Him to plan our family, so I reluctantly accepted that as my answer. 

I continued to struggle while my friends and sisters easily got pregnant and had one baby after another.   On the outside and in a small place in my heart, I smiled and was happy for them.  I love all new life and believe it should be celebrated.   But on the inside, and in private, I would scream and cry and wallow in self pity.   I begged and pleaded with God, trying to make all kinds of deals with Him, promising all kinds of things, if only He would give me another child.  Oh how thankful I am that He was so patient with me while I threw my childish temper tantrums!  

As my husband and I continued to pray together about what God wanted to do with our family, we both began to feel that having a definitive answer to what was causing the infertility was what we needed.   This was the first time in our journey that we both felt strongly that God was leading us in the direction of getting answers.   We both thought that it was so that we could close this chapter in our life and move on to the chapter that involved adopting children, something we have always felt that we would be doing in the future anyway.   

So I began my search for a doctor that could really help me.  I didn’t want to go to the highly recommended doctors in my area because I did not want to feel pressured into discussing treatment options that we did not agree with.  I didn’t even want to be in an office that performed those procedures on a regular basis.   So I knew that I would be very limited in my options.  A family member suggested that I look into the Fertility Care Centers of America because of their methods for helping women.   Up to this point I had never heard of them.    I found a website online and read a little about NaPro Technology and it sounded exactly like what we I was looking for.   A program that respected life, at all stages, focused on getting to the core of the problem instead of just treating the symptoms, and respected me, the patient.    The closest office that practiced this method was over an hour away in a different state, but I was willing to make the drive if it meant answers from doctors that would respect me and not dismiss my concerns. 

In the spring of 2012 I had my first appointment.   I was so nervous; I had so many previous bad experiences with doctors dismissing my concerns, and ignoring me as a person.    I remember meeting the doctor and her asking me what I wanted from them as a practice.  I told her that I wanted her to get me pregnant.   She laughed and said that only my husband could do that.   She then offered to help me and my husband achieve that goal.   I was instantly at ease and I knew right then that this doctor was different.  She was not going to dismiss my concerns or treat me like a number.  I knew she saw me as a person.   She explained that every patient starts with learning to track their cycles using the Creighton Model and that many of their patients are able to achieve pregnancy with that alone.   If that didn’t work then we would move onto hormone tests and go from there.   I was a little disappointed because I wanted answers right away, but I knew in my heart that this was the right path for me to be on so I tried to be patient.    She also suggested that my husband have a sperm count done.  I cringed inside because I did not think he would want to do that.  But once she explained that they encouraged husbands and wives to do this part at home, together, I was so happy.   This was another sign that their practice honored not only me as a person but also the husband/wife relationship. 

I spent the summer learning the Creighton Model of charting.  I was so blessed not only to learn this method of charting but by learning other scientific things that were never mentioned in any of the other methods of charting I had studied.    In the fall I returned to the doctor with my chart in hand.  I was happy that I learned to chart but was disappointed that I was not pregnant yet.  The doctor looked at my chart and advised that everything looked normal.   She recommended that we test my hormone levels.  That meant going to the lab, every other day, to have my blood drawn.  Again, everything came back normal.   Again, I was disappointed that I was no closer to an answer.    We discussed how the pain and bleeding due to my endometriosis had returned and she suggested that I have laparoscopic surgery again.   She explained to me that the techniques they used were very effective in removing the endometriosis so that it did not grow back and also minimized scar tissue.   She recommended that while I was having surgery that I have procedures done to check on the health of my uterus and whether my tubes were open or not.    She also explained that a lot of women had success getting pregnant after the surgery.   I agreed to the surgery, not because I thought it would help me get pregnant (I had given up hope at this point) but because I didn’t want to be in pain anymore.  

This would be the 4th surgery that I would have in my life and I decided that, as much as it was up to me, it would be my last.   I no longer cared what that meant long term.  I was so tired of being cut open and dealing with the pain of healing.  I was tired of all the emotions that came along with knowing that there was something wrong with my reproductive parts.   I really thought that I would much rather have a hysterectomy at age 32, than go through any more pain and heartache.   Going into my surgery, my doctors were positive and hopeful,  I was apathetic and I had given up hope. 
On February 22, 2013 I had the surgery.  My doctor told JT that I had a lot of scar tissue and endometriosis causing the inflammation and pain.   She also said that both of my tubes had blockages in them and that they were able to mostly clear the blockages.   She couldn’t say for sure that the blockages in my tubes were the exact reason I wasn’t getting pregnant but said that it was most likely a contributing factor.   Recovery from my surgery was difficult, but within a few weeks I was feeling significantly better than I had felt in years.   

On April 9th I had a follow up appointment with my doctor to discuss what to do next regarding my infertility issues.   She encouraged me to take advantage of this time right after surgery, advising me that most women get pregnant within the 6 months immediately following surgery.    I listened to her speak and said I would be sure to follow her advice, but in my heart I was convinced that I was not going to get pregnant.  I still felt hopeless. 

On April 11th, just 2 days after my follow up appointment, I woke up in the morning and took a pregnancy test.  This was not unusual for me.  I took tests a lot.  Anytime my chart indicated that I was “late” I took a test.   It was always the same routine.  I would take a test, wait 3 minutes, see the negative results and throw it away.   The morning of the 11th I followed this routine.  I barely looked at the test as I went to toss it in the trash.  But then that second line caught my eye.   I thought I was imagining it.  I couldn’t possibly be pregnant.  After all, I had given up on the idea that I would ever carry another child inside of me.   I had to show the test to my husband and ask him what he saw.   He assured me there were two lines on the test.   PREGNANT!  It took a Costco-size box of digital tests and some blood work later to confirm and I finally started to allow myself to accept it.   I am currently 22 weeks along in my pregnancy and there is still a part of me that can’t believe that after 6 years of struggle and heart ache, I am pregnant.  

I have no explanation for why God had us waiting for 6 years, except that I needed to learn what it meant to truly trust Him.   My idea of trust at the beginning of this journey looked nothing like my idea of trust now.   I thought that trusting God meant that I would get what I wanted.   But trusting God is about believing that He knows what I need and when I need it.    

I am so thankful that I found a group of Doctors that joined me in my journey, helped to heal me, and did it in a way that respected me and my beliefs. The most wonderful thing about NaPro Technology is that it honors the way that God designed our bodies.  It supports that design and seeks to restore our bodies to that original designI would (and do) recommend them to anyone suffering from infertility.

Check out The Guiding Star Project for more information about Infertility, as well as other information related to women, families, babies, healthy relationships and more...

Monday, August 5, 2013

Taking a Break....

Earlier I was spending some time with my face buried in my blanket, as I sprawled myself across my bed, head down, praying.  I had a prayer book that my loving brother, Billy, had given to me but for the most part I was trying to leave my mind as blank as possible, hoping the Holy Spirit would whisper to me in the silence.

And that He did.

I was convicted to take a break from my blog.  There are many reasons for this, some of which I don't even understand, but I have to obey.

Occasionally, I'll post a guest blog post from someone else but other than that, I am going to spend some time doing other important things and clinging ever more to my Father as I wade through all that is going on right now in my life.  Perhaps I will be back with something inspiring to share.  

I'm not sure when I'll be back, or IF I'll be back, but for now, I'll say 'ta ta!'