Monday, March 14, 2016

Infertility: The Hope of Spring

Post #1 of my infertility series:

The April walk around the reservoir was a perfect place to share the news with my family. A phone call would’ve been quicker, but there are some things that need to be said face to face. Or should I say, more fun if shared in person.

After a few laps around the water, my husband and I plopped down in the grass with my sister and brother-in-law who were visiting. When the moment was right, I blurted, “I’m late!”

At first I was concerned the announcement was premature because let’s face it I didn’t pee on the stick yet, but soon the Saturday air filled with celebration. 

We cheered and hugged as the questions flowed, one after another. What a journey the past three years had been since a doctor’s appointment first revealed a slightly elevated prolactin level. Series of blood tests and doctor appointments monitored my prolactin numbers which continued to rise, causing leaky breasts. An elevated prolactin is common in pregnant women as their body prepares to produce milk for their baby.

However because I wasn’t pregnant during those three years, doctors had to rule out the other possible cause for this, a tumor on my brain stem. Once the third round of MRI’s and a CT SCAN detected no tumor, I fell into the small percentage of unexplained blah blah blahs. 

In the meantime, trying not to be stressed, we followed doctor’s orders, so to speak, and continued trying to make a family. Because my cycle was still regular they said, “Nothing to be concerned about while you’re trying to conceive.” In the meantime, five months before the reservoir walk, I was instructed to record my basal body temperature by taking my temperature each morning before getting out of bed. In other words, I recorded my ovulation clock.

Funny symptoms took over my body during the cycle of April 1999. I had to pee a lot more than usual. Even my breasts discharged a little. My back hurt, so did Curtis’. Pseudo symptoms we laughed. Our cat Lacer became extra needy so my husband’s theory, “Maybe Lacer is like a dolphin and can tell you’re pregnant.” A girlfriend said, “You have color in your face, have you been in the sun?”

Excited that this must be a sign, I blushed, “No.” 

During these odd manifestations, I looked at life with fresh eyes. I looked at myself differently and held my head high, like I was now part of a special club. Wow, I finally did something right. My wardrobe would need to adjust. Curtis and I thought, “Could it be?” The rhythm of my walk changed. My aura filled with peace. Nothing wrong mattered as I caressed my stomach believing there was life in it, the mother bear in me already putting on her armor.

So when my family visited Saturday and we talked and walked the reservoir, enthusiastic about new beginnings, we were surrounded by the hope of spring. Surely, after many years, it worked this time!

The next day, Sunday afternoon revealed the deception.

I wasn't pregnant. 

I cried.

After the crestfallen Sunday, I had a follow-up doctor’s appointment to review my basal chart.

After five-months of tracking my body temperature, in two-seconds the doctor said, “Oh, you’re not ovulating.”

I cried, "But my cycles were regular."  He explained I can be regular at the same time my prolactin elevates.

High prolactin = not ovulating = can’t conceive = waste of time trying

Can you imagine how nice it would’ve been to know this formula three years earlier when they started monitoring my numbers?
I cried at the whole mess as if I had failed.

I failed because I knew it was too premature to tell my family.

I failed at being a mother and a good wife.

I failed. I let logic and order go by the wayside in an effort to show joy and believe I was worthy of this privilege of carrying life.

I failed.

Besides the emotional angst of the disappointment, I now felt vulnerable and exposed because the possibility of this new life had meant possibility of breathing new life into a family culture we were all trying to change, determined to break the sinful chains of our past, of our fathers.

And I felt vulnerable because I had shared a glimmer of my heart rejoicing.

We will have none of that mocked the old ghosts from my past.

It’s only through the pain that I begin to learn about my body, my emotions, my desires, my strengths and my weaknesses.

And it’s through this pain that I learn to advocate for myself and find my voice.

And it’s through this pain that I fight the bitterness of that voice that says you silly girl, don't you know you didn't have kids because you’d of been abusive like your dad.

And I fight that voice that tells me I failed, because if I believe that voice then I don’t believe the voice of God.

It’s through the pain that I learn acceptance of the loss.

Some days I still cry, I can’t help that, but it’s no longer because I’m a failure, bad wife or would’ve been a bad mother.

I cry because when I least expect it, a loss has a way of reminding me it’s still there.

And I cry because a loss is a loss that grieves in its own time and in its own way.

Today I rejoice over my victory, even if through tears, because this strengthened me when I could’ve remained crumbled. And it strengthened our marriage when it wanted to unravel us.

And in spite of myself, I learn that God loves me and has another plan for me, one that doesn’t include stretch marks or diapers.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord,
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

And I learn ... I’m just being prepared for a different mission. 

Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting,
God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along.
If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter.
He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, 
our aching groans.
He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition,
and keeps us present before God.
That’s why we can be so sure
that every detail in our lives of love for God
is worked into something good.
Romans 8:26-28 (MSG)

Post #1 Infertility: The Hope of Spring
Post #2 Infertility: No Stress Here
Post #3 Infertility: The  Empty Mother's Day Womb


Jeanne Doyon said...

This must have been such a hard road to travel. Thanks for sharing your story. There are so many who need to hear it. To know they are not alone.

Sharon-Your Friend said...

You are the strongest woman I know, Tammy Sue and one with a huge heart for God and life! Sharon

Cherrie said...

Thanks for sharing Tammy...this hits close to home past and present in my family.

Tammy Sue Willey said...

Jeanne, it was a hard road and it was only the beginning of the road. I do hope knowing one isn't alone offers comfort. Thank you.

Tammy Sue Willey said...

Sharon, I haven't felt strong especially when I see what mothers like you do! But I'll take it, thank you my friend.

Tammy Sue Willey said...

Cherrie, I'm sorry for your pain and whatever you are going through. I pray God gives you his strength, wisdom and peace through this aching journey.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful. Truth-filled. Powerful. Thank you. (shared through email - B.E.)

Cherrie said...

Thanks Tammy ! Cherrie is aka Cheryl from Illing

Elena Sorensen said...

Tammy Sue, you are one of the strongest women I know. I am so glad you have known blessing and God's love for you these years. What a beautiful, redemptive story you have.

Carol Rodd said...

Thanks Tammy Sue, my loss isn't yours but I felt caring, concern, and healing from your words. Also I remember your voice from the Writers Conference and it's also was healing and caring. God bless you. I am so glad for your healing and the good that came from this experience to your marriage! God love is so prevalent in your words and Bible verses comforting. I am happy to hear that what was stolen by the enemy has been renewed and multiplied by our God to a position better than original. I'm not even totally sure where my tears come from but have been flowing especially since reading your blog. God and His people can not and will not be overcome!

Carol Hare said...

Hi Tammy Sue, That was so moving. I cry for your pain but I celebrate you because I know you have and will be a mentor to so many. Love & Peace