Hand In Hand

Hand In Hand

Sunday, April 22, 2012

National Infertility Awareness Week

It is National Infertility Awareness Week, April 22-April 28. This is a very personal diagnosis for me, as I have battled infertility and come out a victor. As a woman who has journeyed through infertility, thus giving the name to this blog, I wanted to be a voice who did speak. I want to share the journey, the good and bad.

Many women walk this path, but not enough are willing to speak about it. Our personal experiences, good and bad, victorious and still struggling, they are all stories that can help someone who is on the journey. Too many women walk along the journey not speaking about it, keeping the emotions bottled inside, ready to burst with anger, frustration, sadness, and a deep longing for the very thing they struggle to have-a baby. 

This diagnosis-Infertility-is the one word no woman EVER wants to hear. Those words are not spoken right away. In fact, as the story would begin, everything is sunshine and daisies. You are finally at a place in life and in your marriage where you and your spouse are ready to start a family, you prepare yourselves, do everything you can to prepare your body, and begin to prepare your home. There is nothing more exciting than the thought that at the end of the month, you may be pregnant. The end of the month comes and much to your disappointment, it didn't happen. Month after month, you continue to try for the same thing-a positive pregnancy test, the possibility of that long-awaited child. And month after month, the same disappointment greets you. It becomes difficult to continue to try. You feel like everything has become more of a routine, planned, and unspontaneous. Your marriage may start to feel the effects of it as you begin to feel useless and barren, unable to provide the link to continuing the family. You feel broken, unable to have a body that works the correct way. You want an instant fix, something to make your dream happen instead of the nightmare you now find yourself in. But there is no instant fix, it isn't that easy.

I know that not everyone walking the journey shares the same faith in Jesus that I do. For me, that was the one certainty in life that made the journey and all the obstacles and challenges easier to deal with and face. I did hit the point of feeling broken. I completely fell to pieces and cried out to God. I wanted to know WHY. Why had He given me this lot in life? Why had He chosen me to walk this journey? Why did He allow my body to work in such a bad way? Why me? I wanted so badly to be pregnant, to bear a child, to be a mother. And yet, here I was, on a journey riddled with obstacles, mountains to climb, and oceans to cross. Yet, Jesus reminded me that He was walking with me, carrying me. Only He could move mountains, walk on the water, and remove the obstacles in my path. Where was my faith? He begged me to trust in Him, to know that these things along the journey were simply testing my faith. Would I remain faithful and continue to praise Him despite the storm that swirled around me? The answer was (and still is, for every obstacle that I face in life) YES, I would trust that He knew my future, He knew the journey I was on, He could see beyond the mountain, He could see the land on the other side of the ocean. It's hard to be in that place of complete trust in the midst if such desperation. But we women who battle with this ugliness of infertility, we find ourselves in the beauty of complete trust in Jesus. And He is there. 

I am one of the blessed ones. Once I hit the point of complete and utter despair and helplessness and fell, broken into a million pieces, at the feet of Jesus, then and only then did He hear my prayer and remind me that I am His child, He loves me, and I needed to have faith in His plans. Not only did I battle with infertility (thanks, PCOS!), but I also battled a secondary issue called Preovarian Failure. I discovered after trying to conceive a child for over two years that I also had this reproductive issue. It scared me. The truth to this issue is that my body, at what was then 30 years old, had the eggs of someone 10 years older than me. The quality was considered to be poor and the number of eggs left in my reserve was significantly less. That scared me to the core. Talking of that desperation, if that doesn't cause you to feel so completely broken and helpless, I don't know what will! But Jesus was right there with me. He continued to remind me of His love. When, in complete helplessness, I wanted to give up and abandon my dream, He reminded me that my choice to do that would be a choice to not trust Him. I did conceive my daughter the month after finding out about the Preovarian failure. I consider her a miracle. Despite all the odds being against me, I conceived a healthy, beautiful little girl. We named her Isabella Joy, which translates to "God's Promise of Joy." There is no name more beautiful than that to express the emotions of my heart. I battled infertility and won and my "prize" is turning 2 at the end of July.

Infertility. More common than people realize. Unbelievably difficult, tiring, and challenging. Many people do not understand it, and they don't understand the emotions that go with it. If you struggle with, share your stories for all to know. You never know who needs to hear your story, to know what you went through. You never know who you may be helping with your experiences. And to be honest, there is nothing more therapeutic than sharing the innermost emotions of your heart along this journey. Infertility. Would you be willing to share your journey with your friends and loved ones?

I'll conclude with a few pictures, two from the journey to get pregnant and two of my precious little daughter, my triumph over infertility.

What it took to get pregnant

Finally seeing the positive pregnancy test

July 28, 2010-the day my life forever changed

My little miracle baby now

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Some New Pictures

In all of my lack of postings lately, I have neglected to post recent pictures of my sweet daughter. So here are a few very recent pictures. Enjoy!

Our Visit with the ENT

We finally made it to see the Ear, Nose, Throat (ENT) Doctor at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia this morning. We are familiar with some of the CHOP procedure, since we see a pediatrician through CHOP. This appointment was so important that they had us in the office for a 7:35am appointment. Most appointments that early wouldn't be a big deal. But Philadelphia is across the river and morning traffic can be a nightmare! So we left home just after 6am, baby still in her pajamas. We knew it was going to be a long morning, since this was our initial visit with the ENT. We arrived, checked in, and gave Isabella some dry cereal for breakfast. Cheerio Girl wasn't thrilled with the offerings. But there is little choice on days where the important doctor visits are this early in the morning. 

Once we were all checked in and the nurse practitioner came in to meet Isabella, she was impressed with how well behaved Isabella was when she looked in her ears. Sure enough, after four ear infections since Valentine's Day, she still has fluid in her ears. And, as well behaved as she was to have her ears looked at, she was equally ill-behaved when the nurse practitioner wanted to see her tonsils and adenoids. All was well with those, the issue remains to be the ears. So, we waited to see the doctor. Dr. Handler comes highly recommended, as he has been in the business of making ears better for over 30 years. He is a wonderful man. Isabella really seemed to be okay with him. She let him look in her ears without argument. But again, the mouth was a different story. She did not want him to touch her mouth with that wooden tongue depressor. But she had no choice and just as quickly as she could protest, the mouth and glands exam was over. The verdict? Ear tubes are necessary. For some reason, her ears do not seem to drain the excess fluid that builds up. So the fluid sits there and after a bit of time, bacteria begins to grow and the infections begin. Nothing will change if her Eustachian canals can't drain the fluids. So, we will get visiting the surgical center on the 27th for some nice new ear tubes.

In the meantime, we also took Isabella to visit the Audiologist over at CHOP as part of giving evidence to show that there is fluid in the ears and what the fluid is causing in regards to hearing. Since she doesn't speak on command yet, there was no Speech and Language part to this test, this was simply a hearing test. Isabella sat with me (Hubby sat in a chair behind us) on a chair in this room filled with wires, TV type of boxes, and several things that would eventually make noise when the audiologist commanded it to via her computer on the other side of the tinted glass window. Isabella did well with the test behaviorally, but she did exactly how they all suspected she would do with the hearing. She had no response to the sounds that were at a very low volume. Trust me when I say that these sounds were very SOFT. She acknowledged the other sounds without issue. Then, the put on this headphone device that somehow detects how much sound would be heard if it could bypass all the fluid and she did extremely well on that test. So, it gives evidence to show that with her ears having fluid all the time, she isn't hearing things the way she should be, she hears them as though she is under water. 

So, our surgery date is in place and will be done in Philadelphia at CHOP. My sweet Isabella is in the best hands there ever could be. But I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous. They have to put her under general anesthesia and I am so scared for her. I know it's nothing major, lots of toddlers and even younger babies have it done all the time. But no mom wants their child to have to go through any surgery. So I am a bit of a mess about it. I knew it was coming, I knew that this was the direction we were being steered and I am okay with it. I'm just a very emotional mom.

That's the latest news from this end. No news of any other kids. Isabella is more than enough for us for now. God has blessed us plenty with her smiles and giggles. She is in the defiant toddler stage where she is pushing Mommy and Daddy's buttons. Bedtime has suddenly become a power struggle. Eating foods that she isn't interested in is a struggle. Getting dressed when she wants to just be in her diaper can  be a struggle. Isabella can be one tough cookie. And I love her with all my heart. She is everything I asked for when I asked for the blessing of a child. And, she is so much more than what I expected. We are thinking that in a few months, maybe we will go back and visit Dr. V to get the ball rolling with a second child, but for now, Isabella keeps us busy, especially with all these ear infections. I'll try my best to update you all as we wait for this ear tube surgery and the after effects of finally getting it!