Monday, December 10, 2007

What now?

Here's where things stand now. I had the surgery over the summer, so it's been a few months now. I still have a blood draw on the 7th day after Peak day in each cycle. It's sent to the Pope Paul VI Institute, where they test the progesterone and estrogen (estradiol) levels. On the first day of each cycle, I call in to do a cycle review. A nurse calls me, I report on the chart for my previous cycle, and she takes the information to discuss with Dr. Hilgers. Then, she calls me back with instructions for the new cycle. So far, there haven't been any big changes. I'm still taking the same thyroid hormone and injections of HCG (done toward the end of my cycle to stimulate production of progesterone and estrogen) that I was taking before the surgery. I'm also on an antibiotic regime to eliminate brown bleeding at the end of my period. And we're waiting. The surgery went great, my healing has been totally normal, and so now we'll see what happens.

Usually, I'm pretty upbeat about the whole thing, which is not to say that I don't get sad. The kind of care that I've received at the Pope Paul VI Institute and my local doctor's office has been amazing. That's been a huge factor in feeling at peace about where things are. I keep hoping that this will work out and/or that adoption will work out so that we'll be parents someday (sooner rather than later, I hope).

And I do feel like God is part of all of this. When we started learning about NFP, I felt like it was the right thing to do. And when I started learning about NaPro Technology (Dr. Hilgers' approach to treating women's reproductive health), I felt deep down that God had led us here. I feel like following church teaching by rejecting contraception in the first place led us down a path to our best chance for having a child. It's hard to express. It's not that I feel like we get a gold star or that this is somehow a reward for "being good" or something like that. It's more the idea that the way we've been led on this path has opened my eyes to the truth of what the church teaches about NFP. I really admire Dr. Hilgers and the other doctors and nurses and medical professionals and researchers who have taken a leap of faith. Their approach to medicine has been a real risk--they are running counter to the conventional medical approach of their time. But taking those risks to be true to their convictions has resulted in these amazing results. So . . . what I'm trying to say is that following their convictions about what was true and right has led to results that are truly good and that uplift rather than degrade their patients.

I also feel like God has used this experience to soften my heart. I felt something similar the first time my heart was really broken. I was just out of college and the guy I thought I was going to marry abruptly broke up with me. I was very angry and very bitter (and very mean to him, too) for a long time. But I also felt much more empathy for others' pain than I ever had before. With infertility, it's been a bit different. In the abstract, I always knew I wanted to have children. But it wasn't until we got married that I felt an emotional desire for children. At this point, I'm just amazed by how beautiful children are. The emotion of the whole thing seems to affect me most when I'm at church, either at mass or at a choir practice. I think it's just that I'm probably most open and vulnerable then. I tear up when I see parents and their children bringing up the gifts at mass. And when we sing particularly moving hymns (particularly one we sang last year during Lent about the Blessed Mother's relationship with Jesus) in choir, it takes an effort not to wind up in a teary lump! I'm really grateful (because I know it's not through any virtue of my own) that I'm still truly happy for my friends and family who announce a pregnancy or adoption. I know it's not from me because I'm not talking about a behavior I can control, but a feeling. So, I'm really grateful that God's keeping me from feeling bitter and angry.

This weekend was an interesting one. We went to mass on Saturday for the feast of the Immaculate Conception. I really like the Marian feasts. And the gospel reading about Mary's visitation to Elizabeth is a good one for someone dealing with infertility (All You Who Hope has a great post about this, including the relevant passage). So, that was great. Then, on Sunday, we went to one of our favorite masses (we tend to hop around to some different parishes, depending on our schedule). It was a really beautiful mass. At the end, there was a fundraising talk, and I was really touched by the appeal and the good work this group is doing.

So, I was already a little choked up when all of the expectant mothers were called forward for a special blessing. And it just got to me. I've used Christmas as a marker for time passing, and of course the family gatherings and Christmas cards are part of that, too. I remember thinking when I was single, "next Christmas, I'll have a boyfriend to bring home for Christmas" or "next Christmas, maybe we'll be engaged." Without really realizing what I was doing, I was thinking, "next Christmas, we'll have a baby" . . . and then when Christmas came closer, "maybe we'll be able to announce that I'm pregnant in our Christmas cards this year." I was OK in mass, but in the car, I started crying, and I cried all the way home. Nine months ago was the only time I remember crying about the whole infertility thing. So, I guess I was due for it!

What I really need to do is to concentrate on doing what we can to give us the best chances of having a child, and then focus on the present. I find myself living in the future. It's a weird thing, but I keep thinking that I'm a year older than I really am, and I know that it's because I keep calculating "OK, if I get pregnant this month, I'll be this old when the baby's born." And then subconsciously, that's the age I think I am. I did the same thing when I was finishing school and interviewing for jobs. I actually told an interviewer who (totally illegally) asked my age that I was a year older than I really was. When I realized what I said, I couldn't exactly correct myself without looking like a complete idiot, but I said it because I was thinking, "OK, by the time I finish my degree and start working, I'll be this old," and that became the age I thought I was. Weird.

So, it's way too late, and I've spent way too long writing this incredibly long post. If anyone makes it all the way through this one, thanks for indulging me!


maggie said...

Thanks for sharing your story. It certainly DOES sound like this is where God is leading you.

When I was really wanting a baby Mass is the place that always choked me up. Praying for you.

Exspectantes said...

Many prayers for you and your intentions. May this Advent bring you closer to His Sacred (baby) Heart!


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